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Fashion in Film: Iconic Outfits from the Big Screen

Many of us have been spending a great deal of time at home due to our current circumstances. With little prospect of seeing those outside of our own households, many of us have found and continue finding ourselves slumped in front of the television feeling bedraggled in our loungewear. With that in mind, here are some of the most iconic fashion moments from film history to put the style back into self-isolation.

Illustration by Rebecca Marks


There is nothing like a feel-good movie in times of uncertainty, and Grease is exactly that. The 1978 musical has earned its position as an all-time classic for its light-hearted romance and catchy soundtrack, not to mention its iconic wardrobe. Perhaps the most famous outfit to make an appearance in the film is the skin-tight black leather trouser-and-jacket combo worn by Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) in the big finale. It is indicative of her change in character from the strait-laced girl we see at the start of the film to the sexy and playful woman dancing freely away in the ending. This costume was so iconic that it later went on to fetch a combined estimate of $230,000 (£185,000) at auction more than 40 years later.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Any best-dressed list would not be complete without mentioning Audrey Hepburn. The movie-star was famed for her elegant sense of style shared by her character of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In the opening sequence of the film, Hepburn can be seen sliding out of a yellow cab dressed in a slinky black Givenchy dress, hinting at her continuous pursuit of luxury. A string of pearls hangs around her neck whilst a thick pair of sunglasses rests precariously on her nose, shielding her eyes mysteriously. It is the epitome of chic and a testament to the art of simplicity when it comes to matters of the wardrobe.

The Royal Tenenbaums

To choose only one iconic outfit from the American director Wes Anderson’s entire backlog of films is no easy feat. Each character is given a sense of style as idiosyncratic and eccentric as the persona themselves. The costume most likely to be imitated at Halloween parties across the globe, however, is that of Margot Tenenbaum (Gwyneth Paltrow). With her smudged morning-after eyeliner and teddy-bear-like mink coat, Margot is one of the most revered fashion icons in modern cinema. This wardrobe was the creation of costume-designer and long-term Wes Anderson collaborator Karen Patch. Speaking about her styling in the film, Patch stated that she wanted Margot to appear as a privileged girl who has gone slightly off the rails. This explains her oversized Fendi coat and worn Hermes handbag. "I think those contradictions—the fact that she was wearing what looked like her mother's clothes … made her edgy,’ she stated in an interview, ‘I like to put unlikely things together — it certainly makes things more interesting’. Indeed, it is Margot’s attraction to unconventional and unlikely things that make her, and her wardrobe, such an interesting watch.

Although many of us are feeling cooped up at home, the escapism of cinema is able to provide us with a means of divulging into the world of fashion without ever changing out of our pyjamas. It is these little silver linings that we must remember to enjoy in uncertain times like this.


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