Consider yourself a movie buff? Love the world of fashion?
The most iconic outfits in cinematic history can stake their claim on the famous bodies of Hollywood’s greatest actors. We’d recognise a movie from anywhere just based on these outfits. From Hepburn’s black dress and pearls and Dorothy’s red slippers to Cher Horowitz’s matching, preppy yellow tartan, these are the most iconic outfits actors wore in retro movies.
Audrey Hepburn’s LBD
1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s is sensational for a number of reasons, and not all of them are positive. But one element that has stood the test of time is Hepburn’s little black dress.
A paragon of elegant, Parisian-inspired fashion, Hepburn paired the dress with opera gloves, sunglasses, a chunky pearl and diamond necklace, a tiara, and of course, a coffee and a croissant. The dress was designed by Givenchy and is credited with starting the trend for the LDB (or ‘little black dress’) which became a popular style in the ‘60s.
Marilyn Monroe’s white dress
When you think of blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe, this white dress might be the first thing that comes to mind. Auctioned for $5.6m in 2001, the halter neck cocktail number was featured in 1955’s ‘The Seven Year Itch’ and designed by costumer designer William Travilla.
As Monroe stood over a grate in New York City, the air below lifted up her dress, creating the iconic scene we all know and love. The dress was an authentic piece of retro styling; knee-length dresses with voluminous skirts were popular during the ‘50s and Marilyn herself was seen as a true fashion icon of the decade.
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Diane Keaton goes androgynous
1977’s ‘Annie Hall’ may no longer be considered quite the classic it once was, but Diane Keaton’s costumes as the titular character started a new trend for ‘70s fashion that embraced the androgynous style, swapping skirts and dresses for slacks, hats and ties.
Most of the clothes worn in the movie belonged to Keaton herself, dressing the character in ‘borrowed from men’ styles. Keaton even said in a later interview that she was wearing ‘what the cool-looking women […] of Soho were wearing’ at the time.
Olivia Newton-John goes to the dark side
So figure-hugging that the actress actually had to be sewn into it before filming, this leather-look suit with red mules and gravity-defying hair is the climactic moment of 1978’s ‘Grease’.
Costume designer, Albert Wolsky, created the look as a complete 180 change to Sandy’s character throughout the rest of the film. The pants themselves, which were a separate piece to the shirt, were also vintage; they were made from 30-year-old sharkskin and were so tight that she could barely dance in them!
Rita Moreno brings us America
West Side Story might be getting a new iteration this Christmas, but the original features one incredible outfit in particular.
Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her performance as Anita in this 1961 movie, wore a lilac gown in a very traditional 1950s style, but with plenty of skirts for the dramatic dance hall sequence. The movie is regarded as one of the best pieces of musical cinema to have ever been created, and the dress, created by Irene Sharaff, is one of its most iconic components.
Queen of the Night
Perhaps the most well-known outfit from this beloved ’90s film is Houston’s ‘Queen of the Night’ outfit, bringing together sci-fi and pop starlet fashion to create a true relic of the 1990s. With a metallic bustier, chain skirt, thigh-high leather boots, a metallic headpiece and a hands-free microphone, it’s an outfit you might have seen Britney wear in her heyday. Designed by costumer Susan Nininger, the outfit plays a key part in the story of the movie and was recently sold at auction for five figures.
Back to Oz
Perhaps the most famous movie costume to ever be created, Judy Garland’s blue gingham dress, youthful pigtails and, of course, glittering red slippers, are a stalwart of retro movie fashion.
For 1939, the film was a piece of technical wizardry, from the saccharine Technicolour of Oz to the stage design to the beautiful music that remains popular to this day. People still dress up as Dorothy for Halloween! Created by the MGM wardrobe department, a pair of the ruby slippers are at the National Museum of American History, with another pair on action for around $6m.
What’s your favourite iconic look from a retro movie?
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