We’ve been spending a lot of time inside lately. With nowhere to go and little to see outside, it seems almost inevitable that we might start defaulting to sweatpants and our staple pajama shirt to wear around the house after a while. Sometimes it gets to be a downer wearing the same thing day in and day out, and our own closets seem monotonous. Luckily, we can always turn to our lovingly crafted fiction to get inspired. We’ve covered this before, but if books aren’t your thing, here are seven fashion-filled movies to stimulate your sartorial senses.
Hail, Caesar! (2016)
The minute I saw that shot of Scarlett Johansen coming out of the water in a beautiful beaded one piece, I knew I had to include this one. This film is set in the 1950s, following a studio head trying to wrangle his A list stars and fend off gossip that might ruin the studio’s reputation. It features Johansen as DeeAnna Moran, an actress who must discreetly adopt her own child to save her reputation as an unmarried woman. Along with the intrigue and glimpse into the lives of women in the past, this movie boasts some beautiful costumes by Mary Zophres. While the costumes are definitely inspired by and pretty true to the 1940s and 1950s, pure realism wasn’t necessarily the name of the game for this film. Zophres told Variety, “They weren’t going for reality, and neither were we,” speaking of the musicals, dramas and other productions featured in the film. If you’re a historical accuracy purist, this might ruffle your feathers, but I think it’s worth it for the Dior-inspired gowns and dreamy synchronized swimming sequences.
Marie Antoinette (2006)
The plot of this movie is pretty self-explanatory, it’s about Marie Antoinette, but it’s not a dry documentary. This one was actually hated when it debuted, presumably because it showed a normally hated historical figure in a more sympathetic light. Luckily for director Sofia Coppola, it has since become a retroactive classic, no doubt in part thanks to the amazing costumes by Milena Canonero. You’ll get to feast your eyes on over 60 rococo era gowns, complete with matching accessories. Almost every costume is a candy-colored fantasy in baby pinks, blues, and dainty florals adorned with feathers. There’s one particular floral pattern shown briefly during the “I Want Candy” that I’ve been thinking about ever since. Not only are the costumes breathtaking, it’s a refreshingly compassionate depiction of a historical woman who tends to get smeared in even the most accurate depictions. It’s worth a watch for the gowns by themselves but it’s also a very well done coming of age tale as well.
The big sister of Mean Girls, this dark comedy was a box office flop upon its release in 1999 but has since gained a bit of a cult following, becoming a retroactive classic. After accidentally killing her friend, Courtney Shane becomes the queen bee and adopts outcast Fern Mayo into the group to keep her secret. Eventually, Fern breaks free and teams up with former popular girl Julie Freeman to take down Courtney. This underappreciated classic has one of the best aesthetics I’ve ever seen in a 90s film, so camp and candy-colored. If you love bright colors and 1950s silhouettes, I highly recommend this one for the costuming alone. Tons of latex, leather bustiers, I love it.
To Die For (1995)
Heathers fans, this one is for you. This 1995 film starring Nicole Kidman is a darkly comedic take on the femme fatale trope and is a descendant of the 1988 killer clique. Suzanne Stone is your average small-town girl wanting to make it big as a broadcast journalist. After her husband starts to pressure her into giving up her career to start a family, she decides it’s a career to die for, and some murderous hijinks ensue with the help of Stone’s teenage lover. Of course, she can’t do all this naked so costume designer Beatrix Aruna Pasztor has outfitted Suzanne in an array of bold yet feminine Americana looks. Bright suits, printed blouses and bold scarves make for some unforgettable 90s inspiration, so much so that designer Adam Selman has said he wished he could make them. I for one love a fabulously clad murderous woman, so if that’s your cup of tea, consider adding this one to your movie night.
Miss Fisher And The Crypt Of Tears (2020)
As you might know, I am a huge fan of the book series this movie is based on. Like the books, Miss Fisher And The Crypt Of Tears follows amateur detective Phryne Fisher as she solves her latest murder mystery. This time it’s a disappearance and several murders seemingly connected to a cursed emerald. You’ll have the privilege of seeing the esteemed Miss Fisher light up London, Melbourne and Negev in sparkling gowns, bold cloche hats, exquisite fur-trimmed cloaks and of course her pearl-handled pistol. It’s such an exhilarating female-centered crime drama full of art deco escapism perfect for some historical inspiration that still feels thrillingly modern.
The Favourite (2018)
It’s no surprise that many historically inspired films will make the list for fashion inspiration. Most people love the idea of having an excuse to wear a giant ball gown in everyday life. Sometimes going for perfect realism in these films makes for a great somber historical film, and other times, stepping outside of reality a bit works wonders to convey the mood more accurately to the audience. The Favourite is a perfect example of straddling the two perspectives on costume design. A lot of the characters even at the top of society are clothed in old laser-cut leather and recycled denim. This will make any fashion history enthusiasts in the audience roll their eyes, but the costumes turned out beautifully. The lack of makeup on the three leads closes the distance viewers might feel looking at an aristocrat in full makeup and a 3-foot tall powdered wig. The beat-up and casual materials really give the sense that these women are just that, people dressed up and playing a part in a story, and that was the point. Costume designer Sandy Powell has said, “The film is universal, it’s about relationships, and Yorgos wanted the characters to look natural, and he wanted to take away the illusion that back in those days, people were different from how they are today.” This worked flawlessly, and these characters get you invested fast. Come for the aesthetics, and you’ll stay for Queen Anne.
Birds Of Prey (2020)
Three words: caution tape jacket. This newest interpretation of the iconic DC character is chock full of fun accents that will make even comic book haters tune in. The story surrounds Harley Quinn as she breaks up with Joker and takes life into her own hands. She forms a vigilante group with Huntress, Question, Cassandra Cain and Black Canary, stealing the harlequin diamond for riches and getting revenge on Black Mask. With her newly emancipated status comes a new wardrobe by designer Erin Benach, who does an amazing job representing Harley’s newfound independence with her clothes. Her usual red and blue color scheme is expanded with hot pink, neon yellow and lots and lots of fringe, sequins, and glitter. The silhouettes have become more covered up, showing a nice difference between dressing for Joker in Suicide Squad and dressing for herself in Birds Of Prey. Gone are the dog collar necklaces and booty shorts, and in their place comes bedazzled eyebrows, glitter fanny packs and fuchsia velvet crop tops. It’s such a unique take on a typically hyper-sexualized character and finding our own style after a breakup is something most girls watching can relate to. Lead actress Margot Robbie agrees. She told The New York Times that if there were to be a Suicide Squad sequel, she’s “not wearing hot pants next time.” She kept true to her word and the result is a truly fantabulous wardrobe shot with the female gaze that makes for great inspiration for glitter enthusiasts.