By: Bria McNeal
Black leather pants, a simple crop top, and a killer pair of boots-- I was only 10 minutes into Charlie’s Angels when I saw the outfit of my dreams. My six year old eyes were glued to the screen as I analyzed their half girl band, half secret agent attire. Lucy Lu, Cameron Diaz, and Drew Barrymore were the ultimate it girls. The femme fatale had an effortlessly cool vibe, with the ability to disarm a gang of criminals then strut out of the room in a pair of heels-- and I knew that one day I would want to be just like them.
Charlie’s Angels might not be the height of cinema or fashion, but, needless to say, it made me realize how important costuming is in film. Think about it. Every great character comes with a great costume and an even better designer behind it all. From Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I don’t make the rules, but a strong lead and killer outfit go hand in hand. Check out my personal favorites below!
Almost Famous 2000 - Penny Lane
I’m going to be completely honest, I’ve never seen Almost Famous. But, I know the legend of the Penny Lane jacket and I think that says a lot. The film is set in the 70s and comes a wide array of skillfully chosen outfits. Betsy Faith, the costume designer for the film, captured Penny Lane’s (played by Kate Hudson) carefree character perfectly with a surplus of flowy tops and bell bottom jeans. However, most famous of all, is the Penny Lane Jacket (pictured above) which quickly became popular after the films release. With last fall’s reprisal of 70s retro styling, I’ve even found myself looking for the perfect shearling coat.
Pulp Fiction 1994 - Mia Wallace
Uma Thurman’s character, Mia Wallace, is iconic to say the absolute least. In the films famous dancing scene, costume designer Betsy Heimann chose to dress Uma as simply as possible. In just a plain white button down and cropped black slacks, she easily dominates the scene, literally dancing circles around a suit clad John Travolta. In an interview with Austen Tosone for Interview Magazine, Heimann explains that this choice was to give Mia Wallace’s character a tougher feel saying, “I wanted her to be a female reservoir dog, so I thought her outfit should be black and white.” Since the films release in 1994, Wallace's look has become both a business and halloween costume staple for those trying to capture the strength of Uma Thurman's character.
Black Panther 2018 - All Characters
Ruth E. Carter is a famous costume designer, three time Academy Award Nominee and recent winner for best costume due to her vibrant designs in Black Panther. She essentially took a script and the director's vision for the fictional world of Wakanda and brought it to life. To put things simply; This woman. Knows. What. She’s. Doing. Each time I watch this film I’m instantly captivated during the whole 135 minutes by her creative styling. The bright colors, patterns, an homage to Africa was beautiful to see. Each outfit she created fit the personalities and strengths of each character. It quite literally looked like the clothes we’re only made for them. Rarely do we get the opportunity as viewers to truly embrace other cultures, through fashion, and shed a light on their beauty. Thankfully, Carter gave us the chance.
Clueless 1995 - Cher and Dionne
Plaid, plaid, and even more plaid. This movie ruled not only the 90s but also my sense of appropriate school attire. I was truly confused when I got to middle school (excited to wear, mature, big kid clothes) when people didn’t strut around in matching two piece suits. Instead I was stuck with gauchos, platform flip flops, and layered tank tops. Popular sixth grade attire didn’t fit my expectations in the slightest, but I lived vicariously through Cher and Dionnes matching uniforms. Mona May, the costume designer of this film, was a key factor in the film becoming an instant classic. Thanks to her styling, fans had a whole set of outfit options to avoid being both a “fashion victim” or “ensembly challenged.”
Fifty Shades of Grey 2015-2018 - Anastasia
Don’t worry this one surprised me too. If you look past the three year saga of odd plot twists and dig a little deeper into the films design, you’ll find one hell of a wardrobe closet. Apparently one of the perks of falling for Christian Grey includes costume couture gowns. One of the movies costume designer Monique Lhuillier, designed not one but two stunning dresses for the film. The first dress is a silver slinky gown that Anastasia wore during a masquerade ball scene. The second is her breathtaking wedding gown. Both outfits became an instant hit, and, according to Harper Bazaar drew in a mass amount of sales for similar styles. While Anastasia's character choices may be questionable for some we clearly see her change from a meek college graduate, to an independent woman. Her style, skillfully crafted by Lhuillier demonstrates that perfectly.