Favorite Fashion Movies

fashion moviesI mentioned one of my favorite fashion movies a little while ago, and thought the topic was deserving of its own post — what are your favorite movies for fashion? Some of my favorites (they’re almost all rom coms!), below. (Let’s just say it may not be a huge mystery why we named our son Harrison Grant after you read this…):

  • fashion-moviesBringing up Baby (1934) – Let’s face it, any Kate Hepburn movie is pretty good in terms of fashion.  Here, she plays an heiress who falls in love with Cary Grant, a bumbling paleontologist.  A rare dinosaur bone gets mixed up with a chew toy for a dog, and Grant and Hepburn go to Connecticut to retrieve it — with a tame leopard named Baby in tow, of course.  Hijinks ensue.  Watch for her gold lame evening gown that involves a hood/scarf (pictured), as well as her jaunty little Peter Pan hat.
  • His Girl Friday (1940) – Rosalind Russell stars as a clever newspaper reporter, on the cusp of quitting her job to be a Wife to a Bore. As a favor to her on-again-off-again boyfriend, editor Cary Grant, she agrees to cover one last trial — and hijinks ensue.  I love the movie for many reasons (the rom com! the very different journalism industry!) but Russell’s sure, confident style is one of the reasons I like it so much. (2016 Update: Check out the entire Corporette discussion of His Girl Friday here!)
  • How to Steal a Million (1960) – Again, let’s face it, anything Audrey Hepburn is pretty good for fashion — but my favorite is this little rom com.  Peter O’Toole and Audrey Hepburn team up to steal a sculpture (valued at a MILLION DOLLARS!) and hijinks ensue.  Her entire wardrobe is by Givenchy and it’s amazing.  It’s mostly practical (lots of fun ’60s shifts-and-coat combos, with low, chunky mod heels), but some of it is a bit wild.  I’m still trying to figure out how to work a lace mask (pictured at top) into a casual dinner date.
  • fashion movie working girlWorking Girl (1988).  I feel like I’ve mentioned this movie way too often on this blog — if you haven’t seen it then you MUST.  Watch for a super young Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith, and Sigourney Weaver (and practically a cameo from David Duchovny — he’s in like two scenes).  Tess (Griffith) quits her secretarial job after her boss basically tries to pimp her out; she starts a new job temping for the successful (and bitchy) Katharine Parker (Weaver).  When Parker breaks her leg(s?) on a ski vacation — and Tess’s fiance cheats on her — Tess seizes the opportunity to pretend to be Parker to get ahead in business and put together a deal with Harrison Ford’s company. Hijinks ensue.  The clothes that Weaver and Griffith wear — and the education Griffith gets on Not Looking Like a Secretary 101 — are priceless.  (On the baby-naming bit: you may also remember Harrison Ford from some of my husband’s favorite movies — Blade Runner and that little Star Wars movie.) (2016 Update: Check out the entire Corporette discussion of Working Girl here.)
  • fashion-movies-don't-tell-momDon’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (1991). I’m right on top of it, Rose!  Christina Applegate plays an 18-year-old (I think) whose mother leaves for a summer abroad, hiring an aged babysitter to take care of her five kids, age 8-18.  The babysitter dies (peacefully), and the kids realize too late she had all their money for the summer on her.  Applegate tries to get a job as a secretary at a local fashion company that specializes in uniforms, but her boss — excited by her fake resume, which says she’s a graduate of Vassar and has a big background in fashion — promotes her.  Hijinks ensue, including a pretty awesome ’80s fashion show with neon nurses and the like.  Watch for another early role for David Duchovny, and I seem to remember a pretty kick-ass series of work-appropriate updos from Applegate.
  • Clueless (1995).  Like, totally. I’m assuming everyone has seen this adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma (set in 1990s LA) — who among us hasn’t lusted after Cher Horowitz’s closet (and closet software)?
  • fashion-movie-crisp white blouseThe Thomas Crown Affair (2000).  This is one of the few non-romantic comedies, but Rene Russo’s entire wardrobe is a-ma-zing.  I still think of her intriguing pairing of a crisp white blouse beneath a strapless dress (pictured) — layered with a blazer on top.  A priceless work of art is stolen and the insurance company brings in its own consultant, Russo, who quickly zeros in on millionaire playboy Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan). In order to prove he did it, she seduces him (obvs), and hijinks ensue. Watch for a chase scene set to one of my favorite songs, Nina Simone’s Sinnerman.
  • Blue Jasmine (2013).  Woody Allen can be… controversial, to say the least — and I generally prefer his prose to his movies.  But Blue Jasmine is a great one for understated, expensive, classic fashion — Cate Blanchett nails the Old Money look.

Finally, an honorable mention (just because everyone else will mention it):

  • The Devil Wears Prada (2006).  I have Issues with this movie, so it isn’t one of my favorites — but I’ll agree the fashion is pretty hard to beat.  (Let’s just say that no one who went to Medill would be so underprepared for a magazine journalism job, or so snobbish towards a huge fashion magazine like Vogue.)

Ladies, what are your favorite fashion movies?  Which movies do you draw inspiration for workwear from? 


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  1. 1. Funny face….Audrey, Fred Astaire and givenchy
    2. Pillow talk….Doris day is so classy in all those 50s outfits
    3. sabrina…Audrey and givenchy

    Hmmm….I obviously seem to be well entrenched in the past!

  2. I watched How to Steal a Million after it was mentioned here and I loved it. Peter O’Toole was dreamy.

    My top fashion movies are probably Sabrina and Grace Kelly’s outfits in Rear Window. Although I really enjoyed the film, I found the actual fashion in Devil Wears Prada uninspiring for a film with a couture label in the name.

  3. My earlier post got eaten up, here goes….

    1. Funny face….Audrey, Fred Astaire and givenchy
    2. Pillow talk….Doris day is so classy in all those 50s outfits
    3. sabrina…Audrey and givenchy

  4. Anonymous :

    Oh the irony of a typo in a sentence making broad generalizations about everyone who went to a specific school.

    • Dang it, Medill F for me. (I actually did go to Medill.)

    • I hadn’t got that she’d gone to the journalism school, I thought she’d just done something else at Northwestern and written for the campus paper. I can’t remember what the book says.

  5. My favorite fashion movie was one with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepbern called Charade, where they were all in Paris and she was soooo cute with her white hat on, and her dresse’s, and all these men wanted to date her (meaning takeing her to bed), but it was NEVER told if she slept with any of them–back then they NEVER showed anything in the Movie, mabye onley symbolic thing’s like in the Alfred Hitchcock movie when the train goes into the tunnell tooting it’s horn. YAY!

    That my dad told me is symbolic of SEX, with the train (being the male)and the tunnel (being the female). There is another bigger word for substitute’s for the real thing with men and women, but that I do NOT remember. FOOEY!

    • “Charade” is one of my favourties because of Audrey’s wardrobe! Audrey was always exquisite and her movie wardrobe does not disappoint – it sets the standard. Besides that, Cary Grant was delicious as Peter/Alexander/Adam and Brian!

  6. How could you leave off Legally Blonde?

  7. And although it was a TV show, Aly McBeal. I was a prosecutor when Aly McBeal was on TV and after trials the jurors would tell me that my skirts were longer than theirs and it wasn’t like it was on TV!!

  8. Diana Barry :

    2 other Audrey Hepburn films worth putting on the list: Charade (also Givenchy!) and My Fair Lady (that Ascot scene!).

    Gone with the Wind is also fantastic for the dresses. I feel like Downton Abbey also deserves a mention here for being so accurate!

  9. anon at 2:03 :

    I have to laugh about you skimming by woody allen being “controversial” but you save your big I “Issues!” for the fact that the Devil Wears Prada has a student who didn’t like Vogue…

  10. Also love Sabrina, the remake and the original both have great clothes and great men.

    I’m surprised that Breakfast at Tiffany’s got left off of Kat’s list. That black dress would look as chic today pretty much anywhere you chose to wear it as it did back then, as would those sunglasses. Charade is another great Audrey Hepburn/Carey Grant movie and the clothes are exquisite (also Givenchy, I think). But be careful you don’t start wearing scarves on your head afterwards; I’m always tempted but doubt I would look like Audrey Hepburn if I did.

    For some others: any Hitchc*ck movie, but esp. North by Northwest and Vertigo. Altman’s Pret A Porter (not his best, but you can’t have a fashion movie list without it). Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. And I think of all the Woody Allen movies, Annie Hall is the one that probably inspired more fashion than any other (I still love all of Diane Keaton’s looks in it). I also love the Seven Year Itch with Marilyn Monroe (and I want that apartment with the stairs to no where) and The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer where Myrna Loy plays a judge who orders playboy Cary Grant to date her niece. Adam’s Rib is pretty great for clothes too – Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn play husband and wife lawyers on opposite side’s of a murder case (so what if it’s not very plausible, the clothes are great).

    • Anonymous :

      Who knows whether Kat finds Breakfast At Tiffany’s controversial, but I do. I know you have to consider art in the time it was made, but the overt racism in that movie gets me every time. I just can’t take it. Also, while Audrey does look gorgeous, I find Holly flighty and annoying.

      • Agreed. Taking it in the time it was made is one thing, but so many women today name that as one of their favorite movies without a second thought. Really?

      • Agreed. I’ve never actually been able to sit through it. I tried once to fast-forward through all of Mickey Rooney’s scenes thinking, you know, there’s probably a good movie around all this, but it turns out there’s too much other detail embedded in them to even do that. And there is soooo much Mickey Rooney, good lord.

  11. Oh and Zoolander! Hysterical.

  12. Senior Attorney :

    My favorite fashion movie is actually a fashion documentary: The September Issue, which is a behind-the-scenes look at Vogue magazine. Just fascinating. Also, in the same vein, Bill Cunningham New York, about the New York Times street fashion photographer.

    • TO Lawyer :

      I loved the September Issue – I thought it was fascinating.

      I saw the Bill Cunningham documentary on Netflix yesterday and it looked interesting so if you recommend it, I’ll add it to my list!

    • Leopard is a neutral :

      There are a few fashion documentaries that I have really liked – the Bill Cunningham one was great and an oldie but goodie was Unzipped (Mizrahi & the true supermodels – way before he hit the HSN circuit).

    • Loved both of these – and when I saw The September Issue, I died laughing when Anna Wintour’s daughter said she was thinking about going to law school.

  13. Anything with Grace Kelly, but specifically:
    Rear Window (1954). She plays a dress designer! I want every.single.one of them — and a reason to wear such fabulous outfits regularly!

    And not a movie, but I can’t get enough of Joan Watson’s style on Elementary. Though my shape would never be able to pull off what she wears, I still covet it.

  14. American Gigolo is important Armani history (Richard Gere). Lauren Hutton with the womenswear too.

  15. Katniss Everdeen :

    This is TV, not a movie, but I am obsessed with the women’s fashion in Agent Carter. It’s all nipped waists and flared skirt suits, and I just love them ALL. I also love her lipstick color.

    • la vie en bleu :

      omg seriously! I love her look, and yes her hair and lipstick.. i also like the guys in their highwaisted pants and suspenders ;o) I am swooning.

    • Actually, Katniss, I am liking The Hunger Games trilogy +1 for its futuristic dystopian view of fashion, too (which I know came from the books, but it’s fun to see it on screen).

  16. Sunflower :

    “To Catch a Thief” with Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. Grace Kelly’s clothes are breathtaking.

    • Yes, I was just scrolling down to mention “To Catch a Thief”. I also loved Rene Russo in Thomas Crown Affair (but always get sad at the cameo appearance of the Twin Towers in the sailing scene).

  17. Fifth element. The film is pretty weird, but the costumes were all done by Gautier, and they are totally awesome.

  18. Two of my fave fashion movies:

    1) Breakfast at Tiffany’s has got to be the most classic of all time, no?

    2) How to Marry a Millionaire… I drooled over all the beautiful coats and dresses the three women wore (Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe). I started being a huge vintage buyer after this movie, in an effort to replicate the classic looks in this film.

    Also, although she wears only one outfit throughout the whole movie, I love Tippi Hedren’s look in The Birds by Hitchcock. She looks so chic in that seafoam green monochrome skirt suit and fur sable on top.

  19. In the Mood for Love. The cheongsams worn by Maggie Cheung are gorgeous!

  20. N.C. anon :

    The North Carolina Museum of Art had a movie series this winter around the theme of gorgeous costumes: Frenchman’s Creek, Now Voyager, Cleopatra, Trouble in Paradise, Torrent, and Austenland. Have added several of these to my Netflix queue!

  21. Men's Fashion, too :

    To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar makes almost no sense, but I think of it as a Fashion Movie.

  22. West Coast :

    I still draw inspiration from the Thomas Crown Affair.

  23. My favorites fashion movies are:
    “The Conformist” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065571/, amazing movie and fabulous 1930s fashion. Just look at this scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5jjAcvXUx4

    “A Perfect Murder” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120787, a lame remake of Hitckcock’s “Dial M for Murder”, but Gwyneth wears beautiful minimal clothes in it