2020 Update: We still stand by this roundup of favorite fashion movies — you also may want to check out our more recent discussion of the most underrated movies we really enjoyed, as well as some of our light, enjoyable recommended reads!
I 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…):
- Bringing 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.
- Working 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.)
- Don’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)?
- The 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?