We all have our favorite movies of all time. And we all have our favorite actors of all time and our favorite characters of all time. But we also all have our favorite movie dresses and outfits of all time, moments in fashion that are just as memorable as the best lines and the best plots and the best endings.
We’re talking about dresses that made statements about the fashion of their time—and also helped define the fashion of the time. We’re talking about the dresses that are instantly recognizable and that we instantly associate with the person who wore them, even years or decades later. We’re talking about dresses that have turned from mere pieces of cloth into lasting cultural references, pop trivia and Halloween costumes.
Featuring fabulous ensembles from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Atonement to Clueless, here’s our own definitive list of the most awesome, memorable, stunning outfits in movie history.
Vivian’s Red Opera Gown in ‘Pretty Woman’
In one of the most classic romantic comedies of our day, 1990’s Pretty Woman is the Cinderella story of a sex worker who stumbles into love with one of her businessman clients. During one of the best scenes, protagonist Vivian Ward goes from rags to riches when her love interest, played by Richard Gere, buys her an amazing red gown, complete with elbow-length white gloves, so they can go to the opera together.
Cher’s Plaid Mini Suit in ‘Clueless’
The 1995 teen romance Clueless encapsulated everything ’90s for a generation. At the same time, protagonist Cher’s extensive and extravagant wardrobe encapsulated the fashion of the decade. While several of the high schooler’s outfits are more than memorable (such as the tiny white fitted number she wears to a dance party) none are more iconic than the bright-yellow-and-black plaid miniskirt and matching jacket she wears at the opening of the film.
Cecilia Tallis’ Paper-Thin Silk Gown in ‘Atonement’
In this 2007 adaptation of Ian McEwan’s masterful novel of the same name, costume designers perfectly pinned down both the time period of the scene (1935) as well as the dark, posh, brooding atmosphere of the movie when they created a gorgeous paper-thin fitted silk gownfor character Cecilia Tallis. They actually made several copies of the stunning frock because they feared it was so delicate it might rip during filming.
The Black Gown Worn by Holly Golightly in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’
When you think of Audrey Hepburn, you likely picture her in this outfit: the long black gloves and the floor-length sleeveless black gown with accessories that include a bit of a tiara and a long, slim cigarette-holder. It’s the perfect outfit for the outgoing socialite Holly Golightly. With that personality and that dress, it’s easy to see how Paul and audiences everywhere fell in love with the character.
Andie’s Home-Altered Pink Prom Dress in ‘Pretty in Pink’
Molly Ringwald’s character, Andie, has a huge problem in 1986’s teen blockbuster Pretty in Pink. She’s from the wrong side of the tracks, she can’t afford a fashionable prom dress, and her well-meaning dad has just gifted her with an out-of-date outfit that would make her a laughing stock. The solution? Using her creativity to turn the stale old dress into the most rocking ’80s outfit the world has ever seen. Now, if she had only chosen Duckie…
Jackie Brown’s Wide-Lapel Suit in ‘Jackie Brown’
This 1995 Quentin Tarantino film is all about how a flight attendant risks it all to double-cross both the crime boss she works for and the police who are trying to get her to snitch—and actor Pam Grier kills in the title role as she rolls through the film in either a wide-lapel suit or her standard flight attendant outfit. We love how, although the movie takes place in the mid-’90s, her wardrobe and the vibe of the movie is right out of the ’70s.
The Swan Queen’s Terrifying Look In ‘Black Swan’
We’ll never watch a ballet the same way again after seeing Natalie Portman in 2010’s Black Swan. The dark, scary tutu she wears while playing the part of the Swan Queen, along with her incredible eye makeup, doesn’t leave your mind for years after the final credits roll.
Lucy Liu’s Blindingly White Kimono in ‘Kill Bill: Vol. 1’
Kill Bill has what’s perhaps the most fashion-forward fight scene in movie history between Uma Thurman dressed in her iconic yellow jumpsuit and Lucy Liu dressed in a blindingly white and amazing kimono. And yes, they both have samurai swords. While Quentin Tarantino is known mostly for his action and drama films, he should also be known for his movies’ stellar costume designs.
Carrie’s Wedding Dress in the ‘Sex and the City’ Movie
Sarah Jessica Parker’s fashion-forward journalist Carrie Bradshaw is one of the standout characters of the 2000s. It’s no surprise that when Bradshaw finally decided to tie the knot to Mr. Big in Sex and the City’s first movie, her wedding dress was absolutely amazing, from shoes to a big blue feather headpiece. Designed by Vivienne Westwood, the “cloud dress” won’t be forgotten, even after Carrie was abandoned at the venue.
‘Mama’ Morton’s Unstoppable Flapper Dress in ‘Chicago’
While the two main characters in Chicago, played by Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, battle each other in this movie adaptation of the famous stage musical, Queen Latifah surely stole the show in her role as Matron Mama Morton. Decked out in a fabulously sequined 1920s flapper dress, she sings and dances everyone under the table—and it all earned her a best supporting actress Oscar nomination.
Catherine Tramell’s Revealing Sheath Dress in ‘Basic Instinct’
One of the most successful films of the ’90s, Basic Instinct was a thriller filled with sex and violence that hadn’t been seen in a mainstream Hollywood movie before. But no part of the movie is better known than a scene in which Sharon Stone’s character is interrogated while wearing a tight, short white dress. Audience members still argue about whether or not you can see anything super-revealing as Stone crosses and uncrosses her legs as she’s being questioned about her lover’s murder.
Originally posted on SheKnows.