I’ve never been great at following fashion. It takes commitment, a keen eye and an ability to keep up with the breakneck speed of the industry. Season after season is designed, presented and bought in the same amount of time it takes me to decide what cake I’m going to feel guilty about eating today. I love clothes, I love dressing up, I even love getting my monthly subscription of Vogue that my Nanna buys me every Christmas and creating a leaning tower of them in corner of my room, but, for some reason I just can’t keep up with fashion. My favorite solution to this problem and the get out clause that I forever rely on is the old “fashions fade, style is eternal” quote by Yves St Laurent, which basically gives me an excuse to disregard fashion as long as I manage to look utterly fabulous at all times. Let’s just ignore the fact I spend a large majority of my life wearing sweatpants and the same t-shirt four days in a row. When I think of style and outfits I want to emulate, I am always drawn to my favourite characters in film. Whether they are from my favourite films, or films that I watched that one time and couldn’t get the female lead’s hot-pink leather chaps out of my head, they all contribute to my style inspiration. What better way to take on the attributes of your most loved female characters than by literally walking in their shoes? These are the questions that really keep me up at night. Below is an achingly long list of my favourite ever best dressed female characters. I had to be pretty lethal with my choices because otherwise this list would have extended to the end of time, but these are some of the women who influence my style the most.
The Mask – Tina Carlyle
I have yet to bring The Mask up in conversation with any man my age without hearing a groan falling out of their mouth while their eyes roll up to the sky as they say ‘Cameron Diaz in The Mask was my sexual awakening’. In fact, I once spent a solid evening arguing with my ex-boyfriend over whether she looked more irresistible in the bank scene where she walks in dripping wet in the red dress or in the Coco Bongo Club, dry and sparkling in the limelight as she seduces everyone in the room. Tina Carlyle was less my sexual awakening and is more my eternal dream woman. Her gently tousled hair with the Ferrari red lips is a combo I’m still trying to emulate years later.
Iconic Outfit Moment: For me, it will always be the scene in the Coco Bongo Club, looking like a million dollars wearing THAT gold dress.
Defining Look: Damsel in distress meets sultry showgirl.
Bedazzled – The Devil
For the duration of this post you will notice a common theme; I adore the colour red, and the connotations it brings to mind such as love, lust and desire. Any item of clothing the colour of blood makes my heart beat just that little bit faster. So a character with an almost all red wardrobe is enough to put stars in my eyes and send me over the edge. If I had to wear one film wardrobe for eternity, it would be Elizabeth Hurley’s perfectly picked ensembles from Bedazzled. So it may not be a critically acclaimed film with a shit tonne of awards, but don’t let that distract you from The Devil’s killer wardrobe. If you’re anything like me, you’ll give up an hour and a half of your life just to watch Elizabeth Hurley strutting around in patent stiletto’s and shooting some serious take-me-to-hell eyes.
Iconic Outfit Moment: I’m internally conflicted between the scene where she casually lounges on a stranger’s car in an all red leather suit and the scene in her office wearing the red dress with the thigh-slit and red crystals in her hair. Either way, both of them manage to continuously play in my mind on an infinite loop of desire.
Defining Look: Red. Red. Red. Red leather. Red fur. Red lips. Every outfit so tight it looks like it’s been sewed onto her and there’s a chance it might become a second skin.
The Addams Family Values – Debbie Jellinsky
Why is it that every murderous serial widow in film always has a killer style? Joan Cusack plays a villainous gold digger in The Addams Family Values and god, do her outfits make me feel all kinds of ways. I love that her light-hearted and vintage inspired wardrobe is a stark contrast to her truly sinister personality. The good-girl hairstyle, the salmon lipstick, the virginal white dresses are the perfect disguise to distract potential lovers from the fact she is a hungry money-grabbing man-eater that won’t be put off getting what she wants by any means necessary.
Iconic Outfit Moment: When the Addams family become increasingly worried about Uncle Fester’s whereabouts and visit his marital mansion to find Debbie looking like an evil angel at the top of the stairs. White, floor-length nightgown with a feather trim and plunging neckline.
Defining Look: Angelic, I-just-killed-my-husband chic with a vintage pin-up feel.
The Great Gatsby – Daisy Buchanan
I have mentioned before my great love for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and the over-the-top, overindulgent, burgeoning with glitter take on the classic novel. Whatever your opinion of it, it’s impossible not to be in awe of Daisy Buchanan’s wardrobe; all Prada and Miu Miu and beautiful fragility that tenderly compliments her wilting flower persona. Luhrmann’s attention to detail is a thing of beauty which, of course, extends to the costume department and the layers upon layers of expensive fabrics that adorn Daisy’s skin. Her flawlessly precise hairstyle framed by enchanting hair accessories that are adorned with diamonds makes her look ethereal and always just out of reach.
Iconic Outfit Moment: The moment when Daisy finally turns up to one of Gatsby’s parties wearing that dress covered in crystals like the droplets of dew from a morning frost.
Defining Look: Extreme opulence.
Leon: The Professional – Mathilda
It isn’t often that I get jealous over an eleven-year old’s wardrobe, even with the increasing rate that girls are getting into fashion and completely bypassing the awkward why-am-I-wearing-boot-cut-jeans-and-flip-flops stage, but, Natalie Portman in Leon is another matter. That trademark bob with the thick black choker and bomber jacket look? I’m here for it. The bad ass attitude that radiates from her as she stomps around in heavy duty black boots and points guns in men’s faces is made even better by the fact she’s wearing crop tops and cut-off shorts while she’s doing it. It’s time to be taught a few lessons about style from a child who’s more than half your age, embrace that shit.
Iconic Outfit Moment: The first time Mathilda is on screen wearing her trademark crop top, crochet cardigan and cut-off shorts.
Defining Look: A bob so sharp it could cut, big black boots and a bomber jacket. Don’t forget the choker and a loaded gun.
Moulin Rouge – Satine
I’m being deadly serious when I say I would sell a vital organ to get my hands on a single piece of Nicole Kidman’s wardrobe in Moulin Rouge (in particular the Indian inspired ivory strapless dress at the end with the glittering headpiece). Satine is a beacon of pure glinting glamour in a world that is dark and deeply depressing. A diamond in the rough. She is a symbol of hope to anyone who’s eyes fall upon her, who lack the knowledge that she is so ill-fated. The feathers, the glitter, the corsets, the performance – it all creates an illusion of grandeur and form her into an escapism for men wanting to flee from the reality of their world.
Iconic Outfit Moment: This changes every time I watch it, but currently, the heavily corseted black and silver outfit she wears with a top hat whilst perching precariously on a huge swing the first time we see her perform in the Moulin Rouge.
Defining Look: Dazzling courtesan meets femme fatale.
Pulp Fiction – Mia Wallace
Two words. That suit. I know, I know – we don’t really see that much of Mia Wallace’s wardrobe but I’m just banking on the theory that if we did see the full extent of it, every single one of her outfits would be as cool as ice. Such an enthralling person has to have a wardrobe that reflects their captivating demeanour, right? Either way, I have yet to spend a Halloween scrolling through my phone without finding multiple girls who have slapped on a bobbed black wig and white shirt (fake syringe sticking out of their chest if it’s a post-overdose inspired look) with a caption stating the obvious ‘Mrs Mia Wallace’ proving that years later, she’s still a cult icon.
Iconic Outfit Moment: The white collared shirt and black ankle swingers with bare feet, doing the twist with John Travolta.
Defining Look: Clean cut power suits and a five-dollar shake.
The Love Witch – Elaine
I was recommended this film by a girl on Instagram, and what a recommendation! Not only was I completely struck by the otherworldly beauty of Samantha Robinson playing Elaine but every little detail about her had me hypnotised, from the smudge of her coloured lids to her perfectly painted red nails holding a perfectly smoked cigarette. While it’s a modern film it pays homage to 1960’s horror as well as being shot and lit like a classic Hollywood technicolour film. The outfits all feel dangerously impractical and I’m all about that. There are also some important lingerie moments that should be compulsory viewing for any fashion-slash-cinema addict.
Iconic Outfit Moment: The opening scene. I felt like a giddy kid watching the love of their life for the first time. I have never seen any girl look so cool doing something so simple like smoking a cigarette and driving a car. The big hair, the blue eyeshadow that jars with the red outfit, it’s a match made in vintage heaven.
Defining Look: A rainbow of multi-coloured eyeshadows and peachy lipsticks, fake hair, fake nails, short skirts with long sleeves and lingerie to die for.
The Rum Diary – Chenault
The show stoppers in this film are the dresses. Now, usually for me, more is always more. I love everything over the top, overdressed and over exaggerated but for once in my life, and in this instance alone, less is definitely more. It might help that the outfits in question are so beautifully made and obviously very expensive. That the delicate earrings are in fact dripping with diamonds and that the signature red lipstick is probably Chanel. It also helps that Amber Heard has what Bret Easton Ellis would describe as a “hardbody” and wears expensive dresses like she was born to do it.
Iconic Outfit Moment: Youtube searches tell me that by far the most iconic scene is the one where Chenault dances in the red dress, hot and heavy in that bar. I beg to differ. For me, the simplicity of the little black dress paired with red lipstick and tanned skin in the speeding car was my favourite fashion moment.
Defining Look: Tanned skin, red lipstick and perfectly simple but extremely expensive looking outfits that grabs everyone attention and enhances Chenault’s already encapsulating appeal.
Pretty Woman – Vivian Ward
Ah Pretty Woman, the modern day fairy-tale where boy meets call girl and sweeps her off her Jimmy Choo-less feet. Of course, anyone in their right mind would fall in love with 90’s Julia Roberts’ elf-like features and auburn hair, but that’s beside the point. Personally speaking, I feel like I could have done with seeing more of Vivian’s style when she was broke and imaginative. That being said, her transition to expensive dressing isn’t all bad, in fact at moment’s, it’s really really good. The black dress at the dinner scene with the crochet necklace collar is a piece that I would gladly take off her hands in a heartbeat.
Iconic Outfit Moment: What can be more iconic than the barley-there two-tone dress and knee-high shiny black boots? The ultimate red dress with the white elbow-length gloves, that’s what.
Defining Look: A rebellious attitude that can’t be taken out of the girl no matter how many beautiful dresses are bought for her.
The Mask of Zorro – Elena de la Vega
I can’t even begin to imagine the hours spent on the detail of Catherine Zeta-Jones’ outfits in Zorro. All the ruffled sleeves and full skirts that channel that practical princess vibe along with the long hair tumbling over her shoulders and almost choker-like necklaces that accentuate every outfit. I like that even though Elena wears perfect dresses and has such a classic beauty, she makes it clear that she isn’t there just to be looked at. Her intelligence, strength and wittiness is already captivating enough, but coupled with the fact she dresses like a defiant princess makes her character one of my all-time favourites.
Iconic Outfit Moment: Obviously the badass moment where she fights Zorro in nothing but her underwear and powder-blue dressing gown.
Defining Look: Long thick Rapunzel hair and the most detailed dresses that don’t distract you from the fact that she could kick your ass in a sword fight.
Girl Interrupted – Lisa Rowe
There’s something about Angelina Jolie’s style in Girl Interrupted that has always resonated with me and I’m not totally sure why. The oversized t-shirts and the huge fluffy coat seem haphazard and not a conscious outfit choice. I also get the feeling they were absent-mindedly bought from thrift stores out of necessity rather than desire. Maybe it’s because her character is so iconic that instantly her clothes seem part of her and therefore iconic too? Whatever it is and however she makes that home-cut fringe work is the same reason she can rock a custard yellow U.S Air Force t-shirt and make it fashion.
Iconic Outfit Moment: The sandy worn-in trousers with the chunky belt and white v-neck t-shirt that looks like it’s been slept in more than a dozen times Lisa wears at Daisy’s house.
Defining Look: Tight trousers and baggy boy’s t-shirts plus an expression that blurs the line between love and disdain.
2 Fast 2 Furious – Suki
Let’s just ignore the fact that this is a terrible film, I didn’t really know the extent of how bad it was until I watched the full thing the whole way through to get these film stills. Let’s just say, now I’ve watched it, you don’t have to. So, how redeeming can I wardrobe be? In this case, extremely. I don’t know who came up with Suki’s look but they deserve a medal. The loose layered crop tops with the hot-pink leather chaps that perfectly match the colour of her car? A masterpiece. The laced up, hip-riding pink jeans with the white tank top? Give them to me now.
Iconic Outfit Moment: The hot-pink chaps with the denim daisy dukes and purple crop tops. Bury me in this outfit.
Defining Look: Pink out of preference and not because she’s the only girl racing. Skin-tight trousers and everything laced. Messy long hair that’s longer than most of her tops.
Dark Shadows – Angelique Bouchard
It’s not surprising that a Tim Burton film made into this list, in fact, I had to think long and hard about which film I was going to include. Every Tim Burton film has such a high standard and unique style when it comes to the characters clothes, not to mention every aspect of the entire film. For me, Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard is the epitome of style and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who works a killer power-suit like she does. Even when she’s wearing the midnight-blue nightdress she still looks polished as hell and manages to match her outfit with midnight blue velvet boots, now that’s dedication. Considering they’re mostly out of shot, it is a good reflection of the attention to detail we’re witnessing here.
Iconic Outfit Moment: Guess what? I picked another red dress. How predictable. Those teeny-tiny spaghetti straps that criss-cross at the back and the head to toe sequins make this dress show stopping. I’ve noticed a common theme amongst costume designers to place every femme fatale in a red dress when they emerge from a red car. It’s not ground-breaking but god, does it work.
Defining Look: Power suits, power dresses, the perfect blow-dry and a sickening smile laced with uneasiness that burrows right through you.
The Royal Tenenbaums – Margot Tenenbaum
Along with Mia Wallace, this is another Halloween favourite amongst film lovers. Who knew that a straight blonde bob with a side parting and a single hair clip with some smudged eyeliner could be such a memorable look. On paper it doesn’t sound like a ground-breaking character style but somehow, it is. Wes Anderson’s style is so individual, so recognisable that every character completely absorbs his magic. I feel confident that if I had never seen The Royal Tenenbaums but had only seen a picture of Margot, I would still be able to tell she was one of his characters. Everything about her, from the way she dresses to the way she styles her hair and the fact she has a missing finger just screams Wes Anderson.
Iconic Outfit Moment: The scene that makes my heart stop every time I watch it; Margot gets off the bus in slow motion as her brother looks on. The wind lifts strands of her poker straight hair and bristles against the fur of her coat.
Defining Look: Big, sad eyes outlined in black liner and Lacoste dresses encased in huge fur coats.
Factory Girl – Edie Sedgwick
When I was a teenager I would spend hours reading about Edie Sedgwick, I thought she was enchanting. The way she spoke and how she would always have something so interesting to say, the way she cut all of her hair off, the way she would spend hours playing with her makeup before she could go anywhere and the way that she spent her life living in nothing but tights and a top that she wore to her ballet lessons. Sienna Miller’s portrayal of Edie in Factory Girl is incredible. It can’t have been easy to play such a tragic, multi-layered character but she succeeded in giving such a genuine performance and really brought her iconic outfits and extravagant personality to life.
Iconic Outfit Moment: The backless off-white shiny knit dress Edie wears when she meets Bob Dylan. It’s one of her more simplistic outfits but the trademark earrings and dark eyes are still there. The way she is lost for words when she looks into his eyes makes my heart ache.
Defining Look: Bleached hair, huge earrings, layers upon layers of makeup. The original “it” girl with a wild child style.
Scarface – Elvira Hancock
Never has someone who has looked so bored seemed so damn interesting. I’m entranced by Elvira’s perfect exterior, gloomy expression and boredom of life. Her materialistic and fickle surroundings are matched by her expensive dresses, not much more than a thin piece of material hugging her lithe body. With a cigarette hanging out of her sharp mouth, she’s forever laced with diamonds that she doesn’t seem to care about in places she’d rather not be in. Before you ask, yes, it’s okay to feel sorry for her while simultaneously feeling envious of her expensive outfits. Lastly, let’s not forget about that timeless bob in that flawless shade of blonde.
Iconic Outfit Moment: Barley-there dresses that hang from Elvira’s tiny frame, cut low and almost as sharp as her jawline.
Defining Look: The rusty gold sequined dress that she wears in the restaurant when she proves how much of a bad bitch she really is.
In the Mood for Love – Su Li-zhen
It’s impossible not to fall in love with In The Mood For Love and in my opinion, Wong Kar Wai’s films in general. When it comes to looking impeccably dressed and polished at all times, take note from Maggie Cheung as Su Li-zhen. Her hair is always perfectly styled and her barley-there makeup is beautifully subtle. I also want to take a moment to commend her on her eyebrows, but then again, I’m not entirely sure whether anyone has the same obsession with killer eyebrows that I do… Her wardrobe is vibrant and chic, with dress after dress in stunning fabrics, all with the same style and all equally as show stopping as the next.
Iconic Outfit Moment: The white and black floral dress she wears with the red trench coat as she walks through the hallway of the hotel with the red drapes.
Defining Look: Beautiful and classic qipao or cheongsam which are close fitting traditional dresses with a high collar. That oh so subtle cat eye and endearing glances of love.
Funny Face – Jo Stockton
No best dressed blog post would be complete without at least mentioning Audrey Hepburn. When I was in my early teens my brother bought me a collection of Audrey’s films and I was instantly hooked. Now I know, I know, the Breakfast at Tiffany’s black dress and pearl necklace is hailed as the most iconic fashion moment in film BUT, I feel like it has cast a long shadow over Funny Face which is literally brimming with iconic fashion moments. The strapless red dress and white gloves moment? The ballerina dress with the dove? So much Givenchy in one film deserves some credit.
Iconic Outfit Moment: I’m torn between the casual black high-neck sweater with black cigarette trousers Jo wears in the jazz bar and the wedding dress that is so damn modern for the time.
Defining Look: High fashion and model-off-duty darling.
Charlies Angels – Alex Munday
Anyone who knows me knows that my infatuation with Lucy Liu is by no means recent news. So I don’t readily give up the information that I secretly love Charlies Angels? I know it isn’t the best film in the world but how can you not love a film with an all-female lead who play incredibly dressed secret agents? I’m not saying you’re a monster if you don’t like this film but, well, that’s exactly what I’m saying. P.S. There’s montages and excessive costume changes…need I say more? Alex is a badass bitch who always gets the bad guy and dresses like a god damn goddess while she does it.
Iconic Outfit Moment: The leather suit and huge hair combo she wears when infiltrating Redstar headquarters.
Defining Look: Practical power style, glittering red dresses that can be ripped off when an opportunity to chase a bad guy arises, black leather-slash-plastic looking bodices with black trousers and hair that perfectly matches every possible scenario.
Austin Powers – Vanessa Kensington, Felicity Shagwell, Foxxy Cleopatra & The Fembots
Someone commented on an Instagram post I made asking for iconic fashion moments in film with The Fembots from Austin Powers and it jogged my memory to how great every single item of clothing is in all of the films. From Vanessa’s pristine outfits to her silver space dress and Foxy Cleopatra’s 70’s two-pieces (especially the orange leather one with studded lapels, ugh) to Felicity Shagwell’s 60’s crochet mini dress, every item of clothing was meticulously thought about, designed and executed so well. I feel like these films get overlooked in a lot of areas because they are ridiculous in nature, but don’t let the outfits be ignored.
Iconic Outfit Moment: The scene where The Fembots attempt to seduce Austin Powers in their furry pink negligees and beehive hair. Felicity Shagwell sliding down the pole and dancing in her blue suede one piece that I genuinely dreamed of owning, her hair so big it was almost comical. Vanessa Kensington in her leather cat-suit with a gun in her hand and Foxy Cleopatra in her glittering Goldmember outfit with the slit and single huge earring.
Defining Look: Everything OTT.