Fashion For Real Women

10 Movies for Fashion Lovers 

Love great costumes as much as a good story line in your movies? Me too! While Hollywood has always been known for creating trend stampedes in fashion, there are some movies that just stand out for their beautiful, fabulous clothes.

Some of my favorites include:

To Catch a Thief (1955)
Cary Grant, Grace Kelly

Reformed cat burglar John Robie (Grant) romances spoiled heiress Frances Stevens (Kelly) in Monte Carlo while trying to figure out who is framing him for a recent rash of jewel thefts in the area. Director Alfred Hitchcock got Edith Head to do the costumes for this movie, as he did for most of his films, with good reason: they're gorgeous (she was nominated for a Best Costume Design Oscar for this film, but didn't win).

Grace Kelly, Cary Grant
Grace Kelly and Cary Grant
in To Catch a Thief


Sabrina (1954)
Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden

The chauffeur's daughter, Sabrina (Hepburn), is madly in love with the boss's playboy son, David (Holden), but she can't catch his eye to save her soul. Her father sends her to culinary school in Paris, hoping she'll forget about him, but she returns chic and sophisticated and David instantly falls for her. The problem? He's engaged to another woman, as part of a huge business deal. To keep the transaction from falling through, David's older brother, Linus (Bogart) pretends to woo Sabrina for himself - and unexpectedly falls in love with her.

Audrey Hepburn, William Holden
Audrey Hepburn and
William Holden in Sabrina

Edith Head took home her sixth Oscar in as many years for her work on this Billy Wilder-directed classic, and the shoulder-tied style of top she created for this film, called, appropriately enough, Sabrina, created a stampede to the stores. But it proved to be a bittersweet victory for Edith. For even though she got the film credit, several of the movie's key pieces - including the beautiful strapless ball gown Sabrina wears after her return from Paris - were actually designed by Hubert de Givenchy, Audrey's favorite designer.

Funny Face (1957)
Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn

The ultimate fashion fantasy, this tale, based on real-life cameraman Richard Avedon, follows a photographer (Astaire) who discovers a new talent named Jo (Hepburn) in a bookstore and convinces the fashion establishment to turn her into a model. She's whisked off to Paris and gets to wear lots of fabulous clothes, and soon she's fighting her feelings for the photographer who discovered her in this May-December romance.

Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn in
Funny Face

Dancing, singing, and a to-die-for wardrobe make this one of the most popular "fashion flicks" of all time. Edith Head and Hubert de Givenchy again teamed to create Audrey's amazing wardrobe, earning an Oscar nod but unfortunately, no statue that year.

Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961)
Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard

Beautiful clothes and Audrey Hepburn go together like peanut butter and jelly because Audrey had the exact body type most fashion designers love to design for: long, thin, and practically no curves so there's nothing to interfere with the garment silhouette.

In the movie that established the "little black dress" as a fashion must, Hepburn plays a flighty, chic bohemian named Holly Golightly, who lives off the gifts of men, owns little furniture, wears designer clothes, and sometimes eats her breakfast on the sidewalk outside of Tiffany's. She befriends her upstairs neighbor (Peppard), a writer who is also a "boy toy" for a rich older woman (Patricia Neal), and when their friendship turns to romance, it threatens both of their lifestyles.

Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn in
Breakfast at Tiffany's

Directed by Blake Edwards based on a novella by Truman Capote, and scored by Henry Mancini with costumes by Edith Head, Hubert de Givenchy, and Pauline Trigère, this film can't help but look, sound, and feel fabulous. A "must see" for any true fashion lover.

Rear Window (1954)
Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly

When photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries (Stewart) is sidelined by a bad accident, he spends his recovery time staring out the rear window of his apartment, watching the comings and goings of his neighbors. Before long, he's convinced that he's seen the man across the courtyard kill his wife, and he enlists the help of his girlfriend Lisa (Kelly) and his nurse (Thelma Ritter) to investigate the matter. It's a simple story line that becomes bone-chilling in the hands of director Alfred Hitchcock, yet beautiful to watch as Edith Head dresses Kelly to the nines.

Grace Kelly
Grace Kelly
in Rear Window

Bonnie & Clyde (1967)
Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway

Clyde Barrow (Beatty) rescues Bonnie Parker (Dunaway) from a dull life in Depression-era Missouri, and together they rob banks and make headlines. While the movie became controversial for setting a new level of violence in film, Theodora Van Runkle's costumes set off a stampede to the stores, offering a complete change from the mod looks that dominated the 1960's. She was nominated for an Oscar for her work, but did not win.

Faye Dunaway
Faye Dunaway
in Bonnie and Clyde

American Gigolo (1980)
Richard Gere, Lauren Hutton

Julian Kaye (Gere) is a high-priced prostitute serving the bored, rich women of Beverly Hills. He putters around in his Mercedes and contemplates which Armani shirt goes with which tie, showing more emotion for his clothing than for the women with whom he interacts. But that all changes when he meets a Senator's wife, named Michelle (Hutton), and starts to fall in love with her. When Julian is later framed for a murder he didn't commit, Michelle comes to his rescue, and Julian is forced to come to grips with the seedy life he's built for himself.

Richard Gere
Richard Gere in
American Gigolo

While this movie isn't as classic as some of the others on the list, it was the movie that finally sparked a return to elegant men's wear following the tumultuous 60's and 70's. It also put Giorgio Armani on the American fashion radar, establishing him as THE designer to turn to for comfortable, good-looking suits.

By the way, this was the first of three movies Richard Gere starred in after John Travolta passed on the role; the other two were "An Officer and A Gentleman" (1982) and "Chicago" (2002).

The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Marilyn Monroe, Tom Ewell

Richard Sherman (Ewell) has just sent his wife and son out of the city to enjoy a cooler summer elsewhere when the new upstairs sub-letter (Monroe) introduces herself and heats thing right back up. Richard, a sort of everyman, spends the rest of the time fantasizing about the beautiful model upstairs who keeps inviting herself over to partake of the food, drink, and air-conditioning.

Directed by Billy Wilder, this is the film where Marilyn stands over the subway grate in her white halter dress and gets hit with a blast of cold air. But that dress is just one of the many treat outfits Marilyn dons for this film. William Travilla, who designed many of Marilyn's costumes during her short career, did all her outfits for "Itch" as well, including the white halter dress, which was NOT, according to legend, bought off the rack. It was done specifically for Marilyn, which is why it looked so great.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe in
The Seven Year Itch

Gone With The Wind (1939)
Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh

Scarlett O'Hara (Leigh) is a spoiled Southern Belle who sets her sights on her neighbor, Ashley Wilkes, on the eve of the Civil War. But when Ashley tells her he's already engaged to his cousin, Melanie, Scarlett throws a temper tantrum and marries Melanie's brother Charles instead. Charles dies of the flu during the war and Scarlett spends the rest of the movie pining for Ashley while still marrying her sister's beau, Frank, and finally the dashing Rhett Butler (Gable). When Melanie dies and Ashley is finally free to marry Scarlett, she decides she really doesn't want Ashley after all, she wants Rhett instead. But Rhett has had enough and leaves, reducing Scarlett to tears before she can pull herself together again and set her mind on winning him back.

One of my personal favorites, "Gone With The Wind" captured scores of Oscars, including Best Picture, back in 1939. Had Oscars been awarded for Best Costume then (the category didn't exist until 1948) designer Walter Plunkett would surely have taken top honors that night. Besides dressing Scarlett for 39 costume changes in such memorable ensembles as the barbecue gown, the green drapery dress and the off-the-shoulder "repentance" red dress she wore to Ashley's party, Plunkett also costumed hundreds of extras for the Wilkes' barbecue, the Atlanta Bazaar, the soldiers at the depot, etc. His attention to detail was staggering, right down to the crinoline petticoats. If you like sumptuous costuming, you'll love "Gone With The Wind."

Viven Leigh
Vivien Leigh in
Gone With The Wind

Chicago (2002)
Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Roxie Hart (Zellweger) wants to be famous and will do just about anything to achieve her goals, including murder. When she's locked up for her crime, she and fellow murderess Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones) turn to slick lawyer Billy Flynn (Gere) to get them off. In the process, they both become famous, which they put to good use both before and after judgment day in a series of fast-paced, toe-tapping musical numbers. If you like great music, clever cuts, and over-the-top costumes, you'll understand why Colleen Atwood walked away with the Oscar for Best Costume design for this movie. While most of the clothes are a bit skimpy to have been worn in the 1920's, they do a great job of evoking the jazz age.

Renee Zellweger and
Catherine Zeta-Jones
in Chicago

So there you have it:

Ten of my top picks for best "fashion flicks." If you haven't seen some of them or haven't seen them in a while, make some room in your weekend to do so. They'll make you wish everyone wore such great clothes everyday!


Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of "Wardrobe Magic," an ebook that shows women how to transform their unruly closets into workable, wearable wardrobes. Visit her online at  .  Wardrobe Magic

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