14 Iconic Films Where the Characters’ Clothes Were Just As Well-Thought-Out As Their Dialogues
On average, $9,000 — $20,000 is spent on wardrobes in movies. This money is often not enough and costume designers have to work really hard to make beautiful clothes that can express the characters properly.
We at Bright Side are always interested in movie costumes. Sometimes, they are so impressive that they make us want to find out who created them. Today, we’ve opened the backstage door of 14 iconic movies.
Basic Instinct (1992)
- Costume designer: Ellen Mirojnick
Catherine Tramell, portrayed by Sharon Stone, is a true femme fatale. But she looks like a classic Hitchcock blonde. The costume designers wanted her clothes to have neutral colors and didn’t give her revealing dresses. And at the beginning, she’s wearing a cute beige cardigan.
And then we see the iconic dress from the interrogation scene. The light color doesn’t make it too revealing but viewers already understand that she’s not that simple. She’s a manipulator that knows how to use clothing to her advantage.
Atomic Blonde (2017)
- Costume designer: Cindy Evans
This spy thriller is filled with the atmosphere of Germany at the end of the ’80s and clothes played a big part in this. Cindy Evans studied old photos and tried to keep the aesthetics of the black and white graphic novel the movie is based on.
This is why the main character prefers black and white for her clothes. She is the impersonation of the fashion that is out of time and she’s very different from other characters. By the way, she wears really expensive brands like Max Mara, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and John Galliano.
Charlize Theron, who played the main role, was supposed to not only wear beautiful clothes but also to do difficult stunts. Fortunately, her coats didn’t limit her movements but the sweaters had to be attached to her skirts to allow for more comfortable fight scenes.
The Tourist (2010)
- Costume designer: Colleen Atwood
Colleen Atwood combined vintage and modern fashion to create a world of timeless chic. This is why there are no screaming clothes in the film, only neutral colors, and elegant simplicity.
This is exactly what the main character wears. The fact that she hides many secrets is hinted at not only by her clothes but by their details, like her gloves and red lipstick, or the peach-colored ribbon on her waist. These little things show viewers that she is a mysterious woman.
Tale of Tales (2015)
- Costume designer: Massimo Parrini
This designer did a lot of work creating a lot of clothes for all of the characters — from peasants to monarchs. And the task was pretty hard — the designers needed to make clothes that would look historical and fantasy-like at the same time.
Salma Hayek’s clothes deserve a lot of attention. In the beginning, she wears dark clothes that reflect her dark thoughts. But once she has the son that she’s always wanted, she wears a black and red dress. The idea is that the dress should show the happiness inside the queen. By the way, original 18th-century embroidery, lace, and buttons were used to make this dress.
The Addams Family (1991)
- Costume designer: Ruth Myers
Ruth decided that the Addams family should look like aristocrats. So, the mother of the family changed clothes 3 times a day: in the morning, she wore a simple dress, during the day — something more exotic, and by the end of the day — the most extravagant one she had. In the evening, she had lace and black jewels on. The most impressive outfit was a coat with a hood based on Edwardian-era clothing.
Also, Ruth wanted Morticia to move like an otherworldly entity. She used corsets to help elongate the body of the character.
Pretty Woman (1990)
- Costume designer: Marilyn Vance
To understand the character better, you need to look at 4 of her outfits: a bodycon, midriff-baring dress with knee-high boots, a black cocktail dress, a polka-dot dress, and an elegant white outfit. They show the evolution of a personality who realizes that “Less is more” is a principle she should follow with her clothing.
When creating the first look, Vance was inspired by a swimsuit with a metal ring that was popular in the ’70s. This outfit made Julia Roberts’ body look more attractive. Marilyn found the knee-high boots in a London boutique and the famous beret belonged to her.
- Costume designers: Rita Ryack, John Dunn
In one of the best movies by Martin Scorsese, clothing played a really big role — $1,000,000 was spent on it. The hardest part was creating Sharon Stone’s wardrobe. She portrayed a character who really loved luxury and glamour. During the film, she wears 40 different outfits that show the social evolution of her character.
At the beginning of the film, she wears lots of gold, shiny dresses and fur. So, it’s not surprising that the gangster portrayed by Robert De Niro is blinded by her the first time they meet.
Gone with the Wind (1939)
- Costume designer: Walter Plunkett
This film shows events that span 15 years, so creating plausible costumes was a difficult task. Plunkett studied historical materials, made the fabrics look older than they were, and even went on an expedition to get thorns that were used instead of needles. And there was the legendary dress made of green velvet curtains that Mammy had to sew.
Gangster Squad (2013)
- Costume designer: Mary Zophres
In this film, men wear jackets with wide shoulders, silk T-shirts, short ties, and wide hats — this is the clothing that the bad guys wore in the ’40s. To create historically accurate outfits, Mary Zophres did some in-depth research.
Emma Stone is a bright spot in this film. In one of the scenes, she wears a bright red dress. Her look was inspired by a dress from the legendary Rita Hayworth. It was supposed to be the symbol of the glamour of the ’40s.
Poster with Emma Stone
The World Is Not Enough (1999)
- Costume designer: Lindy Hemming
The costume designers that worked on James Bond movies read the script first, and then did research on fashion tendencies and discussed the clothes with the director. So, the clothes not only looked trendy but also helped show the nature of the characters.
Elektra King’s iconic red dress symbolizes her anger and her silk cape shows her high social status. The red color creates the illusion that she is just a beautiful woman, but not a dangerous enemy. The dress was made entirely by hand.
In the Mood for Love (2000)
- Costume designer: William Chang
The director wanted to focus on the feelings of the characters and not show how the world around them changes. This is why all the change we see on the screen is about the clothing of the main characters.
The clothes of the characters show how they want to look in other people’s eyes. But slowly, Su’s dresses start to communicate her mood, and Chow adapts to the style of his love. There’s a chemistry between Su and her clothes. Roberto Cavalli and other famous designers were inspired by these characters’ costumes.
Coco Before Chanel (2009)
- Costume designer: Catherine Leterrier
To recreate the style of the legendary Coco, Leterrier looked at photo archives, went to museums, and looked for the necessary fabrics at flea markets. The viewers found out what the young Coco was like: talented, bright, pompous, and very poor.
Her non-conformist nature is also shown through her clothes. While other characters look feminine, Coco wears men’s style oversize clothes. When others are wearing something bright, Coco chooses dark colors. Thanks to the perfect costumes and great acting by Audrey Tatou, the main character achieves the impossible — she dresses like a clown but looks stunning.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
- Costume designer: Hilary Rosenfeld
The main plot of the film is Baby’s growth. The transformation of the character from a shy girl into a confident young woman is shown through dancing and clothes. The latter become more open but not too much. The costume designer had to do a very good job to create the clothes from the rebellious ’60s fashion.
Johnny plays a very important role in the girl’s life. In the legendary scene of their final dance, the characters are perfectly visible. Johnny wears a leather jacket and a black shirt — he’s definitely a bad guy. And Baby wears a tender pink dress that many girls wanted after watching this film.
The Matrix (1999)
- Costume designer: Kym Barrett
The costumes in this film not only made it look better, but also conveyed the message. Think about the real-world clothes of the characters. But in the Matrix, they could wear any trendy clothes they wanted.
Trinity had to look like an oil spot — that’s what the directors wanted. She challenges gravity, appears out of nowhere, and disappears fast. Kym Barrett found a great solution — PVC clothes that looked perfect and were pretty cheap.
The clothes are tight but they are not revealing. They highlight the important role of Trinity — she’s not a typical movie girlfriend, she’s a fighter on an important mission.
Do you pay attention to the characters’ clothing in movies? Which movie outfits do you like the best?