The 15 (Less Obvious) Films Fashion People Always Reference

There are certain fashion-heavy films we all know like the back of our hands; the cerulean blue scene from The Devil Wears Prada, Cher’s Alaïa dress in Clueless or Sandy’s all-black skin-tight moment in Grease, but there are other, lesser-known corners of the cinematic world that industry insiders like to reference the most. And while you have the spare time over the holidays (we hope), there's no better opportunity than to swot up on your sartorial knowledge than now.

Scroll down to learn the on-screen gems to pepper into conversation—and the key shopping piece required for channeling each look…

<i>Love Story</i>



Style Notes: Ali McGraw’s all-American preppy-university-student separates covered by that camel coat often set the benchmark for simple 1970s styling when the decade comes back around into fashion. Tommy Hilfiger’s A/W 15 line had more than a hint of it on offer.

Key Buy: A camel coat

<i>Basic Instinct</i>



Style Notes: Look closely at this Sharon Stone smash from 1992 and you’ll see that much of her minimalist, super-luxe wardrobe is on offer in stores today: the polo-neck sleeveless dresses and oversize coats are back in vogue once more.

Key Buy: Simple roll-neck dress

<i>Grey Gardens</i>

Style Notes: Eclectic to it’s very core, the 1975 documentary of Jackie Onassis’s madcap relatives (Edie Bouvier Beale and her mother, Edith) provides the essence of what it means to mix, match, and layer with wild abandon.

Key Buy: A scarf to style in every which way imaginable

<i>The Night Porter</i>


Ulstein Bild/Getty Images

Style Notes: In 2011 Marc Jacobs dedicated an entire collection to this raunchy, radical 1974 film starring Charlotte Rampling. The flick was—and still is—all kinds of screwed up, but the bondage elements will forever be used in design circles. And Rampling wears the hell out of that hat.

Key Buy: Chaffeur cap (braces optional!)

<i>The Eyes of Laura Mars</i>


Archive Photos/Getty Images

Style Notes: Another '70s classic, here Faye Dunaway leads the cast as a super-stylish (although troubled) fashion photographer in New York. Helmut Newton was actually responsible for all of the shoots and set arrangements, but we still heart her thigh-split skirts and pussy-bow blouses.

Key Buy: A silk pussy-bow blouse

<i>Belle de Jour</i>


Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images

Style Notes: Roger Vivier’s classic Belle de Jour pumps, which you can still buy today, were indeed made for Catherine Deneuve in this 1960s must-see. With Yves Saint Laurent on the costume credits as well, this controversial movie established a script for sharp, mod-like French style.

Key Buy: The Belle pumps, of course!

<i>Blade Runner</i>

Style Notes: If you see an apocalyptic, set-in-the-future fashion collection on a runway, it’s highly likely to have been inspired by the looks in this movie, from Daryl Hannah’s trashy get-ups to the combat gear of the men in action. 

Key Buy: An animal print coat. You can leave the blonde wig and ripped tights at home.

<i>The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover</i>


Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images

Style Notes: It’s the Fifth Element that Jean Paul Gaultier is most commonly namechecked against, but his work on this visually charged 1989 flick starring Helen Mirren should not be overlooked. Her shocking red eveningwear is something to behold, and it's loaded with meaning.

Key Buy: A sexy red dress

<i>Annie Hall</i>


Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images

Style Notes: Diane Keaton’s tomboyish tailoring in one of Woody Allen’s most famous pieces shall be eternally called upon for suiting inspiration. Her baggy trousers, waistcoat, nerdy specs, and spotted tie provide the DNA for any girl wishing to wear boy’s clothes.

Key Buy: Wide-leg pants




Style Notes: Among the many looks the beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer wears in Scarface, her array of slip dresses do stand out. However, it was this white belted jacket that continues to do it for us.

Key Buy: A cinched blazer. Try it in a dark colour for winter, and then upgrade for the summer months. 

<i>An Education</i>


BBC Films/REX/Shutterstock



Style Notes: Over the course of the '60s-era flick An Education, we see Carey Mulligan's character graduate from wearing a schoolgirl uniform to more sophisticated looks, such as the demure floral shift dresses of the time.

Key Buy: A vintage-inspired floral dress

<i>The Graduate</i>


Embassy/Laurence Turman/REX/Shutterstock

Style Notes: Anna Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson equalled super-luxe, languous and glamorous pieces that spoke her sensual language. From leopard-print coats and underwear to sheer dresses, this is how real grownups dress… Right?

Key Buy: Anything sheer



Cinemarque-New World/REX/Shutterstock



Stye Notes: Frilly skirts, cardigans, and crop tops were exactly what we wanted to slip into after we saw Winona Ryder in Heathers. We were all over the #winoforever hashtag waaay before Stranger Things came along.

Key Buy: A black crop top

<i>When Harry Met Sally</i>


Castle Rock/Nelson/Columbia/REX/Shutterstock

Style Notes: Sally Albright, played by Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, is preppy through and through. This outfit, despite being filmed in the '80s, still feels totally modern. From the geek chic glasses to the velvet blazer, there's also some incredible knitwear we spy…

Key Buy: A red sweater

<i>The Craft</i>

Style Notes: From the chokers to the floral maxi skirts and dresses paired with DMs, not to mention the leather blazers, this was '90s goth at its finest. Of course, we've seen this look take over 2016 with an abundance of slip dresses on and off the catwalk—don't expect this wardrobe magic to disappear anytime soon.

Key Buy: A floral maxi dress

Related Stories