Fashion in movies has always been an integral part of the film industry. However, the most recognizable costumes from movies are usually dresses. The versatility of the dresses and the starlets who wear them set them apart from other garments. Plus, dresses are typically adorned with glitz and glamour not often seen in everyday life.
However, not all iconic movie dresses sparkle. Some seem rather mundane but are so synonymous with their character or movies that they have cemented themselves in the cultural zeitgeist. Iconic dresses from movies are universally recognized by everyone regardless of genre. Whether extravagant or modest, these dresses are the most famous garments in cinema.
10/10 Cady Heron’s Party Dress Is Peak Plastics Fashion
As the new girl in school, Cady Heron does not know much about American school culture. However, after she is accepted by The Plastics in Mean Girls, she begins to have a grasp on the type of fashion acceptable for high school’s popular elite. The pinnacle of her time as a Plastic, as well as her best ensemble, is a color-block black dress with a large pink stripe down the side that she wears to her first hosted party.
The dress is not only a symbol of Cady’s transformation but is also emblematic of the early 2000s. The short cocktail dress with spaghetti straps perfectly embodies the chic but fun fashion of the times. Mary Jane Fort expertly captured a style that is now an iconic teen movie look.
9/10 Princess Leia’s Dress Is Simple For A Rebellion
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope is the movie that launched a franchise and sparked new worlds of fashion. In particular, Princess Leia’s emblematic look captured her simple and no-nonsense approach to the rebellion.
Though the dress seems simple, the all-white frock designed by John Mollo is both otherworldly and practical for a princess during battle. Leia wears several outfits throughout the franchise, but this dress is what most fans think of when they think of the extraterrestrial monarch.
8/10 Maria Swirls Around The Countryside In Her Habit
The Sound Of Music
Maria is a young novice hoping to be a nun in The Sound of Music. However, her free spirit often gets her in trouble at the Abbey. This is why fans first see her spinning and singing on a green hill in her novice uniform at the beginning of the movie.
The humble black dress designed by Dorothy Jeakins has long sleeves and a striped beige apron. Although the dress is modest, it remains undoubtedly recognizable. Viewers are instantly transported to pre-World War II Austria when they see Julie Andrews twirling in the black dress.
7/10 Dorothy Gale’s Shoes Are Not Her Only Iconic Clothing Item
The Wizard Of Oz
Dorothy Gale is just a normal girl living on a Kansas farm when she is transported into a strange and whimsical world in The Wizard of Oz. Her everyday life is filmed in black and white, while Oz is filmed in color, making Dorothy’s stunningly wholesome blue gingham dress stand out. The dress is accompanied by a white, high-collared blouse with blue ribbon embellishments.
Dorothy’s wholesome demeanor is perfectly displayed in the adorable yet iconic dress designed by Adrian Adolph Greenberg. The garment stands out, even among the fanciful people of Oz, and alludes to Dorothy’s quiet and kind nature. Just the title The Wizard of Oz evokes images of a young Dorothy in her blue-checkered dress trying to find her way home.
6/10 Cinderella’s Silhouette Is Synonymous With Ball Gowns
Nowadays, the word “Cinderella” is synonymous with ball gowns in the fashion world. Brides especially ask for “Cinderella” silhouettes when looking for their perfect dress. As anyone would expect, the phrase most likely refers to the Disney animated classic, Cinderella.
In the film, Cinderella wears a silvery, shimmering ball gown with puffed sleeves. Although designer Sandy Powell made the well-known dress blue for the 2015 remake, the extravagant ball gown look remains the same. Cinderella’s gown is the pinnacle for those hoping to look like princesses.
5/10 Vivian Ward Is Pretty In Red
Vivian Ward is taken off the streets and given a whole new look in the ’90s romantic comedy, Pretty Woman. Although Vivian wears many wonderful pieces throughout the film, her most ravishing dress is a red gown she wears to the opera with Edward Lewis.
Designed by Marilyn Vance, the dress is both shocking and gorgeous, much like Vivian Ward. Its bright red color stands out among the other guests and highlights actress Julia Roberts beautifully. Pretty Woman is known for its fashion, but above all the other outfits, it is known for the red gown.
4/10 Pink Frocks Are Lorelei Lee’s Best Friend
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Marilyn Monroe stars as Lorelei Lee in the classic Hollywood movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Lorelei is a showgirl who is engaged to a wealthy man. Unfortunately, his father disapproves of the union, believing Lorelei to be after the family’s money.
In a song that quiets none of these feelings, Lorelei takes to the stage to sing “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” in a bubble gum pink strapless gown from costume designers Charles LeMaire, Joan Josef, and Sam Benson. The dress is accentuated with a big bow on the back and matching gloves. The gown dazzles audiences with its bright color. Plus, it perfectly fits Lorelei’s playful nature. The song may not have appeased her future father-in-law, but the dress won the hearts of movie-goers everywhere.
3/10 Holly Golightly Stuns In A Little Black Dress
Breakfast At Tiffany’s
Breakfast At Tiffany’s stars Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly. Holly lives her life off of the favors of wealthy men and hopes to marry one of them eventually. As a country girl living in the big city, Holly sees no other alternative for a comfortable life.
Fans get a glimpse into Holly’s charmed lifestyle in the opening scene of the movie. Presumably having come in from one of her grand nights out, Holly is adorned in a little black dress embellished with a pearl necklace and headpiece. The Givenchy dress redesigned by Edith Head has become a staple gown when speaking of celebrated dresses in cinema.
2/10 Jo Stockton’s Givenchy Dress Sparked A Worldwide Trend
Audrey Hepburn stars in another famous role as Jo Stockton in Funny Face. Jo is a timid assistant who becomes a fashion model. Jo wears many fabulous clothes throughout the film, but none are as iconic or influential as the Givenchy tea-length wedding dress.
The wedding dress was such a hit with viewers, that many engaged women at the time were clamoring to have wedding dresses just like the one Jo wore on the runway. Though the film did not feature a wedding, the wedding dress remains one of the most remembered and beloved film dresses of all time.
1/10 Marilyn’s White Dress Is The Most Iconic Movie Dress Of All Time
The Seven Year Itch
The Seven Year Itch stars Marilyn Monroe once again. She plays an enticing young woman who lives above Richard Sherman. With his wife and son away on vacation, Richard befriends Marilyn’s character and entertains thoughts of being unfaithful to his wife.
The movie, though relatively uncomplicated, features the most iconic movie scene of all time. With a heat wave taking over Manhattan, air raises through the vents, causing Marilyn’s white halter dress by costume designers Charles LeMaire and William Travilla to billow up. The dress is ubiquitous when talking about classic Hollywood, and is one of the most recognizable in film history.
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