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16 Best Movies to Watch Just for the Clothes

Some movies you watch for the plot, others you watch for the gorgeous clothes. Here are some of the best fashion films.

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Fashion is key

Sometimes the clothes are the most important part of the movie. Whether it’s gorgeous gowns, stunning period pieces, or fashion-forward, bold accessories the clothes in a movie create more of a story for each character. If you’re into fashion or need some inspiration for new outfits, add the films below to your watch list. To look as good as these actors and actresses, make sure to avoid these outfit mistakes that make you look messy.

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Anne Hathaway devil wears prada new york fashion
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‘The Devil Wears Prada’

This classic opens with KT Tunsell’s pop hit “Suddenly I See,” be-bopping in the background while all those beautiful women get ready in the morning. It’s all about the accessories, people! From lingerie to earrings to boots, bags, and coats, this is how the fashionistas put it together. Anne Hathaway works hard to look frumpy and Meryl Streep exudes effortless chic that looks so expensive. Pull out your cerulean blue bargain basement sweater and watch Hathaway transform into a fashion plate. Although this movie is also guilty of a few of the things movies always get wrong about real life.

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Elizabeth Taylor cleopatra film fashion movie
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While you probably wouldn’t wear this fierce Egyptian queen’s looks out in public, they are truly breathtaking. Cleopatra’s bold, opulent, metallic style matches her powerful personality. Also, if you’re interested in makeup you’ll want to pay close attention to her eyeliner. If you want to feel like you’re in some of your favorite movies, here are the movie sets you can visit in real life.

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Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh Gone With the Wind movie fashion
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‘Gone with the Wind’

Which gown is your favorite? Do you prefer Miss Scarlet in white ruffles with the impossibly big hoop skirt she wears while flirting with the Tarleton Twins? What about that red velvet number when Rhett scandalously abandons her at Melanie’s birthday party? “What a lovely dress,” utters angelic, loyal Melanie. The hands-down favorite might be the forest green curtain outfit accessorized with golden tassels. Even her black mourning clothes are gloriously lacy. And no one rocks calico the way Vivien Leigh does while she’s digging a potato out from Tara’s soil. Oh Rhett, are you sure you can’t stick around? We really think you should. This classic film also has incredible music, just like these movies with the best soundtracks ever.

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hunger games
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‘The Hunger Games’ Trilogy

Those that live in the 12th District might not be sporting very interesting pieces, but the fashion in The Captial is jawdropping. Bold colors, extravagant hair and makeup, and interesting textures on the clothes keep your eyes drawn to the screen. Effie Trinket, played by Elizabeth Banks, is probably the most well known for her outfits in the trilogy, but Katniss’s dress on fire certainly outdoes her wild hair accessories.

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madonna on set desperately seeking susan movie fashion
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‘Desperately Seeking Susan’

Madonna wannabes willingly followed Rosanna Arquette’s lead and copied all the clothes worn by the newly-minted pop star. It’s time for big hair, blondies! Let your roots show and wrap it up in a big black bow. Don’t forget those iconic studded booties. Women still lust for that embroidered blazer with the pyramid on back. (Check out Pinterest for a DIY.) Madonna even famously sported a garter belt with boxer shorts. This movie brought us feminine menswear, cascades of vintage beads, and those iconic black Ray-bans. Slap on some red lipstick. We’re on our way back, 1980s!

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the great gatsby movie
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‘The Great Gatsby’

The Great Gatsby is set in the roaring 20s and focuses on the extremely wealthy, so it comes as no surprise that everyone is dressed to the nines. Jay Gatsby, Daisy, and Jordan can be seen in tailored suits, flapper dresses, stylish headbands, and lots of sparkle.

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Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell gentlemen prefer blondes movie fashion
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‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’

This movie has a fluffy plot about a missing diamond tiara, but all that is just an excuse for the costumes and the dance numbers. Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell will knock your socks off from the first note. Get ready for the pair to rock red glitter gowns with white plumes bursting from their headpieces as they wiggle in front of sparkling, indigo curtains. This musical was all about saturating the screen with bright, luscious colors. Watch Marilyn in her signature hot pink bow gown, staged in front of a fire engine red backdrop. Diamonds drip and dangle and back-up dancers are costumed as candelabras. Talk to me, Harry Winston. Tell us alllllll about it. Looking at a different Marilyn moment for your fashion fix? Here’s the story behind Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dress.

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memoirs of geisha
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‘Memoirs of a Geisha’

Memoirs of a Geisha is filled with beautiful, intricate kimonos. Each one seems to be more intricate and detailed than the last and the costume designers did a great job matching the colors and styles to each character’s personality. Each character in the film was given a “mood” pallet. Vibrant reds, blues, and greens for Hatsumomo and peaceful, calm colors for Mameha.

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Clueless movie fashion Stacey Dash and Alicia Silverstone1995
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Alicia Silverstone’s Cher made loads of shopping bags an essential accessory. But the main reason you’re watching her flirt with Paul Rudd (again) is because the closet scene is everything. Cher was stuck with a hulking nineties PC, but these days you can get your own app to help you coordinate your looks. Cher’s staples were over-the-knee socks, chokers, berets, plaid separates, tight V-neck sweaters, and the super-mini. It’s makeover time! Ready for more laughs? Here are the funniest movies of all time.

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Ocean 8 movie set fashion
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‘Oceans 8’

The recent movie, Oceans 8, is expected to have great clothes because it’s staged around the Met Gala, and the costume designers did not disappoint. Sandra Bullock’s sleek, one-shoulder gown, Cate Blanchett’s velvet suit, Rihanna’s red mermaid dress! We can’t get enough. Where’s our invite to commit a crime at the Met Gala? This one may not be on the list, but you should also take a look at the iconic movies set in your state.

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age of innocence movie
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‘The Age of Innocence’

Martin Scorsese’s Victorian-era romance about upper-class bullies won the Best Costume Oscar, but even that achievement does not even cover how good these costumes are. You’ll see obsessive recreations of high society fashions known for their intricate uses of silk brocade, beads, and bustles. Every detail was authentic and stunning. Thank goodness the cinematographer had the good sense to linger on all those details, from gloves to satin slippers to hairpins. Michelle Pfieffer and Daniel Day-Lewis play doomed paramours, but their sad tale basically accessorizes the outfits instead of the other way around.

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mirror mirror movie
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‘Mirror Mirror’

This fantasy adventure film brings a new take to the fairytale Snow White. All of the gowns in this movie are works of art and reveal new details from every angle. There’s no actress better than Julia Roberts, who plays the wicked stepmother, to sport the grand red and stunning white gowns that somehow add to her evil demeanor.

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dream girls movie
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Why are there so many mirrors when Jennifer Hudson belts out “And I Am Telling You” in her Oscar-winning performance? So we can see her bronze suit with the fur trim from every angle—and ogle The Dreams’ sequin gowns better before they storm away. Amazing songs, great acting . . . but the clothes slay. Beyoncé has a montage (an homage to Diana Ross in Mahogany) where she models as Cleopatra and other icons of beauty. The Dreams look good in every style incarnation, even the seventies when we get bell bottoms and disco. Jamie Fox doesn’t look too bad either—”‘Oh my,’ that’s my dream.”

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marie antoinette movie
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‘Marie Antoinette’

They may not have had shopping malls in the 18th century, but they did have gorgeous gowns. The pastel dresses with lace details, satin trim, and accent bows practically wear the characters. And even though they are probably very uncomfortable all of us wish we had the chance to wear one to some event today.

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Audrey Hepburn 'Breakfast at Tiffany's,' fashion movie
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‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’

You’ve got a little black dress, right? Have your breakfast at Tiffany’s to see the iconic Givenchy original on pixie dream girl, Holly Golightly. Audrey Hepburn looked amazing in her wide-brimmed hats and huge sunglasses. She even makes jeans and a sweatshirt look cool—if you’re singing “Moon River” on your fire escape. Check out her many gorgeous gowns including a draped Grecian dress and a pink cocktail frock with matching overcoat. Now all you need are kitten heels, elbow gloves and a long, black cigarette holder. Don’t forget the faux pearls!

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Psst! You’ll be interested to learn how Audrey Hepburn stayed so slim without ever dieting.

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pretty woman movie
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‘Pretty Woman’

Julia Roberts is supposed to be a prostitute. (Yeah, right! Even in a blonde wig and patent leather boots she’s still America’s sweetheart.) This Cinderella story is really about shopping. First Julia gets snubbed by snooty shop girls, but then she goes back all dolled up and disses the whole store. Need an outfit for a polo match? Try white polka-dots on brown silk and add a smart little hat and white gloves. Opera bound? Red velvet and diamonds. Business dinner? Little black dress trimmed in lace. Hair? Big. Upswept. Or down with bouncy chestnut curls. When Hector Elizondo smiles with approval, you’re good to go, girlfriend. Add the most romantic movies of all time to your list.

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Molly Pennington, PhD
Molly is a writer and collage artist with a PhD in film and cultural studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Her professional astrology services and artwork are available at Baroque Moon Astrology. She covers the zodiac, books, movies, TV and culture for Reader’s Digest, and loves to talk about all the ways we make meaning.