Characterising one movie over another as a favourite always feels like you’re picking a favourite child or choosing between two great loves. The way we feel changes depending on the year, the season or even the day we’ve been having and so do our best-loved movies. Friday night, in the warm embrace of someone we love, with the sun just settling down and the warm breeze coming through our window, we crave something exciting that makes us laugh. Come Sunday, our choices become more homely and relaxing, winding down from what seems the busiest few days we’ve had in a long time.
Before the world opened up, movies were simply a form of escapism, now they’re back as a source of inspiration and if you ask us, as we embrace our summer wardrobes with open hands, there is no better time for a style revelation.
From the iconic 90s Gwyneth Paltrow chic to the perfect elegance of Tilda Swinton, there are so many iconic moments to chose from. As we said, picking a favourite movie is hard but narrowing it down and picking the best summer movies with impeccable style feels a lot more doable.
So, that’s exactly what we did. We traced the unforgettable aesthetics of a few of our beloved movies, where style was never secondary.
The Talented Mr Ripley, 1999
Long Story Short: A psychological thriller about love, obsession, and identity theft.
Set against the backdrop of the Italian Riviera, The Talented Mr Ripley is a movie that boasts one of the finest wardrobes in cinematic history. Clothes tell the story here.
Costume designer Ann Roth (known for her work on The English Patient, Cold Mountain, Closer, Mamma Mia!, etc.) examines this intoxicating tale of social climbing through fashion. The contrast between the blue-blooded American playboy Dickie and the antithesis of the jet-set Tom is emphasised by the costumes.
Linen trousers, well to-do loafers, Italian knits and fine tailoring all add to Dickie’s flawless appearance. Matt Damon’s character Tom, by contrast, looks like his style is never quite all there – square glasses, knitted ties, chinos and vintage pieces whose fit is never right are his go to, until he makes his transformation into Dickie and switches to a wardrobe of bespoke pieces.
It all starts with a navy Princeton blazer, that Tom borrowed from a friend (meant to signify acceptance among the high-society) which he quickly changes for the white jacket of a bathroom attendant – not so lavish either - before ending in his tattered corduroy jacket. Finally, that gets replaced too, once he remodels himself into Dickie.
Although impeccable, menswear isn’t the only interesting thing about the style of this movie. Often forgotten in the mix, Marge’s distinctive aesthetics is just as unforgettable. Her style changes dramatically halfway through the movie from white shirts, flirty mid-length skirts and bikinis, to ladylike dresses, tailored trench coats, and chic accessories. As the plot darkens, Marge attends the opera in a strapless, navy blue evening gown with string bows at the back, paired with white satin gloves – a breath-taking but dramatic ensemble for the most intense scene in the movie. Finally, it’s time to expose the imposer and what better way to do it in, than by wearing a statement-making leopard coat – unforgettable at the very least.
A Single Man, 2009
Long Story Short: A college professor copes with the loss of his partner.
Tom Ford’s masterclass in style and colour. His exquisite attention to detail is reflected in every second of this movie – from the impressive cinematography to the distinctive cast, dreamlike location and impeccable wardrobe.
Channelling the style of the sixties, in partnership with the design team who styled the sets of Mad Men, Tom Ford proves once and for all, that nothing looks and feels better than a white Oxford shirt, and that consummate good taste never goes out of style.
First, there is George Falconer (Colin Firth), the best-dressed English professor, always wearing crispy white shirts, polished shoes and perfectly pressed trousers. The white shirt is the main style event in this movie. It appears in the film’s opening sequence when George opens his drawer to reveal an endless line-up of brand-new ones, placed the perfect distance apart – a hint of a man who’s trying to maintain order in his shaken world.
Then there is Charlotte (Julianne Moore), George’s best friend, who is desperately in love with him. Her despair is emphasised by her costumes. With a Mary Quant dress and kohl-black eyes, she is an epitome of sixties elegance – as perfect as it is depressing in its flawlessness. The film pays a great ode to period undergarments as well, unmissable for that day and age, that give the actors the posture and movement, distinctive for the time. A small detail that is important to be exacting, so the costumes could help inform the viewer about that period.
Finally, there is Kenny (Nicholas Hoult). The sweet-faced boy, who is George’s student and is the only one who notices that his professor has a secret. Dressed in white, he illuminates the movie with an angelic presence, saving his teacher from his emotional agony.
Io Sono L'amore (I Am Love), 2009
Long Story Short: А woman falls in love with the wrong person at the wrong time to find out it is the right thing after all.
Almost 10 years before Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino created this sublime style symphony called Io Sono L'amore (I Am Love). Of course, the movie owes much of its fashion fame to the costume designer Antonella Cannarozzi (Academy Award nominee) who commissioned the clothing of Tilda Swinton’s character Emma Recchi to Raf Simons.
The joy of this movie is to watch the perfectly measured elegance of Emma. Timelessness is a theme here, while colours tell their own story.
In the beginning, Emma is blending with the streets of Milan in neutral ensembles walking the walk and talking the talk, expected of the elegant Russian wife of a wealthy Italian textile manufacturer. Evolving from quiet and calm to vibrant and radiant, she switches to tangerine and scarlet red for when she’s falling in love with another man, only to finish in ashen tones for the tragic end of her love affair.
The family she married into, by contrast, represents the ultimate Italian luxury and the ethos of the class system – the male characters are dressed in sleek tailor-made suits, while her mother-in-law, an aristocratic sort played by Marisa Berenson, is portrayed as the perfectly put-together mature woman with a preference for vintage ’70s furs and lavish gold jewellery. In fact, all of the Recchi women favour a classic look giving the impression that clothes in this family are passed down as relics, not shopped for.
And then there is Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), whose lack of style is juxtaposed to the superficial perfection of Emma’s wardrobe. There is also a pinch of passion about his unpretentious appearance, just enough to break her flawless world apart.
Great Expectation, 1998
Long Story Short: A poor boy falls in love with a man-eater.
The ‘90s were the green period of the director Alfonso Cuaron and shades of green appeared in every scene of his movies. From icy and blue greens to mint, lime, forest, emerald or olive, it was included in every set and every costume. The only rule was: it had to look real. Of course, jeans were blue, tuxedos were black and prison uniforms were orange, but green was always there, including every Gwyneth Paltrow look in Great Expectations.
And trust us, her wardrobe is worth the 111 minutes of your time. The costume designer Judianna Makovsky, along with the help of Donna Karan, did wonders with the limited palette, making this green fever dream come true.
A visual celebration of style, Gwyneth Paltrow is seen in every major 90s trend – mules, slip skirts, mini dresses, cami gowns, headbands and hair clips, the movie doesn’t miss.
No doubt, her most memorable outfit in the film was an all-green barely-buttoned shirt and long skirt. It still makes cameos on nostalgic Instagram feeds and represent our ultimate go-to uniform for the warmer days ahead.
Another standout piece is the strappy velvet gown with open back, in what the designer calls “bottom-of-the-duck-pond green” – a dress that will steal your heart just to break it, exactly how Emma did with Finn in the movie.
Romeo + Juliet, 1996
Long Story Short: A classic story of Romeo and Juliet, set in a modern-day city of Verona Beach.
Everything is cult about this Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, including the costuming. Despite being famously stylish, the clothes are also integral to the story, used to spotlight the liberating tone of the 90s along with contrast between the two families.
The Capulet gang are dressed in black and stream-lined garments, cuban-heel boots and silver jewellery. The Montague boys, however, are far more laid-back with exuberant Hawaiian shirts, workwear trousers, Chuck Taylors and bright pink hair. Their appearances are complete opposites, yet they both capture the movie’s spirit of youthful rebellion.
Highlighting the contrast to these contrasts, the star-crossed lovers are set apart from their relatives in subtle and simple looks with clean lines and no embellishments (there is even one scene where Juliet is left in just a white t-shirt and jeans), credited to Miuccia Prada.
All this liberating fashion is sound-tracked by the unmistakable sound of Radiohead, the Cardigans and Garbage, nailing young angst masterfully. Together they turn this adaptation into a time capsule of teen emotions, that is unique and enduring.