Don’t for one minute think that because the Oscars aren’t aren't here yet we’re not going to bask in Oscar season glory and talk about movies every chance we get. If we could, we’d combine Oscars and style every day. But instead, we’ll do this: combine Oscars and fashion every other day. (Don’t say we don’t do anything for you.)
So this time, we’re looking back at the Best Picture winners of the past and rounding up the ones with the best wardrobes. Why? Because we’re obsessed. Let's do this.
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1. "Titanic" (1997)
When this movie came out (and some of us were at formative ages), it was everything. We wanted Rose’s hair. We wanted Leonardo DiCaprio’s unconditional love. We wanted Celine Dion to play all the time, forever. And, of course, we wanted a) Rose’s wardrobe, and b) an excuse to wear it. The dialogue may not have stood the test of time (drink anytime Jack and Rose say “Jack” and “Rose”), but the aesthetic sure did, and while we will never wear beaded gowns and corsets (thank goodness), we can live vicariously through them and Kate Winslet’s magnificent weave.
2. "Gone With The Wind" (1939)
From the opening scene on Tara’s front steps, "Gone With the Wind" offered a wardrobe that reflected everything from the excess of the pre-Civil War era, to, well, the excess of the post-Civil War era. Dresses were colourful, elaborate, and reflected the characters perfectly (Scarlett in over-the-top “I have money now!” pieces, Melanie in more modest colours and styles), and became so entrenched in pop culture, they were spoofed on TV 40 years later. (Enter: Carol Burnett’s take on the green velvet “curtain dress” – curtain rods and all.)
3. "It Happened One Night" (1934)
“Hey girl, this movie was set in 1934 and the clothes weren’t amazing – what are you talking about?” you ask. Well, here’s the thing: "It Happened One Night" works in the opposite way of epics like "Gone With the Wind": it’s a simple story about two people with opposite personalities becoming closer. Star Claudette Colbert’s skirt and sweater set doesn’t steal the spotlight, but she still uses it in a way to get attention (like pulling her skirt up to stop a car). Sometimes the best wardrobes are the ones that sneak up on you – which Clark Gable can attest to based on his “oh my God, I just saw her knees” expression.
4. "Chicago" (2002)
For Chicago haters, relax – we know it didn’t deserve Best Picture. But its wardrobe deserves all sorts of accolades for its mix of ‘20s-appropriate pieces (fur coats, hats, drop waists) and Broadway-approved costumes (beaded stage wear, onesies). And, of course, a million points to Richard Gere’s sock garters – the true stars of the film.
5. "Annie Hall" (1977)
Diane Keaton hit menswear out of the park through this Best Picture winner, and set the tone for similar looks today. But while tweed pants, vests, ties, and button-up blouses reflected the changing aesthetic for women in the ever-evolving 1970s, Annie Hall’s wardrobe still holds up – at least according to how often its cited and channeled in some capacity every Fall/Winter season.
6. "The Godfather" (1972)
Well first and foremost, a round of applause for each and every suit shown in this Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece. (Note: when in doubt, everybody – regardless of gender – just dress like Don Corleone.) But attention should also be paid to Diane Keaton’s character, Kay, who makes her debut in a bright 1940s dress, and whose style is a reprieve from a (wonderful, don’t get us wrong) movie entrenched in darkness. (And if you’re still not convinced, simply applaud James Caan’s rotating collection of tank tops.)
7. "My Fair Lady" (1966)
But on the flipside of simplicity and everyday wear is this: Audrey Hepburn’s turn as Eliza Doolittle, flower girl-turned-Hungarian princess (or so the ball attendees thought). And while her everyday wear was fine in itself, it was her entrance at Ascot that drew the most gasps: her mermaid-shaped black and white dress was almost as awe-inspiring as her use of the word “arse” – or as when she finally (finally) stood up to Dr. Henry Higgins.
8. "West Side Story" (1961)
The true power of "West Side Story" is, of course, the music and the acting. But don’t discount Natalie Wood’s dresses, or Richard Beymer’s red button-up shirt and black pants, which is recognizable in almost any capacity. While subtle, the wardrobe of this ’61 musical helps tell the story by highlighting the divide between the opposing sides – or at least by highlighting the personalities of its main characters.
9. "Gigi" (1958)
Hollywood’s musical golden age was arguably a little over-the-top (and praise all of the lords), and "Gigi" reflects this with its vibrant, detailed costumes that somehow combine both the kitsch and the glamorous. I mean, yes, "Gigi" succeeds in evoking the Victorian era, but at the same time, its use of colour costumes also reminds us of the ‘50s enthusiasm for Technicolour.
10. "All About Eve" (1950)
“Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” Odds are, upon reading that quote, you’ll instantly think of Bette Davis standing atop her apartment’s staircase, guaranteeing a night of debauchery. And such is the magic of "All About Eve": the acting is what makes it, but its wardrobe highlights details in Margo Channing’s wardrobe, and marks the evolution of Eve’s. Often, a story can be told through a movie’s costume department – and in this case, Eve’s rise from theatre fan to theatre star can be documented from her trench coats to mink furs.