What’s the Most Memorable Wardrobe in Movie History?

Remember Marilyn Monroe’s white dress from The Seven Year Itch? Sure you do. Plenty of movie fans can easily recall the cape Bela Lugosi wore as Count Dracula…especially since he was buried with it! Perhaps the image of Peter O’Toole modeling his blazing white desert robes in Lawrence of Arabia has never left your mind; you might be (rightly!) preoccupied with Maureen O’Sullivan’s jungle attire from the Weissmuller Tarzan films.

Irv’s choices are a little more off the beaten path:

Take a walk down the comments catwalk now, strutting your own picks for cinema’s most memorable costumes.

  • Gary Cahall

    Interesting topic. Personally, I always thought the most memorable movie wardrobe was the one the kids entered in the Chronicles of Narnia films, followed by the one voiced by Jo Anne Worley in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

  • bunson44

    My earliest memory of a stunning piece of wardrobe was the fur lined hooded cape Norma Shearer wore to meet Tyrone Power in 1938′s “Marie Antoinette”.

  • frankiedc

    Irv talks about Richard Chamberlain in an earlier version of THe Three Muskeeters. The memorable costumes to me were in the forties MGM version, most especially worn by Lana Turner as the wicked Lady Dewinter. Tuner was at the height of her beauty and her costumes accentuated it…lots of feathers, embroidery, and sumptuous gowns and hats. This was in contrast to her death scene in which she woe a simple black dress, but still looked gorgeous.Also Turner made a spectacular vision in her white turban, blouse and shorts in The Postman Always Rings Twice. Marilyn Monroe’s gold colored gown reflected in several mirrors in How to Marry A Millionaire was a stunning sight. Vivien Leigh’s green gown made of curtains is a remarkable aspect of Gone With the Wind, as were her virginal white dress at the beginning of the film and her red slinky gown indicating her fall from grace.

    In terms of mens’costumes, I still have never gotten over the sight of Bela Lugosi, wrapped in a sllk cape in the original Dracula.

  • arguellogomez

    My favorite single costume of all time is Scarlett O’Hara’s barbecue ensemble, picture hat and all. Most memorable movie wardrobe, a tie: “La Dolce Vita” and Zeffirelli’s “Romeo and Juliet”.

  • Alan Smithee

    I would like to suggest a follow-up question.

    What is the Most-Memorable Wardrobe Malfunction in Movie History ?

    I’m open to an article or even a poll ?

    This would include the teen-age sexploitation films, as well as adult fare, like

    ” Bringing Up Baby “.

    • GeorgeDAllen

      Maybe we’ll let Gary field that one–so he could make a few references to missing drawers and loose knobs… :)

    • dardavis01

      Might it be Susan Hayward in With a Song in my Heart?

  • Wayne P.

    I wont limit it to one characters costume but lets throw the whole spectacle in there! Kubricks Barry Lyndon (of course;)…It has everything…how many other films won all 4 of these Oscars: Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Artwork/Set Decorations, & Best Music/Original Score?
    The late 18th century William Thackeray period piece was Stanley, the master camera craftsman, at his most sumptuously opulent. Its funny that it was his last major epic movie in the long line that began with Spartacus and continued on through 2001 and even beyond.
    However, if I had to offer one actor for consideration it would have to be the great Lon Chaney Sr. for not only his remarkable self-created makeups used in all his roles (check out his Mr. Wu from 1927 if you just think his Hunchback of Notre Dame was the best), but for the splendidly horrifying portrayal he showed with added red-tint colorization during the scene as Eric came down the Paris Opera grand staircase after being up on the roof observing the unsuspecting Christine and her lover in 1925′s Phantom of the Opera. That may have been the precursor to the 3-strip technicolor process not fully utilized on screen until 1934′s Becky Sharp.

  • Tangomann

    Travis Banton’s exotic clothing for Marlene Dietrich in “Shanghai Express” and “The Devil Is A Woman”. Lana Turner’s all white wardrobe throughout “The Postman Always Rings Twice”.

  • Jim W.

    Tim Curry’s outfit in Rocky Horror Picture Show; unforgetable!

  • John M

    For the most memorable men’s wardrobe, John Travolta’s white suit in “Saturday Night Fever”.
    For the most memorable women’s wardrobe, Rita Hayworth’s beautiful and clever costume for the Dance of the Seven Veils in “Salome”.

  • Nick Z.

    Greatest costume design for women? For me its Marilyn Monroe’s lurid pink ensemble for Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Vivien Leigh’s green and white hoop skirt for the BBQ at Twelve Oaks in Gone With The Wind, Elizabeth Taylor’s white evening dress as she dances with Montgomery Clift in A Place In the Sun, Grace Kelly’s gold ball gown at the end of To Catch A Thief, Deborah Kerr’s regal ball gown for the “Shall We Dance?” number in The King and I, and Audrey Hepburn: first for that absolute stunner of a party dress from Sabrina, second for the little black cocktail dress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and finally, for that immaculate black and white ascot ensemble worn in My Fair Lady. Wow!

    Men’s design? Robert Taylor’s majestic ascot in Camille, Sean Connery’s impeccably tailored tux in Dr. No, Charlton Heston’s flamboyant chariot racing garb from Ben-Hur, Peter Ustinov’s flowing lavender robe of state as Nero in Quo Vadis, Bogart’s rumpled trench as gumshoe Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep and finally, any of Yul Brynner’s spectacular ensembles in The King and I.

  • Rocky

    The halter top under the suit that Grace Kelly wore in Rear Window…….business during the day, party at night.

  • OZ ROB

    Before becoming a notable director Mitchell Leisen was an art and costume designer, his costumes in THE SIGN OF THE CROSS 1932 are a highlight of this film. No matter how big the part or simple the concept the costumes were all stylishly created, The centurion and the lavish palace garments have the visual design influence of the art deco era, combing the traditional with the modern creates an exuberant and memorable movie wardrobe..

  • http://twitter.com/essendondons Mary Tovey

    The film that stands out for me in the outstanding resplendent costume department would have to be Marie Antoinette starring Norma Shearer and Tyrone Power. The costumes had been ok’d by by Thalberg well before his untimely death. Adrian was given the credit for the detail and authenticity of the costly gowns. Both Shearer and Power looked magnificent.
    Another standout (also from a black & white picture) was the beautiful gown Bette Davis wore to the ball in Jezebel. And who could forget the loveliness of Vivian Leigh when she wore that green velvet dress, made from household drapes, when she goes to see Rhett Butler ?

  • Cara

    Peter O’Toole’s white desert robes in Lawrence of Arabia. Iconic. Great to look at and so symbolic as the movie goes forward. Marilyn Monroe’s billowing dress in The Seven Year Itch. Iconic. And so revealing of Marilyn Monroe. No pun intended.

  • Jay

    Greer Garson’s short tartan mini outfit from the dance scene ‘She is my Daisy’ in ‘Random Harvest’, Grace Kelly’s lovely red dress from ‘Dial M for Murder’, Audrey Hepburn’s outfits in ‘Funny Face’.

  • jumbybird

    Judy Garland’s blue and white checkered dress in The Wizard of Oz… I doubt anyone has worn that fabric in any movie since (besides Dorothy that is).

  • abel

    Surely Elizabeth Taylor’s wardrobe for CLEOPATRA must constitute some kind of record. Many memorable costumes, above all the gold ensemble for her entrance into Rome atop a giant sphinx.

  • Bob

    I’m surprised at Irv’s mistake here! Okay, I won’t quibble with the Musketeers costumes. However: in the movie to which you refer, Michael York played D’Artagnon. I believe that Richard Chamberlain was cast as Aramis . . .

    • GeorgeDAllen

      Right you are, Bob. I added our correction and our thanks. Clearly in this regard Irv’s mind was focused more on his recollection of the droopy feather than the attractive face(s); a mistake not repeated by his mistaking Jane Fonda for John Philip Law, no doubt due to the particulars of his affection for the (lack of) costuming in “Barbarella.” :)

  • JoAnne McMaster

    Anything from any movie in the 1930′s or 40′s. Women dressed classy, and men elegantly. Now they all dress like bums (jeans, tshirts, etc.) You don’t have movie stars today; you have actors and actresses. Big difference…..

  • katherineferg

    Cyd Charisse’s green outfit in “Singin’ in the Rain”. Wow!

    • Antone

      Yes! I love the way the camera started on her green shoe holding Kelly’s hat. Then it slowly panned across her spectacular right leg, turned right & panned up the green dress and neckband to her mouth, which emitted a dense cloud of smoke. Zowie!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daisy-Brambletoes/846520385 Daisy Brambletoes

    The most memorable wardrobe? There are so many good ones, but my prize goes to the cast of the 1939 Wizard of Oz. It is one of the most marvelously iconic set of costumes in Hollywood history.

  • davidalan

    To me, it is 1938′s Marie Antoinette. Those outfits Norma Shearer wore were FANTASTIC!

  • Greyminster

    Probably the fantastic series of ecclesiastical wardrobes in the Vatican Fashion Show segment of Fellini’s Roma (1972), each costume more outrageous than the last, culminating in a pope-like figure rolled out on a dais and radiating tinselly glory. Those images will stay with ya!

  • dardavis01

    Greta Garbo’s costumes in both Camille and in Anna Karenina.

  • chrijeff

    I’d say almost anything from almost any historical-fiction movie set before about 1900!

  • Wayne P.

    The costumes and set designs in the 1944 early noirish classic “Laura” were top-notch, even for an A studio production from the Golden Age! The fashion show sequence in the middle of the picture was somewhat scandalous at the time and mayve even been taken out of the film upon its initial release because it showed such opulence to the home front during very harsh war-time conditions.

  • http://m.odnoklassniki.ru/ xamidullo Gold Grant


  • armchair costumer

    Best costume Design? “Hollywoodland”, the film about George Reeves mysterious suicide, nailed the fifties like no other fifties like no other movie about the fifties that I have ever seen. That movie covered the way we perceived the fifties and how we really dressed. More real than actual movies made in the fifties. This was an outstanding, unsung winner in costume design to me. I really identified with the clothes Adrian Brody’s character and his son wore.
    Best woman’s costume? I’d have to go with Michelle Pfeiffer’s stitched together, frankenstinian Catwoman costume from Batman Returns. Equally on a par with “Barbarella”.

    Batman Returns also holds the worst wardrobe malfunctions in just about every suit that Christopher Walken wore as Max Schreck , and Danny Devito, (the Penguin) in his long underwear was an unbearable nightmare. Grownie points for his brief appearances in full regalia…that was nice, I always see a nod to Lon Chaney’s lost film “London After Midnight” there.

  • armchair costumer

    …And, don’t forget Robin Williams in full Peter Pan Costume in Hook! One of the all time creepiest costume malfunctions in cinema history!

  • Araponga

    George Hamilton as Bunny Wigglesworth in “Zorro The Gay Blade” and Raquel Welch as Loana in “1,000,000 BC,” not to mention her white corpuscle outfit in “Fantastic Voyage.” Not the most elegant, but certainly memorable.


    Without a doubt, Edith Head, who designed all the costumes in “Samson and Delilah,” especially the Peacock Dress worn by Hedy Lamarr. . .it has been said that Mr. DeMille garnered the feathers from his own peacocks.

  • the Taminator

    Scarlett O’Hara’s dress-made-from-drapes that Carol Burnett did such a hilarious spoof of in her variety hour (“I saw it in a window and just HAD to have it!”) is the top of my list for women, with everything Grace Kelly wears in Rear Window (along with her golden gown from To Catch a Thief) coming in a close second. For men, Clint Eastwood’s poncho in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly ties with Bogey’s hat and raincoat from Casablanca and (I think?) the Maltese Falcon and the Big Sleep.