Fashion Trends Started by Movies

Movies do more than just entertain us; they also inspire the way we dress. Over the years, many movies have introduced new fashion trends that people love and adopt in their everyday lives. From glamorous dresses to cool jackets, the influence of cinema on fashion is huge. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most memorable fashion trends that started on the big screen. Whether it’s the elegance of Audrey Hepburn’s little black dress or the rugged charm of James Dean’s denim, these styles made a big impact and are still popular today. Let’s take a closer look at how movies continue to shape our fashion choices.

Historical Perspective

A 1920s themed party

The relationship between cinema and fashion has deep roots that stretch back to the early 20th century. As film emerged as a popular form of entertainment, it quickly began to influence the way people dressed and presented themselves. Let’s dive into how films from specific eras, particularly the 1920s and 1950s, have left a lasting mark on fashion.

The 1920s: Glamour and Liberation

The 1920s were a time of significant social change, reflected vividly on the silver screen. Movies during this era showcased the glamorous life of the Roaring Twenties, characterized by flapper dresses, bobbed hair, and an overall sense of liberation from traditional norms. One of the most iconic representations of this era is the film adaptation of “The Great Gatsby.” The lavish costumes worn by the characters not only depicted the opulence of the time but also influenced fashion trends, encouraging a move towards more relaxed and flamboyant clothing. Sequins, beaded flapper dresses, and feathered headbands became highly fashionable, mirroring the movie’s visual style.

The 1950s: Rebellion and Conformity

Moving forward to the 1950s, a period marked by both conformity and the beginnings of a cultural rebellion, films like “Rebel Without a Cause” played a pivotal role in shaping fashion. James Dean’s iconic red jacket, white t-shirt, and denim jeans became symbols of youthful rebellion and disillusionment with societal norms. This look inspired an entire generation to adopt a more casual, rebellious style that contrasted sharply with the more conservative dress codes of the earlier post-war era. The film not only influenced male fashion but also encouraged a broader acceptance of denim, which was previously seen as workwear or a symbol of non-conformity.

Iconic Outfits and Their Influence

Fashion in film not only mirrors contemporary styles but also sets trends that have become staples in wardrobes around the world. Iconic characters portrayed by Audrey Hepburn, James Dean, and Diane Keaton have left indelible marks on fashion, influencing how people choose to express themselves through clothing.

Audrey Hepburn in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly

One of the most enduring images from 1960s cinema is Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” The little black dress she wore, designed by Hubert de Givenchy, epitomized elegance and simplicity. This outfit, accessorized with pearls and sunglasses, transformed the little black dress from a simple garment into a must-have item for every woman’s wardrobe. Hepburn’s portrayal made the dress a symbol of chic sophistication and versatility, suitable for various occasions, effectively elevating its status to a timeless piece in the fashion world.

James Dean in ‘Rebel Without a Cause’

US theatrical release poster for the 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause

James Dean’s portrayal of teenage angst in “Rebel Without a Cause” also set a new standard in men’s fashion. His red jacket, white t-shirt, and blue jeans became the epitome of cool and rebellion in the 1950s. This look not only defined the quintessential American teenager of the time but also popularized denim jeans as a fashion item beyond their utilitarian roots. The leather jacket, in particular, came to symbolize a rebellious, rugged individualism that has been embraced by various subcultures and continues to be a staple in men’s fashion.

Diane Keaton in ‘Annie Hall’

Diane Keaton’s character in “Annie Hall” brought androgynous fashion to the forefront of the fashion scene in the late 1970s. Her eclectic style, consisting of vests, loose trousers, ties, and hats, challenged traditional norms of women’s dress by incorporating elements traditionally reserved for men’s wardrobes. This not only paved the way for androgynous fashion but also encouraged women to experiment with layering and tailored pieces. Keaton’s influence was so profound that the “Annie Hall look” became a trend in itself, inspiring women to adopt a more comfortable, personal style that did not conform strictly to conventional femininity.

Modern Movie Inspirations

Wearing red, high-heeled shoes

In recent years, films have continued to play a significant role in shaping fashion trends, with contemporary movies influencing both high fashion and everyday street styles. Here are some notable examples:

“The Devil Wears Prada” (2006)

  • This film offers a behind-the-scenes look at the high-paced world of fashion magazine publishing, with Meryl Streep’s character, Miranda Priestly, showcasing a series of impeccably stylish and professional outfits. The movie popularized the chic, sophisticated office wear look, featuring high heels, statement necklaces, and elegant coats, which became a model for many working women aiming to blend style with professionalism.
  • Anne Hathaway’s character transformation also highlighted accessible fashion, showcasing how style can evolve with personal growth and career advancements. Her wardrobe includes a mix of accessible brands, which encouraged viewers to think about how fashion can be both aspirational and attainable.

“Black Panther” (2018)

  • “Black Panther” introduced a futuristic vision of African culture and aesthetics, blended with traditional elements, through its costume design by Ruth E. Carter. The film’s impact on fashion was profound, inspiring designers to incorporate African patterns, colors, and silhouettes into modern apparel.
  • The use of rich, vibrant fabrics and elaborate beadwork in the characters’ costumes has been mirrored in collections shown at major fashion weeks around the world, highlighting African influences in a contemporary context.
  • Beyond high fashion, the film also sparked an increase in the public’s interest in African-inspired streetwear, jewelry, and accessories, promoting a broader appreciation and incorporation of these elements in everyday fashion.

Fashion Trends Started by Movies in Pop Culture

Two fashionable women

Movies often set the pace for fashion trends, with their influence extending far beyond the cinema screen. They permeate magazines, social media, and street style and even influence the range of merchandise available. Here’s a look at how these trends make their way into pop culture:

Magazines and Fashion Editorials

Fashion magazines frequently feature spreads and editorials inspired by recent films. For example, after the release of a popular period drama, magazines might showcase clothing lines inspired by the film’s time period, complete with modern twists to make them appealing to contemporary audiences. These features often discuss how to achieve the “look” of popular characters, providing tips and product recommendations.

Social Media Influence

Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have become hotspots for showcasing movie-inspired fashion. Influencers and fashion enthusiasts often create content that mimics the styles of popular film characters, offering tutorials on achieving specific looks or discussing elements of the film’s costume design. This not only spreads the trend but also encourages engagement through challenges and themed hashtags.

Movie releases often coincide with promotional campaigns that leverage social media, encouraging fans to dress up as their favorite characters and share their outfits online.

Street Style Adoption

As trends trickle down from the big screen to real life, they are often adapted into street style. For instance, the military coats from “The Matrix” or the bomber jackets from “Top Gun” have been seen in various forms at fashion weeks and in everyday wear. Such items become part of the cultural fabric, influencing fashion for years, sometimes decades.

Merchandise and Replicas

The impact of movies on fashion is also evident in the merchandise produced in conjunction with film releases. This includes not only t-shirts featuring movie quotes and characters but also replicas of iconic movie accessories and outfits. For example, replicas of the “Hunger Games” Mockingjay pin or “Harry Potter” robes are sold not only as collectibles but also as fashion items.

These products allow fans to express their affinity for a film and its aesthetic in their everyday life, further blending the lines between cinematic fantasy and real-world fashion.


Movies are more than just entertainment; they are a powerful influence on fashion, shaping trends that we see on the runway, in magazines, and on the streets. From the glamorous outfits of the golden age of cinema to the innovative costumes of today’s blockbusters, films continue to inspire designers and fashion enthusiasts alike. As we enjoy the creativity on screen, we also see it reflected in our everyday wardrobe choices, proving that the relationship between cinema and fashion is both enduring and dynamic. Whether it’s through a classic little black dress or a futuristic African-inspired ensemble, the impact of movies on fashion is undeniable and exciting.