12 Most Iconic Movie Dresses

Last updated on : March 24 2020

iconic movie dresses

Iconic Movie Dresses

Interest in the clothing and style of the rich and famous is not something new. People have observed and been interested in it throughout history. Whether it be Pharaohs from the ancient world or an actress on a popular TV show, there is no shortage of attention paid to how the rich and famous dress. 

Popular publications devote many pages to discussing celebrities and the clothes they wear walking around Hollywood, New York, or London. Examining, critiquing, and appraising Oscar dresses is a yearly ritual embedded in Western culture.

If you ask a group of people why they spend time viewing, analyzing, and forming opinions about the garb choices of the rich and famous, one can expect to receive a variety of different answers. Still, humans are social creatures by nature, and, historically speaking, it was a smart decision to pay attention to what the most successful in society is doing. Interest in celebrities, and by extension their choice of clothing, is likely a result of this evolutionary drive.

In recent decades, with the rise of globalization and the growth of Hollywood as a major force in the development of worldwide culture, a significant amount of attention is paid to dresses worn in movies. Some of these dresses, with the actress and their character, become immortalized as icons or symbols of femininity.

Here we will look at 12 of the most iconic dresses in movie history. 

1. Little Black Dress In Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961)

Little blak dress - Breakfast at Tiffanys

This dress, worn by Audrey Hepburn's character Holly Golightly is perhaps one of the most iconic dresses in modern history. When Holly wore this dress out on a night of window shopping in New York, the 'little black dress' became a symbol of class and style and is now a staple item of clothing in nearly every women's closet.

Of particular interest is the fact that many people across multiple generations recognize this classic symbol. The dress itself, black, sleeveless, and decorated with pearls, is more well known to most people than the plot of the movie, which featured it.

A 2010 survey conducted by LOVEFiLM concluded that it is the favorite dress worn by a woman in film ever. This notion is held by many people the world over.

2. White Halter Dress In The Seven Year Itch (1955)

white halter dress - The Seven Year Itch

If the most famous movie dress is not Audrey Hepburns' Little Black Dress' then it is undoubtedly Marlyn Monroe's white halter dress in The Seven Year Itch. Monroe was a cultural icon who was surrounded by much controversy, given her closeness to both JFK and RFK, as well as the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death. This identity has only added to her fame and continued cult following.

The dress also features one of the most iconic movie stills in history. Monroe's character is standing above an air vent in a subway station. The hot air escaping from the vent causes her dress to billow upwards as Monroe puts her hands over it to keep it down. The photo is immortalized in popular culture with most people recognizing the picture but unable to say what movie it was from or the plot of the film.

The white halter dress has influenced designers as well as women the world over. Just like Audrey Hepburn's little black dress, almost every girl has a chic white dress in her closet. Halter dresses undoubtedly ooze sex appeal. 

3. Red Evening Dress In Pretty Women (1990)

Julia Roberts Red Dress from Pretty Women

Julia Roberts' character Vivian Ward is possibly the most iconic prostitute in popular culture. The low cut red evening dress and long white gloves were one of the most commented-on aspects of the movie. They were particularly interesting because they showed the transformation of Robert's character. The dress has become a staple of 90s film, and like the previously mentioned examples has outlived the film featuring it

4. Yellow Silk Dress In How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days (2003)

Kate Hudsons Yellow Dress

How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days is the most recent movie featured on this list so far. The dress gained notoriety due in large part to the numerous fashion and teen glamour magazines available at the time. Even though the internet had fully taken its place in day to day life, magazines were much more popular than they are now. This dress became a favorite of young women all over North America.

5. Green Evening Dress In Atonement (2007)

Green Dress from Atonement the movie

Keira Knightley's character Cecilia Tallis wore an open back green evening dress in the 2007 classic movie Atonement. The film's director came up with the concept as he felt it helped portray the thoughts of temptation and jealousy, which were both central themes in the movie. This dress ended up influencing many red carpets dresses that year and is already considered a classic film dress.

6. Brown And White Polka-Dot Dress In Pretty Women (1990)

Pretty women brown and white polka dress

This dress is the second time a Julia Roberts character features on our list, and for the same movie, Pretty Women. The film follows a successful businessman, Edward, who hires an escort, Vivian, after his previous girlfriend breaks up with him. As one may guess, Edward and Vivian began developing genuine romantic feelings. The Polka Dot dress is fashionable because of its casual, almost country club, look. It was something less formal than the chic evening dresses, which we commented on above.

7. White Gown In Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

White gown in star wars a new hope movie

This dress may come as a surprise to some readers, but it truly deserves to be on a list of most iconic movie dresses. When Star Wars hit theaters in 1977, it was a significant success. The moviegoers had never seen anything like it, and, while not impressive compared to the special effects of today, it was considered a substantial achievement in the development of visual effects. Carrie Fisher's character Princess Leia became a cultural icon, and men around the world remember Leia in her flowing white dress.

It is safe to say that very few dresses have been immortalized in popular culture the way Leia's dress in A New Hope has.

8. Silk White Dress In Sex And The City Movie (2008)

wedding dress worn by carrie in sex and the city

Sex and the City is an iconic sitcom that ran for many years. Women young and old enjoyed the quirky plot lines and became emotionally invested in the imperfect yet lovable characters. When the movie came out, the series was at its height of fandom, and many fans commented on the wedding dress worn by Sarah Jessica Parker in this 2008 film. as it turned out, it was a dry wedding of sorts. 

9. Yellow Evening Dress In Beauty And The Beast (2017)

Yellow dress in Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast is a classic film that multiple generations grew up watching. The original Disney animated film featured Belle, a bibliophile who develops feelings for the beast, wearing a large elaborate yellow dress. This dress became an item of fantasy for many young girls as they grew up. It wasn't until 2017 when a live-action remake of the film allowed people to see the dress brought into real-life. Not quite as large and flowing as the one in the animated version, it still filled a new generation of young girls with wishes and dreams.

10. Glitz Gown In Scarface (1983)

Michelle Pfeiffer dress in Scarface

This film may be the first on the list in which the movie has outlived the dress. Scarface is a classic movie with one of the most famous lines in movie history ("Say hello to my little friend"). That said, Michelle Pfeiffer's character sports one of the most iconic dresses of the 80s. At the 2012 Grammys, Rihana wore a very similar black glitzy dress, which she said was a nod to Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface.

11. White Shift Dress In Basic Instinct (1992)

Sharon Stone Dress in Basic Instinct

This classic 90s movie also features a perfect movie dress. Sharon Stone wears a high riding cotton dress that exposes her legs as a police officer interrogates her. In one of the most famous scenes in the movie, she briefly uncrosses her legs, allowing the interrogator to glimpse a brief look up her dress.

This style of dress became immensely popular during the 90s as a more modern version of the chic look seen in movies such as Breakfast At Tiffany's.

12. Dress From Wizard Of Oz (1939)

Judy Garland Dorothy Dress from Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz is the oldest movie on this list, but many children still grew up watching it many decades after its release. The movie appealed to both boys and girls, offering something of interest for both. One of the most memorable aspects of this film is the costume worn by Judy Garland in the movie. The dress was so iconic that it ended up selling for nearly half a million dollars at auction in 2012. The dress is still one of the more memorable aspects of cinema from the first half of the 20th century.

Mildred Delgado is a marketing strategist at Academicbrits.com and PhDKingdom.com. She works closely with organizations to develop fully-functioning websites while keeping the organization's brand image in mind. As passionate about fashion as she is about career, Mildred features a range of posts covering beauty, family, life, travel, and of course, fashion.

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