Movie style icons. They’re everywhere. Dead or alive, their presence is felt in everything from wall posters to our wardrobes.
The big screen has that unique ability to make us want to wear something, imbuing a simple T-shirt with the spirit of rebellion, or a suit with world-class flair. I mean, let’s face it, we want our Cuban collar shirts to look as good as Dickie Greenleaf’s, and the ability to make a pack of fags concealed under a T-shirt sleeve look as good as Jim Stark did. Who wouldn’t?
Here’s our rundown of the 10 most formative style moments on film:
American Psycho (2000)
Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman
Sure, the guy might have been self-obsessed, emotionally detached and well, psychotic, but today’s metro man owes Patrick Bateman a thing or two. He made male grooming a thing with his exhaustive regime that included ice packs and facial masks, and his boxily-cut Italian tailoring nailed late 1980s menswear.
That’s not even to mention his effect on our business cards…
American Gigolo (1980)
Richard Gere as Julian Kaye
Part self-serving gigolo, part sartorial genius, Julian Kaye sported the Armani suit like no one else. In between satisfying clients, dabbing cocaine and lovingly setting out suits on his bed while deciding what to wear, Kaye rang in the era of big-name designers with enviable nonchalance.
Debuting a new (European) kind of tailoring that had Savile Row up in arms, he showed us that suits don’t have to be skin-tight to be stylish – and we’re still learning from him now.
Back To The Future Franchise
Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly
Sci-fi romp Back to the Future II predicted we’d all be wearing self-lacing shoes in 2015. We might not be quite there yet – although Nike’s recently unveiled HyperAdapt 1.0 self-lacers are set to make good on the prediction when they drop the end of this year – but we are sporting smartwatches, Fitbits and other wearables worthy of McFly’s wardrobe.
Then there’s his trending outerwear (denim jacket, gilet), a fearless approach to bold colour and the fact that he time-travels in his Calvins.
East Of Eden (1955)
James Dean as Cal Trask
It wasn’t all about that red jacket. As well as popularising the white T-shirt and Lee jeans in Rebel Without a Cause, James Dean made smart-casual dress cool at a time when menswear was strictly buttoned up.
Take, for example, his turn as Cal Trask in East of Eden, in which he immortalised preppy style in the form of a now classic V-neck jumper and Oxford shirt combo. A true style giant.
It Happened One Night (1934)
Clark Gable as Peter Warne
No one pulls off a moustache, hat and hooked eyebrow quite like Clark Gable did in Gone with the Wind, but it was his lack of undershirt in It Happened One Night that proved his most style-defining moment – sales of undershirts in America allegedly plunged after cinemagoers clocked he wasn’t wearing one in the film.
The lesson? Do grow well-manicured facial hair, do opt for a suit with wide lapels and don’t wear an under-vest (just in case you were planning on it).
The Great Escape (1963)
Steve McQueen as Captain Virgil Hilts
Racing car driver, motorbiker and effortlessly stylish actor, Steve McQueen was nicknamed the ‘King of Cool’ for a reason.
Testament to his way with clothes, we’re still wearing leather bomber jackets over 50 years on from his appearance in war epic The Great Escape, and iconic pieces like this are even named in his honour. (Which will happen to us too, obviously).
Krush Groove (1985)
Blair Underwood as Russell Simmons
Based on the rise of Def Jam Recordings, Michael Schultz’s hit film captured the explosion of rap in the 1980s, beaming hip-hop style from street corners to screens the world over.
As Russell Walker (read: Russell Simmons), Blair Underwood teamed adidas tracksuits with Kangol hats – both trends that were to sail through well into the 1990s, and one of which still dominates menswear’s current sportswear bent today.
Along with co-stars Run-D.M.C., The Fat Boys and Sheila E., Walker took urban style mainstream. Krushed it.
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (1998)
Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke
Gold-frame yellow-lens aviators? Check. Bucket hat? Check. Garish Hawaiian shirt? Check. Always sky-high antihero Raoul Duke might not epitomise the concept of timeless style but his eclectic approach to dress offers a valuable a lesson in not giving a sh*t. Like Depp himself, Duke wasn’t afraid to experiment.
The takeaway? All you need to pull off statement pieces is guts. (And maybe a tab of acid.)
Dirty Harry (1971)
Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan
Decked out in ribbed wool jumpers and Lacoste polo shirts off-screen, Clint Eastwood’s style typified the post-Ivy League preppy style of the 1960s.
He taught us how to do it ourselves as the ruthless Inspector Callahan in Dirty Harry, pursuing justice (and stopping at nothing) in a two-tone tie, burgundy V-neck jumper and tweed jacket combo that took 1960s prep and sent it hurtling into the 1970s. Not to mention inspired Guy Ritchie and the geezer trend some 30 years later.
Dr. No (1962)
Sean Connery as James Bond
Hands down one of the most stylish men on film, Sean Connery set the bar high with his first outing as Bond in 1962.
And even though a lot has changed, including the cut of his suits (relaxed then, razor sharp now) and the tailor that makes them (Anthony Sinclair then, Tom Ford now) the central message hasn’t: a classic black tuxedo will always look good. Gadgets, guns and girls, however, are optional.
Do you agree with our nominees for Most Stylish? Or there are other on-screen style icons you’d rather see the spotlight shone on?
Call the shots below.