Cinema is pretty influential, just ask Quentin Tarantino. The Silver Screen has vastly influenced our culture in many ways but perhaps the most prominent way is through clothes and style.
We tend to look with wonder when a handsome George Clooney or resplendent Jennifer Lawrence waltz onto the screen wearing an outfit that feels tailor made for them. We look to replicate it in our own life, to emulate the character from the movies with their style that compliments their character so well.
Here, I’ll take a look at 5 of the Most Stylish Movie Characters, all of whom completely own their individual style in a way that only they could.
Clint Eastwood as The Man With No Name in ‘The Dollars Trilogy’ (A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For A Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (1966))
Sergio Leone brought endless amounts of style to, what have become known as, the “Spaghetti Westerns” when he totally rejuvenated the western genre back in 1964. He brought a unique direction style; how he captured the landscapes, wrote his characters and presented them, usually with an Ennio Morricone score behind them. The focal point of his early westerns is Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name , who went on to become, perhaps, the epitome of the western and that was in no small token to how he looked.
Plucked from a TV series Rawhide, itself a western themed show, Eastwood brought an initial chiselled look as he arrived on horseback in San Miguel. Draped in the now iconic poncho, face hidden underneath his unconventional brimmed hat, stubble present on the face with a half smoked Cheroot slotted between the lips. Eastwood changed the genre as he rode into that town.
His look in these films worked because of his character, however it was his quiet nature, eccentricities and an unorthodox but strong sense of justice, not to mention being a dab hand with a gun, which made the look of his work all the more. Those clothes became iconic as Eastwood’s fame grew but within the three films the character appeared they mean so much, something Leone was aware of as evidenced by the scene in The Good, The Bad & The Ugly where The Man With No Name gets his poncho, and arrives full circle to us the viewer.
Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada (2008)
Streep stormed this film as the editor-in-chief of Runway magazine who has the power to disapprove of work, which people have likely spent a lot of time on, with something as simple as the purse of her lips. She was extremely intimidating in the role, but she definitely looked good.
What would you expect from a fashion guru like Priestly? She’s a woman who clearly has standards for her personal and professional life, something that Anne Hathaway’s Andy learns only too well as she works as an assistant to Priestly and becomes exposed to the ways in which she works and how she rules with an iron fist. Much to the fear of everyone around her.
Priestly even has a speech in the film wherein she explains how she’s the one who decides what people like Andy will wear, essentially explaining how she moulds the world with the approval of this and the exclusion of that. There’s an immense sense of pride to have in a character like Priestly because she is what she says she is, she has high standards for herself and she embodies those standards.
Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig as James Bond in Dr. No (1962) – Spectre (2015)
There was no way James Bond wasn’t going to be on this list right?
Since the sixties, Bond has arguably been the most stylish character in film. Full stop. With a licence to kill and a look that could probably do the same, Bond has bewitched audiences for 50 years as he’s elegantly found himself cutting the scenery in some of the most exotic locations in the world, as well as proving to be an extremely capable agent for the British Secret Service. More often than not with a Martini in hand, shaken, not stirred.
You feel almost cheated if you don’t see Bond in a quality men’s suit. The suit is a symbol of sophistication (replicated with a neat twist in Kingsman: The Secret Service ) that’s become and integral part of the Bond character. Note the scene in Skyfall (2012) where Bond lands on the back of a train in the opening sequence and instantly readjusts the sleeves of the suit he’s wearing, it’s as if he has to do that because it’s his identity.
These themes have been explored in the modern Bond films, the Daniel Craig series of films that started with Casino Royale (2007) are really the first to attempt to understand who Bond is beyond the style. That style is iconic however; perhaps one of the most memorable scenes in cinema is Sean Connery introducing himself in Dr. No as the Bond themes starts and he lights a cigarette. Smooth.
Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009) & (2011)
Whilst it would of easy to include screen legends such as Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Anita Ekberg, Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman etc., the cinema heroines of the modern day are vastly different to the ones of the Golden Age. Arguably the female character that embodies this the most is Lisbeth Salander, as portrayed by Rapace in the original Swedish trilogy and then Mara in the American remake.
Salander has an obvious punk look which instantly marks her as someone different for a heroine, she’s ‘anti-social’ because of how she looks and then how she deals with people. However, over the course of this first film and then the next two Swedish takes on the trilogy, she morphs and becomes such a meaningful character because of what she’s capable of.
Lisbeth Salander is not your damsel in distress; she’s your damsel who will seriously put you in distress if you cross her. Both physically, just ask her state-placed guardian, and financially because she’s a skilled hacker, further indicating how modern of a female heroine she is.
Jeff Bridges as The Dude in The Big Lebowski (1998)
When you think of style you think comfort, but still possessing the ability to look good. There is not a character who possess that more abundantly than “The Dude” who manages to make jelly sandals seem cool.
“He’s the man for his time place”, as Sam Elliot’s Stranger remarks when reflecting on the events of Lebowski , and a lot of that comes down to who The Dude is and then channelled through how his style.
It’s been often commented-on that some of The Dude’s wardrobe was owned by Bridges himself, a fact that gives both Bridges and The Dude a laidback familiarity and comfort to the character.
The Dude’s appearance is made all the more desirable by how carries himself, it’s the character that makes the look. It’s little things like paying for milk with a cheque, drinking White Russians and bowling that make The Dude an enduring character in cinema and how he looks whilst doing those things is instantly stylish. So much so, that the Lebowski Fest pays tribute to The Dude’s lifestyle by celebrating his attitude to life, The Dude abides man.