8 Fashionable Cult Films to Watch ASAP.
Updated: Sep 17
Cult film fashion is one wild ride.
I won't lie, I'm biased towards films with amazing on-screen ensembles. That's even when other important qualities like score or plot or character development don't quite hold up. In my eyes, great outfits can redeem some questionable films. (Yes 'Jawbreaker,' I'm looking at you).
Many cult films are ridiculously stylish. You know, those quirky flicks that have some of the most dedicated fan bases in the world. Time after time, I've watched cheesy musicals or romcoms and fallen in love with the costume design. Then I had the idea, why not take a look at 8 of the most fashionable cult films? This stylish list will please your eyes and give you major wardrobe inspiration.
1. Marie Antoinette.
Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette is pastel perfection.
Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette puts style over historical accuracy - but I don't mind. Milena Canonero’s award-winning costume designs are a visual delight. They look ideal amongst the decadent backdrop of 18th century Versailles. All in all, it's a soft-hued flick that'll have you craving the sweet taste of a macaroon.
Marie Antoinette was only 15 when she came to France from Austria. She was made to marry the equally inexperienced Louis XVI and bring the two warring nations together.
Kirsten Dunst - starring as the young Princess - gallivants around the palace in ethereal, baby pink or dreamy blue ensembles. She dazzles on-screen wearing ruffled or floral bodices, dramatic hoop skirts, and an array of intricate hats.
In one scene, Antoinette and her royal friends feast on candy, gamble, and try on shoe after shoe after shoe. The footwear was designed by Manolo Blahník especially for the film! A collection of bow-heeled beauties that gives me a huge dose of shoe envy.
2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show can put anyone in a party mood.
Yes, this cult classic is more costume than high-fashion, but The Rocky Horror Picture Show's amazing ensembles will inspire your best party looks.
When vanilla couple Janet and Brad get lost on the Transylvanian highway, they stumble across a creepy mansion. Despite the dreary exterior of the building, magic awaits inside. A group of outcasts and deviants indulge in campy goodness. Dramatic drag makeup, a huge supply of sequins, and gaudy accessories run rampant.
Tim Curry as Dr Frank N. Furter, the ‘sweet transvestite, from Transexual, Transylvania,’ is an undeniable style icon. I mean, he looks great in a corset and waltzes around in his stilettos like he was born with them. A not-so-subtle reminder to always bring your most extra self to a celebration.
However, It’s Columbia’s sequin studded wardrobe I love the most. In those glittery dancing shoes, her entire ensemble is to die for. I am a firm believer that you can’t have too many sequins. Although embellishment is a party outfit cliche, it can never, EVER be boring. Get time warping!
3. Pretty in Pink.
To all those D.I.Y or thrift fashion queens out there. If you haven't already seen Howard Deutch's coming of age film Pretty in Pink, then I suggest you stream it immediately.
Molly Ringwald, the it-girl actress of the 1980s, plays Andie Walsh. Despite coming from a working-class family, Andie attends private school due to a scholarship. She struggles with class discrimination, tries to uphold her sense of individuality and, of course, gets stuck in a classic romcom love triangle - having to choose between childhood friend Duckie (Jon Cryer), and preppy, rich kid Blane (Andrew McCarthy).
The costume designer Marilyn Vance used fashion to showcase class differences between the characters. What Andie Walsh lacks in money, she makes up for through an eclectic sense of style. One that's curated from amazing thrift finds and a keen eye for D.I.Y.
She has a quirky hat collection and adds adorable details to her outfits like lace collars, shabby chic broaches, or pearl necklaces. Let's not forget to mention her love for a good floral. From pastel leggings to flowery blouses, her entire wardrobe was born to create 'volcanic ensembles.'
Whilst the rich kids are shown in preppy staples like white chinos and pastel blue shirts, Duckie stands out in a brilliant teddy boy aesthetic. Who could forget his white dancing shoes when lip syncing to Otis Redding at the record store, or his penchant for a patterned suit?
4. Blade Runner.
November 2019 has passed, and you know what that means. We are living in the age of Blade Runner.
The costume and set design in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner didn't quite reflect the future. However, this sci-fi classic is still a mesmerising take on cinematic dystopia. (And Vangelis's alluring ambient soundtrack is the perfect finishing touch!)
You can thank Michael Kaplan for the sleek costume design. His choice of utilitarian outerwear was ideal against the big city backdrop. Both the main protagonist; the bounty hunter Rich Deckard (Harrison Ford), and antagonist; the mesmerising blond replicant Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), wear a trench coat on screen.
Blade Runner 's women characters showcase two different sides of 1980s fashion. Sean Young's Rachael encapsulates an executive look. She's a monochrome-dressed beauty who wears sleek shoulder pads and pencil skirts.
Daryl Hannah's portrayal of replicant Pris is the perfect balance between the alternative styles of punk and new wave. Her rebellious nature is embodied by black sheer shirts, ripped tights, studded chokers, bold makeup, and electric blonde hair. (The perfect Halloween costume right!?)
As if this film wouldn't be on the list. Cher's clueless outfits are some of cinema's finest!
Cher Horowitz's Clueless outfits are the envy of many fashionable film buffs. To begin with, she had a computerised wardrobe that created cute outfits for her. You would never have to complain about having nothing to wear again! (Though she does have that issue in a later scene, oops.)
For this popular teen flick, costume director Mona May created a number of looks that have endured. Cher, played by the irresistible Alicia Silverstone in her 90s prime, epitomises an 'all-American' preppy-girl chic. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen her style homaged on Instagram. Clueless fashion revolves around pleated mini skirts, popping plaid prints, and adorable knee highs. Super girly.
Cher's close friends are fashionistas too. In one of many famous scenes, Cher and her best friend Dionne Davenport - played by the glamorous Stacey Dash - arrive at school in the most stylish way possible. Cher wears a yellow and plaid two-piece, while Dionne wears a matching red and black version. The ultimate twinsies.
Other fashion highlights have got to be when Cher name drops Calvin Klein in the cutest white slip dress, and even when she is held at gun point in her Alaïa jacket. Clueless fashion will be forever iconic.
As Clueless was the quintessential 1990s teen film, then Heathers was it for the 1980s. Set in a vicious high school environment, this dark comedy is as fashionable as it is deadly.
A young Winona Ryder stars as Veronica, a member of The Heathers: Westerburg High's popular girl group who rule the school through petty social games and a mean sense of humour. After meeting the school outcast JD (Christian Slater), Veronica is smitten. Together they turn the school hierarchy upside down - but with fatal consequences.
The Heathers are power dressers. Although a business-like look might seem of place in a school environment, costume designer Rudy Dillon made it this way to showcase the best of late 1980s fashion, and to highlight the competitive tribalism of high school life.
The girls wear shoulder pads and ankle socks, with queen bee Heather Chandler's (Kim Walker) bright red scrunchie representing her status at the top of the pack.
To separate herself from the other members, Veronica's style is a lot darker. Being the black sheep, she rocks quirkier pieces like bowler hats and even a monocle. The black suspender dress paired with a grey Bardot jumper has to be my favourite look of hers.
In this stylish flick, director Michelangelo Antonioni captures the vibrant music, fashion, and art scene of swinging sixties London.
In Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up, David Hemmings stars as a fashion photographer named Thomas. His job involves capturing photos of beautiful women wearing high-end brands like Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges. These models sparkle under the flash of the camera, becoming intriguing snapshots of their time.
The early scenes with IRL supermodel Veruschka are simply stunning. Tall, thin, and blessed with royal energy, the skilled model shifts her body through a series of elegant poses. Almost as if she is one with the intricate black dress she wears.
Jocelyn Richards, a 1960s costume designer, had designed the piece. It falls along Veruschka's body, ending at a dip of fabric between the legs. Scandalous yet refined.
Jane Birkin also has a role in the film, so how could you possibly miss it? In this movie she plays a young woman who, with her friend, hassles Thomas so they can get photographed. Let me tell you, the colour blocked mod dresses they wear are simply adorable. I love the bold geometric prints and matching tights. So much fun.
8. Dazed and Confused.
We've had a look at high school in the 1980s and 1990s, so why not experience it through the 1970s too?
It's true that Dazed and Confused, Linklater's coming of age classic, was released in 1993, but the 1970s throwback looked super believable. Attention to detail was not left on the back-burner. The end result of this effort was a solid high school flick. So quotable, so cool, and a great watch for those chilled out evenings in bed. (Oh yeah, and a young Matthew McConaughey is in it too.)
The film's costume design department had a lot to do with its success. Katherine "Kathy" Dover was all about authenticity. Most of the pieces shown were true vintage, barring the odd Betsey Johnson peasant blouse - but who could resist that item?
The film does barrage you with a lot of denim. Flared denim jeans if you want to be more specific. But taking the era of the film into consideration, I can't complain. Jeans are mixed in with a host of cute blouses, sports jerseys, and classic T-shirts.
But, oh my god, let's just take a moment to appreciate Mila Jovovich's style in this film. Playing a mellow stoner chick, her looks are some of my favourite. In her fringed waistcoats she aces the hippie aesthetic without looking like she is trying too hard. Coachella crowds, please take note.
p.s. To see more cinematic style from Mila, check out The Fifth Element for
Thanks for reading this blog post!
Do you have a favourite cult film? Let me know in the comment section below.
Until next time,
Holly xoxo @chicandcultural
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