Vintage Movies

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How Vintage movies from the 1920s through the 1980s, influenced fashion. Also, how fashion influenced vintage movies. Then there's the fashion inspiration in these old movies.

1920s
1930s
1940s
1950s
1960s
1970s
1980s
Period Pieces

How has Movie Fashion influenced our culture? Fashion has been around for as long as humans have been clothed. Motion pictures, on the other hand, didn’t come into the picture until 1908, at which point fashion and trends had already been developing for hundreds of years. Who knew that the two art forms would become so vital to one another and movie fashions would be such a big influence on our culture.

Here you can find a sampling of fashion rich films from the 1920s to the 1980s. Those decades are considered retro. There's interesting facts about how fashion and film affect each other and the world (by the decade). Just enough to give a taste of the fashions of the day. Check them out for more inspiration.


How Fashion Has Influenced Film

Wardrobe has been an important element of fashion on the big screen since the first vintage movies were made in the early 1900s, and not only because the actors needed to be clothed. Fashion is about more than the clothes themselves; but it’s about an attitude, trends, and self-expression.

This whole package contributes something huge to motion pictures by allowing a character’s whole image to be made evident before they’ve even spoken. Vintage movies like, Al Pacino in “Scarface”, Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman”, Molly Ringwald in “Pretty in Pink”; all wear their identities. We can take one look at them and know what kinds of people they are. And none of these characters would have been the same, or had the same impact they had, had it not been for what they were wearing.

Wardrobe can be used to do just the opposite by introducing a character who’s dressed radically differently from what we might expect, in order to shock us or catch us off guard. Wardrobe allows filmmakers to show transformation by altering a character’s image, like Julia Roberts’ transformation from hooker to high-class lady with some diamonds and a simple costume change.

In the case of period pieces, wardrobe becomes especially important because every strand of jewelry and stitch of clothing must remain consistent with the time period. If we make a film that takes place in the 1920s, we can’t allow even one garment on screen that’s out-of-place for that time period, or we ruin the realism of the environment.

Fun Fact: Coco Chanel had a brief career as a costume designer for Hollywood in the 1930s, but finally got sick of following the rules of the studios and went into business for herself.

It takes many people, many elements, and many tools to make a movie; and fashion is certainly not one to be overlooked.


How Film Has Influenced Fashion

For as long as motion pictures have been around, they have been influencing and inspiring audiences worldwide. We could say that audiences watch vintage movies and are inspired by a style or an attitude or a lifestyle, but all of these things stem from one vital element of film: characters.
In “Flash Dance”, the appearance of spandex and sweatbands and over-the-shoulder sweatshirts alone may not have been enough to create a fashion frenzy. It was the character; her energy, beauty, and passion; which made people want to be her, and that was what created the active-wear trend in the ‘80s.

After the release of another one of the great vintage movies, “Rebel Without A Cause”, when teen and young adult boys started racing to stores for red jackets, it wasn’t just the red jackets that they were purchasing; it was James Dean. His attitude, his walk, his whole image was what made that red jacket just so cool. People weren’t just buying a jacket, but an entire image.

Movie fashion and fashion designers go hand and hand. Designers are constantly asked to create replicas of dresses and outfits that people have seen in movies, such as Kate Winslet’s dress from “Titanic”, or Keira Knightley’s gown in “Atonement”.

The world of film impacts the world of movie fashion because film offers something that print ads and fashion shows do not: it gives fashion a personality, and a face that consumers can identify with. Characters give us reasons to alter our style that runway models don’t. Not only does this outfit look good, but it will make you cool or tough or high class or unique; depending on who’s wearing it. People don’t just want a new look, but a complete demeanor and presence that defines them, or defines the characters they look up to in films.

In the ‘70s and ‘80s, supermodels were becoming widely recognized as celebrities because of their impact on fashion, and so Hollywood started using them in films. Movie fashion assisted Cindy Crawford, Twiggy, Paulina Porizkova, Brooke Shields, and many other supermodels in making their acting debuts on the silver screen. Since then, film has become so dominant in the world of entertainment, that people don’t identify with supermodels anymore. People identify with actors. So now, rather than turning supermodels into actors, actors are becoming supermodels. Clothing, accessories, shoes, perfumes, and make-up are being promoted by Drew Barrymore, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicole Kidman, and Jennifer Love Hewitt. We’ve all seen these people in so many films, baring their souls for the camera, that we feel like we know them and are more inclined to believe them when they say that their product is the best.

Check out vintage movies by the decade for more details on each decade of vintage movies.

Vintage Movie Posters
Vintage Media
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