The 13 Best Movies With Incredible Wardrobe Designs

Most of these movies are so wonderfully produced that they won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design!
The 13 Best Movies With Incredible Wardrobe Designs

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Sometimes, the one thing that elevates a good movie into a great movie is the wardrobe design. Even if you're more of a film buff than a fashionista, you still know a fantastic outfit when you see one.

From 1920s flappers to 1950s haute couture to futuristic-fantastical attire that takes inspiration from across history, there have been all kinds of unique looks that stand out as iconic and memorable.

Here are my picks for the best movies with wardrobe designs that go above and beyond the norm in cinema, with many of them (rightfully) earning Academy Awards for Best Costume Design!

13. Sorry to Bother You (2018)

Directed by Boots Riley

Starring LaKeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler

Comedy, Drama, Fantasy (1h 52m)

6.9 on IMDb93% on RT

Sorry to Bother You may not be the first film that springs to mind when it comes to costume design in cinema, but you'd understand once you've seen Tessa Thompson as Detroit.

Detroit is the protagonist's artist girlfriend, who uses her clothes, attitude, and homemade jewelry to make various statements—usually ones that are political in some form.

Braving the spotlight of a solo art performance show, Detroit stands in nothing but a bikini made of hands. She also slathers herself in slogans like "bury the rag deep in your face" and "the future is female ejaculation." And can we take a second to appreciate those earrings?!

12. Spencer (2021)

Directed by Pablo Larraín

Starring Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins

Biography, Drama (1h 57m)

6.6 on IMDb83% on RT

The controversial late Princess Diana was known for a lot of things, like defying her royal duties, openly shaking hands with AIDS patients, and divorcing then-Prince Charles.

These rebellious actions would eventually fuel conspiracy theories that the royal family was behind her death, which Pablo Larraín hints at in his cozily filmed biopic Spencer.

Princess Diana was also something of a fashion icon, who balanced sleek and sexy with casual and sporty—and none of it being trends that the monarchy cared much for.

The privilige of recreating Diana's iconic period looks must've been a field day for the wardrobe department of Spencer, who showed how the Princess used fabric to revolt against suffocating royal rules.

11. Mean Girls (2004)

Directed by Mark Waters

Starring Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Jonathan Bennett

Comedy (1h 37m)

7.1 on IMDb84% on RT

The Mean Girls reboot in 2024 flopped for a bunch of reasons. For one thing, no one expected them to break out into 13 songs. For another, the disappointing wardrobe malfunction.

With the reboot, you could tell that boomers were behind the scenes of production, attempting to embody the Gen Z aesthetic without taking the characters' personalities into account.

But the original Mean Girls? It was spot on! Not just for the Y2K era and the individual characters, but spot on in terms of looking fantastic. Not only did Cadey's outfits evolve with her personality, but the low-rise miniskirts and skinny coral knits were simply chef's kiss.

10. Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

Starring Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Jamie Lee Curtis

Action, Adventure, Comedy (2h 19m)

7.8 on IMDb93% on RT

Multi-dimensional plots, existential meditations, and broken-glass SFX make up this Oscar-winning movie that ticks every box: engaging story, high-concept twists, complex relationships, and costume design.

While Evelyn (played by Michelle Yeoh) doesn't exactly wow us with her laundromat-owner outfits across timelines, her antagonist daughter Jobu (played by Stephanie Hsu) certainly does.

With the power to make anything appear at the snap of her fingers, Jobu conjures up some wild ensembles to match her sassy energy—including a bedazzled Elvis one-piece and metallic blue wrestler getup.

All of her looks are amplified further by the hair and makeup department, with face pearls and intricate braids that replicate the universe-destroying Everything Bagel at the center of it all.

9. Emma (2020)

Directed by Autumn de Wilde

Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Mia Goth

Comedy, Drama, Romance (2h 4m)

6.7 on IMDb86% on RT

Jane Austen movies have their own trademark attire in keeping with the early 19th century British settings. It's all very delicate, feminine, and cute-looking, slotting perfectly into cottagecore mood boards—but even amongst strong competition, Emma really stands out.

There have been dozens of Jane Austen film adaptations, but director Autumn de Wilde infused the period drama with a unique aesthetic while remaining authentic to the novel.

A pastel color palette and satisfying symmetry give Emma a polished, dreamy feel, with the clothes working in harmony with the set design and the dress fabrics coordinating with the wallpapers behind.

8. The Great Gatsby (2013)

Directed by Baz Luhrmann

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan

Drama, Romance (2h 23m)

7.2 on IMDb48% on RT

When Daisy (played by Carey Mulligan) cries "Because I've never seen such beautiful shirts before!" in The Great Gatsby, we totally get it.

The 1920s saw explosions in every corner of culture: music, cinema, suffrage, alcohol, parties, literature, etc. All was sped up and pumped out, clothes dazzling like jewels as flappers danced the night away among the Bright Young Things (also known as the "Gatsby Generation").

It may have garnered some rotten reviews from critics, but no one can deny that Baz Luhrmann encapsulated and modernized the era's glamorous party spirit in his 2013 film adaptation.

Flaws and blemishes aside, The Great Gatsby still managed to snag an Oscar for Best Costume Design, with tasseled skirts glittering the same topaz as the surrounding flutes of champagne.

7. Legally Blonde (2001)

Directed by Robert Luketic

Starring Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair

Comedy, Romance (1h 36m)

6.4 on IMDb71% on RT

Elle Woods (played by Reese Witherspoon) might not be making a statement about racism in America like Detroit does in Sorry to Bother You, but she's still making a statement.

On first glance, her hot pink, bunny-like outfits may suggest she's just another ditzy blonde. But put your assumptions to bed! Because this girl is going to Harvard—and not just Harvard, but Harvard Law!

The message of Legally Blonde is simple but effective: don't judge a book by its cover. Or, more specifically, don't judge a girl by her clothes.

I love watching Elle make every occasion her own—Elle-fying both courtroom and campus in equal measure—almost as much as I enjoy her presumptuous male trial takedowns!

6. Cruella (2021)

Directed by Craig Gillespie

Starring Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry

Adventure, Comedy, Crime (2h 14m)

7.3 on IMDb75% on RT

Cruella de Vil is one of the most popular Disney villains to emulate on Halloween, mainly due to how fashionable she is. Her staple split-dye hair and love for all things fur and monochrome make Cruella more known for her clothes than her cruelty.

In the original novel/cartoon, Cruella attempts to make a coat out of dalmatian skin. In Cruella, Emma Stone vividly captures Cruella's mischievous spirit in this live-action origin story.

When Cruella lands a job as a haute couture dressmaker in the 1970s, costume designer Jenny Beavan had the challenge of marrying Cruella's classic look with the punky 70s British background—and that meant military jackets, black leather, and frilly red trails!

5. Phantom Thread (2017)

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring Vicky Krieps, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville

Drama, Romance (2h 10m)

7.4 on IMDb91% on RT

The clothing and attire in Phantom Thread are more sophisticated than almost anything you'd find in most films.

After all, fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) is responsible for the wardrobes of the London elite—even including some members of the royalty.

A masterfully sculpted period piece from Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread depicts a pedantic, narcissistic, perfectionist haute couture genius who's so strict that he only allows the finest levels of elegance to leave his studio.

His muse and model is a waitress named Alma (played by Vicky Krieps), who wears all of Reynolds's gorgeous gowns like curtains of silk. (It kind of makes me wonder if there are other dressmakers who are sewing secret messages into our clothes...)

4. What a Way to Go (1964)

Directed by J. Lee Thompson

Starring Shirley MacLaine, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum

Comedy, Romance (1h 51m)

6.9 on IMDb18% on RT

Are you familiar with superhero spandex designer Edna Mode from The Incredibles? Well, she's basically a parody of the record-smashing Hollywood designer Edith Head, who won eight Academy Awards.

She was given plenty to work with in the huge clothing budget of What a Way to Go, and that's likely the reason why it's still such a classic.

Shirley MacLaine stars as the four-time divorced widow Louisa, who has a truckload of cash to spend on outrageous outfits—outfits that exemplify the revolutionary 1960s. Choosing all things campy, provocative, and fluffy, Louisa wears equal parts diamonds and bare skin.

Oh, and she loves pink... so much so that she has a dream about a pink coffin in a pink mansion and even matches her pink fur with pink hair, giving Barbie a run for her money.

3. Clueless (1995)

Directed by Amy Heckerling

Starring Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy

Comedy, Romance (1h 37m)

6.9 on IMDb81% on RT

What's even more iconic than the looks in Mean Girls? Well, the outfits in Clueless, of course! This film is truly iconic in every single way.

Emblematic of 1990s teen apparel, Cher (played by Alicia Silverstone) ends up swiping through a virtual closet that was basically the dream for all fashion enthusiasts of the time.

You're probably thinking of the yellow-and-black tartan suits that Cher and Dionne (played by Stacey Dash) wear to school, but there's tons more where that came from. Dressing well is Cher's pride and joy. Hence, her multicolored wardrobe of fame.

We should take note of her berets, knee-high socks, and fluffy wrists. After all, there's a whole study on the revolving door of fashion trends throughout history, usually repeating around the 20-year mark.

2. Marie Antoinette (2006)

Directed by Sofia Coppola

Starring Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn

Biography, Drama, History (2h 3m)

6.5 on IMDb57% on RT

The historical figure of Marie Antoinette is famed for her clothing sense. Well, not just her clothing sense, but also her lavish lifestyle that earned her the nickname of Madame Déficit ("Mrs. Debt") in 1700s France.

In the lead up to the French Revolution, this Queen was decked out in satin, feathers, and crazy tall powdered wigs, all while her people died of starvation just outside her windows.

Sofia Coppola fictionalized Marie Antoinette's life in 2006, colored-in by Coppola's signature feminine cinematography.

Drenched in baby pink and pearl necklaces, the grand garments that decorate Marie Antoinette go hand-in-hand with its mise-en-scène of frosted layer cakes and heavy floral curtains.

1. Poor Things (2023)

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

Starring Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe

Comedy, Drama, Romance (2h 21m)

8.1 on IMDb92% on RT

Poor Things swept up a nice pile of Oscars for itself this year, including all the aesthetic ones: Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. And the secret to Holly Waddington's designs? Big shoulders! The puffier, the better.

Just like its set pieces, the Poor Things closet marked a union between old and new, vintage and dystopian. It's a common motif in the wacky, zany world of Yorgos Lanthimos.

The flamboyant mismatch of Bella's wardrobe echoes her hectic, free-soaring soul, who prefers loose frill blouses and long skirts to allow movement. Plus, Lanthimos requested huge ventilated shoulders to symbolize "lungs full of air" and female empowerment!