41. Sharon Stone crosses her legs
It’s almost incredible to think about the amount of controversy that a simple halter neck dress in white crepe can create. Yet this is precisely what happened to the dress that Sharon Stone sported in that infamous interrogation scene in 1990’s Basic Instinct. Granted, it might not be a matter of fashion, as much as one of acting, directorial, and script decisions. However, the truth is that the dress designed by Ellen Mirojnik became iconic. Fun fact: Mirojnik is the same designer responsible for Gordon Gekko’s character in the 1987 film Wall Street. Gecko is, of course, played by the very same Michael Douglas, who starred alongside Stone in Basic Instinct. The costume designer is also credited for having literally created the ‘power broker’ look that made history in the late eighties and early nineties.
42. Anita Eckberg goes strapless for Fellini
Anita Eckberg may have just been the world’s first true bombshell, in a way that’s very close to what came to follow (cue the Pamela Andersons of the world). The tall, statuary, voluptuous Swedish blond genuinely instated a fantasy that lives on in men’s fantasies to this day. And this fantasy is largely due to one (admittedly iconic) dress that perfectly complimented one (admittedly brilliant) part. The role had Eckberg dancing and splashing about in Rome’s famous Fontana di Trevi. The year was 1960 and the movie La Dolce Vita, one of legendary director Federico Fellini’s all-time best. The movie scored a deserved Best Costume Academy Award that year and one glance at Eckberg in that strapless black number can easily make you see why.
43. Julia Roberts: Cinderella in red
Pretty Woman (1990) was the film that established Richard Gere’s charisma and star power once and for all. Most importantly, though, it was the movie that placed then newcomer Julia Roberts on the map. The fresh faced young actress convincingly portrays a prostitute, who eventually steals the heart of millionaire Edward Lewis. As the story evolves, Vivian morphs from a crass girl off the streets into a beautiful, thoroughly stylish woman – and her apparition in the form-fitting siren red dress certainly adds a lot of visual appeal to this plot device. The white elbow-length sleeves are a nice touch, reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly, but the ultimate accessory is the diamond and ruby necklace that Gear gifts her with.
44. Elizabeth Taylor in white on white, on a Hot Tin Roof
The white cocktail dress that Elizabeth Taylor wore in 1958, in one of the most resounding successes of her film career (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) is probably just as famous as the silken slip worn underneath it – which she reveals as the film’s plot progresses. The dress, designed by costume designer Helen Rose (famous for also designing the wedding gown that Grace Kelly wore at her wedding with Prince Rainier of Monaco) sparked a mass fashion revolution. Women all around the United States were asking for exact copies of the white silk chiffon knee-length dress, and even Taylor herself had a copy made, so she could wear it in real life. It is a prime example of 1950s fashion, with the cinched waist and ample décolletage, a cut which perfectly accentuates Taylor’s natural assets. It’s also a great illustration of how to be sexy without overdoing it.
45. Rita Hayworth as the ultimate nightclub fox
‘Humina, humina!’ is all we can say at the sight of Rita Hayworth’s picture perfect figure, wrapped in this amazingly sleek black strapless dress, with a heart-shaped décolletage. The outfit was put together for the 1946 iconic film Gilda. In the movie, Hayworth wears this dress during a striptease number at a nightclub, which she pulls off as the most resounding way possible to end her marriage. The song she performs is the aptly titled Put the Blame on Mame. Trivia fact #1: it was this very look that inspired the creators of animated bunny hottie Jessica Rabbit. Trivia fact #2: Hayworth was considered such hot property that the name of her character in this film, Gilda, was also given to the first nuclear bomb that was tested in the aftermath of World War II.
46. Scarlet O’Hara in green velvet
Bratty? Sure. Annoying? On occasion. Yet there is a lot to be said about the absolutely fabulous sense of style that Vivien Leigh’s Scarlet O’Hara had in the 1939 screen classic Gone with the Wind. Her character is something of a paragon, when it comes to finding that one person to fit the textbook definition of ‘nag’. However, we can’t but give her what’s rightfully her own: the ability to carry a green velvet dress (literally, too – we imagine that outfit weighed a few dozen pounds!). The dress bears the signature of the film’s legendary costume designer, Walter Plunkett. In the story, Scarlet rips apart the curtains on her family’s plantation manor to make the dress, which she then wears in that famous scene, in which she manages to convince Rhett Buttler to lend her the money she needed to save the same plantation.
47. Twiggy’s entire 1960s style
Hark back to the 1960s, the era of free love and hippie styles. Back in London, the swingin’ sixties were –well – in full swing and a star was being born. Several, actually, if we count The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. They, however, are not the focus of this article. The world’s first supermodel is, though. Leslie Hornby, who later saw world fame under the stage name of Twiggy, was a waifish little kid at the time. She looked nothing like the models of her day and, when she broke onto the modeling scene, many expected her to “last a few weeks”, as she later recalled. Yet her popularity and style influence has lasted for over three decades and a half now – and it all started one fateful afternoon in January 1966, when she spent seven hours at a hair salon. That’s how she got her now iconic blond pixie cut – and the rest became history. She soon went on to feature on the covers of the world’s most popular magazines. She launched her own clothing line for teenagers that same year and the next year was acknowledged by Mattel, which launched a Barbie doll in her liking. This made her the first real life personality to have a Barbie doll released in her honor. Twiggy’s style was as simple and boyish as it was catchy; it literally defined the sixties. She was mostly seen wearing simple, straight cut mini dresses, embellished with stripes or sequins, or simply designed in bright, popping colors. Above, she is seen in a typical A-line Mary Quant dress, which defined her style at the time, as well as the female mod look. Twiggy usually wore flats and accented her looks with a handful of accessories. In fact, her most famous ‘accessory’, aside for the haircut, is her trademark, Clockwork Orange-inspired eye makeup, with dramatic lashes and a touch of color. Today, Twiggy may look nothing like her former supermodel self, but her charisma and popularity definitely live on.
48. Dorothy’s gingham blue dress and ruby slippers
Style historians have attributed the popularity of the gingham blue dress that Judy Garland (Dorothy) wears in the Wizard of Oz to technicolor. The 1939 silver screen adaptation of Frank Oz’s popular children’s book was one of Hollywood’s first successful experiments with shooting in full color. The bright blue dress and sparkling red slippers could be admired in all their colorful glory by audiences all around the world, who marveled at the miracle of color. According to the lore surround the film’s production, costume designer Adrian sewed and designed no fewer than ten different dresses for Judy Garland. However, only a handful of them were actually featured in the final film. All the dresses were made out of very cheap gingham, on a cheap old sewing machine, so that they would look like they could have been made for Dorothy by her very own Auntie Em. Also, only a few of the ten dresses survived the years: one of them is on display at the V&A Hollywood Costume exhibition, while another is going to be sold at an auction in Los Angeles, in November 2013. The same dress was previously auctioned in 2011, for well over $1.1 million!
49. Marilyn Monroe meets the subway vent
If this is the first time you’re seeing this picture, you either a) don’t know a thing about movie history, or b) have been living under a rock for the past 60 years. This is iconic imagery at its finest, featuring none other than the bombshell of the past century, Miss Marilyn Monroe. She is wearing a dress designed by William Travilla, for Monroe’s part in the 1955 comedy The Seven Year Itch. The dress bears all the markings of an intelligent costume and fashion designer, as its cut emphasizes both Monroe’s appealing cleavage, as well as her tiny waist and toned legs. In this particular scene, Monroe’s character chances over a subway grate – and the rest is history. Now, if you’re planning to buy this legendary dress for yourself, you might be out of luck, as well as severely under-budgeted. In 2011, the dress sold for no less than $4.6 million at an auction.
50. Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy at Tiffany’s
There is no arguing against this world-renowned dress and the image of the actress that turned it into the queen of vintage style dresses. The actress is none other than style darling Audrey Hepburn, the dress is a sheath gown by designer label Givenchy and the occasion is popular favorite Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). The entire look is too perfect for words, from the way the form-fitting dress highlights Hepburn’s impossibly slim waist, to the accessories: a pearl necklace, a tiara, black elbow gloves, the long cigarette holder, the cat-eye sunglasses and the cup of coffee from the deli. It’s probably safe to say that this image, with this dress, is going to continue to illustrate what New York chic is all about – personality, elegance, and a touch of lighthearted fun. Holly Golightly, as embodied by Hepburn, is New York, for now and for always.
Is there any particular icon you think should’ve been included on our list? What’s your favorite, out of the 50 iconic vintage style dresses and outfits that paraded before your very eyes in the above list? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comment section – who knows? Maybe we’ll even come up with a second, amended edition of this list!