There isn’t a single Hollywood classic we know about where there isn’t a particular dress that started a whole new fashion trend worldwide. Show stopping dresses aren’t uncommon when it comes to Hollywood movies. But certain dresses developed their own fan following and are regarded as iconic dresses of all time. We have made a list of the top 41 classiest movie dresses to date. From the gold gown Vanessa Bell Calloway wore in Coming to America to Whitney Houston’s most glamorous Queen of the Night costume, this list features all those sartorial choices of Hollywood starlets that fans still rave about.
Fay Wray’s White Gown- King Kong (1933)
In this scene, although the character played by Fray Wray is going through extreme distress, but we still couldn’t stop praising her choice of attire. The white gown featuring a sweetheart neckline became so popular that it is still part of the King Kong franchise. Every sequel made of the 1933 classic featured the same dress, which speaks volumes about this dress’s iconic status.
Jean Harlow’s Slipdress & Fur Stole- Dinner at Eight (1933)
We remember Harlow as the original blonde bombshell of Hollywood. In the movie Dinner at Eight, Harlow played the character of Kitty Packard and made it an icon with this art deco silk slip dress, which she paired with a white fur stole. This look of hers is the perfect example of vintage glamour.
Katharine Hepburn’s Gold Gown- Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Hepburn starred in Bringing Up Baby, where one of her principal costars was a pet leopard. Isn’t it unusual? Equally impressive was this showstopper floor-length gold lame gown. This is indeed a bold choice considering the time it was released. The sheer veil featuring gold borders adds to the entire outfit’s glamorousness, and we cannot still get over how lovely Katherine looks in this glimpse from the movie.
Vivien Leigh’s Emerald-Green Velvet Gown- Gone with the Wind (1939)
Vivien Leigh donned several stunning and glamorous avatars in 1939 classic Gone with the Wind. But, the one dress that garnered worldwide acclaim and inspired a whole new fashion trend was this emerald-green velvet gown. Leigh’s character Scarlett O’Hara looks beautiful for sure. Would you believe that this dress was made from Tara’s curtains? There’s no doubt that this dressing gown is the most striking ensemble the actress wore.
Ingrid Bergman’s White Two-Piece- Casablanca (1942)
Ingrid Bergman perfectly pulled off the 40’s casual chic look quite effortlessly in Casablanca. She chose to pair this casual white two piece skirt suit with a diamond brooch and made it an epitome of understated classiness. And, who can forget that legendary dialogue- “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
Rita Hayworth’s Strapless Black Gown- Gilda (1946)
Hayworth played the stereotypical 19040s pinup in the movie Gilda. To essay her character aptly, she carefully chose her clothing, and this strapless black satin gown is proof of that. Rita matches the dress with elbow-length gloves, which became a rage back in the day when this movie was released.
Elizabeth Taylor’s Tulle Ball Gown- A Place in the Sun (1951)
Glamour and Elizabeth Taylor were not only synonymous back then, but still, she is regarded as one of the most talented actresses ever to grace the silver screen. Taylor was a trendsetter in every way. The vivacious actress wore this gorgeous strapless tulle ball gown featuring a unique floral applique and stole the show in A Place in the Sun’s climax scene.
Marilyn Monroe’s Hot-Pink Gown- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Marilyn Monroe rose to the stardom’s pinnacle with her stunning looks, sensuous appeal, and impeccable dressing sense. Many of her looks has kept inspiring fashion trends even in the 21st century. One of her chicest looks was when the diva wore this hot-pink strapless evening gown paired with matching gloves in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In this particular sequence, the actress was draped in diamonds, and the pink shade stands out extraordinarily.
Audrey Hepburn’s Embroidered Evening Gown- Sabrina (1954)
In the movie Sabrina, Audrey Hepburn’s character transforms, and she returns to her childhood home in a stylish ingénue. Hence, she needed an exclusively designed couture wardrobe. This stunning black-and-white embroidered evening gown is one of the many fabulous dresses she wore in this movie.
Grace Kelly’s Edith Head Evening Gown- Rear Window (1954)
In Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Rear Window, Grace Kelly essayed the character of a poised socialite Lisa Carol Fremont. Throughout the movie, Kelly wore many gorgeous yet sophisticated dresses. However, this Edith Head designed evening gown was the ultimate showstopper. Featuring a V-neck with capped sleeves, this black-and-white outfit is genuinely one of Kelly’s all-time best looks.
Dorothy Dandridge’s Red-and-Black Dress- Carmen Jones (1954)
In Carmen Jones, the Dandridge played the titular role and became the first African-American actress to win an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Even after 60 years since the movie was released, fashion maestros take inspiration from this chic red-and-black ensemble.
Marilyn Monroe’s White Halter Dress- The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Billy Wilder, the director of The Seven Year Itch, didn’t expect while asking Monroe to pose on the subway grate that this image would become the ultimate pop culture icon in the history of cinema. Kudos to Monroe for acing the pose so brilliantly. This pleated white halter dress and her playful poses with the upward breeze are still etched in moviegoers’ minds. The entire sequence continues to inspire many modern-day movies.
Grace Kelly’s White Chiffon Gown- e (1955)
Grace Kelly portrayed a rich and carefree heiress in the movie To Catch a Thief. Her character is in the South of France on vacation, so she had to dress a certain way to blend in with the ambiance. This chiffon white-colored strapless evening gown paired with a diamond necklace helped her look the part. No wonder the jewel thief couldn’t resist this necklace; it’s truly ravishing.
Leslie Caron’s Off-Shoulder Cecil Beaton Gown- Gigi (1958)
Leslie Caron is oozing elegance in this Cecil Beaton designed evening gown. We must give Caron her due credit for making this movie such a huge hit with her amazing portrayal and stunning looks. This off-shoulder silken and feathered evening gown garnered as much fame and acclaim as the movie’s musical numbers. Gigi won the Academy Award for best film in 1958.
Natalie Wood’s Yellow Dress- West Side Story (1961)
Natalie Wood’s chic yellow-colored shift dress proves that an ensemble doesn’t need to be adorned and embellished heavily to be termed iconic. In West Side Story, Wood played Maria’s character, and she wore this dress when her character marries Tony.
Audrey Hepburn’s Black Evening Gown- Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
As soon as Hepburn paraded the screen in this stunning black-colored evening gown embellished with pearls, the look was dubbed a winner. This is among Hepburn’s classiest looks, just like the movie itself, which is one of the actress’s best works. In this movie, Hepburn’s character Holly Golightly wore many attractive outfits, but this particular ensemble perfectly reflected her character.
Elizabeth Taylor’s 24-Karat Gold Headdress- Cleopatra (1963)
Cleopatra is a movie that not only made records but broke many records too. In this movie, Liz Taylor’s costumes remained the talk of the town for years. The movie’s extravagant sets, elaborate costumes, and magnanimous budget are still a discussion point among movie buffs. This stunningly designed headdress and cape, which Taylor’s character wore when entering Rome, are made of pure 24-karat gold, unbelievable, isn’t it? It was in Cleopatra that Taylor started seeing Richard Burton, and the two soon tied the knot.
Audrey Hepburn’s Lace Dress- My Fair Lady (1964)
Hepburn and Cecil Beaton made a great team, so many of her dresses reached the iconic status. Here’s another fantastic look of Audrey from the movie My Fair Lady. This frilly lace dress that Hepburn’s character Eliza Doolittle wears has a distinct rhythmic appeal that blends well with the movie’s overall theme. The ribbon accents and high collar are the highlights of this stunning dress.
Julie Andrews’s Long-Sleeve Dress- The Sound of Music (1965)
In the all-time classic musical, The Sound of Music, Andrews’ character, Fräulein Maria, gets a makeover in the second half. This dress was designed to portray Andrews’ revamped look, and we believe that it did complete justice to the character. This is a simple long-sleeve dress, but coupled with the striped apron, it looks ravishing indeed.
Sharon Tate’s Minty Maxi Dress- Valley of the Dolls (1967)
The sensuous Jennifer North in the movie Valley of the Dolls is Sharon Tate’s most memorable characters. In the film, Tate mostly wore nightgowns, but this mint-colored maxi dress was an exception. She wore it during the promotional photoshoot of the movies and looked stunning.
Diana Ross’s Silken Peach Gown- Mahogany (1975)
In Mahogany, Ross played the character of an aspiring model and fashion designer, Tracy. Therefore, her character demanded a fancy and stylish wardrobe. To play the part to perfection, Ross wore a series of gorgeous gowns throughout the movie. This peach-colored, silk gown is our favorite, though. The embellishments and exquisite embroidery stand out even after decades.
Carrie Fisher’s Trendsetting Costume- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Fisher’s character Leia in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was anything but conventional. Hence, she had to opt for an unusual, contemporary look. This high-necked gown with billowing sleeves and the draping fabric is the perfect choice of costume. This dress created waves within the American fashion industry during the 70s and earned a rightful place in pop culture history.
Olivia Newton-John’s Yellow Dress- Grease (1978)
We have to admit that Grease was a path-breaking movie in more ways than one, and setting new fashion and hairstyle trends is one of its key achievements. Throughout the film, Olivia aced the casual-chic girl-next-door look. However, this spaghetti strap, pale-yellow dress she wore in the legendary jive scene takes the cake.
Michelle Pfeiffer’s Teal-colored Evening Gown- Scarface (1983)
Michelle Pfeiffer’s glamorous avatar, as Scarface’s Elvira Hancock, is one of her best looks to date. She wore several stunning Halston-Esque dresses. This teal-colored evening gown with a plunging-neckline is our top pick for this list. Designed by Patricia Norris, this ensemble not only suited Pfeiffer’s petite frame superbly but created an iconic look that fans would rave about even decades later.
Jennifer Grey’s Pink Dress- Dirty Dancing (1987)
We heard that Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze rehearsed for the final dance all summer, and it certainly was one of the cinematic history’s most memorable sequences. That A-line dress in a light pink hue against Swayze’s all-black outfit stood out stunningly and took our breath away.
Vanessa Bell Calloway’s Elegant Evening Gown- Coming to America (1988)
Vanessa Bell Calloway’s introductory scene in the movie Coming to America set the ball rolling for a series of iconic fashion moments. However, as they say, the first impression is generally the last; this regal, black evening gown with gold embroidered lace and sheer paneling, is her best look.
Julia Roberts’s Red Gown- Pretty Woman (1990)
Picking Julia Roberts’ best look in Pretty Woman was a huge challenge for us because there are just too many exceptional fashion moments of her in the movie. This red-hot, off-shoulder evening gown she wore to the opera is our pick for this list. We believe that this was when Vivian looked the sexiest in the movie.
Whitney Houston’s Black Halter Gown- The Bodyguard (1992)
Whitney Houston surely knows how to make a lasting impression and a strong fashion statement with a simply black-colored halter gown. The addition of beaded accessories does add the much-needed glamor, but the entire sequence was made unforgettable by the singer’s outstanding vocals.
Alicia Silverstone’s Stylish Dressing- Clueless (1995)
Silverstone’s dressing as Cher in Clueless was completely in-line with the minimalist trend that was a rage back in the early 90s. This particular dress she wore when going on a date with Christian is simply exquisite. That sheer white jacket Cher throws so casually over the skirt makes this look extremely interesting.
Bette Midler, Diane Keaton, and Goldie Hawn’s All-White Suits- The First Wives Club (1996)
The matching all-white suits the trio wore in the final sequence of the hit movie The First Wives Club made a strong style statement for sure. The dance sequence that followed was equally impressive, like this look. The pearls give this dress the perfectly understated glamor, which was needed for this look.
Kate Winslet’s Formal Gown- Titanic (1997)
Many would agree that this formal evening gown adorned with beads and diamantes is the best look of Kate Winslet’s character Rose in Titanic. We would say that this is a timeless look, as even after two decades, this look is still continue to inspire us. Rose wears this dress while dining in the stateroom and while dancing in the lower hall. This is everything an iconic dress would be, and perhaps Rose’s innocence adds more zing to the entire look.. what do you think?
Reese Witherspoon’s Pink Halter Dress- Legally Blonde (2001)
Witherspoon’s character in Legally Blonde, Elle Woods, is obsessed with pink color, and throughout the movie, the actress gave us many stunning style statements. She should be given credit to experimenting with a single color so brilliantly and making every outfit a knockout. This pink halter-neck dress that she wears during her Harvard Law’s audition tape is one of our favorites.
Jennifer Lopez’s Evening Gown- Maid in Manhattan (2002)
Jennifer’s character gets mistaken for a rich hotel guest, while in reality, she was a maid in the hotel. However, to portray her character well, Jennifer donned many glamorous outfits. This evening gown featuring a sexy sweetheart neckline oozes sensuousness for sure.
Kate Hudson’s Yellow Satin Gown- How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
Even without the Isadora Diamond, that exquisite piece of jewelry designed by Harry Winston, Hudson’s yellow satin evening gown looks stunning. She wore it in the movie’s climax sequence, and she seemed so captivating that this look made it to the official poster of the film. The movie’s costume designer Karen Patch designed this gorgeous dress, and kudos to her for creating such an iconic look.
Anne Hathaway’s Valentino Gown- The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
In The Devil Wears Prada, Hathaway’s character Andrea Sachs undergoes a makeover from an utterly anti-fashion, simplistic girl to a bon vivant diva. In the latter half of the movie, Andrea keeps experimenting with her looks and outfits, and needless to say, it’s all about brands and designer couture. Fashion pundits had a field day exploring her different looks. In our opinion, Hathaway looked her best in this silken black Valentino gown she wears for the charity gala of the Runway.
Kirsten Dunst’s Opulent Ball Gown- Marie Antoinette (2006)
While recreating the aristocratic court of the French King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Sofia Coppola trusted no one else but the celebrated costumer designer Milena Canonero. Canonero was assigned the monumental task of creating a near-perfect wardrobe for the controversial queen. She did such an exceptional job that she not only got nominated for an Oscar but won the award as well. This extravagant ball gown is one of the many brilliant outfits Kirsten Dunst wore in the movie. But, this is her most iconic look among all.
Beyoncé Knowles, Anika Noni Rose, and Jennifer Hudson’s Mermaid Dresses- Dreamgirls (2006)
A movie inspired by the story of The Supremes and the making of Motown, the group’s record label, was every bit inspiring. The film depicted the era of the 1960s, and therefore, the costumes had to reflect the same vibe. This mid-length, strapless mermaid dress that the trio wore got rave reviews from fashion critics and gave us one of cinematic history’s most iconic dresses.
Keira Knightley’s Green Dress- Atonement (2007)
Even over a decade later, Keira Knightley’s green dress looks fashionable and regal as ever. Designer Jacqueline Durran did complete justice to the tall and petite British actress. The director’s requirement for Jacqueline was that the dress had to be full length, light and the color shade of green. This 1930s style dress with bright jewel tone is equally dramatic as the scene Keira wore it for.
Sarah Jessica Parker’s Newspaper Print Dress- Sex and the City 2 (2010)
This movie takes us three years forward in the life of Carrie Bradshaw when she is in Paris. Sarah Jessica Parker reprised her famous role and stepped back into her favorite Manolo Blahniks. This particular outfit she wore in her introductory scene in the movie. This iconic dress has Carrie Bradshaw written all over it as it reflects her personality so vividly. Parker’s unique style sense has remained the highlight of the Sex and the City franchise.
From the days when the series premiered on our TV screens to its cinematic adaptation, Carrie Bradshaw has impressed her with her impeccable fashion sense. Have a look at this unique newspaper-print dress designed by John Galliano. Sarah wore this dress in one of the series’s episodes and reused it in Sex and the City 2.
Constance Wu’s Cinderella-inspired Ball Gown- Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Wu’s character took us to a world of full of magnificence and fantasy, and her choice of attire revived our love for Cinderella-style ball gowns. This Marchesa tulle designed gown Constance Wu wears in the wedding sequence of the movie Crazy Rich Asians. The designer later donated this iconic dress to the Smithsonian.