Onscreen Style: Film & TV’s Influence on Fashion Trends

Film and television have been influencing audiences’ fashions for decades. Films from Hitchcock classics to Clueless have set fashion trends, and TV shows like Sex and the City, Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl continue to have have an impact on fashion designs even after the shows have vanished from prime time. One has only to watch the  Golden Globes, Emmy, and the Screen Actor Guild awards to understand the impact of Hollywood on fashion.

Today very girl grows up watching Clueless, the romantic comedy that has become a classic that watched mothers and best friends. Clueless did not just influence the way many youths speak, but also had a profound effect on how they dress. Clueless made trends like knee socks, crop tops, berets, schoolgirl skirts, and headbands into fashion icons. These trends have been called the “Clueless effect”. The Clueless effect is still present twenty years after the movie was released — in stores from New Look and Topshop to the Versace fall 2012 collection.  The movie brought well-known names like Calvin Klein and Azzedine Alaia into the public eye. Clueless did this by targeting an audience that is the most easily influenced by the media. According to Charlie Lynne, in an interview with Hope St, style draws individuals to a movie but the movie must have substances in order for the style to endure. The costume director of the film, Mona May, says that all she wanted was for the fashion to endure. In an interview with Oyster, she said that she wanted to inspire viewers and show them something they have never seen before.

Image via imdb.com

Image via imdb.com

The iconic Hitchcock films influenced the world of cinema forever — and also the world of fashion. Alexander McQueen created a line inspired by Hitchcock films for his autumn/winter 2005 collection. It consisted of the iconic angora sweaters and sharp skirt suits with well-done hair. Just two years ago, Miu Miu used car coats, over-the-knee pencil skirts, ladylike bags, and gloves that had evoked Hitchcock’s films. With iconic clothing from Kim Novak’s grey suit in Vertigo and the classic pencil skirts to the yellow Marni bag, classic clean lines and the colors from these clothes are still seen widely worn today. Pinterest boards can be easily found presenting how to where “Hitchcock” fashion.

Image via theguardian.com

Image via theguardian.com

The small screen had very few icons until 1998 when Sex and the City premiered on HBO. At first the show was critically derided due to its forwardness. With its constant talk of sex and the women characters running around New York sleeping with whomever they wanted, the show’s initial viewership was not impressive. It took a few seasons for the show’s popularity to pick up, partly due to interest in the fashions. Sex and the City created fashion icons and sparked trends ranging from high-end designer bags to fabric flowers and Manolos. The female viewers’ attitudes towards spending money on material accessories instantly changed. They became more willing to go out and buy a nice piece of clothing for their wardrobe. The show promoted the ideal of indulging oneself. Sex and the City had a profound influence on retail: many stores saw changes in sales after episodes like “The Pearl Thong”. The show created aspiring glamoristas not just while on the air but still today as young women watch the reruns around the world.

Image via content.time.com

Image via content.time.com

In an interview with the New York Times, Mandi Line, costume director for Pretty Little Liars, discussed how she got her job. “If you let me make fashion the fifth character on this show,” she said, “people will watch it just for the clothes.” With the show focused on four girls in high school trying to understand the unbelievable messages from their dead friend, their fashion seems beyond their time. Most girls wear jeans, t-shirts, and converses to high school while these girls are wearing stylish outfits with some high-end brands as statement pieces. Young girls have started to emulate these characters through blogs examining each character’s outfits so that others purchase the same or similar outfits. As television is becoming a more respected medium, costume designers are finding greater opportunities working on television shows, which reach a wider audience than the cinema currently does. Costume designers are able to design clothing lines based off of television shows due to the audience wanting to look like their favorite characters.

Image via polyvore.com

Image via polyvore.com

Before Pretty Little Liars aired in 2010, Gossip Girl started the trend of girls trying to look like their favorite character. Gossip Girl created characters that young girls wanted to be on the small screen. The premise of private high school kids living a glamorous life in New York City getting whatever they want when they wanted mimicked the instant-gratification culture the show was catering to. From the expensive parties with under-aged drinking to trips all around the world, one huge element was the characters outfits. Being one of the first to mix high-end brands with cheaper add-ons, it allowed girls to be able to find similar products at stores near them. Stores like Bloomingdales reported more girls coming into their shops looking for Gossip Girl inspired clothing after being featured on the show. Gossip Girl also helped make a name for smaller brands like Zara and Urban Outfitters by showing the characters in their products, as they provided an affordable piece of clothing that girls could buy to add to their wardrobe. These companies grew immensely in popularity, becoming staple stores for pre-teen girls to shop.

Image via fourms.thefashionpost.com

Image via fourms.thefashionpost.com

It did not take the CW long to recognize the trends of girls emulating a character on their shows. So they  capitalized on it by adding point-and-click shopping to their website so viewers could go online and look up their favorite character’s wardrobe and purchase pieces at price ranges. This new shopping option made clothing brands pay to be featured on the show. Due to Gossip Girl’s abilities to generate trends, they became one of the first shows to generate revenue through this process. Designer collections like Marc by Marc Jacobs started to feature a Gossip Girl influence in order to be featured on the show changing New York runways because of the newly-targeted audiences. Television and movies will continue to play an integral role in the fashion industry because of the audience they cater to and the viewers wanting to copy the actors on the screen. This makes the media market is instrumental in establishing fashion frenzy for the viewers as well as creating passion for fashion for designer clothes. As viewers we will constantly be influenced by the fashion we see in films and television.

By Samantha

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