11. Deewar (1972)
A giant of the Bollywood industry, Amitabh Bachchan has inhabited his roles with a huge physical persona and a sophisticated sense of style since the early seventies. Arguably his most famous role is the ground-breaking Deewar, a crime epic about the struggles of two brothers on the streets of Mumbai.
Bachchan’s smoulders with a classic knotted denim blue shirt, khaki pants and lose rope dangling over the shoulder. With this role, he became known as the first ‘Angry Young Man’ of Bollywood. However, this look was, ironically, a result of a mistake by the tailor.
Bachchan tweeted ‘The knotted shirt and rope on shoulder in ‘Deewar’ was an adjustment for an error in stitching… Shirt too long so knotted it.’ So famous is Bachchan’s outfit, there is a mural painted of him on a street in Mumbai.
12. Annie Hall (1977)
Throughout his career Woody Allen has crafted a persona for himself as a weedy, neurotic nerd whose self-deprecative humour and wit compensated for his lack of physical presence.
That said, vintage Allen has been retroactively coined a style icon with his signature mix of thick glasses, a tweed jacket and slacks laying the foundations for what is now called ‘Nerd-chic’.
His seminal 1977 comedy features some of his most recognisable outfits. Alvy Singer is a man of layers, usually sneaking a plain crewneck underneath his buttoned up chequered shirts and khaki green jacket. He’s not without his more brazen moments however; including an eye popping all white shirt, slacks and trainer combo.
13. Mad Max (1979)
George Miller’s pulp franchise has played a huge part in developing the aesthetic of the post-apocalyptic genre across a variety of medias. By the time we reach 2015’s Fury Road, the kitchen sink-punk style has come to define the world that Max and all the other crazies inhabit.
In 1979 however, the image of Gibson cruising down an empty road in his souped-up V8, rocking a custom padded black leather biker jacket (accompanied by black leather pants, fingerless gloves and steel-toed boots) was a sight to behold.
14. Do the Right Thing (1989)
Spike Lee’s scorching ensemble drama set in a Brooklyn neighbourhood features a huge variety of expressive costuming. Every figure of this close-knit community is coded with self-expression and political identity through their outfits.
Lee wanted an ‘AFROCENTRIC’ vibrance to the film and he captures this perfectly. Labels hold significant importance, while tank tops, Hawaiian shirts, basketball shorts, straw hats, and plaid shirts create a hot-mix of cultures and ages that come up against each other over the course of a few days.
Protagonist Mookie (played by Lee) manages to retain a coolness as he struts up and down his blistering neighbourhood streets delivering pizzas in red shorts and Dodgers shirt. Other highlights include Radio Raheem’s LOVE/HATE knuckle rings and the Samuel L. Jackson’s multi-coloured African-styled kufi.
15. My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Gus Van Sant’s acclaimed indie drama about River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves embarking on a search of the formers mother. The style adopted by the gang of street hustlers ushered in the wave of grunge fashion that would populate the mainstream culture in the early nineties.
Jackets and jeans, t-shirts and hoodies create a sort of nostalgic yearning for the migrant workers of the past. Phoenix’s wavy hair, weathered red cotton jacket and silver sunglasses capture a melancholic freedom as he and Reeves glide across Portland on a motorbike.
16. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Tarantino’s debut Reservoir Dogs made waves with its sharply dressed gang of thieves. For his second feature, the Palme d’Or winning Pulp Fiction, he reunited with costume designer Betsy Heimann to transform the inhabitants of a hazy summer downtown LA into some of the most recognisable characters of the 1990s.
Samuel L Jackson radiates coolness, either in a slick black suit or bright red basketball shorts that are two sizes too small. Jackson’s presence even elevates the perfectly dopey John Travolta, who is somehow able to carry off the greased- back long hair and earring.
Bruce Willis rocks a tan leather jacket and Eric Stoltz gets to show off the wonderfully retro Speed Racer t-shirt, allegedly belonging to Tarantino himself.
17. In the Mood for Love (2001)
Tony Leung positively smoulders in Won Kar-wai’s 1960s Shanghai tragic romance. Leung plays a journalist who rents a room with his wife, next door to Maggie Cheung and her husband. The pair suspect their partners of having an affair and eventually fall in love themselves.
Leung’s simple suits, combed hair and steel lighter, emanates a refined elegance unseen since the days of Cary Grant. The tight composure and manner of Leung perfectly accompanies the moving-still-life quality of Kar-wai’s beautiful compositions.
18. Casino Royale (2006)
Since Dr No was released in 1962, James Bond has been the talisman for men’s fashion in cinema. The name has almost become a brand unto itself, synonymous with a degree of sophistication and high class.
It’s impact on masculine style ideals in film culture and beyond is practically immeasurable with an assortment of websites dedicated to detailing the outfits (and where to buy them) throughout the series. It would be hard to argue with anyone who select a more vintage episode of the MI6 agent.
However, Daniel Craig’s first outing reinvigorated the franchise with a mix of classic and modern style. There are the signature suits designed by Broni (you can view the design in detail here) and a £2300 Omega watch. However, Craig really nailed a sophisticated casualness with his cardigan, wool t-shirt and chequered suit trousers.
19. Drive (2011)
Ryan Gosling’s getaway driver in Nicholas Winding Refn’s 2011 neon thriller has become somewhat of a cult style icon. His unnervingly calm exterior is a seamless blend of cool and control, however it conceals a dangerous whirlwind of impulsive, unstoppable violence.
I’m not sure how much, if any, of the symbolism behind the embroidered gold scorpion on the back of the white satin racing jacket sported by Gosling reached the countless imitators that can be spotted around dive bars across the world today.
Nonetheless, the character is practically an amalgamation of bold details that had to carried off by Gosling or the character simply wouldn’t work. Thankfully, armed with an inexhaustible supply of toothpicks, Gosling looks good in double denim, tortoise aviator sunglasses and black leather racing gloves.
20. The Great Beauty (2013)
Paulo Sorrentino’s story of Jep Gambardella, a veteran and sometimes victim of la dolce vita has more than a few nods towards Fellini’s masterpiece, including the main character’s thick rimmed glasses from which he casts a sardonic eye over his surroundings.
Toni Servillo’s ageing high society playboy easily takes the prize home for best dressed on this list. Pristine, glimmering trousers, silk shirts and two-tone, custom-made leather brogues are all well and good, but the real highlights here are the bold yellow, blue and red tailored blazers the announce Jep’s presence.
The various silk pocket squares that complete the ensemble suggest a longing to preserve a sophistication that has long since disappeared from the world.
Author Bio: Mervyn is a Post-graduate Film Student at Queen’s University. He has been writing about film for around three years now across a number of sites including The Yorkshire Times Online and The Focus Pull. When he is not watching, writing or thinking film he is a part-time reader and drinker of whiskey. You can follow him on Twitter or Letterboxd.