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Escapist Flicks: The Most Stylish Summer Films

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Escapist Flicks: The Most Stylish Summer Films

Culture /


On-screen summer style

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From ever-popular ’90s staples to classic ’60s swimwear, cinema past and present is full of summer dressing inspiration. Take your sartorial cues from these stylish summer films, and watch as even the local park starts to radiate a certain Riviera shimmer…

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The Most Stylish Summer Films

La Piscine 

This quintessential French thriller takes three preternaturally beautiful people – Romy Schneider, Alain Delon and Jane Birkin – and throws them into a potent cesspool of jealousy and sexual tension, all against the saturated backdrop of a swimming pool on the Cote d’Azur. The costumes, by the groundbreaking designer André Courrèges (credited with putting women in trousers and introducing the mini to France) are a visual feast of skimpy monochrome bikinis, crisp pastel shirts (collar popped, naturally) and the trapeze silhouette which made Courrèges’ name. The outfits worn by Jane Birkin’s character, Penelope, in particular are still relentlessly copied by Instagram fashion influencers worldwide – and rightly so.

The Talented Mr Ripley

With a dreamy Italian Riviera setting, The Talented Mr Ripley (based on 1955 thriller of the same name by Patricia Highsmith) is equal parts sun-soaked, dark and campy – and remains a fruitful source of summer dressing inspiration today. Nothing captures the Mediterranean summer quite like the costumes of the film’s golden couple, from the white ankle length linen trousers and Cuban collar shirts beloved of Jude Law’s raffish character Dickie, to almost everything worn by Gwyneth Paltrow. The pair’s breezy separates and light-coloured palette serves to further differentiate them from Matt Damon’s unnerving Tom Ripley, who worms his way into their confidence (but spends most of the film dressed as a suburban OAP).

Moonrise Kingdom

All of Wes Anderson’s films are stylish in their own way, and offbeat coming-of-age story Moonrise Kingdom, following the relationship of misfit teens Suzy and Sam, is no different. The camp setting captures a different kind of summer than most – there’s rain, wind and a fierce ocean that’s miles away from the placid waves of the Riviera. The costumes vary accordingly: Suzy wears a series of memorable, ‘60s dresses with Peter Pan collars, but just as striking are the brightly-coloured rain slickers and knits. After weeks of scorching temperatures, there’s nothing as refreshing as a summer storm.

Call Me By Your Name

Summer 1983, somewhere in Northern Italy – so begins Call Me By Your Name, the gorgeously shot, wildly popular gay summer romance. Amongst its many charms are the requisite Eighties callbacks: cassette players, The Psychedelic Furs, and, of course, the clothes. Protagonists Elio and Oliver are both fond of oversized shirts, short shorts and loud prints, and, judging by men’s summer fashion today, it’s caught on. Elio’s iconic Christmastime outfit – a quirky white shirt over a black turtleneck – in the film’s heart-wrenching last scene reminds us that summer love may fade, but ‘80s style is forever.

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Roman Holiday 

One of the best-loved Audrey Hepburn films, and a foundational text for rom-coms to follow, Roman Holiday’s impossibly charming storyline and sparkling performances never fail to uplift. In her role as the gamine Princess Anne, Hepburn’s chief look is a short-sleeved shirt tucked into an A-line skirt, accessorised with simple sandals and a striped neck scarf. It remains as chic and wearable today as it did in the ‘50s.

Stealing Beauty

Set in the misty Tuscan hills (Italy is clearly a recurring theme), this heady coming-of-age story sees Liv Tyler, straw sunhat in hand, float around in a ‘90s dream-girl uniform of ruffled floral frocks, ditzy slip dresses and white cotton crop tops. The nineties nostalgia permeating today’s fashion makes this one of the easiest aesthetics to recreate: pair with flowing hair, a tan and your closest wildflower meadow.

A Bigger Splash

Another entry from Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino, A Bigger Splash is loosely based on La Piscine and draws on the same themes of past attachments and jealousy. It stars Tilda Swinton as a temporarily mute – and exceptionally chic – rock star recovering from vocal cord surgery on an Italian island with her younger partner. Her enviable Dior wardrobe, conceived by Raf Simons during the designer’s lamentably brief time helming the maison, is heavy on crisp, asymmetric shirt dresses and billowing, mid-length summer whites – timeless summer staples with a twist.

Bonus: Normal People

OK, so this isn’t a film, strictly speaking, but who can deny the power of Marianne’s Episode 8 wardrobe? The story’s relocation from drizzly Dublin to a honey-hued villa in Tuscany comes with tension – an argument arises over, of all things, the correct glass shape for drinking champagne – and tears, but also some of the show’s most memorable outfits. Marianne’s vintage-inspired ensembles include a baby blue and white checked shift, a frothy mint-coloured midi with broderie detailing and, most notably, the black spaghetti-strap sundress that threw fashion internet into a collective tizzy in its rush to find a similar version. Luckily, there are plenty to choose from.

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