Most Iconic Movie Costumes Of All Time

The greatest movie costumes of all time come from Star Wars, Back to the Future, and The Matrix.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

keanu reeves the matrix

Movies are a visual medium, and there are some designs that will stay with viewers long after the credits roll. Even fewer become timeless and are considered to be some of the greatest movie costumes of all time. Each of these outfits stands on its own, representing entire franchises the same way a few of the greatest cars do, and in some cases, a few of our selections have even become fashion symbols.

10. The Joker’s Suit – The Dark Knight

It takes a lot to become the iconic look for a character that’s been around for generations, but Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight has stood the test of time as the most iconic look for The Joker. The movie costume is relatively simple, as it’s just a large purple jacket over a suit with matching gloves, but it’s the matching attitude that everyone, including P. Diddy, has when they cosplay as the Clown Prince of Crime that makes it a classic. Simple isn’t bad, and compared to other live-action versions of the character, it’s easy to see why Ledger’s has become the default moving forward.

9. The T-800’s Leather And Shades – Terminator 2: Judgment Day

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With a black leather jacket and shades, Arnold Schwarzenegger became a fashion icon in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It’s a simple look, but this movie costume has influenced every action movie that came after; why else do you think The Matrix features leather coats and shades? Arnold makes everything look effortless and cool in this ensemble which has now become shorthand for “action star.”

Later movies in the franchise played with the look, most notably Terminator 3 putting the Terminatrix in a red leather jacket, but nothing matches the original.

8. Princess Leia’s Gold Bikini – Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Carrie Fisher hated this outfit, and it was eventually phased out of Star Wars merchandise, but the gold bikini from Return of the Jedi has remained a convention cosplay staple. One of the most iconic movie costumes of all time, it’s appeared in countless parodies and shows over the years, including Friends, where it was worn by Jennifer Aniston and Chuck when Yvonne Strahovski donned the ensemble. When Daisy Ridley was cast as Rey for the sequel trilogy, Fisher famously advised the new star, “Don’t be a slave like I was.”

7. The Bride’s Jumpsuit – Kill Bill

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Uma Thurman’s Bride in Kill Bill is wearing the yellow jumpsuit with black lines as a tribute to Bruce Lee after his famous outfit in Enter the Dragon. However, as far as movie costumes go, the tribute had the most impact on popular culture, as Lee’s martial arts classic is still underappreciated to this day. During the extensive fight scene, the Bride’s outfit becomes bloody, yet it looks just as cool at the end of the film as it did when she first entered the club.

6. Trinity’s Black Leather – The Matrix

The outfit worn during the most famous kick in movie history, viewers were introduced to “bullet time” for the first time as Carrie-Ann Moss wore form-fitting leather that glistened on screen. The Matrix took inspiration from Terminator 2: Judgment Day but went even further, with more leather, more coats, bigger coats, and allowed Trinity to look just as cool on screen as Neo. It’s hard to imagine now, but at the time, Trinity was the best female action star since Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Conner and Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, all of which helped to make the leather and shades cool for women.

5. Marty McFly’s Puffy Vest- Back To The Future

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Michael J. Fox became a fashion icon with a movie costume available right off the rack. Back to the Future was a massive success, one of the greatest time-travel movies of all time, filled with iconic imagery: the DeLorean, the self-tieing sneakers, and the puffy vest. Technically, it’s a burnt orange down vest specifically made for cold weather, and it’s the least likely fashion accessory of the past 40 years.

Christopher Lloyd’s mad scientist look, unfortunately, has never been popular.

4. Holly Golightly’s Little Black Dress – Breakfast at Tiffany’s

When Audrey Hepburn showed up on the screen as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, no one knew at the time that her movie costume would become a staple of American life. The “little black dress” is considered an essential part of every woman’s wardrobe because of this film. Even though the film was released in 1961, when asked to think of old Hollywood glam, Hepburn’s dress is one of the first things to come to anyone’s mind.

3. Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers – The Wizard of Oz

None of the outfits on this list are as essential to the film as Dorothy’s ruby red slippers, worn by Judy Garland when she stepped out of Kansas and into immortality. The Wizard of Oz is filled with timeless imagery, but the ruby red slippers have stood the test of time as one of the greatest movie costumes ever to grace the silver screen. Today, nearly 100 years later, red footwear is usually jokingly referred to as “ruby red slippers” because of the influence of the most famous footwear in history.

2. Indiana Jones’ Fedora – Indiana Jones

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When Harrison Ford puts on the fedora, he becomes Indiana Jones, and everyone that has ever put on the hat since has thought the same thing, even if it’s just to look at themselves in the mirror. The origin of the fedora is explained in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, given to young Indy by a man consoling him over the loss of a crucifix, saying, “You lost today, kid, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it.” Ever since then, while wearing the fedora, Indiana Jones has only won (eventually), and generations of fans were gifted a very simple movie costume that’s among the cheapest on this list to cosplay.

1. Darth Vader’s Helmet – Star Wars

There’s a reason Mel Brooks went with “Dark Helmet” in Spaceballs, as it’s the most iconic piece of wardrobe in Star Wars and the greatest movie costume ever worn on screen. The helmet means so much to generations of fans that the entire prequel trilogy leads to the moment Anakin puts it on for the first time. Vader’s helmet, based on the design of a samurai’s headpiece, can never be improved since it was perfect from the moment he first stepped onto the Rebel ship.