11 Clever Movies Costume Clues, So Subtle They Escaped The Most Die-hard Fans' Eagle Eyes

A movie can only be great if it's like a well-oiled machine, with all its parts working together seamlessly. And sure, people might tell you that good writing, a talented cast, or a skilled director are what make a movie stand out. But let me tell you, there's one unsung hero in the movie-making process that often gets overlooked - costume design!
Seriously, fashion trends have been born from movies. Just think about how many people started wearing plaid skirts and knee-high socks after watching Clueless. It's a real thing!
Costume design is basically the secret ingredient to great storytelling. It can tell you everything you need to know about a character - who they are, what they do, where they come from, and what they're going through. Plus, did you ever notice that some characters' clothes change throughout the movie? Yes, there is a meaning behind that, like a fashion metaphor. So, without further ado, let's take a closer look at some of the coolest clever Movies costume clues that you might never even notice!

#1 Enchanted

We all know that Giselle is a total fairy-tale princess, trapped in the hustle and bustle of New York City. But, what you might not have noticed is how her costumes perfectly reflect her character arc.

clever movies costume cluesSource: © Buena Vista Pictures / East New© Allpix Press / East News

Designer Mona May is a freakin' genius, because she managed to show Giselle's evolution from a total fantasyland princess to a more practical, modern-day gal, without losing that signature touch of sweetness and innocence, and Giselle stays true to herself the entire time.

#2 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Tim Burton's movies are like a fever dream - dark, monochromatic, but somehow bursting with color at the same time. And you know what adds to that signature Burton-esque style? Costume designer Colleen Atwood, who's worked on some of his most iconic films, like Edward Scissorhands and Alice in Wonderland.

clever movies costume cluesSource: © Album Online / East News© DreamWorks / East News

In a recent interview, Colleen spilled the beans on some of the costume elements that defined each character. Sweeney Todd, of course, had his razor holster rig and silver-studded boots, because you gotta accessorize when you're slitting throats.
And the judge's assistant had a top hat that was straight-up iconic. Meanwhile, Mrs. Lovett was all about that exuberant, over-the-top look - which makes sense, since she's basically trying to lure people into eating human meat pies.

#3 Black Swan

clever movies costume cluesSource: © Black Swan / Fox Searchlight Pictures (presents)

In a recent interview, costume designer Amy Westcott revealed how she used color to show Nina's evolution throughout the movie. At the beginning, when Nina is still innocent and childlike, her clothes are mostly pale and pink - you know, all that "prima ballerina" stuff. But as she gets deeper into her role and her relationships with other characters get more twisted, her costumes start taking on darker hues.
And by the end of the movie, her clothes are practically screaming "I AM THE BLACK SWAN."

#4 Clueless

As if we could talk about Clueless without mentioning the iconic costumes! Costume designer Mona May totally nailed the look of those wealthy California teens, mixing high-end designer pieces with vintage finds for that perfect mix of preppy and grunge.

clever movies costume cluesSource: © East News© Paramount / East News© Clueless / Paramount Pictures

But here's the really cool part: if you pay attention to Cher and Dionne's outfits throughout the movie, you can actually track the progression of time! From light and bright colors at the beginning of the school year to warmer, darker tones in the winter months, their wardrobes perfectly reflect the passing of time!

#5 Marie Antoinette

Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette movie isn’t your typical stuffy historical drama - it’s like Gossip Girl, but with wigs and French accents. The film shows the life of the Queen of France from when she was just a teenager, and how she became a fashion icon in the French court.

clever movies costume cluesSource: © Sony Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection / East News

Milena Canonero, the costume designer, cleverly used clothes to show Marie Antoinette's growth and maturity as she moved from her childish, pink dresses to more stylish and fashionable outfits. But as the French royals began to lose their popularity, her wardrobe took a somber turn, with less flashy designs and muted colors.

#6 Star Wars

clever movies costume cluesSource: © Lucas Film / Walt Disney / Collection Christophel / East News

In Star Wars, the costumes are more than just fashion statements - they're a vital part of character development! Luke Skywalker's outfit, resembling a martial arts gi, shows he's still in training and learning the ways of the Force. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan Kenobi's costume looks like that of a wise old monk, because he's been around the galaxy a few times and knows a thing or two about the Jedi ways.

#7 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

clever movies costume cluesSource: © Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory / Paramount Pictures

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a total sugar rush for the eyes and the imagination! But did you know that Gene Wilder himself had a hand in creating Wonka's iconic look? That's right, he wanted to make sure he wasn't just a carbon copy of the character in the book, so he added his own touches of class and quirkiness.

#8 The Devil Wears Prada

clever movies costume cluesSource: © 20thCentFox / East News© Allpix Press / East News© The Devil Wears Prada / Fox 2000 Pictures

In The Devil Wears Prada, costume designer Patricia Field used her expertise to create distinctive wardrobes that reveal the personalities of each character. The movie's main characters wear high-end designer clothes that match their distinct styles. Andy mostly wears Chanel, Emily sports Vivienne Westwood, and Miranda, the boss and namesake of the movie, wears Prada.

#9 Legally Blonde

Legally Blonde's costume designer, Sophie de Rakoff, played a major role in creating Elle Woods' energetic and determined character. Through carefully designed color palettes and subtle hair changes, de Rakoff revealed the depths and contradictions in Elle's personality.

clever movies costume cluesSource: © Legally Blonde / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Throughout the movie, Elle's outfits change, going from bold and extravagant to more subdued and warm, reflecting her changing mindset and self-confidence in achieving her goals. Her hair also changes from abundant curls to a straight and pulled-back ponytail, with the movie ending with an iconic outfit that reflects her emotional state.

#10 The Matrix

clever movies costume cluesSource: © The Matrix (1999) / Warner Bros.

In The Matrix, the sunglasses worn by the characters were not your run-of-the-mill shades. Costume designer Kym Barrett put in extra effort to make them unique and custom-made to reflect the individuality of each character and actor. So forget about Sunglasses Hut, they had to go the extra mile to get the perfect futuristic shades!

#11 Gone with the Wind

clever movies costume cluesSource: something

ModernGurlz employs colors to showcase her essence and emotions, revealing Scarlett's emotional state, determination, and goals. For instance, the green dress symbolizes envy, and the red dress represents her desire for love and affection. Additionally, the costumes reflect the historical context, such as Scarlett's inappropriate dress when declaring her love for Ashley. The silhouettes and extravagance of her dresses also reflect changes in financial status and the fashion trends of the time.
Did you see how these fictional peeps transform over time and how their outfits match the shift in their persona? The fashion wizards behind the scenes don't get enough credit. It's about time we give 'em the spotlight for their killer wardrobe game!
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