Fashion, actually: style inspiration from Christmas films

If you went to see this year’s seasonal romcom Last Christmas hoping to come away feeling warm, fuzzy and festive, you may have left feeling disappointed. But, if you went along looking for fashion inspiration … you will have fared no better.

In his one-star review, this paper’s critic Peter Bradshaw characterised the film’s female lead as a “mix of Bridget Jones and the quirky sister from Notting Hill” – a description that also works in terms of her clothes, with Emilia Clarke’s Kate veering from an elf costume to a leopardprint fur coat throughout.

Thankfully, there are plenty of other festive favourites that will reliably warm your cockles and ignite your fashion sensibilities. Here’s a quick guide to finding your 2020 style muse from the comfort of your sofa this Christmas.

Elizabeth Perkins’s knitwear and pearls in Miracle on 34th Street

Elizabeth Perkins in Miracle on 34th Street

Elizabeth Perkins in Miracle on 34th Street (1994). Photograph: Allstar/20 Century Fox

If it’s power suits and shoulder pads you’re after, this film is full of them – but it’s in the characters’ downtime that you’ll find a look that the majority of us lean towards at this time of year: comfy, chunky knitwear. Elizabeth Perkins, starring as Cole’s Department Store’s employee Dorey Walker, pairs hers with pearls, which are having a moment right now (blame The Crown plus the fact that they appeared on the autumn/winter catwalks at Erdem, Simone Rocha and Emilia Wickstead). Bonus points for Mara Wilson’s very on-trend collection of padded headbands.

James Stewart’s rugby top in It’s a Wonderful Life

James Stewart in It’s A Wonderful Life

James Stewart in It’s A Wonderful Life (1946). Photograph: Allstar/RKO

Ignore Mary Hatch’s frothy dancing dress and fast forward Violet’s proto-Reformation ruffle mini: it’s George Bailey’s long-sleeve, turtleneck-style rugby shirt that you want to draw inspiration from here. Vintage styles, such as this one, featured on the autumn/winter catwalk at Burberry, Wales Bonner and Xander Zhou – but they’re also perfect for a Christmas Day walk, or a Boxing Day sofa slump. Pair with a big mug of eggnog and talk of lassoing the moon.

Halle Berry’s pink dress in New Year’s Eve

Halle Berry in New Year’s Eve

Halle Berry in New Year’s Eve (2011) Photograph: Andrew Schwartz/Allstar/Warner Bros

Proof that bad films can be the bearers of good fashion. Halle Berry, stuck in blue scrubs for much for this Razzie-nominated romcom, gets to wow in a hot-pink party dress – albeit for a Skype date with her husband, who is serving in Afghanistan. No matter – at least Nurse Aimee taps into the colour palette that dominated this year’s Oscars in February and was still being worn by everyone from Shania Twain to Dua Lipa at the AMAs last month.

Cate Blanchett’s pyjamas in Carol

Cate Blanchett in Carol (2015)

Cate Blanchett in Carol. Photograph: Wilson Webb/Allstar/The Weinstein Company

For those for whom Christmas is all about spending the day in your PJs, look no further than Carol. Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett showcase all manner of enviable hats, coats and wiggle dresses throughout the course of this film – but it’s Blanchett’s chic jammies and tartan housecoat that provide lounging aspiration. Wear to drink cocktails while listening to records and spritzing yourself with stocking-filler perfumes.

Meg Ryan’s cream turtleneck in When Harry Met Sally

Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally Photograph: Allstar/Columbia Pictures

Sally Albright is a fashion icon any day of the year, but particularly at Christmas, when her red roll-necks, brown blazer jackets and snazzy perm really come into their own. No one looks cool singing into a shop karaoke machine – least of all Billy Crystal’s Harry Burns – but Meg Ryan gives it a good go in high-waisted denim and a cream high-neck sweater not unlike that seen on the catwalk at Roksanda. Ideal if you still get cold when it’s 71 degrees out.


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