Ten Winter Films to Watch for Style Inspiration

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Carol (2015)(Film still)

The perfect film fodder if shortening days and dropping temperatures are having an adverse effect on your wardrobe

With the festive season in full swing, it’s entirely justifiable to spend all day in your pyjamas caught up in onscreen drama and heart-fluttering cinematography. It’s also a good time of year to take sartorial notes from what you’re watching. Whether you’re in the mood for silver screen glamour, comforting knitwear, more glitter than a magpie’s nest or an outfit appropriate for sobbing in front of a crackling fire, here are ten films to help shape your wardrobe choices this Christmas.

1. Carol, 2015

Todd Haynes’ film has everything you could need. Department stores. Tartan scarves. A tense – and life-altering – road trip. Rooney Mara in a Christmas hat. Cate Blanchett looking generally devastating. Sandy Powell’s costumes evoke 1950s New York in lavish colour, looking like Saul Leiter photographs brought to life in each silk scarf and pristinely placed brooch. Locate a copy of Patricia Highsmith’s book too, then pull on a (faux) fur coat, pick up a pair of vintage gloves, and leave one of them behind when out shopping…

2. Call Me By Your Name, 2017

The sultry Lombardy setting of Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name makes this a film better associated with long days of indolence and unspoken want than anything especially festive. But the gorgeous third part of Guadagnino’s Desire trilogy, charting a charged summer between 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and 24-year-old doctoral student Oliver (Armie Hammer), dips into cold as the credits roll. In fact, Elio’s midwinter layering commands full attention in the final scene: mesmerizing in a white shirt crowded with Matisse faces, worn over a black turtleneck. Raid your local vintage shop for something similar, and get swept along by the intimacy and agony of first love.

3. Doctor Zhivago, 1965

With a run-time suited to an afternoon sprawled on the sofa, Doctor Zhivago is a master-class in furry hats and brooding looks out across the snow. Set against the Russian Revolution and subsequent Civil War, this 1965 epic charts the ongoing romantic entanglements between Yuri Zhivago (Omar Sharif) and Lara Antipova (Julie Christie). Julie Christie dazzles in a white high-necked jumper, while the pair look equally imposing in ankle-length coats while revisiting the frozen interiors of Varykino. Special mention, however, goes to Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin), in her confection of sugary pink at the train station: coat, skirt and hat perfectly matched, with a grey marabou muff large enough to smuggle a small animal in.    

4. I Capture the Castle, 2003

Emulate sisters Cassandra and Rose in mismatched cardigans, tasselled shawls, and wool dresses for a look that’s charmingly ramshackle, bohemian(ish) and probably not actually that warm. Based on Dodie Smith’s book of the same name, this 2003 film excels in knitwear that might just get you daydreaming about living in a draughty castle and taking up diary writing. Make like Rose in a blue knitted beret – with a glass of emerald bright chartreuse in hand – or pay full homage to the Mortmain family by accidentally dying the entire contents of your wardrobe green.

5. Orlando, 1992

A frozen river Thames. Ice skates and feasting. The ache of infatuation. Sally Potter’s adaption of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando – where the protagonist rattles through centuries, genders and lovers at pace – is sumptuous, and incredibly stylish (it garnered now-renowned costume designer Sandy Powell her first Oscar nomination). From Tilda Swinton’s voluminous sleeves and floppy collars through to her natty biking leathers, there’s plenty to copy – but the real wintery thrill comes in the fur-clad figure of Sasha (played by Charlotte Valandrey), with her plaited hair, blue velvet coat, and lavishly jeweled hat.

6. Bringing Up Baby, 1938

Although one could cite almost any film starring Katharine Hepburn as a justification for striding around in high-waisted trousers, this classic screwball comedy, complete with a leopard, makes for an entertaining adventure – and a lesson in the wonders of gold lamé dresses (even in the case of a wardrobe malfunction), chunky knits over long skirts, striped wool dresses, and the rather alluring power of a marabou-trimmed dressing gown on Cary Grant.

7. Rams, 2015

A quiet and disarming Icelandic film detailing the embittered feud between two brothers as they tend to their respective flocks of sheep, the acutely observed depiction of family ties, landscape and the threat of change comes with an excellent number of thick, woolly jumpers. Pull on a huge knit and marvel at bleak snowscapes.

8. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1953

For full-on red sequined pizzazz, what better than the duo of Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe playing a pair of showgirls on their way to France? Come for the feathered headpieces and twinkling dresses cut with plenty of room for leg; stay for Jane Russell’s wisecracks.

9. Cabaret, 1972

Bob Fosse’s brilliant and darkly chilling musical feels increasingly, horribly relevant in its examination of politics, nationalism and performance in the 1930s Weimar Republic. On a purely surface level though, Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli) provides all sorts of interesting sartorial cues. For something that requires minimal effort to induce maximum effect, paint your nails a bold, glittering green – huge lashes and turquoise eyeshadow an optional extra.

10. The Tempest, 1979

Why not go all-out and dress like the most decadent being to ever grace the top of a tree? (Swaying rows of sailors optional.) Elisabeth Welch offers glitz, ritz, and a powerful voice in her rendition of Stormy Weather in Derek Jarman’s wonderfully surreal 1979 adaptation of The Tempest. Jarman kept detailed notebooks for every film he made, and Welch’s character, an amalgamation of the three goddesses in the play’s closing Masque, is costumed to perfection – her sweeping gold attire part Renaissance, part dazzling spectacle, part precursor to Rihanna at the 2016 Met Gala.