To say we’re in a golden age of cinematic heroines may not be entirely accurate, but it’s definitely fair to say women are slowly getting more leading roles in popular films. After all, we have a female Jedi in Star Wars, Charlize Theron is arguably the biggest action star on the planet, franchises like Ocean’s 11 and Men In Black are embracing female leads, and even Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, long relegated to the shadows of Iron Man, the Hulk, and so on, is finally getting her own movie. None of those individuals are quite Harriett Potter or Jane Bond, if you get the drift, but progress is progress.
As this progress is made, none of us are required to take after the women we see starring on screen, just as men would be well advised not to emulate Bond or Tony Stark too much. But we can certainly take some cues from the new generation of film heroines, and realistically there’s going to be some subconscious influence anyway. That’s basically what pop culture and entertainment do. So with that in mind, I wanted to look at some of the most inspiring big screen heroines we’ve seen in recent years from a fashion standpoint.
Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron)
I mean, could I possibly have started anywhere else? I already mentioned that Ms. Theron is arguably the industry’s leading action star, and she really flexed her muscles in Atomic Blonde, a highly stylish film in which she played a double, or maybe triple, or maybe quadruple agent. To adequately describe the fabulous quality of her look in this film would take words I just don’t fully possess, so instead I’ll just repeat this headline: Charlize Theron kicks ass in Atomic Blonde while wearing Dior, Saint Laurent, and Burberry. Seriously, if anyone ever wanted an ultimate cinematic fashion icon, why not a gorgeous spy who does Keanu Reeves-worthy stunts in clothes that look fresh off the runway?
Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot)
There’s actually not too much to glean from Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman from a fashion perspective, given that she spends much of the film in boots, a skirt, and assorted leather warrior garb. Nevertheless, Gadot deserves mention here as arguably the preeminent feminist statement of the current decade in cinema, who’s got young women all over the world looking up to her. Warrior garb works if, you know, you’re saving the world or fighting on a mythical Greek-ish island. But there is one look Gadot pulls off that’s more or less a clinic of how to wear a beautiful gown. Granted, she sheathes a sword down the back of it, but the blue dress she wears when she has to infiltrate the villains’ party is breathtaking.
Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander)
If you thought I was only going for the fancy stuff, Lara Croft should make for a nice contrast. This is a character that’s been around for a while, and her trademark ready-for-fighting tank top is sort of iconic in its own right. It was made famous by ‘90s video games and Angelina Jolie (who used to play this role), and was brought back in this game for the internet slot community even before Alicia Vikander revived the character on screen. But Vikander, while pulling off the same look in plenty of her scenes, also brought a new meaning to the idea of cool casual. Wearing vaguely military-toned boots, pants, tanks, tees, and jackets, she spent the first third of the film putting on a clinic in how to look awesome (and a little badass) in clothes on which the label really doesn’t matter.
This is the newest character on this list. Rihannas’s 8-Ball was part of the crew in Ocean’s 8, and seemingly the only one in the group who didn’t stock her wardrobe entirely from midtown Manhattan. This article on the style behind the film actually specifically notes the stylists’ fun in dressing Rihanna’s character who, basically, is supposed to look like a real person. The result is an ultra-casual but ultra-cool look that, combined with the actress’s persona, was a clinic in how to dress like you don’t care who sees it. The character also gets decked out in a gorgeous gown for the Met Gala later in the film though, with the transformation serving as a nice reminder that anyone can dress up or down to pretty much any extent, regardless of one’s personal style.