Truly iconic dresses

Today the folks at Yahoo posted their list of the 25 most iconic dresses of all time Like most lists, I agreed with some of the choices and disagreed with others. Many of the dresses they featured don’t meet the criteria that I would use to define iconic. For me, an iconic dress is one that you could see on a mannequin and immediately recognize not only the dress, but know who wore it.

Some of the choices I take issue with are Catherine Deneuve in Belle De Jour (too plain), Barbra Streisand at the 1969 Oscars (it’s not a dress), Olivia Newton-John’s dress from Grease (wouldn’t recognize it outside of the movie), Jennifer Grey’s Dirty Dancing dress (wouldn’t recognize it outside of the movie), Sharon Stone’s Basic Instinct dress (too plain) and Michelle Williams’ Oscar dress (even after seeing it on the list, I didn’t remember it).

I thought I would post my own list of what I think are the 20 most iconic dresses. In no particular order…

Vivien Leigh in a dress made from the curtains in Gone With the Wind

This dress was so iconic that even a spoof of it became iconic.

Carol Burnett in a dress made from the curtains (complete with curtain rod)

Judy Garland as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz

Jackie Kennedy’s pink Chanel suit and pillbox hat

Marilyn Monroe singing Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend in the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Dorothy Lamour in her sarong dress, prompting men everywhere to say her sarong was so right.

Cher in her Bob Mackie designed Half Breed dress. The perfect marriage of designer and muse.

Jean Harlow in a white, silk halter, making the slip dress famous.

Julie Andrews from the opening scene of The Sound of Music.

Rita Hayworth in Gilda.

Twiggy in a Mary Quant A-line mini dress, defining the Mod fashions of the 1960’s.

Elizabeth Hurley in her career launching Versace safety-pin dress.

Cyndi Lauper having fun in the dress that helped make her famous.

Sara Jessica Parker in this stunning Vivienne Westwood wedding gown from the first Sex and the City movie

Julia Roberts winning the Oscar in style.

Perhaps the most iconic dress of all time, Marilyn Monroe’s white, pleated halter dress from the Seven Year Itch.

Tina Turner’s gold fringed Proud Mary mini dress.

Love it or hate it, you will never forget Lady Gaga’s meat dress.

Although she wore more glamorous dresses in the film, this blue satin number from Gypsy on Natalie Wood stood out and defined the character. “Mama, I’m a pretty girl.”

Proving that even men can wear iconic dresses, Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie.

The colour was the only thing close to being Like a Virgin in this dress on Madonna.

And last, but most certainly not least…

Mary Tyler Moore in a green cut-out dress designed by a hooker in, perhaps, one of the funniest episodes of the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Every single one of these dresses are dresses I would instantly recognize without anyone in them. They were moment defining, which is what makes them iconic to me.

9 thoughts on “Truly iconic dresses

  1. Your list is SO much better than Yahoo’s! How could they leave out Marilyn’s Seven-Year-Itch dress? And Catherine Deneuve’s dress only served to prove that some dresses will never look like much, not matter who wears them. Bonus points, by the way, for the Carol Burnett Dress With Curtain Rod. That episode cracks me up every time.

    1. Thank you. I put a lot of thought into my list. I couldn’t have included Vivien Leigh’s dress without Carol Burnett’s counterpart… they go hand in hand. That sketch gets me giggling too.

  2. I agree with Kim, naturally, she’s been one of my best friends since the sixth grade- betcha’ didn’t know that! 😉

    I would also vote for Hallie Berry’s dress when she won the Oscar for Monster’s Ball. It’s not really a dress, but Rachel Welch’s cavewoman get up in 10,000,000 B.C.

    Love, love, the Carol Burnett and the Tootsie dresses. Also, I have to vote for Glenda the Good Witch in W of O, I mean, Billie Burke rocks.

    Hmmm, what else? This is fun! Princess Buttercup’s sky blue dress in “The Princess Bride.”

    I might steal this blog idea, cuz you are just THAT cool.

    1. I kinda figured you and Kim were pals, but since 6th grade??!! Wow!
      Happy to inspire you to come up with your own list… yahoo’s lame list inspired me. Funny, I did think of Raquel Welch’s fur bikini and Ursula Andress’s James Bond movie bikini too, but since I was blasting yahoo for playing fast and loose with the word iconic, I wanted to stick with dresses.

  3. Fantastic list. Apparently I don’t watch SJP’s or Julia Roberts’ work because I didn’t recognize any of their dresses from either list. Thanks for mentioning Julie Andrews 🙂 I love The Sound of Music.

    1. Me too, one of my all time favourites. I almost chose her dress she made from the curtains (along with the children’s outfits) but thought it might be too many curtain inspired ensembles for one list.

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