Casino Fashions: Movies vs Reality

Is there anywhere so far removed from reality as the movie portrayal of a casino? The silver screen has brought us James Bond in black tie at the Monte Carlo, surrounded by glamorous and sophisticated ladies in gowns and cocktail dresses. And even though we know that the reality of most casinos is nothing like this, the fashion cliché remains part of casino mythology.

Of course, these days the majority of players are likely to attend casinos in their pyjamas. That’s because online casinos have a much higher attendance than real venues. It’s also part of the appeal – no need to make much effort to dress up and go out when you can just look here to find a fast payout casino. But how much effort is really required?

The real answer these days is very little. The occupants of the casino floor in modern-day Vegas will not be winning any Academy Awards for costume design.

Old-School Glam

Why do the movies love to depict casinos in this way? Well, the truth is that glamour was and still is a big part of the casino world. It’s just that only a tiny proportion of the high-end casinos still impose a strict dress code. In the past it was more usual to find a requirement of black tie – or even white tie – on the casino floor. Today that has dwindled to a few expensive members-only establishments. Even the famous Monaco landmark only has a smart-casual requirement, although gentlemen must wear a jacket in the evening.

Naturally, an elegantly-dressed clientele looks much better on screen. This image, even though we know it is an illusion, is simply more appealing when we are engrossed in a movie. Go to any casino in Vegas and you will find tourists in t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops. The same goes for Macau, no matter what the guidelines say. But while this is certainly more accessible and less elitist, it does not make for an attractive backdrop to a movie scene.

Scorsese’s Casino

One of the most iconic movies to showcase casino fashion was the 1995 masterpiece Casino, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary. The film’s costume budget was reportedly $1 million, which is closer to $2 million in today’s money. Set among the Vegas underworld of the 1970s, the movie is memorable not only for the characters but for what they wore.

Sharon Stone’s turn as streetwise, tragic protagonist Ginger earned her a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. Her wardrobe was just as impressive, a dazzling collection of 70s sequinned dresses, modish suits and lavish fur coats. One of the original vintage dresses used in the movie is rumoured to have weighed almost 16 kilograms, thanks to the hundreds of metal sequins.

What to Really Wear to a Casino

Unless you are visiting a very exclusive establishment, it is unlikely that you will be dressing up to Ginger’s level of casino chic. On the other hand, you may not want to aim quite as casual as the shorts crowd. In fact, although most casinos tolerate very casual attire at the gaming tables, many resorts have restaurants that require a bit more sartorial effort.

What this means in practical terms is that when dressing for the casino, imagine that you are going out for a meal somewhere nice – but not too fancy. Women have a little more scope, as always, and can wear anything from a dress to a pantsuit. For men, most places are happy with a pair of dark jeans and some decent shoes. Throw a jacket over a shirt or t-shirt, and you are good to go.