How Has the TV and Movie Industry Influenced Fashion Over the Years?

The interplay between the entertainment industry and the world of fashion has been a dynamic and influential partnership for decades. Television shows and movies have had a significant impact on shaping fashion trends, from iconic styles to memorable outfits that have become cultural touchstones. The TV and movie industry has not only reflected the fashion of its time but has also been a powerful force in setting trends that reverberate throughout society. This article delves into the fascinating relationship between the entertainment world and the realm of fashion, exploring how TV shows and movies have influenced fashion trends over the years.

The Early Days of Influence

From the inception of television and cinema, fashion has played an essential role in character development, storytelling, and world-building. The Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s showcased glamorous stars like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, whose elegant and sophisticated styles influenced women’s fashion. Hepburn’s iconic “little black dress” from the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” became a timeless piece and a symbol of understated chic that is still celebrated today.

The Impact of Television Series

Television series have proven to be a potent force in shaping fashion trends. In the 1960s, the show “I Love Lucy” made a significant impact on the popularity of capri pants and the classic ’50s silhouette, reflecting the fashion of its time. However, it was the 1980s that marked a turning point in the relationship between TV and fashion. The hit show “Dynasty” featured opulent and lavish styles that epitomized the excess of the decade. Shoulder pads, power suits, and bold accessories became emblematic of the era, reflecting both the cultural and economic climate.

The 1990s brought another wave of TV-inspired fashion trends, most notably with the sitcom “Friends.” The casual, relatable styles worn by characters like Rachel and Monica, including denim overalls and plaid skirts, became emblematic of the decade’s laid-back and grunge-influenced fashion culture. This era also witnessed the popularity of teen dramas like “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Dawson’s Creek,” which played a role in popularizing trends such as chokers, crop tops, and flannel shirts.

Movies as Fashion Catalysts

Movies have often functioned as powerful catalysts for fashion trends, transporting audiences into different eras and lifestyles. The 1977 film “Saturday Night Fever” starring John Travolta had a profound influence on disco fashion, popularizing tight-fitting suits, wide collars, and platform shoes. Similarly, the 1995 film “Clueless” became a definitive representation of ’90s teen fashion, showcasing plaid skirts, knee-high socks, and preppy ensembles that have since experienced a resurgence in popularity.

The fashion sensibility of a cast holds immense importance for every character in both movies and television, whether drawing inspiration from contemporary or historical trends or even envisioning future styles. Each character possesses a unique style influenced by their individual personalities, and there’s always something to glean from this aspect.

Examples are:

Dior in “Stage Fright”

Alfred Hitchcock’s films stand out as some of the most stylish in cinematic history. Despite Edith Head, a celebrated costume designer and eight-time Oscar recipient, dressing many of his leading actresses, including Marlene Dietrich, the German star had a clear stipulation: “No Dior, no Dietrich.” Consequently, the filmmakers engaged the designer to craft her attire. This led to the creation of numerous ensembles featuring feathers, tulle dresses, and cinched-waist jackets, perfectly suited for portraying an ostentatious Western woman.

Yves Saint Laurent in “Belle De Jour”

Yves Saint Laurent was the perfect candidate to create daring ensembles for Séverine Serizy, the affluent housewife who indulges in a double life as a high-end prostitute in Luis Buñuel’s iconic 1967 film. Catherine Deneuve donned understated black attires by the designer, along with pillbox hats and several attention-grabbing jackets crafted from leather lined with fur, as well as gray wool and black vinyl alternatives.

Chanel in “Last Year at Marienbad”

Alain Resnais’ award-winning drama, which secured the Golden Lion and was filmed in exquisite monochrome, holds a significant position within the French New Wave movement. The film revolves around an enigmatic duo portrayed by Giorgio Albertazzi and Delphine Seyrig, who cross paths at an ornate hotel. Coco Chanel was the mastermind behind Seyrig’s elegant attire, featuring modest black dresses, flowing chiffon gowns, and capes adorned with feather accents.

Givenchy in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

Blake Edwards’ film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” remains a paramount influence on fashion, primarily due to its incorporation of broad-brimmed hats, double-breasted woolen coats, kitten heels, and beige trench coats. Naturally, Audrey Hepburn’s iconic film ensemble was crafted by Hubert de Givenchy.

Red Carpet Influence

One of the most visible and impactful intersections of entertainment and fashion is the red carpet. Awards shows like the Oscars, Golden Globes, and Cannes Film Festival have become stages for celebrities to showcase their personal styles and for designers to gain international recognition. Iconic red carpet moments, such as Halle Berry’s unforgettable Elie Saab gown at the 2002 Oscars, have become indelible images in fashion history.

TV Series Revivals and Nostalgia

In recent years, the revival of TV series has reignited interest in retro fashion. Shows like “Stranger Things” and “The Crown” have sparked renewed fascination with the 1980s and the mid-20th century, respectively. Audiences are not only drawn to the captivating storytelling but also to the meticulously recreated period costumes, which evoke nostalgia and inspire contemporary fashion trends.

The Global Reach of Pop Culture

The global reach of pop culture, thanks to the expansion of media platforms and streaming services, has accelerated the spread of fashion trends inspired by TV shows and movies. International audiences can easily access content from around the world, leading to the adoption of diverse styles and influences. K-dramas, for example, have gained immense popularity outside of South Korea, and their characters’ fashion choices have found their way into the wardrobes of fans worldwide.

Collaborations and Merchandising

The convergence of fashion and entertainment has also led to collaborations between designers and the entertainment industry. Brands often partner with TV shows and movies to create limited-edition collections that allow fans to embody the style of their favorite characters. This symbiotic relationship benefits both industries, as fashion gains exposure through media, while entertainment gains additional revenue streams through merchandising.

The Digital Age and Instant Fashion Gratification

The digital age has ushered in a new era of fashion inspiration and instant gratification. Social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest have become hubs for sharing fashion moments and discovering new trends. Influencers and celebrities frequently showcase their outfits, allowing audiences to quickly identify and replicate styles. TV shows and movies now have an even more immediate impact on fashion trends, as fans can identify and purchase items they see on-screen with just a few clicks.

Sustainability and Ethical Considerations

As fashion becomes more intertwined with the entertainment industry, conversations about sustainability and ethical practices gain prominence. Critics argue that the rapid turnover of trends driven by media consumption contributes to fast fashion’s negative environmental and social impact. However, there is also a growing movement towards conscious consumerism, with viewers and consumers advocating for sustainable fashion choices that align with their values.


The symbiotic relationship between the TV and movie industry and the world of fashion continues to evolve, offering both creative inspiration and commercial opportunities and constantly shaping and reinventing trends. From the characters we love to the red carpet events we watch, from the golden days of Hollywood to the digital age, television shows and movies have left an indelible mark on fashion trends and styles. The ability to transport audiences to different eras, lifestyles, and cultures through the visual medium has positioned the entertainment industry as a powerful influencer in the ever-changing world of fashion. As technology advances and consumer preferences shift, the dynamic partnership between these two realms will undoubtedly continue to shape the way we dress and express ourselves for years to come.