Stylish British films
By Will Morley, 6 October 2014
British films tend to be considered Hollywood’s slightly frumpy sidekick, but look a little closer and the UK industry has been quietly providing stylish suggestions for decades.
Classics like Quadrophenia loom large, of course, and a certain Mr Bond is a perennial key player. And, with the current normcore anti-fashion movement still not losing steam, even Hugh Grant’s once seemingly porridge-bland Four Weddings And A Funeral getup has started to look pretty good.
Our choices below may not be the best British films, but they all contain key outfits and stylish ideas that can be easily adapted and worked into your current look with the minimum of fuss. So without further ado, roll 'em!
Get Carter (1971)
Whenever Michael Caine’s style is discussed, the topic will often turn to his iconic glasses from The Ipcress File, but his sleekest outfit can be found in the revenge classic Get Carter. As Jack Carter, Caine rocks up in a flash dark-blue mohair three-piece suit and a black Aquascutum trench. The detailing on the suit jacket (high armholes, slim-cut arms and a cinched waist) give balance to the wider notched lapel, so even if Caine is stabbing someone outside a bookie’s bogs or chucking a dude off a carpark, he still looks elegant as hell.
Shopping is not a good film, but as a time capsule of alternative mid-90s fashion it’s a gold mine (literally – there are gold grills on every other supporting actor). Set in a bizarro London made up of industrial wastelands, gothic raves and run-down arcades, the film follows Jude Law (and his full head of hair) as he nicks cars and navigates the underground ram-raiding scene. The vibe is a mix of rave, hip-hop, grunge and military pieces, generally worn in black – all loosey goosey and oversized. But most importantly, we hear you ask, does anyone say ‘Booyakasha’? Of course they do.
This Is England (2006)
You’ll have been hard pressed to avoid either the universally adored This Is England film or its subsequent spin-off TV shows. Not that you’d want to, because they’re ace and provide a rare glimpse into the skin/suedehead culture and its unique accompanying fashion. Worn as the full skinhead uniform or as separate outfit-anchoring pieces, DM boots, check button-downs, drainpipe jeans, bombers and Harrington jackets still look boss whether you’re skanking to Toots & The Maytals or in Greggs buying a sausage roll.
If you want an important movie on the British biker scene, specifically the 'café racer' culture of the 60s, The Leather Boys is the one to watch. For pure, unadulterated WTF-ness, get Psychomania. Tame by today’s horror standards (the terrorising of a pedestrianised town centre can only be described as adorable), this black-magic-zombie-biker-from-beyond-the-grave flick is still super-fun. The straitjacket-tight leather jackets with DIY names and ‘The Living Dead’ paint jobs are, um, to die for, while the matching leather gloves and cross-bone helmets look totally punk, years before punk music was even created.
Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
Guy Ritchie may have stolen all his ideas from other films, but Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels is still enjoyable, quotable and surprisingly stylish. If there’s one item of clothing your wardrobe needs right now, it’s a fitted topcoat – and Lock, Stock is chock full of them. A slim-armed, near knee-length overcoat can be easily dressed up or down, as the movie shows, with characters pairing them with knitted polo shirts, fitted cardies and roll-necks. It’s this versatility that means a topcoat is still relevant today – unlike Vinnie Jones, who, thankfully, isn’t.