If you’re looking to throw some shade with a straw hat this summer, or perhaps take a leaf out of Halle Berry’s 2020 beach style playbook, it pays to take inspiration from some of our favourite movie muses through history, from Grace Kelly to Penélope Cruz.
The accessory of the season has a storied on-screen CV. A young Joan Crawford sported an elegant version in Possessed (1931), as a factory girl hoping to be romanced into a life of glamour by a high-flying lawyer (aka Clark Gable). The hat was, at least, a good start.
Fast forward to the 1950s and there’s Gloria Swanson, poolside on the set of Sunset Boulevard (1950), pulling off a timeless Hollywood film-noir look – extra-large blackout brim, leopard print everything else. On the flip side, Grace Kelly’s final collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock in To Catch A Thief (1955) makes a case for the understated-but-oversized rattan hat, paired with a black bodysuit and white skirt for a masterclass in monochrome.
The 1960s opened with the iconic Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), who inspired countless structured, black-with-a-ribbon copycat hats. Elsewhere, serial musical protagonist Julie Andrews took both the decorative mini-boater and the easy wide-brim hat to the big screen in Mary Poppins (1964) and The Sound of Music (1965). While Jean Seberg conjured French Riviera chic in the 1965 thriller Moment to Moment with a straw trilby, accessorised with a white towelling dressing gown.
By the mid-1980s and early 1990s, the straw hat tuned in to a new mood of empowered elegance. Enter Meryl Streep’s tonal wardrobe in Out of Africa (1985); Julia Roberts’s polka-dot co-ord at the races in Pretty Woman (1990); Stacey Dash’s statement monochrome rose-embellished top hat in Clueless (1995); and Madonna’s latticed look, expertly angled, in Evita (1996).
As the 21st century dawned, Penélope Cruz took the sun hat to seductive new levels as the matador’s mistress in Manolete (2007); while Audrey Tatou reminded us of the true meaning of a classic, playing French fashion royalty in Coco Before Chanel (2009).
And, to give style credit where it’s due, a nod to the inventor of the straw hat selfie, Vincent van Gogh (Self-Portrait with Straw Hat, 1887) – embodied by the legendary Kirk Douglas in Lust for Life (1956).
So, if you’re still unsure of your signature straw hat style, let these film icons be your decider.
From British Vogue