Closet 101 Style

The Thomas Crown Affair: The Wardrobe

A few weeks back, I covered the wardrobe from one of my favorite “awesome fashion” movies – A Perfect Murder. I’m so glad that so many of you liked the movie, and I’m going to be covering more in future posts, starting with today! I’ll be covering a film that was mentioned by several readers: The Thomas Crown Affair (199x edition, starring Rene Russo and Pierce Brosnan).


Now, I actually have quite a bit of experience in this movie. When I was a kid growing up, my parents would very rarely buy VHS (and later, DVD) movies. They were generally deemed a more extravagant purchase. However, one year during a Blockbuster sale, my mom ended up bringing up two movies that were close out inventory, 2 for $7.50. They were Congo, and The Thomas Crown Affair. Thus I’ve seen both endless times, though I don’t know when I’ll be asked to do a Congo wardrobe recap (though I’ll be ready!).

I hadn’t seen this movie in about a decade however, so it was fun to catch back up again while keeping an eye out for all of Rene’s great outfits. Let’s start the recap!

Our first glimpse of Rene – as you see her walk behind all the male cops and detectives in the museum, in her glasses and fur coat. Out of the way dudes, so we can see her coat!

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Okay…we’ll settle for a view of the back at least.

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Now back working in the police office, in a pinstriped suit.

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The cool thing about this suit is, it’s not just your typical blazer + skirt combination. There’s actually multiple pieces, which you get a hint of here….

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…and then see more of here, when she takes off her jacket. Wow!

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Next, we see her, on a boat…checking out Thomas Crown, in a thick cashmere sweater and fur scarf.

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Hanging out in a leather jacket and tee (she does casual well, too!).

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Next – confronting Thomas Crown in my personal favorite dress from the movie, this sequined mandarin collar gown. Take a look at those earrings, by the way!

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A quick bonus shot for you all, of Faye Dunaway in the film, playing Crown’s psychiatrist.

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Comfortable and cozy in a coat and turtleneck.

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And a full shot of the outfit.

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Daytime meeting in the museum, wearing a little black dress…

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…accessorized with a double strand of pearls.

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Later the next day, in a black leather jacket…

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…love how this movie is 15 years old, yet the biker jacket still looks like it came right from current day Balenciaga!

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And a very famous scene in the movie, with Rene showing up in this sequined Michael Kors gown.

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Another shot of the gown (via People Mag)…


The next morning, wearing pastels.

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Hanging out in a men’s shirt.

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And now, in another turtleneck, this one cream colored.

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That night, at dinner, in a simple burgundy sweater and many strands of pearls.

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Opening a gift (had to include this shot of the Bvlgari necklace!).

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Bundled up in the car, in shearling.

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Hanging out downtown, with a camel coat draped over her shoulders.

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In a gorgeous turtleneck and blazer, both in shades of camel.

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And a final look from the movie – a tan suede coat over black.

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 Just like with A Perfect Murder, most of not all of the looks in The Thomas Crown Affair look relevant today, despite its 15 year age now. The wardrobe, which was mostly Michael Kors for Celine, was streamlined, well thought out, and of course classic. My wardrobe lessons learned from this movie?

 1. You don’t need lots of color to have a variety of looks. Rene’s character in this movie rarely wears the same thing twice, yet she wears a lot of the same colors – largely shades of creams, tans, browns, and black. But does she ever look boring, or repetitive? Of course not! Even though her character wears largely the same colors, she plays with textures (like sequins on her gowns), or material (cashmere, leather, suede). And when she does wear the occasional flash of color (a periwinkle coat), it stands out that much more. 

2. Classic cuts are never out of style. Even if they had been in fashion at the time, I could have never pictured Rene Russo’s character in say, harem pants or a midriff baring dress. All her clothes are in classic silhouettes in shapes – the notched blazer, the turtleneck, a mandarin collar on her gown, a biker cut jacket. These are cuts that come back, season after season – and because of that, her wardrobe still looks fresh today. However, she does take care to…

3. Never be too predictable. Rene’s character wears a lot of very classic clothing items, but there’s usually something a little bit “different” in each of her looks. She never looks like she came out of say, a Brooks Brothers catalog. There’s the cool aviator sunglasses with her conservative turtleneck and skirt, unexpected earrings with a traditional gown, a bustier underneath a traditional pin striped suit. These details add a youthful elements to her wardrobe (but Rene always looks age appropriate).

I hope you enjoyed this wardrobe recap! I’d love to hear more of your favorite “fashion eye candy” films, and I already have quite a few more movies lined up for posts. Thank you for reading!

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  • Groupthink7
    April 14, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Hello Katherine, I see you are on a roll with movie wardrobes. A movie that I can recommend seeing is Lift with Kerry Washington. I loved her wardrobe in that movie. It is about boosters in the Boston area.

    • Katherine
      April 14, 2014 at 10:15 am

      Thank you! I love Kerry Washington but hadn’t even heard of that movie – adding it to my list!

  • Thea
    April 14, 2014 at 8:16 am

    HI Katherine, I loved and still love that movie. I remember coveting Rene’s wardrobe back when the movie came out, not that that it related to my real life at all, haha. That see through dress was a shocker back in the 90’s. Wardrobe aside, the search for Thomas in the museum towards the end of the movie is one of my all time favorite scenes. Great recap. Gotta watch that again.

    • Katherine
      April 14, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Yes that dress was soo see through! I was trying to find a way to take a screenshot without showing anything inappropriate on the blog, lol. That’s an awesome scene at the end.

  • Olga
    April 14, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Loved this post! Hope you’ll have a future post on Tilda Swinton’s wardrobe in I Am Love.

    • Katherine
      April 14, 2014 at 8:57 am

      I have that one coming up! 🙂 Thanks Olga!

  • Jessica
    April 14, 2014 at 10:09 am

    I love this movie, and Rene’s clothes, and her hair in this movie. I also adore The Perfect Murder. Your fashion reviews are such a great idea and so enjoyable to read. Thanks!

  • Tabitha
    April 14, 2014 at 11:10 am

    This is my all time favourite film wardrobe I love her hairstyle too.

  • Jill
    April 14, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Fun review. This remake came out in 1999 and the the costume designer for the film was Kate Harrington.

    • Katherine
      April 15, 2014 at 9:07 am

      Thank you, I didn’t know that!

  • Pret A Porter P
    April 14, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    yes I remember something about Kors era celine in this movie and the stunning Esther Canadas! I love the aviators and biker jacket look. I’m enjoying these recaps!

    • Katherine
      April 15, 2014 at 9:08 am

      Thank you! Yes the biker was one of my favorite jackets too 🙂

  • Glenda
    April 14, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Thanks for this post! I’ve watched this movie many times for many reasons, most especially to view the details of her wardrobe–saw it this weekend, in fact, for the first time in a few years.

    Catherine Banning’s first scene in the movie underlined how she injected the unexpected into the traditional: black sunglasses, gray fur, heather-gray sheath, fabulous black-tipped gray suede pointy-toe high-heeled mary-janes & charcoal-gray sheer hose, then she moved an elegant foot & leg sideways to make a point, which revealed an off-center slit more than half-way up her thigh and the elegant lacy top of thigh-high hose, all while talking about helicopter pay-loads and the attempted art-heist. If you didn’t know before this moment, now you really knew this chic lady was serious-business in an unexpected way, and she was off and running with everyone else always trying to catch up with her.

    I liked that her dark-red hair was her most important accessory, with all her sophisticated clothing-color-choices never competing with her hair color, but acting as a backdrop that made her hair color stand out elegantly all the more.

    It’s interesting that Catherine Banning (Rene Russo’s character) in this movie carried a Birkin throughout, while in “A Perfect Murder” Emily Taylor (Gwyneth Paltrow’s character) carried a Kelly throughout; I think these choices speak of the character of each woman.

    • Katherine
      April 15, 2014 at 9:07 am

      Ah your description is perfect and spot on! I love your point about the Birkin/Kelly too – these two ladies are perfect for these two bags and carry them perfectly 🙂

  • Ammu
    April 14, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Gorgeous – her look is also an ode to the power of a great haircut 🙂
    Next up, may I suggest Great Expectations with Gwyneth Paltrow?

    • Katherine
      April 15, 2014 at 9:06 am

      Hi Ammu, I loved that movie! THat scene where Ethan is yelling outside in the rain gets me everytime, lol. I’ve added it to my to do list 🙂

  • Julide
    April 14, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    This has to be one of my favorite movie wardrobes from the 90’s!! Everything is so classic, you could wear it today without a thought! Thank you for featuring this movie! I also love a perfect murder, which you featured too! Thank you again! :0)

  • wanderlust G
    April 15, 2014 at 1:28 am

    Amazing looks and great idea to post the Movie Wardrobes!
    The Talented Mr. Ripley and Blue Jasmine are my favorite chic, elegant and timeless looks.

    • Katherine
      April 15, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Mr Ripley is another favorite! Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  • Sharon
    April 15, 2014 at 6:56 am

    OMG, I’ve been obsessed with this wardrobe since the movie came out! I love and would wear every piece. Well, maybe not the see through dress. 🙂 Everything is classic, well cut, timeless and chic.

    I really like these movie wardrobe posts. Keep them up!

  • Anna
    April 15, 2014 at 7:33 am

    I absolutely love this new series. It has made me seriously reevaluate my purchases and style development. Thank you for that!

    • Katherine
      April 15, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Thanks so much! I had a great response to it and will be doing more movies in the future 🙂 If you have any suggestions let me know!

  • bisbee
    April 16, 2014 at 6:18 am

    Fantastic! Your comments and photos brought the film alive for me again. What wonderful clothing! And her hair – incredible!

  • melvel
    April 16, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    It”s a comedy, but I love Sandra’s wardrobe in The Proposal

    • Katherine
      April 17, 2014 at 9:35 am

      That’s a great point! Loved the orange Birkin 🙂

  • Hydra
    April 18, 2014 at 11:04 am

    One of my favorite ensembles from the movie was the black leather motorcycle jacket with black knit dress and black thigh-high lace-up combat boots. I love when she is introduced in the scene and the camera pans up from from her boots to her hair. Wish you had featured a full-length shot since she looks so confident, badass, and elegant all at the same time!

    • Katherine
      April 18, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Hi Hydra, I tried so hard! The camera would pan over as you say and I could never get anything in one shot before she started moving too fast. I loved those boots too, probably like 20 screen shots just trying to get a clearer picture 🙂

  • Writeinseattle
    April 30, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    You have done such a great job on the photos. I just saw this movie for the first time last month and I love it! I loved her hair so much that I took tons of photos but none of them were as bright and clear as yours. I also put the soundtrack on my Spotify. The wardrobe lessons at the end help a bunch too. I’m not sure I can pull off thick turtlenecks but those suits and jackets are divine!

    • Katherine
      April 30, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      I’m so glad! I tried to find bright photos and happy to “meet” another lover of this classic movie.

  • Amy
    May 26, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    My sister, mom and I loved this movie – partly because of Pierce Brosnan (what’s not to love?), and well, because Rene’s outfits were incredible! She just looked so classic and well put together – that even after 15 years, I still see inspiration of her looks on the runway.

    Another one of my favorites was Gwyneth Paltrow’s closet from the 1998 Great Expectations, and 1999 Sliding Doors. Both looks were so contemporary and modern, but had that great sense of style and youth.

  • Cyn
    June 16, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    This is one of the few DVDs I still own. Even to this day,that wardrobe is sick! My favorite scene is when she went to his home to find the painting, and stepped out of the cab with those kick-ass boots. I wanted every piece of that wardrobe – even the turtlenecks, and I can’t stand anything hugging. my neck! I wanted her hair, both cut and color.

    Anyway – every time I come across this film I have searched for some info on the clothes. I should have known they were Michael Kors. He is my favorite designer. Thanks for posting this, and I look forward to reading the rest of your blog!


    • Katherine
      June 16, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      Thank you Cyn! I tried SO HARD to get a screengrab of those awesome boots but there was too much movement. I hope you like the blog!

  • Kathleen
    October 31, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    Hi there!
    Great post about one of my favorite films. Just a brief correction about the dress worn in the famous dance scene. It was actually a Halston, sourced from the director himself.

    • Katherine
      November 1, 2014 at 10:46 am

      Thank you Kathleen! I had never read that before! What a great tidbit 🙂

  • kikidemontparnasse
    November 4, 2014 at 6:10 am

    I appreciate the pics, and your appreciation of Rene Russo’s costumes in the film but… how about stating a piece of information? Is a blog just personal blither? What does it take to actually offer a fact? Not much. but the lack of it makes your blog useless. Here’s an actual piece of info I copied for you – it took about 7 seconds: “To play a slick investigator in the caper remake, Rene Russo asked friend Michael Kors, who, at the time, served as creative director of Celine, to design her sexy, slinky wardrobe.”
    Got it?
    There was a designer behind the wardrobe. He had a name. Michael Kors. He was working with Celine at the time.
    That might help make your blog worth looking at.


    • aa
      December 26, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      You must be a delightful person to get to know.

    • aa
      December 26, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      Oh, and what part of “The wardrobe, which was mostly Michael Kors for Celine, was streamlined, well thought out, and of course classic” did you not understand?

  • Natalie
    August 30, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Most beautiful wardrobe I have seen in a movie. Makes me want to be thin, 25 years younger, and inside a fashion house buying and wearing these clothes.