Style in Film: Kelly McGillis in Top Gun

Kelly McGillis style Top Gun 
Last week I came across a screen still of Kelly McGillis from Top Gun (1986), where she is wearing the bomber jacket with a white shirt, pencil skirt and red lipstick, and it struck me just how timeless the entire look was. This kind of feminine/masculine approach with military inflections is certainly not shy from my blog, nor from my personal style, but I doubt it that when I first saw Top Gun (was it more than 18 years ago, I wonder?) I paid any attention to the costumes. I wanted to watch the film again solely for that look, but I discovered a few more that could be advanced to today just as effortlessly.

In fact, I would name all the pieces Kelly McGillis is wearing (Bobbie Read was the costume designer) among those every woman should own: the white t-shirt, the white shirt, the pencil skirt, the stonewashed jeans, the oversized blazer (very ’80s Armani), the Aviator sunglasses, and, of course, the classic bomber jacket – Charlie, Kelly’s character, certainly knows how to make a cool menswear item even cooler: she rolls up the sleeves and wears it with a pencil skirt. She is a tomboy with a feminine edge. It was the 1980s and women around the world embarking the work-force were adopting the power silhouette: the broad, tapered shoulders and the pencil skirts were part of that.
Style in film-Top GunKelly McGillis' style in Top Gun-1What makes the bomber jacket even better is the aged leather.

Style in film-Kelly McGillis in Top Gun

Kelly McGillis' style in Top Gun-2Charlie’s squarer Aviator sunglasses complement Maverick’s (Tom Cruise’s) teardrop shape.

Top Gun and the Aviator sunglasses 
The Aviator sunglasses have a place of their own in this film. There is probably no other accessory which knew this kind of rebirth thanks to the appearance in a movie. Tom Cruise’s and the entire casts’ Ray-Bans sparked a fantastic revival and massive worldwide sales for the brand, and reconfirmed the Aviator shades as a classic. 1936 was the year when the Ray-Ban Aviators went on sale for the public, after, in 1929, they had been commissioned by the US military as eye protection for the United States Air Force pilots. Once again, cinema was helpful in winning a fashion item the status of a style-setter. Fashion may have taken note of the style because of the movie, but the costume designers did so for its authenticity. The Aviators were worn by the cast precisely because they were what fighter pilots wore, and still wear. Therein lies the enduring power of fashion in film: characters that embody real people, fashion that has a story.

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bibliography: Icons of Mens Style, by Josh Sims
photos: stills from the film, captured by me from this Blu-ray edition | Paramount Pictures

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