#3. Fast Times at Ridgemont High Made Everyone Dress Like Skateboarders
Fast Times at Ridgemont High set the gold standard for coming-of-age teen comedies. It perfectly captured the melodrama surrounding life from the perspective of a suburban teenager. From a high school cafeteria blow job tutorial to what's arguably the most uncomfortable climax to a masturbation scene ever, the movie skillfully blended lowbrow comedy with poignant depictions of teen angst.
It's also chock-full of future stars, including eventual Oscar winners Forest Whitaker, Nic Cage, and Sean Penn. The most surprising breakout star didn't have a single line of dialogue, though. I'm speaking, of course, about Jeff Spicoli's checkered Vans.
So cool that they'll make you forget about how much of a douche Sean Penn is.
How they ended up in the movie was kind of a fluke. Sean Penn purchased a pair of the black-and-white checkerboards at the Vans store in Santa Monica and liked them so much that he decided to keep them on when filming started. The studio felt that one pair would not be sufficient footwear coverage for the entirety of the production and asked the company to send more. It was an action-packed film, after all:
Vans were already popular with skateboarders thanks to the vulcanized rubber soles and their super-strong grip, but the movie introduced the niche footwear to an international audience and anyone looking to emulate the Southern California surf culture. (Posers, as they might be called by people who care about that kind of thing.) And there were a lot of them. Vans was a $20 million company before the movie came out; once Spicoli sported the slip-ons, profits more than doubled to a staggering $45 million in no time at all.
#2. Annie Hall Made Menswear OK for Women
Critics of Woody Allen claim that his feature films are all populated by self-centered upper-middle-class characters obsessed with the minutia of their own existence. His fans say the same thing. No matter which camp you fall into, you'd most likely cite Annie Hall as the quintessential Woody Allen film to make your point. Not only is Annie Hall infamous for being the film that beat Star Wars for Best Picture at the Academy Awards; it was also the driving force behind a fashion movement in the mid-'70s thanks to quirky co-star Diane Keaton.
"I was inspired by a fellow Keaton."
Keaton's kooky character, the eponymous Annie Hall, brought androgynous chic into vogue and had legions of women sporting the tomboyish style. But it almost didn't happen. When Keaton arrived on the set dressed in her signature menswear look, wardrobe stylist Ruth Morley initially vetoed the outfit. However, Allen, who was Keaton's boyfriend at the time, stepped in, saying, "Leave her. She's a genius ... Let her wear what she wants."
Both the movie and Keaton's style were huge hits. Women started wearing men's ties, slouchy jackets, vests, and wide-leg pants. The masculine look for women became a '70s staple. So yeah, Annie Hall not only beat Star Wars in the race for Best Picture, but also trumped them in the fashion game, judging by the dearth of cinnamon-bun hairstyles and turtleneck kaftans at the time.
#1. Miami Vice Made Womenswear OK for Men
Television crime fighting used to be a rugged, manly undertaking that required no-nonsense attire, but things loosened up a bit after Miami Vice hit the air in the mid-'80s. Detectives dressed like gigolos even when they weren't undercover and apprehended criminals accompanied by pulsing Jan Hammer beats. Miami Vice not only upended the detective drama, but also paved the way for the metrosexual male to go mainstream in the real world.
Before you laugh, remember that we live in the era of skinny and drop crotch jeans.
TV detectives weren't the only ones released from the oppressive shackles of traditional men's fashion. Thanks to Crockett and Tubbs, men across the nation began mimicking the Easter parade dandy style.
Prior to the '80s, men's suits were tailored, fully lined, and worn with a dress shirt and tie. Thanks to the fashion influence of Miami Vice, slouchy unconstructed suits paired with pastel T-shirts (and sporting a 5 o'clock shadow every day, all day) became the look for men.
Be careful where you point that thing.
And retailers took notice. After Six offered a line of "Miami Vice" dinner jackets, Kenneth Cole debuted the "Crockett and Tubbs" shoe collection, and Macy's opened a store-within-a-store "Miami Vice" section for fashion-conscious young men. Before long, every Chess King in any respectable mall was filled with the just-rolled-off-the-cigarette-boat Miami chic look. That is, of course, until they had to make room for the MC Hammer pants.