Bonnie and Clyde Turns 50: How to Get the Film’s Sensational ’60s Style

“This here’s Miss Bonnie Parker. I’m Clyde Barrow. We rob banks,” Warren Beatty famously stated in the iconic Arthur Penn film, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this weekend. What Beatty didn’t add was that Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker was executing these stickups in costumes that would shake the fashion world of the late ’60s and has, for a half century, continued to entrance us.

For an America that was perhaps becoming a tiny bit weary of mod juvenilia and hippie shreds, Bonnie/Fay’s slick ensembles—her snug sweaters, her midi skirts, her slouchy silk blouses, her neckerchiefs, her sexy slips—introduced an alternative vision: a glamorous but tough aesthetic, perfect for a character who never lost her stunning cool even in the film’s famous, and famously bloody, conclusion.

Of course, the real Bonnie (Google Image her and take a fascinating look at the actual woman) was a far more impoverished, scruffier version of the cinematic interpretation, though Dunaway, looking back on the film, saw some real similarities. “I knew it was a great role. I really identified with Bonnie. She was just like me, a Southern girl who was dying to get out of the South. She wanted to take risks, she wanted to live. I knew exactly how she felt—I’d felt that way for years.”

And there is one aspect of Dunaway’s outfits lifted directly from the faded photographs of Parker that have come down to us—the slanted hat perched atop that sleek coiffure. As the costume designer Theadora Van Runkle, whose first film this was (she won the Oscar for it), explained: “The beret was the culmination of the silhouette. In it, she combined all the visual elements of elegance and chic. Without the beret, it would have been charming, but not the same.”

Charming and elegant—who among us doesn’t wish to embody these sterling qualities, even if we don’t make a living knocking over financial institutions? Here, our roster of up-to-the-minute suggestions for how…

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