The Rules of Style According to ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’

It’s spooky how good the clothes are. Spooooooky.


It always starts with a jacket, doesn’t it? So many good and strange adventures do. Let’s start with that jacket — a sport coat — because while you’re hopefully not intending to steal a shipping heir’s identity, you very well may be getting ready to travel.

Perhaps to some small, idyllic coastal town in Italy? Let’s assume so.

You’ll need a few different types of button downs. Just a few. Tom Ripley was fine with the same shirt re-washed for the whole first half of his trip, wasn’t he? You could be, too. But you might want to consider something extra light with short sleeves for your loose linen pants and floral shorts, something oversized and white to wear as a coverup on the sailboat, and something that you can tie at your belly button for afternoon apéritifs — you know, that goes with those flowy mid-calf skirts and espadrilles.

You need espadrilles. How silly of me to not have mentioned that by now.

I also suggest a pair of white-soled sneakers (you’ll learn to sail), loafers for the cobblestones and a very fancy pair of heels just in case you hop over to Rome for the opera.

…In which case, you’ll need earrings that work just as well with a swimsuit as they do a gown — for once you’re back on the beach, where you belong, relaxing by the water with a book and a basket. That basket’s going to carry your bread, your towel and your secrets, by the way.

Speaking of secrets, you’ll need a cashmere wrap to shrug them off. You’ll want tortoiseshell glasses to remove when reality needs blurring. Cat eye sunglasses for Vespa riding. And you’ll require a great knit to keep you warm on cool evenings while you  sit outside to type. (Letters to home or ideas for that book you’ve been working on. Either option is equally as cryptic!)

A scarf would look great on you. And I think you could pull off a beret. You’ve been listening to a lot of Chet Baker, right? You can pretend your beret is your equivalent of a porkpie hat. Capris will feel wrong at first but they’ll work overseas, and I know a trench feels mom-ish but isn’t that perfect since you’re traveling under her maiden name?

Just avoid an incomprehensible web of lies and you will be more than fine. You’ll be divine! I’d simply be careful of whose jacket you borrow.

Feature photograph via Kino; carousel photograph via TV Guide.


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  • EP

    My current summer read!

  • Robin

    O my god I saw this movie not so long ago it’s literally my favorite now! The clothes! The thought of a summer spent in Italy with Jude Law!! Does it get any better than this?!?

  • Senka

    I never actually thought about that movie as sartorially inspiring but trust no other but Amelia Diamond to remind us of that. I want pretty much all the items displayed here and all the inspirational looks. I’d play some Django Reinhardt instead of Chad Baker, and pretend that I’m somewhere in the Mediterran, look the part, and ignore reality.

  • prairie_dogs

    I LOVE this movie, I think it was the gateway to a lifelong Gwyneth obsession. Question I’ve always had, and this seems like the place to ask: what’s the deal with the silky and/or mesh polo shirts in the boat argument scene (slide 9). Was this a thing in the 50s?! Or is that just 1999 creeping in? (Puzzled emoji face…)

    • Susanna Schulze

      Haha, I was asking myself the EXACT same question a minute ago.

      • prairie_dogs

        It’s a question for the ages!!

        • Andrew Young

          I always thought maybe they were wet?

    • Jenny

      I just dove straight into a Gwyneth obsession with Great Expectations followed by this movie. I’m beyond obsessed. Looking for my next Goop movie now…

  • Olivia

    This actually made me reevaluate my travel wardrobe (in the nick of time), and I’ve added white sneakers and a flowy mid-calf skirt per your suggestions Amelia!! Will definitely be wearing my white button downs fully unbuttoned and waist-knotted instead.

  • tcar

    I’m not a summer girl at all – between the humidity and separation anxiety from my favorite bulky sweaters – but this is just dreamy enough to make me reconsider.

  • Jessica Peterson

    I’m buying one of everything.

  • Just re-read the book so this coincides nicely with my current obsession (with elegant mid century furniture and art books)!

  • Natty

    Ugh, Cate Blanchett is just beyond chic

  • shannonly

    This is my favorite movie of all time! Love the references.

  • Beatrice

    I’ll try anything Goop has tried

  • I haven’t seen this movie in ages, now I want to re-watch it! I still have a huge crush on Jude Law.

  • Stephanie

    I can not believe how young they all look! How is this movie 17 years old???

  • deb

    Seen this movie so many times, precisely for the settings and wardrobe.

  • Aydan

    So now I have a movie to watch this weekend — perfect!!!!!!!

  • Greer Clarke

    Thank you endlessly for this !

  • A. Carnevale
  • Catherine Bohner

    I hate Gwyneth Paltrow and I’ve never seen this movie, but now I finally know how to style my mid-calf-length LL Bean mom dress that’s been hiding in my closet

  • Samantha

    Beyond stylish. Combine this Gwyneth wardrobe with her wardrobe in Great Expectations and I’m set. The epitome of Hollywood glamour.

  • The lightest Google came up with this: “Ann Roth and Gary Jones were the costume designers, who were nominated for an Oscar for their work.” The costumes felt integral to the movie, this movie scarred me! Amazing how young the cast looks. They were practically teens then!

  • Lolo

    I feel like Amelia has been watching this in heavy rotation on cable, just as I have been. And like The English Patient (next article???), fashion is on point! I think the locale helps, but I’m happy to take a vacation to find out.

  • Esperança Padilla Richart

    With the notorious exception of Seven, I’m sure Gwyneth chooses her movies depending on how gorgeous the stylisms will be. She doesn’t work with directors but with wardrobe’s managers. And she does (and looks) always pretty well. Actually I love her in this movie.