35 denim style icons

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"I wish I had invented blue jeans", said Yves Saint Laurent, and with good reason. The humble denim jean has gone from workman's overalls to a fashion icon - but who helped make it a wardrobe staple? We count down the most iconic denim style icons and moments in denim's fashion history, from Marilyn Monroe in boyfriend jeans to quirkier fashion choices (Britney and Justin, anyone?).

  • Denim style icons: Marilyn Monroe

    Marilyn Monroe made the relaxed boyfriend style of jeans look casual but still feminine. Who could forget her jeans and denim combo in The Misfits ?

  • Denim style icons: Debbie Harry

    Punk icon Debbie Harry's wardrobe of thrift store finds made her a style icon - her double-denim outfit was our favourite stage look.

  • Denim style icons: Bananarama

    Bananarama made ripped, shredded and customized denim (including, eek, cycle shorts) acceptable in the eighties.

  • Denim style icons: Bros

    Another pair of 1980s denim heroes, Bros fans were so obsessed with the pop duo, they copied their penchant for stonewash, holey jeans.

  • Denim style icons: White Stripes

    White and red denim gained instant indie cool when The White Stripes burst onto the music scene in the early 2000s.

  • Denim style icons: Justin Timberlake and Britney

    A controversial choice, we know but Britney and Justin's misguided all-denim ensemble at the 2001 American Music Awards will go down in red carpet history.

  • Denim style icons: John Wayne

    John Wayne was one of the first actors to bring jeans to the masses, popularizing the style by wearing Levis in all of his Western films.

  • Denim style icons: Thelma and Louise

    Thelma & Louise is jam-packed with iconic denim moments, from Brad Pitt's denim shirt to the duo's pale high-waisted denims, pictured.

  • Denim style icons: Brigitte Bardot

    Brigitte Bardot gave jeans French sex kitten appeal, and was often seen in cropped, capri styles.

  • Denim style icons: Bruce Springsteen

    Bruce Springsteen gets our vote purely for this amazing album artwork.

  • Denim style icons: Michael Jackson

    Michael Jackson' coloured jeans were a staple on his 1981 Victory tour (and in the Thriller Video, pictured). He wore bright denim right up until his final tour.

  • Denim style icons: Marianne Faithfull

    In the iconic 1968 film Girl on a Motorcycle, Marianne Faithfull wore skin-tight, biker girl jeans with feminine pieces.

  • Denim style icons: Cast of Beverly Hills 90210

    Nineties denim at its best comes courtesy of cult teen show 90210. They're all wearing jeans in this picture, and there were classic denim moments throughout - like Kelly's polka dot cut-offs, and Brenda's super cool high-waisted jeans.

  • Denim style icons: Dazed and Confused girls

    The scene in Dazed and Confused where the girls use pliers to do up the zips of one another’s jeans is one of favourite film fashion moments ever.

  • Denim style icons: Lauren Hutton

    Lauren Hutton and Robert Redford were denim-clad and effortlessly cool in the 1970 film Little Fauss and Big Halsy.

  • Denim style icons: Farrah Fawcett

    Farrah Fawcett (and all of Charlie's Angels for that matter) made fitted and flared jeans the style du jour for 1970s girls.

  • Denim style icons: James Dean

    James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause helped make a pair of jeans the uniform of teenagers ( or 'rebellious youths', as they were known) in the 1950s...

  • Denim style icons: Marlon Brando

    ...As did Marlon Brando, especially in The Wild One. Some schools in the USA banned students from wearing denim as a result.

  • Denim style icons: Catherine Bach

    As Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard, Catherine Bach made a teeny tiny pair of thigh-skimming hot pants iconic.

  • Denim style icons: Jennifer Grey

    As Baby in Dirty Dancing, Jennifer Grey transformed from a awkward teen to Patrick Swayze's dance partner in a variety of denim styles, from skin-tight jeans to classic short shorts.

  • Denim style icons: Jean Seberg

    Want to know how to do a classic gamine look? Look to Jean Seberg for your denim inspiration.

  • Denim style icons: TLC

    Hip Hop made low-slung, ultra baggy jeans de rigeur from the late 1980s-1990s, and girl group TLC (along with All Saints) dared to wear their denim super-sized.

  • Denim style icons: The Ramones

    Ripped denim jeans paired with a classic leather jacket were the uniform of choice for punk band The Ramones.

  • Denim style icons: Kate Moss

    Kate Moss already had denim icon status due to her breakthrough ads for Calvin Klein back in the 90s. But her denim influence was proved when she made skinny jeans the style to wear in the noughties. Shots like this convinced legions of jean-lovers to ditch their bootcuts and switch to skinnies, preferably with a ballet pump.

  • Denim style icons: Shrink to fit jeans

    When jeans only came in three sizes, the trend for skin-tight jeans in the 1980s meant legions of denim addicts sat in a cold bath, waiting for their jeans to 'shrink to fit. The image below became iconic.

  • Denim style icons: Diana Ross

    With her patched, embroidered waistcoat, Diana Ross sums up the 'Summer of Love' hippie denim styles of the late 1960s/early 1970s.

  • Denim style icons: Claudia Schiffer

    Now she's the leader of the West London mums flared-jean brigade, but back in the 1990s Claudia Schiffer was famous for her seductive Guess Jeans adverts.

  • Denim style icons: Grace Kelly

    Grace Kelly's preppy look in Rear Window (cropped jeans, a crisp white shirt and loafers) was the perfect look for a soon-to-be Princess.

  • Denim style icons: Levis Strauss

    Not strictly a 'style' icon, but Levis Strauss invented the first pair of 'jean overalls', Levis 501 Jeans in the 1890s - so respect is due.

  • Denim style icons: Audrey Hepburn

    Audrey Hepburn gets all the style icon plaudits for her role in Breakfast at Tiffanys, but we like it when she stripped off the little black dress and pearls, and sang Moon River in a pair of blue jeans.

  • Denim style icons: Alexander McQueen Bumsters

    Remember when low-slung, hip-skimming jeans were in fashion? You've got Alexander McQueen's 'Bumster' style of trousers (seen on Kate Moss), which appeared in 1996, to thank for that.

  • Denim style icons: Madonna

    The Queen of Pop has been seen in many denim styles over the years (jeans and a tracksuit top, anyone?) but we thought her patched jeans for the American Pie video (during her hippie, Ray of Light years) were perfect.

  • Denim style icons: Brooke Shields

    In 1981, at the tender age of 15, Brooke Shields appeared in an ad for Calvin Klein jeans, said "Nothing comes between me and my Calvins", and caused mass uproar/sparked the huge trend for designer jeans.

  • Denim style icons

    Elvis Presley donned tapered slim-fitting jeans in the 1950s, and shocked America. Must have been the hips...

  • Denim style icons: Martin Sheen

    In Badlands, Martin Sheen was a modern-day James Dean-esque outcast, and looked incredibly cool in a denim jacket.


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