Style Files: Find Netflix’s most stylish offerings, from 'Heathers' to 'Mad Men'

Fashion columnist Claire Boston on procrastinating with style

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I would say it’s hard to believe that we’ve already been in classes for a month, but a quick glance at my calendar reminds me otherwise. Lately, I’ve definitely been feeling the crunch of the first round of exams. Of course, I know I should be spending my afternoons studying for that next test, but every now and then it’s nice to take a break, courtesy of Netflix.

A movie with good costumes can give you countless ideas for ways to reinvent your own wardrobe, so if you’re after a diversion that could leave you sartorially inspired, look no further than this list of classic fashionable movies. Added bonus: they’re all available for instant streaming.

It’s been a few years since we’ve seen obvious '80s influences from the runways, but that doesn’t make 1988 cult classic “Heathers” any less worth your time. The dark comedy expertly weaves sinister elements into a high school background, and the film’s four protagonists probably inspired every other clique that ever decided to coordinate outfits. Although the linebacker shoulder pads in the girls’ blazers are best left in the past, the bold color and print combinations are still admirable in 2012. Also, don’t miss bad boy J.D.’s attire —- his long black coat gives him a signature look that parallels James Dean’s iconic jacket and tee combo in "Rebel Without a Cause."

Fast-forward not quite a decade, and there’s “Clueless,” a '90s teen take on Jane Austen’s “Emma.” Protagonist Cher’s outfits change almost as often as her cheesy catchphrases, and her preppy ensembles are a serious contrast in the otherwise grunge-dominated 1990s high school set. Cher is another character who knows how to rock a blazer, and her gauzy blouses and bright red mini-dresses are still perfectly lust-worthy even though it’s no longer 1995. If you ever feel like channeling the French, take note of Cher’s affinity for perfectly shaped sweaters and accessories like headbands and berets. On the other hand, if the latest gadget from Apple is your idea of a perfect accessory, you’ll at least get a chuckle out of Cher’s massive cell-phone and pixelated outfit design software.

Confession time: I’m a huge nerd for "The Great Gatsby," in novel form at least. While it’s basically impossible for any movie to match the beauty of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s prose, the 1974 movie adaptation’s costumes come close. Mia Farrow, who plays Daisy, makes it clear that it’s essential for every girl to own at least one little white dress, and her sparkly evening gowns will bring out the magpie in anyone. Floppy hats and featherweight scarves will have you longing for summer again, and Robert Redford’s (Gatsby) immaculately tailored suits (he gets extra points for pulling them off in white) are the pinnacle of dapper. If you’re seriously into '20s fashion, mark your calendars for summer 2013, when Baz Luhrmann’s new adaptation, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is set to hit theaters. The costumes promise to top the previous film’s —- Daisy’s dresses are designed by Miuccia Prada.

Although not a movie, AMC’s "Mad Men" (starring MU graduate Jon Hamm) is definitely fashionable enough to be worth your time. The 1960s-set show moves in real time, so styles change quickly — in the latest season, cuts were noticeably sleeker and pants on women more commonplace than they were at the show’s early days. Look to Betty (possibly the world’s most fashionable housewife) if you’re a fan of pristine skirts, dresses and perfectly coiffed hair. Secretary Joan’s style is slightly more risqué but completely enviable if you’re the type to already want to shop for your first job out of college. If you can’t get behind a Gatsby-esque white suit, Don Draper’s signature charcoal number may be more to your viewing pleasure.

Netflix is by far the easiest source of movie procrastination, but if you’re willing to put in a little more effort into your movie watching, try tracking down a copy of "Rear Window," "An Education" or "The Devil Wears Prada" for even more fashionable diversions.

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