How to Dress Like You Summer in Italy, À La The Talented Mr. Ripley

By Cathleen Freedman
Photo: Paramount

In 1999, The Talented Mr. Ripley—an adaptation of Purple Noon (1960) with Alain Delon—graced the silver screen and made audiences dream of singing “Tu Vuo’ Fa L’ Americano” in a bar somewhere along the Italian Riviera. Even though it’s nearly a quarter of a century since that premiere, the fashion of this film endures. By the end of the first act, Tom Ripley (played by Matt Damon) ditches his costume of chinos and prep blazers for the unofficial uniform of the Italian coast, as exemplified by Dickie (portrayed by Jude Law) and Marge (played by Gwyneth Paltrow). That’s right, Paltrow has mastered the art of “Quiet Luxury” dressing for decades now.

Considering that this is a film about stolen identities, clothes literally make the man. Costuming further conveys the difference between characters. Just look at how the clothes fit the characters at the beginning of the film. For the wealthy Dickie, even though his breezy button-down is less formal than Tom’s prep school blazer—it’s obvious who has their clothes tailor-made. Sure, Dickie says his clothes are “ancient,” but that’s because they’re well-made. High-quality staple pieces tend to have a far longer shelf life than an off-the-rack blazer from Sears.

You probably wouldn’t want any of these characters as a friend, but you definitely want them as your summer-style inspiration. Their limited outfit changes are also insightful for limited capsule wardrobes, AKA your suitcase this summer. From until July 7th, you can even shop these looks on sale using code FIREWORKS at checkout.

The Wardrobe

Marge first appears while sunbathing in a high-waisted bikini. This swimsuit serves as the building block for multiple looks in one. Easily layer a white cotton top and maxi skirt and achieve that effortless seaside breeziness.

Truthfully, there are few clothing items as versatile as the white button-down. In the film, Marge wears hers as a swimsuit cover-up. For a little allure, be sure to leave the top buttons unbuttoned and tie the bottom half of your shirt into a quick knot. Marge knows the sartorial power of a patterned midi. If The Talented Mr. Ripley were set in 2023, Marge would be a total Cara Cara devotee. She was sure to pack a sweater or two for her Mediterranean summer, and you should too. You want something that won’t be too warm and wooly—something just thick enough for that Riviera breeze.

Tom Ripley takes the preschool aphorism of “Put yourself in another person’s shoes” a little too literally. But considering that Dickie wears such cool loafers, it’s hard to fully blame him. Slip-on shoes are more than just stylish for traversing cobblestone streets—they’re rather practical.

Accessories tie the whole look together in the film. A simple headscarf or bow brings girlish whimsy to an outfit. Dickie proves that gold is a worthwhile investment, at the very least, it is for your wardrobe. He proudly dons a signature signet ring throughout the film. (Not to mention, these rings are clues to Marge that Dickie was murdered, but let’s not dwell on that.)

For even more Italian Riviera–inspired fashion, scroll through our Summer Travel: Italy edit.

The Costume Designer

Ann Roth and Gary Jones worked together to create the cast’s imitable wardrobe. Director Anthony Minghella and costume designer Ann Roth have a stellar track record—she had previously worked on his last film, The English Patient, and won an Academy Award for her styling.

She was drawn to this particular project because of the time period. The time period offered vast opportunities for her to truly create and reflect on her own adolescence. “The ’50s were, for the most part, very dull visually,” Roth told Live Design. “In the ’40s, we had the restrictions of the war and limited fabric. After the war, Dior came with the New Look and that was very interesting, with the use of more fabric, the bigness of men’s clothes, the double-breasted jackets. When we went into the ’50s, there was this aspiration to look like a solid citizen.”

But this decade brought with it a “jet-set” sense of fashion that emerged with Brigitte Bardot and the Mambo Kings. “There was a certain air about town, which had to do with Marlon Brando and Anna Magnani, and dancing all night. And I was right there,” Roth reminisces.

To fashion playboy heir Dickie, Roth turned to bespoke New York tailor John Tudor. “My job was to show this very well-off boy, Dickie, in Europe, on a very strict allowance, but with a sensational lifestyle,” She notes. “I had him in a jacket and some shorts, or a jacket and some linen trousers, and that jacket had to reflect a very rich background. And if he had one or two made in Rome, it had to look that way.”