By  on January 11, 2007

James Dean’s teenage angst would certainly have been less potent if he’d sported preppy khakis and a polo in the 1955 flick Rebel Without a Cause. The actor’s iconic blue jeans and T-shirt combo is only one of a slew of scene-stealing moments for denim in the movies. Marlon Brando’s rolled-up blue jeans and leather Perfecto jacket in the 1953 film The Wild One oozed sex appeal that sparked styles for tormented bad boys everywhere. Meanwhile, Marilyn Monroe’s denim-clad role in the 1961 film The Misfits showed off her curvaceous form and underlined her sultry—but down-to-earth—sex appeal.

Although historical denim moments in cinema are less emblematic today, jeanswear continues to have a best supporting role. Take Brad Pitt’s Levi’s moment in Thelma & Louise, for example, or Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu in figure-hugging jeans throughout Charlie’s Angels.

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