From blockbuster hits to tiny indie flicks, you can bet that a team of people spent hours creating the perfect sartorial look that helps tell their story in a cohesive way. Oftentimes, the actor or actress has some input in the style of the character they play — and that was definitely the case in the movie Desperately Seeking Susan.
Madonna was cast in this film largely because of the look and feel they wanted to bring to the movie. Her style defined the look of the ’80s, and Desperately Seeking Susan serves as the perfect lookbook for the era.
Desperately Seeking Susan is a comedy of errors starring Rosanna Arquette and of course, Madonna. Roberta (Arquette), a bored housewife living vicariously through a string of romantic classified ad messages between Susan (Madonna) and Jim, is plagued with amnesia and is left believing that sheis Susan. The mayhem continues with stolen Egyptian earrings, a mobster out for blood, dance routines, and more.
Below you will find some truly incredible ’80s looks all inspired by the film.
Desperately Seeking Susan is all about the classic pieces that come to mind when you think of ’80s fashion.
Capris, leggings, blazers, and bold colors were featured in almost every outfit. Daring pieces, like cropped tops, harem and parachute pants, bustiers, and mesh tops were heavily featured in the film as well.
The most important factor in recreating the film’s look is to load up on accessories.
Madonna’s signature gloves and hair bows are present in almost every scene, as are stacks of bangles, piles of necklaces, headscarves, and studded boots. To allude to the movie, rock Egyptian-inspired jewelry and brightly colored lipstick as well.
Related reading: What to Wear to an ’80s Party: The Best ’80s Party Outfits for Ladies
Desperately Seeking Susan Fashion: Look #1
Products: Bustier – & Other Stories, Mesh Top – H&M, Jeans – H&M, Blazer – H&M, Boots – H&M, Necklaces – ASOS, Rings – ASOS
To get Susan’s iconic look, go for a busier top and nice pair of black skinny jeans. Jazz up the look by throwing on a mesh top and oversized ’80s-style blazer. Finish the outfit by adding black combat boots and a metric ton of jewelry.
Desperately Seeking Susan Outfit #2
Products: T-Shirt – H&M, Pants – H&M, Sports Bra – H&M, Shoes – H&M, Scrunchie – ASOS, Ear Cuff – ASOS
For the next look, I decided to go for something a bit more comfortable and everyday-wearable. This outfit would look at home on campus today, which goes to show how cyclical fashion is!
A band t-shirt, a pair of leather trousers, and some tennis shoes, all go perfectly to get Susan’s look. To get an even more of an ’80s throwback vibe, grab a scrunchie or statement headband to pull your hair back.
Desperately Seeking Susan Style: Outfit #3
Products: Pants – H&M, Top – H&M, Shoes – H&M, Headband – ASOS, Necklaces – ASOS, Earrings – ASOS, Purse – ASOS
We are going full party girl Susan in this final look. Pair some neon and sequins for an ’80s take on a party outfit. Statement sequin trousers and a highlighter pink top will have you ready to dance. Be a little extra and finish the outfit off with some glitzy accessories, such as a multi colored headband and a studded purse.
What do you think about the costumes in Desperately Seeking Susan?
Have you seen Desperately Seeking Susan? What did you think of it? What do you think of Madonna’s real-life style, and how to do you think it translated to film? Do you like the look of the film? What other movies inspire you? Be sure to leave a comment and let us know what you think!
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2012; it was completely updated and revamped in 2019 with new photos, outfit sets, and information.