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From Black Panther to Russian Doll, the best suits on TV and film from the last decade

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Jun 16, 2019

Agent Smith, Constantine, and the Reservoir Dogs gang are all fond of the classic black suit look. It is timeless and unassuming, which is why it is the ideal garment for Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in the original Men in Black. The name of the movie is a big indicator of what to expect from the costume design, and back in 1997 costume designer Mary E. Vogt delivered the perfect uniform for a secret agency policing extraterrestrials.

Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth are switching out protecting Asgardians for a different alien adventure in Men in Black: International, in which they trade dramatic capes for bespoke Paul Smith suits. Cut and fit vary depending on trends at the time, even for the most simple of suits. Costume designer Penny Rose has made tweaks to the original concept that delivers a more stylish approach. Subtle differences set the leads apart, as Thompson is the only one to wear a double-breasted two-buttoned design.

Women leaning toward menswear is far from a new concept, but there has been an uptick in the last few years both on the red carpet and in television/movies toward pantsuits. To celebrate the new Men in Black duo, SYFY FANGRRLS is taking a look at the best suits worn by men and women in genre over the last 10 years, ranging from flamboyant to timeless. From spies to cannibals and assassins to superheroes, here are the very best.

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Black Panther

T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) - Black Panther

T’Challa’s Black Panther suit is not the only garment he wears when kicking ass. Move over, James Bond, because the king of Wakanda dresses just as sharply when entering a casino. Going incognito doesn't mean losing that regal touch as the detail on the jacket is incredible — this is one of the many reasons why Ruth E. Carter won an Oscar for her costume design work on this movie. Boseman has already proven to be one to watch on the red carpet, and his superhero counterpart shares this quality.

Hannibal

Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) - Hannibal

Hannibal Lecter likes the finer things in life, from the wine he drinks to the clothes in his closet. He might be a serial killer but that doesn’t mean he wants to ruin a perfectly good suit (or leave trace evidence behind), which is why it makes sense for him to have a custom plastic kill-suit to avoid blood-stains on his couture. Costume designer Christopher Hargadon stepped it up a gear in Season 3 with Hannibal’s Italian attire, swapping out the Prince of Wales check for flashy boating stripes which were then mirrored by Alana Bloom later that same season.

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Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) - Inception

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is not the only sharply dressed character in the works of Christopher Nolan; in fact, he isn’t even the best dressed. That honor goes to Gordon-Levitt in Inception thanks to a number of beautifully tailored slim-fit suits fit for the real world and the dream-within-a-dream setting. The corridor fight sequence is already visually stunning, but the debonair look courtesy of Jeffrey Kurland takes it to the next level.

John Wick

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) - John Wick

No list about movie suits from the last decade is complete without John Wick. Costume designer Luca Mosca has elevated movie assassin attire in a way that is both traditional and fashion-forward. High-collars and a monochromatic approach create sharp lines, and Reeves makes fighting in a suit look as comfortable as if he was doing it in sweats.

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Eggsy (Taron Egerton) - Kingsman: The Secret Service

It might be a spy movie that leans harder into comedic aspects, but Kingsman takes its tailoring very seriously. Savile Row in London is both a location and a shorthand for bespoke suits. It is also an important part of Eggsy's prep as the very real Huntsman doubles for the Kingsman store. Costume designer Arianne Phillips switches Eggsy's streetwear out for double-breasted pinstripe, looking to Michael Caine, Noël Coward, and the Duke of Windsor for inspiration all while continuing the tradition of impeccably-dressed British spies.

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Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) - The Man from U.N.C.L.E

There are a number of reasons why we deserve a sequel to this fantastic reboot of a ‘60s TV classic, the main one being it is A LOT of fun. but the retro costuming, courtesy of Joanna Johnston, is high on the list. It isn’t hard to see that both Cavill and his co-star Armie Hammer can wear a suit, but in this movie, Cavill excels in this department, donning a number of three-piece designs that are both ‘60s suave spy-ready and could grace the pages of GQ in 2019.  

Orphan Black

Cosima Niehaus (Tatiana Maslany) - Orphan Black

The clones of Orphan Black might look the same as each other, but they definitely don’t dress alike and no one is going to order them to wear something they don’t want to. In the final season, Cosima has to dress dinner appropriate from what appears to be the Downton Abbey collection. Instead of the frock she is directed toward, she opts for the tuxedo — and another iconic clone costume moment is born.

Preacher

Tulip (Ruth Negga) - Preacher

Tulip’s style is a mix of hard edges and floral flourishes; she’s also one of the best-dressed characters on TV at the moment. When she poses as a member of the Grail to take part in a soul heist, it is no surprise she makes the white suit and red blouse uniform look one-of-a-kind.

Natasha Lyonne in Russian Doll (Netflix)

Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) - Russian Doll

“Marisa Tomei meets Joe Pesci” is the direction Natasha Lyonne gave costume designer Jenn Rogien when discussing who Nadia’s clothing should resemble, making My Cousin Vinny the surprise inspiration of 2019. Nadia has to wear the same two outfits on a loop and both suits make a big sartorial impact, showing why masculine-meets-feminine clothing is so covetable.  

James Bond Daniel Craig Skyfall

James Bond (Daniel Craig) - Skyfall

Since Sean Connery first stepped into James Bond’s tuxedo in 1962, the agent otherwise known as 007 has been one of the most stylish and sophisticated spies to grace screens. Every Bond has looked sharp in a tux — it is an expectation that this character not only has a license to kill but will also be impeccably dressed while doing so. Designer Tom Ford has provided Daniel Craig with his desirable wardrobe since Quantum of Solace in 2008, with each movie somehow elevating the tailoring from the one that came before it.  

The Umbrella Academy

Cha-Cha (Mary J.Blige) - The Umbrella Academy

A time-traveling assassin shouldn't wear any old suit, and Cha-Cha’s armored three-piece suit is anything but plain. The Umbrella Academy aesthetic mixes steampunk with contemporary and Cha-Cha’s look is both current and out-of-this-world. Costume designer Christopher Hargadon kept it classic on Hannibal, but here he unleashed a stylized dream best demonstrated here by the jacket's gold metal clasps where buttons normally would be.

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