Are you planning on wearing something on the…alluring side this Valentine’s Day? Well, don’t go looking to Hollywood for inspiration, unless you don’t mind being faced with a schizophrenic mix of lingerie styles that run the gamut from demure virgin to high-school sex kitten to wanton sweet transvestite. I rounded up 10 of the most memorable boudoir moments in Hollywood history that might offer a bit of sexy encouragement for your romantic celebration—either that or some of ‘em might cool your jets until Arbor Day. (Bonus: I’ve included one option that won’t cost you a cent and another requires only a few bucks at the grocery store.) You be the judge—and let me know which of your favorite lingerie movie moments I missed!
1. Marie Antoinette’s fan-and-garter combo in Marie Antoinette (2006)
She wasn’t the hussy that the gossips of the time painted her to be, but Marie (allegedly) did have a hot and steamy love affair with a certain Swedish Count. In Sophia Coppola’s biopic Marie Antoinette, her Highness plans a romantic getaway for the lovers at her private retreat, and shows that when it comes to bedroom attire (in opposition with the customary dress of the day), less is always more.
2. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s bustier in Cruel Intentions (1999)
The premise is more creepy than sexy (witchy, coke-addicted high-schooler attempts to bed her step-brother, then has him destroy an innocent virgin), but no one can argue that Gellar didn’t know how to sell the goods. Technically this lingerie look was worn as outerwear, but let’s be honest: Gellar exudes eroticism whether her bustier had a blazer thrown over it or not. The almost-incest sidebar sucks the, uh, romance out of the plot, but let’s face it: Buffy looked hot.
3. Lana Turner’s merry widow in The Merry Widow (1952)
This is why the suits in marketing make the big bucks: What better way to sell a bra than to put it on Lana Turner? Okay, so what is now known as a “merry widow” bears little resemblance to Turner’s costumes in the film, but women didn’t care, and they happily went out and bought the movie tie-in lingerie, as well as its numerous knock-offs.
4. Liv Tyler’s borrowed bra in Empire Records (1995)
Innocent Corey wants to woo an aging rock star, so she borrows her slutty friend’s red bra for confidence. Paired with her Lolita-esque white beribboned briefs, she is the dream girl for any guy with a high school bad girl fetish. (Legally, okay? She was 19 at the time. Sheesh.)
5. The well-dressed Transylvanian transexual in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Tim Curry in lingerie may not sound like something most of us would want to see—until you see him. The man has got a great set of legs, dammit, and his prancing portrayal of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, as well as the rest of the half-clad cast, is why this film a cult-classic worthy of nearly 40 years of midnight showing reenactments.
6. The whipped cream bikini in Varsity Blues (1999)
Great movie? Not exactly, but how many wistful teenage boys viewed the contents of their fridge a bit differently after seeing this film? Whether you think the whipped cream bra-and-panty is cute and spontaneous or messy and trashy, no one can deny that this woman got her point across. I mean, why make boys deal with clasps and ties when your bra can be edible?
7. Marlene Dietrich’s stage look in The Blue Angel (1930)
The Blue Angel was the first major talkie from Germany and launched Marlene Dietrich’s career beyond her homeland. It was also the vehicle for her signature song (“Falling In Love Again”), but the film became equally famous for her signature gams. As a cabaret singer named Lola Lola who woos a once-upstanding man (among many others) in an illegal speakeasy, Dietrich’s wardrobe required a certain level of verisimilitude. Though booze was still outlawed in the U.S., censors surprisingly could find nothing wrong with the film, and it opened stateside with few objections. Maybe those stockings had something to do with it.
8. Elizabeth Taylor’s ladylike slip in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
In 1958, Elizabeth Taylor was at the top of the A-List and audiences only wanted to see more of her. And that’s what they got early on in this film, when Taylor sprawls across the bed in a demure white slip. She was still wearing her heels, jewelry and perfect hairdo, natch, because that’s how a true lady does it.
9. The gold bikini from Star Wars: Return of The Jedi (1983)
After two movies of Carrie Fisher running from bad guys in a whisper-thin white maxi-dress and no bra (according to director George Lucas, “There are no bras in space”) or a shapeless flight suit, the nerds were frothing. Jabba the Hutt, though, has no qualms about bras in space, because once he gets his slimy mitts on Princess Leia he dresses her up in a gold panty-and-bra set. But Leia doesn’t let her feminist fans down: She kills her captor and slips into something more comfortable. Literally, I mean something actually comfortable.
10. Emma Stone doing her best Hester Prynne in Easy A (2010)
The Scarlet Letter is not actually a hot book. Even the Demi Moore movie version of the book wasn’t hot, but set the story in a high school with the most relaxed dress code ever and you’ve got a formula—and wardrobe—bound to make Emma Stone a star.
With couturier Nino Cerruti as one of Basic Instinct’s costume designers, it’s expected that Sharon Stone is the picture of a 1990 power woman. The fact that she may be a psychotic serial killer only ups the impact of her good girl wardrobe. But during the now-famous interrogation scene, it’s the lack of wardrobe that creates what is probably one of the most DVD-paused moments in film history. Yup, Stone’s going commando and you can see it. All of it. The moment’s brevity made it intriguing, and the actual moment of exposure still feels like too much. Stone later stated that she had no idea that the shot would be used and feared it would hurt her career, but her full-bush flash, of course, had the opposite effect. —Rachel Chambers