All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

7 of Susan Sarandon's most iconic outfits

The actress and activist was a pioneer of free-the-nipple fashion.

by Zoë Kendall
13 May 2022, 7:00am

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

Susan Sarandon’s not just a Hollywood icon but a life-long activist. Since the 80s, the actress has been a proponent of the pro-choice movement, speaking at and attending rallies in support of women’s right to safe and legal abortion. Today, she’s a vocal Bernie Sanders supporter and an outspoken critic of the current American Democratic party.

Sartorially, Susan’s also a progressive. In 1975, she donned burlesque gear as Janet Weiss in transgressive horror-comedy The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Three years later, she was pioneering the free-the-nipple look at Cannes Film Festival. And in the 90s, she was wearing all-American denim and cowboy boots in feminist flick Thelma & Louise. Here, we take a look back at some of the actress and activist’s formative fashion moments through a selection of her most iconic outfits.

In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975

Although Susan Sarandon began her acting career in 1970, one of her most iconic roles came in 1975 with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In the cult comedy-horror flick, the actress played Janet Weiss, the film’s heroine, who transforms from unknowing virgin to corseted femme fatale after meeting the eccentric Dr. Frank-N-Furter. In the film’s final act, Janet — along with fiancé Brad, and castle attendees Magenta and Riff Raff — wears head-to-toe burlesque complete with Bowie-inspired makeup.

susan sarandon sitting at a table smoking a cigarette at cannes film festival in 1978
Photo by Robert Picard/INA via Getty Images

At Cannes Film Festival, 1978

In 1978, Susan starred in the controversial drama Pretty Baby, alongside a teenage Brooke Shields. That year, the actress attended Cannes, where the film won the Technical Grand Prize — and where she was photographed smoking a cigarette in this effortless white button-down dress.

At Cannes Film Festival, 1978

In fact, Susan was the OG queen of Cannes Film Festival style. Taken in 1978 on a balcony near the city’s famous boardwalk, this 70s shirtless blazer look remains a moodboard staple into the 2020s.

susan sarandon posing in new york city in a white button up shirt and jeans in 1978
Photo by Tim Boxer/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In NYC, 1978

Susan was a pioneer of the free-the-nipple look. Here, promoting Pretty Baby in 1978, the actress wears a plunging button-down shirt — sans bra — and slim-fit jeans.

In Thelma and Louise, 1991

In 1991, Susan starred in landmark feminist flick Thelma & Louise alongside Geena Davis. Throughout the movie, which takes place throughout the American Southwest, Susan’s Louise wears a wardrobe of all-American denim, cowboy boots and, of course, her signature silk scarf.

todd oldham and susan sarandon posing at new york fashion week in 1996
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

With Todd Oldham at NYFW, 1996

Susan Sarandon and designer Todd Oldham go way back. The duo met in the 90s, when Todd was designing some of NYFW’s most exciting collections. Years later, Susan (and dog Penny) made a memorable guest appearance on Todd’s interiors show Handmade Modern. And in 2011, the designer showed support for the actresses’ illustrious career at her retrospective, ‘The Susan Sarandon Picture Show’, held by BAM in NYC. Here, Susan attends one of the designer’s 90s shows at New York Fashion Week, wearing a Todd Oldham-approved tiger striped leather jacket, and red carpet sunglasses.

susan sarandon posing with her daughter on the red carpet in 2001
Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

With her daughter at a benefit concert, 2001

Susan’s iconic looks span decades and generations. Here, she twins with her daughter, Eva Amurri of Saved! fame, in a very Y2K look — shredded chiffon top, slim pleather pants and pointy leather boots. And let us not forget the red carpet sunglasses, a Susan Sarandon staple. Truly, iconic behavior.

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7 Iconic Outfits