It's rather hard to believe that the final Harry Potter movie was released eight years ago this summer—and even harder to comprehend how it's been 18 years since the first of the series came out. It was arguably a franchise ahead of its time when it came to cinema, with the wizard's world having Hollywood success long before the likes of the Marvel and DC Universes had even contemplated trying to conquer the big screen.
When it came to the costumes, JK Rowling's enthralling work led the way with the majority of characters donning attire similar to those of their book counterparts. Not all of them were successful, though, and we now take a look at those that were successful and those were that not.
10 BEST: Dolores Umbridge
Out of all the characters in the Harry Potter movies, Warner Brothers arguably hit the spot best when it came to the portrayal of Dolores Umbridge. Not only was Imelda Staunton fantastic as the evil Ministry of Magic worker, but they also got her costume bang on and as close to the books as possible.
In the novels, Umbridge is obsessed with the color pink—and cats. In her office, where Harry seems to spend much of his time in detention, the teenager finds himself surrounded by the garish color and plates bearing the animals’ faces. Umbridge, in both Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows Part 1, dons pink in every single scene, wearing items of clothing from a cardigan to a jumper, skirt to shoes. When it came to designing her look, the costume department succeeded.
9 BEST: Luna’s Slug Party Dress
Luna Lovegood is an eccentric person, to put it mildly. In the Harry Potter books, she wears an assortment of weird and wonderful costumes, and the movies do a great job of showing this on the big screen. It is the yellow dress she dons for the Slug Party in Half-Blood Prince, however, that stands out head and shoulders above the rest.
In JK Rowling’s penultimate novel, Luna accompanies Harry to a party hosted by Professor Slughorn in his office. To the wizard’s horror, however, she is wearing an outfit that raises eyebrows among many of Hogwarts’ ruder students, topped off with a Butterbeer cork necklace. In the movie, her outfit is similarly wild and EXTREMELY colorful. It is another great example of highlighting her unusual tastes and was another scene extremely true to its core material.
8 BEST: The Malfoys In Deathly Hallows Part 2
The Malfoy family have never been the nicest people in the Harry Potter world. But, as the movies stretched on, they somehow managed to establish themselves as arguably the most stylish in the franchise, despite their stock falling within the wizarding world.
In Deathly Hallows Part 1, all three members look dapper in black. Their colors are indicative of their mood, with Voldemort controlling Lucius, Narcissa and Draco Malfoy—even taking the former’s wand. However, their style is also indicative of their wealth. The Malfoys have always been among the richest families within the magical community, and, at a time where audiences also see their manor on screen for the first time, it hits home just how well-off they are.
7 BEST: Dumbledore’s Robes
Albus Dumbledore, like Luna Lovegood, is certainly an unusual person for a wizard. The Hogwarts headmaster is often criticized for his love toward Muggles, his love of Harry, and his tendency to look past people’s flaws and focus on their best characteristics instead. And the costume department succeeded in bringing both Richard Harris and Michael Gambon’s versions to life in a suitable way.
Both men are given various costumes throughout the series. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harris’ Dumbledore looks stylish in purple, just like his book counterpart. Gambon’s then adopts blue robes and moves onto grey by the time Half-Blood Prince hit screens, recognizing that the wizard, just like everybody else, was flawed. The robes he wears tells his story. He starts true to form, changes when Gambon takes on the role, and then changes again just as he’s about to die. The colors purple, blue, and grey show his slide toward fatality.
6 BEST: Bellatrix Lestrange
When it came to bringing serial killer and Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange into the movies, Warner Brothers got two things right. Firstly, the actress, with Helena Bonham Carter doing a fantastic job of portraying the deranged witch in the final four movies. And secondly, the costume, which highlighted just how maniacal she was really was.
Like the other Death Eaters, Bellatrix wears black most of the time. But her wild hairstyle mirrors her character’s crazy personality, with the sister of Narcissa Malfoy a cackling villain for most of her time on the big screen. Bonham Carter was one thing. But getting a costume really true to form? An impressive achievement.
5 BEST: Harry’s Triwizard Tournament Clothes
The Goblet of Fire redeems itself when it comes to the outfits Harry wears during the Triwizard Tournament. Those behind the scenes were given license to make them look as fit for purpose as can be, resulting in three outfits that live long in the memory.
Harry wears dark black robes in the first task, where he manages to steer himself past the Hungarian Horntail to get the dragon’s golden eye with his surname adorned on the back. He then resorts to a stylish Hogwarts-themed vest for the second task, where he rescues his ‘hostage’ from the lake. And when it comes to the third task, he sports a snazzy red and black top that is still bought by hundreds of real-life muggles to date. All three were befitting of a champion—and that’s exactly what the teenager is.
4 WORST: Death Eaters In The Goblet Of Fire
While the Harry Potter costume department thrives throughout the franchise, they do introduce us to some strange looking Death Eaters in the fourth movie. They are seen wreaking havoc at the Quidditch World Cup, and by Voldemort’s side later on, with some scary masks but some bizarre pointed hoods. Some have suggested it was a reflecting of previous torturous and discriminatory attire, but it strayed a little too far away from the core material.
In the books, Voldemort’s faithful followers instead wear just hoods, alongside their masks. The costume department ultimately decided to switch things up for Order of the Phoenix, giving them costumes more in-line with what JK Rowling had in mind. And they looked all the scarier for it.
3 WORST: Fenrir Greyback
Warner Brothers got a lot of the characters from Harry Potter so right that, when you pick up the books today, all you can see is their film selves. Seriously, Daniel Radcliffe is Harry, Rupert Grint is Ron, and so on. However, they sold the character of Fenrir Greyback short, with the werewolf looking as un-werewolf-like as can be.
The series had already received criticism for making Remus Lupin’s wolf self look a bit different. But Greyback didn’t look animalistic—just merely a bit dirty and rugged. What doesn’t help is that the creature, who grows in prominence in the books, is marginalized in the movies. Much of his lines are given to Death Eater Scabior, and the scene where he mangles Bill Weasley is left out altogether. Greyback is just one of a few characters who should have been dressed up in a different way—and given more dialogue.
2 BEST & WORST: Ron’s Robes
We’re bending the rules a little bit on this one. While Ron Weasley’s robes in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire are perfectly done due to their shoddy nature, they just look absolutely vile. And that, given they were created that way to reflect the Weasley family’s lack of wealth, means they come under both the best and worst category.
Audiences feel genuinely sad for the youngest male member of the family when he is handed the robes by sister Ginny, who he mistakenly believes they are intended for. Their horrible moldy color, coupled with the awful lace on his collar and cuffs, make it an eyesore. Things are made even worst for Ron when Harry’s own robes turn out to be a rather smart number. If being stuck in the shadow of the Chosen One wasn’t enough...
1 BEST & WORST: Hagrid’s Suit
We’ve already bent the rules once, so what can a second time hurt? Hagrid is loved by nearly everybody, with the groundskeeper fiercely loyal to Harry from the moment Hagrid takes him from the wreckage of his parents’ house on his first birthday. But when it comes to fashion, there’s no denying that he commits several faux pas’ throughout the course of the franchise.
And none is worse than the hideous suit he wears for the trial of Buckbeak. It’s hard to tell what’s hairier, the person wearing it or the outfit itself. To top it off, he wears a horrific orange and yellow tie. Like the books, the costume department succeeded in making audiences recoil in horror. No wonder they found Buckbeak guilty...