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What to Wear to the Barbie Movie and Oppenheimer

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Welcome to Same Same But Different. As Gen Z and millennial fashion editors, respectively, we know a thing or two about shopping—for all ages, and especially our demographics. As we find the best products for you, we can’t help but do a little shopping for ourselves and build our personal (age-appropriate) wish lists. And now, we’re sharing them with you. Ahead, check out what’s in our hearts and in our carts lately.

Erica Gonzales: Folks, we made it. After a year of anticipation (and endless memes), Barbenheimer weekend is finally here. The simultaneous theatrical releases of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer on July 21 has evolved from a running joke online into a cultural juggernaut. It has inspired T-shirts on Etsy and been deemed the savior of the box office. AMC reports that at least 40,000 people have already purchased tickets to see both movies on the same day. Given the gravity of this cultural phenomenon, Lauren and I, ELLE.com’s humble culture team, are taking over SSBD to talk through your moviegoing wardrobe—because if one thing’s for sure, it’s that people will be dressing up for this historic event. Given the nature of this column, I must admit, we’re both millennials on the cusp of Gen Z, but the comparison here will be less generational and more on Barbie vs. Oppenheimer aesthetics. Lauren, let’s jump in. Are you thinking pink for Barbie?

Lauren Puckett-Pope: Absolutely. I think wearing anything other than pink to Barbie feels borderline disrespectful—unless, of course, you’re emulating a specific doll’s look, which I suppose I could forgive. I don’t think the exact shade of pink matters so much as the feel of the outfit as a whole: It should be expressive, frothy, and certainly outside the parameters of your typical theater attire.

I’ve already seen Barbie once, for which I wore my bubblegum-hued Pistola Denim jumpsuit—the same one that, coincidentally, Greta Gerwig was photographed in as she filmed Barbie last year. But I plan to see this film several times, and I think each occasion calls for an increasingly ridiculous degree of commitment. The first idea that came to mind was a high ponytail, a bouncy gown, maybe a daffodil necklace (honoring Barbie’s birth month), and one of those appalling sets of sky-high heels—true ankle-breakers for someone as clumsy as me, but ones that Barbie herself could likely sprint in. Will I fall? And later shiver in the hostile theater AC? I have not one single doubt. But I think such a sacrifice is worth the spirit of the bit. You should walk into the theater feeling like you’re entering the hottest party in town.

Hutch Pixie Dress

Hutch Pixie Dress
Credit: Hutch

Billini Brenna Heel

Billini Brenna Heel
Credit: Billini

Rellery Daffodil Necklace With Initial

Rellery Daffodil Necklace With Initial
Credit: Rellery

Barbie x Kitsch Recycled Nylon Elastics

Barbie Barbie x Kitsch Recycled Nylon Elastics
Credit: Kitsch

ShineOn Lip Jelly

ShineOn Lip Jelly
Credit: Tower 28

EG: Love to see it. I’m going to be honest with you, I overlooked Oppenheimer for a while because I was mentally knee-deep in Barbieland. I mean, Margot Robbie’s press tour wardrobe! Ryan Gosling singing! Original songs from Dua Lipa and Nicki Minaj! But as someone who is deeply in touch with her inner sad girl (astrologers might call me a Barbie rising and Oppenheimer moon) and has dabbled in Christopher Nolan’s filmography, the moody biopic still intrigued me.

Now, Oppenheimer-core doesn’t have the same buzz as Barbiecore, and perhaps rightfully so—the girlies aren’t really out here trying to dress up as the father of the atomic bomb. However, there are ways to channel the film itself sartorially. On the obvious level, that means tailoring, suits, and ties; lots of grays, muted browns, blacks, and whites. But on a more adventurous level, I see more vintage 1940s fashion, like pin curls, cardigans, and A-line dresses, leaning heavily toward dark academia. And on a more abstract level, I think this could be just embracing the dark melodrama of the film and wearing all black, or something moody and emo. Did I consider dark wash jeans, black Converse, and a cigarette solely for decorative purposes? Yes. But to align with current trends, I think a vest, tailored shorts (or trousers, but it’s 90 degrees out!), and loafers will do the trick. Pair it with a set of glasses that look like they came from a lab, and boom.

LPP: Nice “boom” pun.

EG: You’re welcome.

Babaton Curio Vest

Babaton Curio Vest
Credit: Aritzia

The Effortless Short™ 5"

Wilfred The Effortless Short™ 5″
Credit: Aritzia

Women's Hybrid Ribbed Calf Socks

Bombas Women’s Hybrid Ribbed Calf Socks
Credit: Bombas

Adrian Smooth Leather Tassel Loafers

Dr Martens Adrian Smooth Leather Tassel Loafers
Credit: Dr Martens

Gregory Peck Sunglasses

Oliver Peoples Gregory Peck Sunglasses
Credit: Oliver Peoples

LPP: Now, for a Barbenheimer double-feature fit, I think comfort is going to play an important factor. You’ll be sitting for a while—Barbie runs at 1 hour and 54 minutes, while Oppy gobbles up 3 hours. Even with a bathroom and concessions break in between, that’s a lot of time in a chair. But you also want a look that’s easily convertible from the doom-and-gloom aesthetics of Nolan’s latest to the effervescence of Gerwig’s candy-colored world, or vice versa.

For that reason, I’d recommend layering: Start with something soft, cozy, and versatile for one film, then throw on the other film’s look over top. (Keep in mind you’ll want something simple to remove!) In my case, I picked a pink tennis dress and versatile white sneakers for Barbie, covered up by a voluminous black tulle skirt and cropped blazer for Oppenheimer. At the end of Opp, I can run to the bathroom and strip off the skirt and blazer, toss them in a tote, throw my hair into a ponytail, don my 1959-inspired sunglasses, and look right at home amongst the Barbie crew. You know Babs must love a quick change.

Good American Shiny Scuba Cropped Blazer

Good American Shiny Scuba Cropped Blazer
Credit: Good American

BCBG MAX AZRIA Layered Ruffle Tulle Skirt

BCBG MAX AZRIA Layered Ruffle Tulle Skirt

Alo Yoga Alosoft Courtside Tennis Dress

Alo Yoga Alosoft Courtside Tennis Dress
Credit: Alo Yoga

Superga 2750 Cotu Classic Sneakers

Superga 2750 Cotu Classic Sneakers
Credit: Superga

Chiara Ferragni Speckled Propionate Cat-Eye Sunglasses

Chiara Ferragni Speckled Propionate Cat-Eye Sunglasses
Credit: Chiara Ferragni

EG: Style and function! I’m sure Fashion Designer Barbie would approve. For those watching both films back-to-back, our bravest soldiers, I’d recommend a mix of black and pink color schemes. (If you’re a K-pop fan, literal Blackpink merch could even suffice.) But you could also try a twist on either the Barbie or Oppenheimer aesthetic—like pastel tailoring, or ultra-feminine looks in gray hues. You could even make like Florence Pugh or Emily Blunt on the red carpet and wear pops of orange, taking some very on-the-nose inspiration from Opp’s literal explosion. (We’re in camp territory now.) Or take another, no-less-literal approach with one of the many fan-made Barbenheimer graphic tees. I personally can’t wait to get my hands on one.

Gelso Oversized Grain de Poudre Blazer

FRANKIE SHOP Gelso Oversized Grain de Poudre Blazer
Credit: The Frankie Shop

Gelso Pleated Suiting Wide-Leg Trousers

The Frankie Shop Gelso Pleated Suiting Wide-Leg Trousers
Credit: The Frankie Shop

Aerie Oversized Barbie™ Graphic Boyfriend T-Shirt

Aerie Aerie Oversized Barbie™ Graphic Boyfriend T-Shirt
Credit: Aerie

Square-Buckle Leather Belt

Madewell Square-Buckle Leather Belt
Credit: Madewell

Mix No. 6 Brycen Cowboy Boot

Mix No. 6 Brycen Cowboy Boot

Now 29% Off

Credit: Mix No 6

LPP: At this point, I’m wondering why we ever stopped dressing up for the theater. Maybe this is the start of a new era?

EG: It just might be. Whatever it is you’re watching (and wearing) this summer, have fun at the movies.

Headshot of Erica Gonzales

Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more. She was previously an editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com. There is a 75 percent chance she’s listening to Lorde right now. 

Headshot of Lauren Puckett-Pope

Culture Writer

Lauren Puckett-Pope is a staff culture writer at ELLE, where she primarily covers film, television and books. She was previously an associate editor at ELLE. 

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