Whatever the Trend, Julia Roberts Did It First and Did It Better

She's played some of the most memorable characters in cinema history—think Pretty Woman's Vivian and the fiery Erin Brockovich—so it's safe to say Julia Roberts has reached icon status. Of course, her acting talent has something to do with it, but it's her off-camera wares that have cemented my fandom.

After her career took off in the late '80s, Roberts became a regular on the premiere circuit. Although they were significantly more casual then than they are today, these appearances provided her with ample opportunities to make her mark. And that's exactly what she did.

From Annie Hall–inspired suiting and her penchant for black to the perfect off-the-clock outfit, every ensemble from Julia's archives is a winner in my eyes, and many of them feel relevant once again, with fashion continuing to flashback to decades that were not so long ago.

She certainly hasn't lost her Midas touch, as she's been treating us to a gorgeous array of looks of late, too. Sporting everything from autumn's It hue to the perfect party attire, she's serving up inspiration left, right and centre. Keep scrolling to discover Julia Roberts's style history from 1989 until now.


1. The Ultimate Off-Duty Combo
(Image credit: Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Wearing my favourite outfit: jeans, a white tee and an oversized blazer in January 1989 (before I was even born). So much for me thinking I'm so original with this look.


2. Oversized Knitwear After Dark
(Image credit: Photo by S. Granitz/WireImage)

Back in the day, premieres weren't like they are now. Instead of glitzy dresses, celebs wore more casual pieces oversized knitwear and stockings (which actually look super cute), as demonstrated by Julia at the Great Balls of Fire screening in Los Angeles on 29 June 1989.


3. The New Co-Ord
(Image credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

As far as I'm concerned, there just aren't enough matching hat-and-waistcoat options nowadays. Julia wears hers so well to attend the Back to the Future Part II premiere on 20 November 1989.


4. Androgyny At Its Finest
(Image credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Channelling Annie Hall at the Golden Globe on 20 January 1990 in a boxy suit complete with a Wall Street–worthy jacquard tie.


5. If in Doubt, Waistcoat
(Image credit: S. Granitz/WireImage)

Back at it again with a waistcoat at yet another film premiere in July 1990, all Julia needs to accessorise her look is her renowned megawatt smile.

Related: 36 Iconic 1980s Fashion Moments We Never Want to Forget


6. Smart Suiting
(Image credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Picking up the Best Actress gong for her role in Pretty Woman at the Golden Globes on 19 January 1991, Julia opted for a chic pinstripe blazer and matching skirt. Sexy suiting at its best.


7. Flirty Can Look Cool
(Image credit: Ron Galella/WireImage)

For lunch in New York City in August 1991, Julia chose a look consisting of a floral dress, brogues and white socks. This wouldn't look out of place on Alexa Chung today.


8. Before the Naked Dress Became a Thing…
(Image credit: Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)

Wow, wow, wow. Julia ditched her signature suiting at the premiere of Conspiracy Theory in January 1993, instead opting for a sheer midi dress. Goals.


9. Glam in Velvet
(Image credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

On 10 January 1993, stars came together at the Screen Actors Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award Salute to honour Audrey Hepburn. Of course, for such a fashionable affair, Julia turned to her trademark blazer—this time, she wore one in luxe velvet.


10. Stripes on Stripes
(Image credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)

This Julia-Roberts look circa 1993 is the stuff Breton dreams are made of.

Related: 12 Surprisingly Current Shots of Celebs Wearing Coats in the '80s, '90s and '00s


11. Leather Love-In
(Image credit: The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

And so begins Julia's love affair with all things leather. Throw in some square-toed boots and this outfit couldn't be more 1995 if it tried.


12. Getting Fancy in 1995
(Image credit: The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Easily Julia's most glamorous look thus far, the actress chose a hot pink satin dress and a black faux-fur stole for a fancy industry event in L.A. Just look at that posture—you can tell this was a time before laptops.


13. Giving Good Slip
(Image credit: Ke.Mazur/WireImage)

Slip dresses might be all the rage now, but Julia was already wearing them on repeat in 1997. Because she's always been that cool.


14. Mixing Things Up in a Mini
(Image credit: The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Channeling the '60s in a printed minidress and T-bar heels at the world premiere of My Best Friend's Wedding in L.A. on 17 June 1997. Naturally, co-star Rupert Everett is the only accessory she required.


15. Finding Her Uniform
(Image credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Wearing what came to be known as the ultimate '90s uniform, Julia looks sleek in her camel coat, leather trousers and square-toed boots at a New York City premiere on 21 October 1997. 

Related: Kate Moss's '90s Outfits That Look Just as Cool Today


16. Dressing the Part
(Image credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Once again accessorising with co-star Rupert Everett, Roberts comes into her sartorial own in this embroidered, halter-neck dress at the Golden Globes in January 1998.


17. Going Backless
(Image credit: Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

Understated but sultry in a tie-back top in 1998. Looks like the kind of thing Kendall and Bella would wear now, doesn't it?


18. The Original It Skirt
(Image credit: Ron Galella/WireImage)

Her slip obsession continued into 1998—only this time, she opted for a blue crystal midi which she paired with an on-trend jersey halter top.


19. Shining Bright in Burgundy Sequins
(Image credit: Fred Duval/FilmMagic)

Attending the premiere of Notting Hill on 9 April 1999, a sequinned dress seems fitting attire for the biggest star in the world.


20. The Ultimate Leading Lady
(Image credit: Mirek Towski/FilmMagic)

In March 2001, Julia won an Oscar for her portrayal of Erin Brockovich at the Academy Awards, cementing her status as the world's most in-demand actress. For the career-changing occasion, she wore vintage Valentino.

Related: Céline Dion Shows You Can Wear "Young, Cool Clothes" at Any Age


21. A Lesson in Chic
(Image credit: James Devaney/WireImage)

Ahead of a TV appearance in March 2009, Julia looks the epitome of chic in a belted coat and straight-leg jeans.


22. Working White Top-to-Toe
(Image credit: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)

At the premiere of her film Eat Pray Love in 2010, Julia once again chose a sharp suit—only this time, in red wine–repelling white.


23. Playing With Proportions
(Image credit: Jeffrey Ufberg/WireImage)

Giving her feminine, frill-hem dress an edgy overhaul with a black boxy blazer, this is Julia on fashion form.


24. Fresh in Fuchsia
(Image credit: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)

Her penchant for monochrome takes a backseat for the night as she wears a front-split frock in her favourite hue (pink) for the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2013.


25. Bring on the Beads
(Image credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Finding her glamorous stride, Julia looked incredible in a beaded minidress by Elie Saab at the Emmys in 2014. Also, if anyone knows her leg-workout routine, please do share.


26. Going Green in Gucci
(Image credit: Todd Williamson/Getty Images)

Just like the rest of the world, Julia's obsession with Gucci started in 2015 and hasn't wavered since. We love how the green lace looks set against her lighter locks.

Related: 17 Times I Wanted to Steal Outfits From Harry Styles


27. Short Suiting
(Image credit: JB Lacroix/WireImage)

As you're now fully aware, Julia certainly has a thing for suits, and we love how she changed things up with a coordinating short and jacket at the premiere of Mother's Day in April 2016.


28. Julia's Feminist Fashion Stance
(Image credit: Gisela Schober/Getty Images))

A classicist at heart, Julia Roberts looks beautiful as she attends the Money Monster premiere at Cannes Film in 2016 in a draped Armani Privé creation. What you can't see is that she was actually barefoot to stand with the countless women who were turned away from the screening of Carol for wearing flats.


29. Pretty in Pink
(Image credit: Venturelli/Getty Images)

Julia chose another cute pink dress for the Calzedonia Legs Show in September 2017. As for her polka-dot tights? They're so 2018.


30. Wearing 2018's It Hue
(Image credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

To promote her latest project, Homecoming, Julia looked stunning in her Sandro powder-blue suit. The fact this is 2018's shade of note is no accident, we're sure.


31. Standing Out in All the Right Ways
(Image credit: Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)

Her love of pink is well documented, so it's little wonder Julia couldn't resist this Brandon Maxwell jumpsuit, which she wore to the premiere of Homecoming in October 2018. If you needed any more proof that she's a bona fide style icon, this is it.


32. Embracing Rainbow Brights
(Image credit:  Raymond Hall/Getty Images)

For an outing in SoHo, Roberts looked incredible in a Valentino coat painted in all the colours of the rainbow, which she effortlessly paired over a black ensemble, and finished with red-lens sunglasses, her trademark waves and, of course, her megawatt smile. Gorgeous. 

Julia Roberts style is certainly impressive, but there's another star we're taking fashion cues from this season

Maxine Eggenberger
Deputy Editor

Maxine Eggenberger is Who What Wear UK’s deputy editor and has over thirteen years of experience in fashion journalism. She been creating engaging and elevated style content specifically for Who What Wear UK since 2018, covering runway reports, emerging trends, long-form features, self-styled shopping stories and columns, including her edit of the best new-in buys. She ensures the highest editorial standards are met across the site, leads the editorial team in their SEO strategy and keyword planning, works closely with the beauty team on content initiatives, represents the brand at industry events, and regularly contributes to social media, including her own Who What Wear UK TikTok franchise, French Style Fridays. Previously, Maxine appeared on ITV's This Morning in her own fashion segment and has interviewed countless celebrities—everyone from Victoria Beckham to Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.

Prior to Who What Wear UK, Maxine’s career began when, after completing her first-ever internship at Look magazine, she was offered a position on the brand's fashion desk. She accepted, leaving university a year early in the process. Her passion and natural talent for writing and styling meant she swiftly rose through the ranks to become the title's fashion news and commercial content editor, with a stint as InStyle.co.uk’s fashion and beauty writer along the way. She later served as Look’s acting Editor in Chief, overseeing both print and digital, before embarking on a successful freelance career, working with Grazia, The Pool, and Marie Claire amongst others.

Maxine is based remotely from her countryside home near Edinburgh where she spends her downtime renovating her house, walking her dogs, hosting friends and trying to master the art of making Old Fashioned cocktails.