Everyone’s Talking About Nicole Kidman’s Style In The Undoing – But Her 90s Outfits Are Even Better

From going out tops to tailoring, let these looks lift your spirits.

Nicole Kidman

by Laura Antonia Jordan |
Updated on

Have you seen The Undoing yet, HBO’s new thriller starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant? I haven’t, but I think I know what it’s about: Kidman wears a crushed velvet, avocado green coat and everyone with internet access gets in a right old tizz about it. Or something.

Personally, I don’t know what everyone’s problem with The Coat is. Actually, I rather like it, but I largely put that down to nostalgia. That off-shade of green, plus Kidman’s return to her auburn pre-Raphaelite curls, calls to mind her style from the ’90s and early-'00s.

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in 1996
Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in 1996 ©Getty

Today the Kidman look is all high-gloss Hollywood glamour. Sure, she’s unafraid to go dowdy for a role but off-screen, her red carpet look tends to veer towards a particularly A List, imperious breed of polish: va-va-voom gowns, often with slits and extravagant ruffles, poker straight hair and perfect makeup.

Of course, this sort of high-maintenance glamour is well and truly off the menu in 2020. And yet party season inches its way closer regardless. If you do fancy dressing up for once this year but can’t muster the energy to go full-throttle (and who could blame you?) then revisiting Kidman’s Tom Cruise-era looks is a great place to start.

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise at the 1997 Oscars
Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise at the 1997 Oscars ©Getty

Back then the Kidman look was a pitch-perfect blend of the boho and the minimal, the aspirational and the attainable. Consider the chartreuse John Gallino for Dior gown she wore to the Academy Awards in 1997; the cut was simple, streamlined, but the decorative floral embroidery gave it a romantic flourish (it’s still one of the best Oscar dresses ever). Certainly that colour was a bold statement, something she’s never been shy of: plum, lilac, saffron have all been given a twirl. If you can’t face the faff of negotiating plunging necklines this party season, Kidman also makes a compelling case for high necklines.

Inevitably, this will be the party season of waist-up dressing, and Kidman serves a masterclass here too. 20 years ago, she had a fondness for ‘going out’ tops. Look at the embellished halterneck she wore to the Mission: Impossible 2 premiere in 2000. Kidman wore it with tailored black trousers, but you could wear yours with pyjama bottoms and nobody would know. Also of note for the waist-up dressing agenda: chokers. If you want to go full ‘costume drama’ wear with an empire line dress and pile your hair on top of your head as Kidman did for the The Portrait of a Lady premiere in 1996.

Nicole Kidman in 2000
Nicole Kidman in 2000 ©Getty

Of course, party season will come and go, and one day we’ll be thinking about re-entering the world of work (by which I mean actually going to the office, not horizontally logging-in from bed). For this, early ’90s Kidman is also a good reference. She has a strong tailoring game; a double-breasted black suit with white shirt buttoned up all the way to the top – as she wore in 1992 – is perfect in its simplicity. That same year she wore an impeccable midi skirt suit to a Herb Ritts exhibition opening. I fear that if that can’t tempt you out of trackpants, nothing will.

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in 1992
Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in 1992 ©Getty

There is another picture of Kidman that is truly iconic and that, of course, is the divorce shot. Having signed the divorce papers, she emerged from her attorney’s office in 2001, arms aloft and jubilant wearing a sheer top, trainers and a green midi skirt (her fondness for odd greens has long outlasted that marriage). The clothes don’t really matter though, it’s the ‘hello freedom’ delight as she literally punches the air that strikes a wistful note in us now. Hopefully in 2021 we will all have that moment.


Fashback: Nicole Kidman

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When less is more. A perfect tailoring moment in 1992.

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Do you get more '90s than an embellished waistcoat?

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Leave cocktail dresses to the amateurs. This sleek skirt suit got an outing at an exhibition opening in 1992.

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For then-husband Tom Cruise's handprint ceremony at Mann's Chinese Theatre, Kidman wore a butter-wouldn't-melt floral dress and a straw hat.

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A nod to gothic glamour at The Firm premiere in 1993.

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Sometimes we all want to dial up the dazzle. Don't settle for any less sparkle than Kidman at the 1995 Batman Forever premiere.

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Another tailoring win in 1996.

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Kidman leant into her role in the adaptation of Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady at the film's 1996 premiere.

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Showing off her coordination skills by matching her outfit to Tom's tie.

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A simple dress. Square toed shoes. A choker. This is out-out dressing '90s style.

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A refreshing red carpet moment in sleek white co-ords at the 1996 Mission: Impossible premiere.

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It was a lace-trimmed slip and a pashmina for the 1997 AFI Awards.

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What. A. Moment. In chartreuse John Galliano for Dior at the 1997 Oscars.

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How to do sparkle without going overboard.

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Embracing her bohemian side in 1999.

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When Nicole appeared on stage in The Blue Room at London's Donmar Warehouse in 1999, it caused a stir. Here she is at a party to celebrate the play during the run.

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Nicole opted for a high-necked floral dress at Cannes in 2001.

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She previously wore a similar style at a party to celebrate Eyes Wide Shut in 1999.

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At the premiere for Eyes Wide Shut, Nicole again opted for one of her favourite colours: plum!

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At the UK premiere of Eyes Wide Shut, she wowed in a beaded saffron dress.

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A masterclass in waist-up dressing. For the Mission: Impossible 2 premiere in 2000, Nicole wore an embellished halterneck. The ultimate 'going out' top.

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Embracing a 1920s vibe for the Moulin Rouge premiere in 2001.

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