Movie Costumes -
Good Historical, Bad Historical?

Movie costumes are a wonderful inspiration for many beginners making homemade costumes from history. With over a century of cinema behind us, thousands of movie-makers have taken inspiration from the pages of history, from legends, and from novels and great works of fiction written - or set in -the past.

The trouble is, some of those movie-makers either didn't know what was correct for their period, didn't have the budget to have accurate costumes made. I've been told by one of the greatest costume designers of the 20th Century - a three-times-Oscar-winner no less - about travels to Rome for very particular costumes they had hired, only to be presented with items from a completely different production!

Some of them aren't particularly worried about historical accuracy in their productions either… for better or for worse. Sometimes they're going for minimalist "effect". With good performers, this is probably the most successful type of production that isn't "costume accurate"!

And, particularly with much older movies, there is an overlay of what fashion, decency, and the standards of research at the time would allow as well. Modern technology gives us all (not just the professionals, or the well-travelled-and-keen hobbyists) access to the most phenomenal array of truly amazing resource material - from entire artworks and detail pictures of paintings, statues and other media, to actual archaeological discoveries, research papers and other costume makers' experiments.

So where do I begin?

The tricky thing for beginners (and sometimes for experienced costumier's as well!) is being able to tell what is good, and what isn't so good. Sometimes the movie costumes we see are just darned terrible!

So, given that I devour any historical movie that involves costume, I thought I'd give you my thoughts on whether or not you can safely take costumes from a particular movie as accurate.  I've tried to give every movie review a rating, as well as a good idea of the best and worst costumes (or details to beware about using).

Click on the links below to find movie reviews for costume dramas I have seen, or submit your own! You might even find some new favourites in here!


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