Answering Your Most Pressing Questions

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One of the things I find interesting is looking at our site stats here at Frock Flicks … and most entertaining is our search terms. Meaning, people are searching for these things, and they’ve hit on our site as a possible source. Most of them are what you’d expect: “poldark 1975,” “outlander costumes,” “anne boleyn.” But some of them are HIGH-larious, to me anyway, and I thought — let’s pull out some of the good ones, and help that searcher on their way! (AKA I’ve always wanted to write an advice column).

So here, in no particular order, your searches and our responses:

frock sex / sex in frock

So this is kind of generic — by “frock,” do you mean any old dress? Or do you mean a big fluffy fancy dress? Or do you mean a historical dress? If it’s the latter, read on…

costume sex

Well if you’re talking historical costume sex, then sure, we’ve got some recommendations for you (many of which, but not all, discussed in our Top 10 Historical Costume Movie Sex Scenes post):

  • Henri IV has one extended sex scene. It’s cheeseball, angry sex with slapping and biting and all that stuff.
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover (2015) promises to be about sex, but isn’t, really. I’d check out the 1993 version instead, which has shagging all OVER the place. Plus Sean Bean. Yum.
  • There’s a tender sex scene at the end of A Matador’s Mistress, but you’ll have fallen asleep by the time you get there.
  • Original Sin, baby. Make sure you get the unrated version. You’re welcome.
  • Also? Queen Margot. And you’re in luck, because if want, you can watch the sex scene and then drop out before all the massacring.
  • Rome is another one for some good shagging scenes, although it’s a long series, so if you’re only there for the smut, it’s going to take you a while.

Getting even more specific…

crinoline sex

I’m not sure if you mean a cage crinoline, aka hoop skirt (1850s-60s), or just the multiple petticoats that were also called crinoline (1840s-50s). Either way, sure, here’s some recommendations for you:

  • In Secret has about 30 minutes of hot sex (bookended by a whole lot of boring-ness), some of which is IN (mid-Victorian) clothes.
  • You’d probably also like Angels and Insects, which has really great, bug-inspired Victorian costumes, and some pretty explicit sex scenes (plus bonus incest!).

gross hygiene facts

I don’t know how you prefer your grooming, but ours is lovely, thank you. Move along.

original

did people at versailles really pee in the halls

Only on RARE occasions. They were most likely to use a latrine, and failing that, go outside and pee against a wall. Stories of people peeing on the floors come from a few unusual events in which the latrines weren’t working.

So, here you go: latrines. Waste pipes. Cesspits. Stinky latrines, while I’m sure no picnic, are not the same as feces in the hall.

Marie-Antoinette's flush toilet, via The British Association of Urological Surgeons | http://www.baus.org.uk/Sections/history/toilets-female

Marie-Antoinette’s flush toilet, via The British Association of Urological Surgeons

vintage picture of woman on chamberpot urinating

We live to serve!

Louis-Léopold Boilly, La Toilette Intime ou la Rose Effeuille. Late 18th century.

Louis-Léopold Boilly, La Toilette Intime ou la Rose Effeuille. Late 18th century. Okay so technically this is a chaise percée, not a chamber pot.

is reign historically correct

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHA. Ahem.

…this show doesn’t make any claims to historical accuracy. Go read the Wikipedia entry — the producers, actors, and designers all talk about making a sexy, fantasy, entertainment show with a history setting. They’re doing that. At least nobody is claiming to do something historically accurate when it’s clearly not.

how did tudor women poop in those dresses

The same way you do? Okay, so yeah, that’s a big skirt. If you’re using a chamber pot, then you could actually just squat over it and let your skirt hang around (see The Piano for a good example of this, granted from the mid-19th century). If you’re using a latrine — AND YES THEY VERY MUCH EXISTED — then it would be a similar situation to wearing a wedding dress and sitting on a toilet. I call it “hoicking” — grabbing all that fabric and bunching it up around your waist and pulling it forward. Okay, Tudor women may have had to deal with a farthingale (hoop). But those collapse, so you can grab it along with your skirts and do the same — in fact, it kind of makes it easier, because you can cradle all your skirts inside your hoop as you lift it. (God, you people are so scatalogical!)

cinderella butt disney

This seems like a strange fetish, but I’m sure you can probably find it out there in the wilds of the Internet. The best we can do for you is point you to some pictures/discussion of butt bows and cat butts.

stories of crossdressing in victorian dresses

We can help with this one! There’s a lot of cross-dressing in Victorian-era film. The only hitch is it’s usually women dressing as men; there’s not a lot of men dressing as women (except as comedy). Both George Sand (Impromptu) and Queen Christina of Sweden (The Girl King) were women who were known for wearing men’s attire. The two leads in Tipping the Velvet play male roles in men’s costumes (although with a feminized look) in vaudeville shows, and one of them goes on to do a bit of passing-as-a-man in real life. We haven’t reviewed it yet, but Albert Nobbs (starring Glenn Close as a woman who lived as a very convincing man for years in the late 19th century) looks like it would be totally up your alley.

In terms of men dressing as women, one of the few I can think of that actually takes things seriously is Stage Beauty, set in the 17th century when only men were allowed on stage (and so played female parts). There’s some good consideration of how one might get lost in such roles. The upcoming series Versailles looks like it’s going to include multiple scenes of King Louis XIV’s brother, who was gay and enjoyed dressing as a woman (and looks quite hot from the preview images I’ve seen). Finally, there’s a quick scene where a male character cross-dresses in Elizabeth, but it’s definitely portrayed as icky and weird.

Albert Nobbs

Albert Nobbs

rufus sewell glass eye

Not true, and we tried to clear that up our Man Candy Monday post on him. He does have a lazy eye in his pretty, pretty face.

french queen dresses in renaisance [sic] period which show breast

I guess you’re thinking of the 16th-century French trend of being painted topless, like this one of Gabrielle d’Estrées and one of her sisters (look! nipple tweaking is period!):

Gabrielle d'Estrées

Presumed portrait of Gabrielle d’Estrées and one of her sisters (the duchess of Villars?), c. 1594. Louvre Museum. The nipple touching is either a symbol that Gabrielle is pregnant or a lesbian thang. You decide.

There are some eighteenth-century images suggesting that ladies may have gotten their nips out … but I’m still very confused about whether this ever happened in real life (you don’t see it in portraiture, but then why is it in fashion plates?).

Gallerie des Modes et Costumes Français. 11e. Cahier des Costumes Français. 5e Suite d’Habillemens à la mode en 1778. L.63 “La petite Mere au Rendez-vous des Champs Elisées…” Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

I can’t think of any films that have done these free-floating-nipple dresses. There can certainly be a lot of cleavage in 16th-century costume, so as long as you’re cool with no-nips, I’d check out The Tudors, Queen Margot, Dangerous Beauty, and The Other Boleyn Girl.

were there lice at versailles

Pre-modern-day chemicals? Undoubtedly. As there would have been everywhere else, during every other period. (I’m suddenly picturing a film that’s about lice. At Versailles. Like a flea circus, but with lice. This could be genius.)

FleaCircus-Prof-W-Heckler-4

ass in frock

Well pretty much all people-in-frocks have got asses under there. I don’t know if it hits your fetish, but if you’re into butts, you’d probably like the bustle era. Here’s some suggestions:

  • Scarlett — there’s some definite cheese, but the 1870s costumes are AMAZE-BALLS.
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula is ostensibly set in the 1890s, but costumed in the 1880s — the height of the bustle era.
  • Daniel Deronda is set in this era, and it’s one of my absolute favorites for stunning gowns.
  • The Buccaneers. Fabulous bustle gown fiesta.
  • You really can’t go wrong with The Age of Innocence — probably the zenith of bustle-era movie costumes.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for people looking like ass in frocks, then I’d suggest checking out Point of Honor for some truly dire, shitastic numbers; The Count of Monte Cristo (1975) for 1970s nylon lace; and pretty much everything in this round-up of shitty 1980s TV movies, aka where polyester goes to die.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1980)

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1980): it would be hard to get ass-ier than this.

“truly historically accurate”

Oh god, that’s too existential. What defines “truly” historically accurate? Only using wool from literal 16th-century sheep, spun and woven by literal 16th-century people, and sewn by an actual 16th-century tailor? Or just making/wearing clothing as was done in the past? Sure, we can recommend some films where the costumes are closer to historically accurate looking:

  • Wolf Hall is one of the few productions that I know of that actually tried to make the clothes as they would have been made in the period.
  • Dangerous Liaisons is pretty close to perfect for 18th century.
  • Little Women did a great job with the mid-19th century.
  • Master and Commander was faaaabulous to my uneducated-about-uniforms eye, although there’s only boys to look at.
  • Wives and Daughters really needs to be resurfaced for doing such a great job with the 1830s. I’ll be doing a TBT on it one of these days!

However, I know from experience that any one of those productions probably has a glaring error in an area that we know nothing about. Trust me, someone out there is dying over the candles, or the wainscoting, or the horse’s bridles, or the dancing…

how long did glenda jackson take to dress in queen eliz

Good lord. I started to look this up for you, then got annoyed. There are biographies of Glenda Jackson out there, certainly. I can’t seem to find any books specifically on the making of Elizabeth R, but this book — Royal Portraits in Hollywood: Filming the Lives of Queens — seems like it covers the production.

Elizabeth R. How long did it take Glenda Jackson to get dressed? A while?

Elizabeth R. How long did it take Glenda Jackson to get dressed? A while?

gene wilder comb over

He sure rocked it, didn’t he?

kate winslet 2015 hot

Well I think she’s hot in any year! But if you’re being picky, then yeah, she’s pretty gorgeous in The Dressmaker.

gross habits of british women back then in history

So, “back then” is an incredibly unspecific time period. Do you mean yesterday? 3000 BCE? I’m guessing they may have been gross around 3000 BCE, but then it’s all relative — they’d probably think we were disgusting. Sadly, except for all you who seem to think people shit in the corner back in the day, the best I can do is refer you to Pride & Prejudice & Pigs for some bad table manners and fans who think that pointing out how the movie falls SO far short of Austen is somehow unreasonable.

Why have nuance when you can be gross?

Pride & Prejudice & Pigs: Why have nuance when you can just be uncouth?

Ooo, I just thought of one more! She’s not British, but Madame du Barry BURPS in Marie Antoinette (2006).

Marie Antoinette (2006): "She BURPED (shudder)."

Marie Antoinette (2006): “She BURPED (shudder).”

brosnan louis xiv historicall [sic] correct?

Again, I say: AAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHASDLK; NF;ALSDKNF;ALKSDNF;LAKSDNF; LAKSDNF;LAKSDNF;LAKSDNF;ALKSDNF; LAKSNDF;LAKSDNF;LAKSDNFL;AK

the-moon-and-the-sun

Pierce Brosnan as (ahem) Louis XIV in The Moon and the Sun.

dirtiest porn slaves dressed in 18th century clothing

Ooo, now that’s specific! I can point you to some movies depicting slavery in the 18th century, but I don’t think they’re going to be actual porn, so you may be disappointed. Jefferson in Paris has cleaned-up 18th-century slaves, but The Book of Negroes will probably be more up your alley, being as it is about the horrible realities of slavery.

The Book of Negroes: Slavery. Not fun.

The Book of Negroes: Slavery. Not fun.

eighteenth century gowns back lacing

Oh, you mean the bane of my existence? Look, kids. For most of the 18th century, what we think of as the “dress” had a big fat opening down the center front that was then filled in (visually) with a stomacher and petticoat. There’s no possible reason to close one of these gowns in back, because IT’S ALREADY OPEN IN FRONT. They would occasionally lace or hook-and-eye these side front openings, but more frequently they’d pin them down or baste them in place.

Let’s let the beautifully costumed Aristocrats (1999) explain things:

Later in the century, yes, you get dresses where the bodice is closed in front. But after 80-100 years of front-opening dresses, nobody’s jumping up to start having dresses open and close in the back. For one thing, the skirts are still open in front. For another, it wasn’t the way they did things for a century, so it wouldn’t make any sense. Back closures really don’t happen until the Regency era, when about half the dresses closed in front and the other in back.

Poldark

Poldark: There’s no reason for this dress to lace in the back, as it inexplicably does, given that the “dress” (the stripey bit — yes, the underbodice could close in the back, but it should be hidden by the overdress) ALREADY OPENS IN FRONT.

If you’d like a visual on what the backs of real 18th-century dresses looked like, check out my posts on Outlander for mid-century and Poldark for later.

You want back-lacing, please to be seeing many of the styles of the Renaissance, the 17th century, and the 19th century, KTHNXBI.

woman wearing big hats to protect from poop in 1800s

First, you’re thinking of the 18th century (aka 1700s). And second, that’s a myth. And third, the myth is that they carried parasols as poop-protectors. And fourth, MYTH MYTH MYTH.

Outlander

Outlander: Claire is wearing this hat for fashion and to protect from the sun, not from shit.

Scarlett (1994)

Scarlett: This parasol is for keeping the sun off. Not for keeping the poop off.

did scottish wear kilts everyday basis

Nope!

Thus, Angus and Rupert’s kilts looking more than a little weather-beaten is absolutely accurate. More so is Dougal’s wearing of “trews” or trousers. There is rather a lot of debate within Scottish dress studies about which was more popular, the kilt or the trews.

Outlander

Outlander: Jamie wearing trews.

did pirates wear hoods

My first thought when seeing “hoods” is in the 15th/16th-century female headgear sense, which I doubt is what you’re thinking. But I’m not sure what you are thinking. Like, headsman’s hoods? Modern-day hoodies? Is this some kind of Assassin’s Creed thing? Help me out here!

Assassin's Creed

Assassin’s Creed

why do they show henry 8 with a turkey leg they were not in the old world yet?

Welcome to the Renaissance Faire. (Side note, I heard a podcast where they were trying to say that turkey legs were a Disneyland thing. I refuse to believe this.)

sound of musicnwigs

Do wigs have a sound? Are there wigs with built-in music? Because if so, I want to know about it!

Amazon's Casanova

Amazon’s Casanova: I wouldn’t be surprised if this wig had built-in music, given how fabulous it is.

wtf did they do to pride and prejudice

Depending on which production you’re referring to, yeah, we’ve asked ourselves this question many, many times. If you’re thinking of the 1940 Greer Garson/Laurence Olivier version, then they dipped all the costumes in LSD before putting them on the actors.

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice and LSD (I almost wrote LDS, which would be another movie entirely).

If you’re thinking of the 2005 Keira Knightley/Mathew MacFadyen version, then they rewrote the dialogue to be understandable by a 5-year-old and made all of the costumes from sackcloth, ashes, and sadness.

Pride & Prejudice (2005) review

Pride & Prejudice & Homespun.

what is the name of the headbands worn on magnificent century

Oh god. I think you mean this travesty:

2011 muhtesem-yuzyil4

Magnificent Century

In which case, they are trying for a European-style French hood (were those worn in the Ottoman Empire? I have no idea), but failing miserably.

davincis demons is bad

You said it, baby.

alan rickman hug

We want to hug him too!

Alan Rickman historical costume movies

Hugs for Alan Rickman!

i was surprised at the very georgian dresses in war and peace

I’m not sure what you mean by “georgian” — as in from the country of Georgia? Is there some regional fashion reference in War & Peace‘s costumes that we missed? Or do you mean 18th century? War & Peace is supposed to be set around 1805ish to 1812, but if you’re talking about the recent 2016 version, many of the women’s costumes are more early 1910s.

This one is 1910s.

War & Peace: This one is 1910s.

War and Peace (2016)

War & Peace: This one is c. 2000.

12pm 2016 war&peace-gillian-anderson-promo

War & Peace: This one is c. 2016.

War and Peace (2016)

War & Peace: This one is from space. Or the future. Or maybe 1976. I’m not sure.

reign vs tudors-which is better

Is “better” really the appropriate word here? Nonetheless, we sort of asked our readers this very same question (okay, we phrased it, essentially, as “which sucks more”) and our readers very much chose Reign. So much so that we were forced to video-cast ourselves watching two (three? I’ve blocked it out) episodes. You can watch the video, too, and see what two (three?) hours of Coachella couture dresses does to a historical costume nerd.

does rickman dress as a turd in any film

WELL THEN.

xR505FA

 

Keep doing your weird searches, people. It’s keeping me very entertained!

51 Responses

  1. MoHub

    Men dressed as women? How about Charley’s Aunt (from Brazil, where the nuts come from)? Jack Benny is hilarious coping with late Victorian women’s fashion.

    Reply
  2. Cate

    You already made one post about peeing in history, could you make one about menstruation? Did they just let it flow under the dress? How about dirtying the furniture (bed,sofa)? Washing dress after? Especially white petticoats and no washing powder.. I would be really grateful!

    Reply
    • Sarah Lorraine

      That one is trickier because there’s basically no visual record of menstruation and what we do know is either highly misogynistic and inaccurate (men who had never touched a woman writing about stuff that happens to a woman’s body that they don’t have any actual grasp of conceptually), or so laden with euphemisms that it’s almost impossible to understand. I mean, how many times have we sat down and written about how we deal with our periods? Bitching about cramping, sure, but like, “Dear Friends, today I started my period and so I went to my cabinet and couldn’t decide if I should insert the extra absorbency tampon in my vagina or attach a maxi pad (with wings!) to my underwear using the convenient adhesive strip.”

      Women’s menstruation has almost always been dealt with in a conspiratorial way between other women, and since so few women were in the position of chronicling their periods for posterity, we know very little about how and what they did to prevent (or not) bleeding all over.

      That said, there is conjecture that it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out… Get a piece of linen, stick it between your legs, fashion some ties around your waist so that it stays in place, and you’re good to go. Or take a piece of cloth or sea sponge or wool roving, or some other absorbent material on hand and fold it up and use it as a pessary/tampon. Also, throughout most of Western history, women have worn layers of skirts/kirtles. Theoretically, you could just let it bleed and the innermost skirts, the ones that would be washed more frequently, would absorb it, but… I find that theory highly suspect, since leaking blood everywhere probably was frowned upon even in the less-than-hygienic-by-modern-standards Olden Days.

      Unfortunately, the only book I’ve come across that deals with the history of menstruation is absolutely shittily written and I could never in good conscience recommend it to anyone who wants to learn something.

      Reply
  3. ctrent29

    Was Elizabeth Poldark’s dress supposed to be an old one, due to the fact that her husband lacked the funds to provide her with a new one?

    Reply
      • AshleyOlivia

        No, it is supposed to be old. Remember Francis is upset that she will have to wear an old gown, and then there is a private conversation between Verity and Elizabeth about the gown, presumably in Verity’s bedroom. Verity says she can “make over the bodice, perhaps add a little lace,” and Elizabeth responds, “As long as Francis thinks it’s new.” It’s in Episode 6. (And dear God, have I watched this series too many times.) Of course, I’m not sure what is supposed to count as “old,” especially since time is really weird in Poldark (with women announcing their pregnancy in one episode and giving birth in the opening five min of the following episode).

        BUT: Even if the gown is “old” there is no reason for it to lace up the back!

        Reply
  4. ctrent29

    Jefferson in Paris has cleaned-up 18th-century slaves, but The Book of Negroes will probably be more up your alley, being as it is about the horrible realities of slavery.

    Sally Hemmings is supposed to be a housemaid serving in the home of the U.S. Ambassador in Paris, not a field hand.

    Reply
  5. mkaufmann2009

    You can get turkey legs at Disneyland these days. I’m not sure how long it’s been going on. I always feel a little out sync when I see someone walking around with one, like I’ve momentarily transported to a ren faire.

    Reply
  6. Kelsey

    I once got a search hit on my blog for “manly lace smock”. I tried the search– it led to my quilted gambeson.

    Reply
  7. Shawna Spiteri

    I’m glad I’m apparently not the only one out there who thought Rufus Sewell had a glass eye. Not sure why I’m glad about this (still love him so much I’d skullfuck his empty eye socket) — guess it’s just nice to know I’m not the only one who was mistsken. Thanks for clearing up the controversy, Kendra.

    Reply
  8. mmcquown

    Backlacing in “Catherine” puts the Russians 0 for 2 with the weird collars. Not to mention the drag ball at the top of Episode 7. (I told you not to mention it!)

    Reply
    • MoHub

      There’s also a mid-18th century advertising poster for umbrellas in one of my fashion history books that shows a fashionable young lady carrying the product and with her nips on full display.

      Reply
  9. Rosie

    You guys totally made my day. I loved this post and the video of you guys watching. Love, love, love!!

    Reply
  10. Janet Nickerson

    Re; the painting of the 18th century lady on the chaise percee – I think that’s a bidet. It is similar to a couple of items that were featured on the British version of Antiques Roadshow.

    Reply
  11. Lady Hermina De pagan

    Frock Sex huh? I never copulated with one of my gowns. I think that the silk/wool/linen would rub you raw.
    As for the menstruation question, there has been evidence discovered in various dig sites that show women were making pouches that were leather on one side and linen on another that would be stuffed with moss/straw/rags and tied or pinned in place. I’m sure that there were other methods used. The oldest found so far was in a Norse dig so they must have been used before and after.

    Reply
  12. Teresa

    There actually is an LDS P&P! Not a frock flick though. Made in 2003. I liked it but then I have no taste when it comes to P&P movies. I adore them all.

    Reply
  13. Pina

    Hey, I once googled “Flock Fricks” to find this site. Did you see that too?

    Regarding Magnificent Century, considering that its most likely audience isn’t really the English speaking public, they may have actually meant another piece of headgear, of which MC has an interesting variety. The girl in the picture seems to be their attempt at a European princess, Ottoman women in the show wear either what looks like modernized versions of actual Ottoman fashions, or “The Tudors” (the show, not the actual period) style dresses with Ottoman motifs. So, they’re really not going for historical accuracy, and although I’m really annoyed with most of their “interpretations”, I have to admit some of the results are quite interesting visually. I think they’re *somewhat* more accurate with men’s clothing, and in the Ottoman world men’s headgear was a real big deal, often representing an individual’s ethnicity, class and rank (in the classical era, that is). A respectable man would never appear in public without his headwear. So I guess the person doing the googling may have been looking for one of those, is what I’m trying to say.

    An example: http://www.theglobalagency.tv/_uploads/content/series/magnificent-ic.jpg?width=850&quality=100

    And another: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/75/d9/6d/75d96d2f378fe2a9d6992a29776bcbe4.jpg

    Reply
  14. Patricia

    oh my goodness! I read this at 4 in the am, stifling my guffaws of laughter. Your answer to the Pierce Brosnan question, and the way you describe the P&P “sackcloth, ashes and sadness” so funny. Thank you.

    Reply
  15. mmcquown

    You want historical nudity and sex? The “Spartacus” series (3 as far as I know) or “Caligula.” A lot of big names bared it all for both.
    And for accuracy, please do consider “The Duellists.” Also “Restoration.”

    Reply
    • MoHub

      Plenty of nudity in I, Claudius, including topless African dancers in the Emperor’s court.

      Reply
  16. Susan Pola

    I Claudius was marvellous. I still remember ‘Zoo-sy’ said by Drusila. ‘Your sister is not to be played with’ told to young Caligula by Antonia. Trying to guess the means of poison Octavia will use in each episode. Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa holding out to become a member of Augustus’ family before saving Caesar’s bacon.

    Reply
  17. Black Tulip

    The ‘French queen’ in question might have been Agnes Sorel. Not actually a queen, but a royal mistress, and there’s a portrait of her showing a breast.

    Reply
  18. mmcquown

    Speaking of bagpipes and things Russian, how many of you have heard the German medieval metal band Corvus Corax, or the Russian pagan metal band Arkona? Both do quite a show and can be seen on YouTube.
    My Moscow connexion says the general quality of TV production over there is very poor.

    Reply
  19. Adina

    The hood thing stems from Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, which did have pirates.
    I’ve actually written a bit about it and the rest of the AC series. I’d love to work with you all when the movie comes out to talk about it.
    Thanks

    Reply

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