SNARK WEEK: A Few More Shitty Documentary Costumes

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Two Snark Weeks ago, Trystan took one for the team and wrote a post on just how shitty costumes can be in historical documentaries. She pretty much covered it, although there are always more fish in the barrel to shoot. But then there I was, happily watching two different documentaries and actually REALLY LIKING the costumes – historically accurate! Really historically accurate! Someone did their research! And then something happened that made me go, “WHAT THE FROCK.”

Really, this is not worthy of a post… but it NEEDS to be more than just a meme or random link we share on social media, so here we are. Think of this as a Snark Week interlude?

 

England’s Forgotten Queen: The Life and Death of Lady Jane Grey (2018)

I’ve written before about my love for historian Helen Castor’s documentaries. Formerly  Director of History at Sidney Sussex College (one of the many individual colleges that make up Cambridge University), Castor is smart, personable, feminist, and tackles interesting subjects. So when I recently rewatched her three-episode doc on Lady Jane Grey, I really enjoyed it. In fact, I kept thinking, “Wow! These people have really done their research! Actual Tudor clothing!” But then…

Ride the wave with me:

2018 England's Forgotten Queen- The Life and Death of Lady Jane Grey

Look! Cute historian wearing 16th-century (I assume) armor!

2018 England's Forgotten Queen- The Life and Death of Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane in an actual fitted English gown and French hood!

2018 England's Forgotten Queen- The Life and Death of Lady Jane Grey

Ok, so the hood is a little big for her and little too sticky-uppy.

2018 England's Forgotten Queen- The Life and Death of Lady Jane Grey

The gown itself is very of-the-period, however!

2018 England's Forgotten Queen- The Life and Death of Lady Jane Grey

And then she wears a loose gown over a red kirtle!

2018 England's Forgotten Queen- The Life and Death of Lady Jane Grey

See? Actual Kirtle!

2018 England's Forgotten Queen- The Life and Death of Lady Jane Grey

Okay, so Queen Mary Tudor is wearing an awful lot of makeup (and her hood is too big/sticky-uppy), but I liked that they got that when she was younger, she had some appeal/wasn’t born a dried up old husk.

2018 England's Forgotten Queen- The Life and Death of Lady Jane Grey

Okay, so the Duke of Northumberland could use a hat, and is a little too “Tudor Movie Villain.”

2018 England's Forgotten Queen- The Life and Death of Lady Jane Grey

But then he starts PERSONALLY AXING people, and I discover that his shirt? Is maybe a dickey?

2018 England's Forgotten Queen- The Life and Death of Lady Jane Grey

Because it doesn’t actually function as, ya know, a shirt?

And true, I’m filling out this post with this one. But let’s get on to the one that made me sit up and scream:

 

Charles I: Downfall of a King (2019)

Lisa Hilton isn’t an academic, but she’s studied English and the history of art, and has written popular history books and historical fiction, among many irons in the fire. I was trolling documentaries on Amazon and came across this one, and while I’m no Charles I maniac, I was in the mood!

Again, color me shocked! Someone put some real effort into getting this costumes actually RIGHT for the period! Until…

2019 Charles I- Downfall of a King

Charles I gets wide collars and cuffs (AND PUPPEHS) | (C) Darlow Smithson Productions – Photographer: Production

2019 Charles I- Downfall of a King

And nice doublets with proper skirtings!

2019 Charles I- Downfall of a King

These fabrics (and that hat) are great!

2019 Charles I- Downfall of a King

Even better, Henrietta Maria looks 99% perfectly out of a period portrait!

2019 Charles I- Downfall of a King

Great sleeves! Great silhouette!

AND THEN:

For posterity:

2019 Charles I- Downfall of a King

WHAT

2019 Charles I- Downfall of a King

THE

2019 Charles I- Downfall of a King

ACTUAL

2019 Charles I- Downfall of a King

FROCK

2019 Charles I- Downfall of a King

!!!

 

WHY?

 

 

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

14 Responses

  1. Boxermom

    I’m practically rolling on the floor right now, because that Charles I show was recommended to me by Amazon. I was going to watch it last night, but then decided to go with Lucy Worsley instead.

    Reply
  2. Susan Pola Staples

    Gotta watch them. Puppy alone would have guaranteed it but the Charles I shirt clinched it and Lady Jane doesn’t pout.

    Reply
  3. Shashwat

    The pair of bodies remind me of horror stories with witches who had their heads facing backwards.Eldrich abomination.

    Reply
  4. 992234177

    The stays look like they were made wrong, if you look at her waist it looks like the bottom half is correct.

    Reply
  5. Alexa

    Not backwards. That’s 18th century stays with stomacher, only 4 sizes too big and then laced almost all the way closed.

    Reply
    • Anna

      Drottningarna is a ride in terms of costumes and hmu, and not a good one… from the h&m blouse in the first episode to the plasticky fancy dress dresses with no proper undergarments, and, of course, the corsets/stays as torture myth thrown in…

      Reply

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