SNARK WEEK: We Really Mean It About the Chafing

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We try not to repeat ourselves too often here at Frock Flicks. But apparently, back during Snark Week #1, when we listed “The Invisible Chemise” as fifth in our list of nine Things Movies Get Wrong About 16th-Century Costume, we weren’t clear enough, and we have to explain it again. Maybe folks thought we only meant you needed a chemise / smock / undergarment with 16th-century garb?  Was that the element of confusion? Because we’ve seen — and pointed out — a lot of corsetry of all historical periods worn over apparently bare skin, lacking proper under-smockage.

RuPaul, no excuses

Costume designers, the principle applies to every historical era! It’s super uncomfortable to wear a tightly fitted garment directly on your skin for a long time, and that’s why every time period had some kind of lightweight, easily washable underwear that was worn first! Ladies don’t want our boobs and underarms — or back rolls — all pinched and chafed at the end of the day spent in costume. Give the gals a chemise, hell, let ’em wear a cotton tank top from Old Navy, at least, because that bare skin is making us hurt by proxy. No more chafing for the costume drama queens, please!

 

Will (2017)

There’s so much that’s wrong with the upcoming TNT series Will, purporting to show a “rock ‘n roll” version of Shakespeare, but let’s just focus on the painful lack of smocks here.

Will (2017)

Go watch the Will preview and gag. As much as I love a punk mashup, I’m no fool – wearing a corset without something underneath isn’t hardcore, it’s dumb.

 

The Three Musketeers (2011)

Milady de Winter’s getup isn’t all that historical, but why risk a nip-slip? (Three Musketeers, 2011)

 

Valmont (1989)

Valmont (1989) — Chemise over the corset? UR DOING IT WRONG.

Valmont (1989)

Yes, hang your head, bad girl!

 

Poldark season 2

Behind-the-scenes shot of Poldark season 2 — not a historical smock, but hey, a modern cami is better than nothing!

 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2015)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2015) was a surprisingly good movie and despite the ruffled rhumba panties, these Regency corsets look decent — EXCEPT they’re missing smocks.

 

Roots (2016)

Sure, she’s just a shittily dressed extra in Roots (2016), but did they have to expose her back rolls? Not cool. Just give her a shirt (under and over, actually).

RuPaul's Drag Race
Roots (2016)

IDK, is this the same chick from the front? Wearing a ridiculous red and black dicky over a corset? NOT HELPING.

 

Copper (2012)

OK, Copper (2012), so you bought everything for these costumes off-the-rack, but you couldn’t spring for a drawstring cotton smock on Etsy too?

 

Ripper Street (2012)

So hookers DESERVE to chafe, is that it? (Ripper Street, 2012)

 

Westworld (2016)

Wearing a bra under a corset doesn’t count (and is really uncomfortable). Plus, Sarah helpfully pointed out that these are being worn upside down. WHY, DEAR GODS, WHY??? (Westworld, 2016).

 

Gaslight (1944)

The problem has been with us for decades — even as Ingrid Bergman is getting gaslit in 1944, she’s chafing.

 

 

rupaul, raven, not good

Note: This fucking Twilight movie can get this chemise / smock thing right, even though it can’t get anything else right about historical costume (or vampires; they don’t sparkle, FWIW). So c’mon, costume movies, throw us a bone!

Maria,_Lucy_and_Nettie

Seriously, Twilight Civil War-era flashback! Crappy Victorian corsets *with* relatively appropriate undergarments. It can’t be that hard.

 

 

Are your boobs sore just looking at these pix? 

 

 

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

Twitter Website

A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. When she’s not dressing up in costumes, she can be found traveling the world with her sweetie and, occasionally, Kendra and Sarah. Her costuming and travel adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also maintains a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

25 Responses

  1. Sarah Lorraine

    Don’t tell anyone, but if no one is going to see me undressed, and my underwear isn’t integral to the operation, I wear a cotton cami from Old Navy between my skin and my corsets. Cuts the bullshit of fussing with a smock out of the equation, but still prevents chafing.

    Fuck chafing.

    Bonus fact: my userpic is me in a Dark Garden corset wearing a strategically tucked in Old Navy cami under it.

    Reply
  2. Susan Pola Staples

    Well, I still prefer actresses wearing corsets to costumes with boning that actresses wear without corsets. I give the movie a B- from start before final grade if there are corsets on actresses.

    Reply
  3. Andrea

    I wear nothing between my corset and myself. No chafing. But that’s my preference.

    The lack of chemise in “Ripper Street” drove me crazy!

    Reply
  4. themodernmantuamaker

    C’mon, chemises are just so un-sex-ayy and just make it so much harder to objectify women in corsets/stays – and we can’t have that, nope! Modern audiences need all the skin, chafing be damned!

    Reply
  5. Yael

    Wasn’t it also because you can easily launder dirty and sweaty smocks, etc., but not so much corsets? Argh.

    Reply
      • themodernmantuamaker

        Well, I guess we have modern dry-cleaning for movie stays/corsets? Still not as convenient as tossing in the wash but close enough to be considered worthwhile? On the other hand, if an art director/director/producer has deemed that as much skin as possible is to be shown do you really think they’re going to listen to wardrobe people’s concerns about laundry?

        Reply
  6. Kathleen Fry

    Love this post and especially the fact you used gifs from RuPauls Drag Race – so fitting for snark week!

    Reply
  7. Emily

    from the moment I read “back rolls” it was in Alyssa Edwards’s voice. excellent use of gifs. -clap emoji-

    Reply
  8. maryndir

    Great post! When I see pictures like these, I feel a little bit of pain for the chafing actresses – and then a whole lot of pain for the wardrobe department people who have to deal with those sweat-stinking corsets, full of dead skin cells and gross. *shudder*

    Reply
  9. Katie

    The costuming in Westworld is just tragically terrible, but I’m willing to give them a pass, because that is a setting that I’d expect to have shitty costuming, if that makes sense.

    Reply
  10. Black Tulip

    The Wings of the Dove – so much costuming goodness, until that final scene with Helena Bonham-Carter in a corset with nothing underneath, noooooooooo!

    Reply
  11. Uinuvien

    Your snark just made me wonder if wearing tank top/camisole under bras would make them more comfortable. To be frank, I have quite big chest and there isn’t bras in existence that would be comfortable to me, they ALWAYS dig in and chafe and urgh! So I tried, and tank top under really do make them more comfortable! And I could believe there wouldn’t be need to wash bras as often, so win-win.
    And now I’m wondering why this hadn’t occurred to me sooner…

    Reply
  12. The Author

    I routinely wear stays at work (18th century, Diederot-pattern, custom-made by an Etsy vendor who does reproduction undergarments) and I can run, breathe, bend (for certain values of the word), chop wood, finish dressing myself, etc. in them, basically everything except slouch the way I do in modern clothes. I’ve worn late-19th century as well, for fun. I always wondered about actresses bitching about how uncomfortable and awful corsets are….maybe if you tried putting a goddam chemise on under it it wouldn’t hurt so much?!? Just a thought? When I started wearing out my set (they weren’t really meant to be worn to real-life extremes, plus of course in the 1770s they wouldn’t have had steel) and getting poked, it would have hurt a LOT more if it was over bare skin!

    Reply

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