Titanic (1997) Corsetry: Historically Accurate?

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So I was noodling around YouTube as one does, and I discovered that Glamour magazine has hired a fashion historian named Raissa Bretaña to create some very slick videos looking at the historical accuracy of the costumes in various films. So far, she’s done Titanic and four Disney movies (Snow White, The Princess and the Frog, Frozen, and Beauty and the Beast). I’ve only watched the one on Titanic — and also grumbled that I should be paid to review the historical accuracy of costume in film, but that’s another story. I overall agreed with her analysis of Titanic, with its gorgeous costumes designed by Deborah Lynn Scott, but I have a nitpick! And isn’t the Internet ALL ABOUT nitpicking? So I thought I’d write a post. (Who knows, maybe I’ll have nitpicks with the others when I get around to watching them!)

Overall, other than the makeup, Bretaña gives a big old thumbs up to Titanic‘s costumes’ historical accuracy. I was nodding along, until she got to Rose’s (played by Kate Winslet) corset, when Bretaña says,

“We see Rose being laced into a corset in one scene of the movie where she has a really important discussion with her mom. The year 1912 specifically was a really interesting time for women and corsets because they were evolving and shaping with the silhouette, but the most modern women started to abandon the corset altogether. This scene perfectly illustrates this push and pull between this more tight-laced past and a more modern future. This is really the beginning of the straightened silhouette that we will see in the 1920s. Just ten years before, the dramatic silhouette was called an S-curve and you can see that in this picture here. Even though the most modern women were already abandoning corsets in 1912, the really rigid traditions of the society in which Rose lives really demanded that she wear one.”

All of Bretaña’s analysis is 100% correct according to my research… but despite showing an advertisement for a 1912 corset, Bretaña DOESN’T address the historical INaccuracy of the Titanic corset’s CUT…

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About the author

Kendra

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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.

One Response

  1. Amanda

    I have a hate/love/hate relationship with Glamour’s “fact checking” videos. I watched one about Belle, which was done by a different fashion expert and I found the analysis pretty much acurate overall but I had some SERIOUS issues with the Snow White fact check. I would be curious to see your take on the other Glamour Fact checks. I know there were a lot of very disgruntled Norwegian people in the comments of the one for Frozen.

    Reply

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