Hopefully we’ll do a more comprehensive, well-thought-out post about Bridgerton season 2 (2022) very soon. But knowing that you, like I, probably spent the weekend bingeing it (alright, I’ve made it through six episodes), I thought we’d better talk sooner than later! For those living under a rock, Bridgerton (2020-) is a Netflix series adapting the Julia Quinn romance novel series. The first series was set in 1813, and it’s about the Bridgerton family, a viscount-y family with a whole bunch of daughters and sons who are focused on the social season and marriage market. Season one’s costumes were designed by Ellen Mirojnick, and she created a sartorial world that was high on fantasy, color, and sparkle. Season two has a new designer — Sophie Canale — but obviously she needs to work in the same world.
First off, I’m not going to get into characters or plot, or how well the adaptation follows the book (or post any real spoilers). Our task here are costumes, with one very important exception:
With that out of the way, let’s meander through some of the things I’ve been thinking about, costume-wise!
Finally, this show has found OUTERWEAR. Sure, with low necklines and often with short sleeves. But 1) outerwear is probably the best part of Regency fashion, and 2) I am no longer quite so worried about all these ladies freezing to death. England is frequently cold, people.
And speaking of outwear, Lady Bridgerton’s pelisses continue to be my favorite style in the show:
Why do so many of the dresses look so damn bridesmaid-y? Well, it doesn’t help that a lot of them have very modern style sheer lace and/or beaded overlays:
It’s also because they wear these styles for day, which is just so not Regency:
And unfortunately, many are made from satin. I think we all associate satin with polyester, although I’m convinced these are silk satins; and we associate poly satin with bridesmaids.
Side note, satin can be lovely, but there are certain things you shouldn’t do with it:
The dresses are so much more interested when there’s more going on:
I can’t stop staring at how they’ve given Lady Featherington the “proper” back pleats in her gowns, but sewn them closed until the natural waist to give her a fitted silhouette that’s totally different from everyone else on the show:
I continue to be personally offended by the hats:
Now, let’s talk hair! Penelope’s dresses fit her better this time around (I think they’re trying to show age progression), but wearing her hair down makes her look younger, which then defeats the purpose:
Hair designer Marc Elliot Pilcher sadly died right after winning an Emmy for season one. They’re definitely trying to stay in the same universe with the new designers. Sometimes that works:
And sometimes it falls flat:
Although I hate her bangs, Eloise looks SO MUCH BETTER with her hair up:
And while I realize she’s fighting like mad not to be “out,” she looks so terrible when its down:
Cressida Cowper has gone from baskets on her head to brioches:
And Marina was desperately in need of some tendrils or something else to soften this look:
What’s stood out for you, costume-wise, so far in season 2? Please, no spoilers, or at least add a spoiler alert!
They could have gone crazy with Sari fabrics for the Sharma’s and they didn’t. Sad
I don’t mind how stylized the costumes in Bridgerton are, because I think they’re going for a very romanticized aesthetic of the Regency era, but the hair continues to drive me crazy. I think everything would work just a bit better if the hair were more appropriate to the time.
Karolina Zebrowska has a lovely post on this!
Are they tiny croquet mallets? Croquet wasn’t a thing until much later in the century. And if they’re meant to be polot mallets, the clothes are very off.
Don’t watch it, because it’s awful. And people are going to take it as real. They do that. The makers say, “Aw, it’s just fantasy, don’t get heavy about it,” and then a year later you hear someone tell somebody else that Regency high society was full of Indian and African characters. For real.
the anti-slavery movement never existed, apparently.
It’s pall-mall, not croquet. The game dates to the 16th century.
Ah! But as far as I know, nobody was playing it in the Regency. Charles II was mad for it, though. I wondered about the little mallets!
I was bothered by the large plastic pailette flowers on many if the evening gowns.
You can see an example in the pic here of Miss Cowper.
croquet is descended from Pell Mell. the game is played differently, there is some crossover but it’s different enough. both are wicked fun to play and Roqueting someone’s ball is wicked fun.
I know what Bridgerton needs!
We’re agreed that it isn’t Regency, not even an approximation of it. So…
Everything’s better for a dragon.
you should read Naomi Noviks Dragon series. it’s set in Regency England and theorizes what if there were dragons in His majesties armed services? https://www.amazon.com/His-Majestys-Dragon-Temeraire-Book/dp/B000WS9ZIS/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1TKQZIH1XDA7Y&keywords=his+majesty%27s+dragon&qid=1649162640&sprefix=his+ma%2Caps%2C120&sr=8-1
Oh, I forgot about those! Absolutely loved them back in the day. Fantasy Regency done right!
I gave up on the first season after that highly questionable sex scene (the one where Daphne takes advantage of Simon while he’s drunk so she can have a baby and yet the show plays it as much as his fault for exploiting her naivete around sex in the past to avoid getting her pregnant, as it does hers for if not outrightly raping him, then definitely sexually assaulting him (he clearly says no and tells her to stop several times)). But is that a zipper track I spy on the back of Lady Featherington’s dress?
Many, many zippers. Also modern bras.
Can’t decide if the modern bras are a step up or a step down from S1’s use of ‘corsets as a prison’ metaphor, during a time when women wouldn’t have been trying to squish their waists down to handspan size, since most Regency dresses had the ‘column’ look which completely de-emphasized the waist.
Iirc, in an interview they said that the actresses were all wearing relatively HA stays. Simone [Kate] aparently tried to eat too much wearing at first and made herself sick.
They were still awful corsets though. Regency corsets pushed you up and still had plenty of cleavage. Everyone looked so smashed flat, like the top of an Elizabethan corset.
oh, honey, anything that supports the girls is a good thing. and regency stays are a LOT more comfy than an Edwardian S curve corset.
Bras AND Stays? it’s that overkill?
I was so disappointed by the lack of Indian fabrics. Even as a somewhat Anglo-Indian family, i think that the Sharmas would have used gorgeous sari silks in gowns.
I am team Newton!
SPOILER ALERT: I wanted to send the viscount and Heloise to the guillotine throught the whole season ^^
Agree, where is the sari fabric? Why is Daphne dressed like a country squires daughter in a Monday all the time? She’s a Duchess! The hair still baffles. The men look very well put together.
If the court was dressed in the classical antiquity inspired high waisted gowns with that high tortured hair, they’d look like extras from Fellini’s Satyricon.
Not quite up to the first season but still miles better plot-wise, acting-wise, etc. than The Gilded Age. Portia Featherington’s dresses are fascinating – totally not period but they look so good on Polly Walker! The Sharmas’ plainer dresses 100% read as David’s Bridal (it’s so much worse in ep 7 – so, so much worse) and I think it’s a damn shame they take Eloise and make her dowdy, sloppy, etc. The “intellectual” one doesn’t know how or care how she does her hair, wears her hats (or picks them!), treats her dresses is such a dead trope. Yuck.
Daphne didn’t read “Duchess” to me with a lot of her clothes, but then she’s not onscreen as much so I didn’t pay close attention. I really loved the colors they chose for Kate; she’s bright and bold, but usually well-put-together. When there were missteps in the Sharma clothes it was almost always the girls, and there’s a definite sense that it’s on purpose to remind the audience that they are “new” and not really a part of the ton. Then again, this season’s clothing didn’t feel as purposeful as last season’s (i.e. part of the whole); there are some phoning-it-in bits (episode seven, I am looking at you).
Hoping y’all get to dive deeper but we know how life goes!
I’m just glad Penelope’s waistlines finally go under the bust instead of running across the poor girl’s nipples.
It’s such an unfortunate trope of costume dramas when they try to make actresses in their 20s appear like they’re in their mid-teens by hiking up the bustlines. Although better clothing is a plot point in Penelope’s stand-alone novel ‘Romancing Mr. Bridgerton’ – she doesn’t lose weight but gets out from under her mother’s thumb and starts designing her own clothes which better suit her (in color, fit and style), and so more people (especially eligible husbands) start to notice her as she ‘blossoms’ – it looks like the showrunners are priming her for that if/when they reach season 4.
Cute corgis have cute corgi butts.
The season one costumes drove me crazy but at least they were out there. This season it looks like they found one 1970s bridesmaid pattern and just changed up the fabrics and sleeves. The perfectly machine sewn piping on the bodice and zippers just really made them look cheap. I know it’s a fantasy. Love the Wueens wigs and Cowper hair, but a previous poster is correct, non historical costumers will get these dresses fixed in their minds as correct. It’s the equivalent of everyone thinking fringe and sequined headbands are 20s.
Everyone commenting on the lack of sari fabric – I think that was intentional. Kate clearly is trying to make herself and her sister “fit in” English society, whatever she thinks it is; she complains about the tea but sneaks herself an Indian cuppa at one point, when she thinks no one is around. This is the whole tension between the sisters, about not being true to who they really are, about not really knowing what that is. In trying to impress the ton and specifically their Sheffield grandparents (ugh, not enough Anthony Head!!), they are visually rejecting India as much as possible (Kate less so, but that’s also on purpose, since she intends the entire season to go back to India). YMMV.
Kate’s underwear! OMG! I nearly dropped my eyes, not in a good way..
While reading this I went “yep, yep, check, yep…”.
What stood out to me this season was Eloise’s “saucer tied to bed hair” and those bone-ugly bangs, the tulip sleeves on almost every other dress, and that all the ladies’ garments seem to be based off the same pattern. I didn’t really in S1, but in S2 it got on my nerves because it smacks of mass production. Why have a modiste at all if everyone is wearing the same clothes anyway?
I haven’t and won’t watch this, for what that’s worth. My thought is, if you are going so far from attempting historical accuracy, let the fantasy be more fantastical. There is just too much familiar (cheapo) stuff. Demonstrating a LACK of fantasy.
I don’t mind the wacky, over-the-top anachronisms, since the show seems so clearly fantastical to me, but I do think the show’s commitment to its aesthetic across the board hurts individual characterization sometimes. It’s a big deal in the books and the show that Penelope is forced into ornate, gaudy, unflattering clothes by her tasteless mother, but her show dresses really don’t look much different than what anyone else is wearing. And it’s already hard to buy the stunning actress who plays Kate as someone who’d ever be overlooked, but she’s supposedly deliberately acting as a wallflower/shining the spotlight on her sister, so it’d make sense if her clothes were even slightly drabber.
Also, everyone is so theatrical all the time that the wedding gowns in both seasons are the same level of fancy that the girls wear to have breakfast at home!
We have regency stories with Zombies, regency stories with sorcery, so why not a multi racial regency story? But seeing it’s fantasy does costume accuracy matter? Well, yes it does. Because you still want a convincing regency vibe and that means paying attention to what was actually worn in period.
So many of the comments are spot on. Yes, it is a fantasy and not going for historical accuracy, but…yes, Daphne should have her hair up and be dressed more like a duchess; yes, Edwina and Kate and Mary should have had at least some part of their costumes use Sari fabric (they did just come from life in India); yes, the dark grey wigs on the queen’s ladies make them resemble Marge Simpson; yes, Elinor’s pancake hat is totally ridiculous; yes, Kate’s underwear is a travesty. But on the plus side…some of the costumes do define some of the characters very well. Cressida’s ugly hair treatments speak of her ugly personality. Portia’s bizarre fitted and bright fabric gowns speak of her lack of taste and style. It is my opinion that Lady Danbury and Lady Bridgerton have the best costumes in both series, if we are looking for a modicum of historical accuracy within a fantasy. I must also comment on my favorite character, Penelope. She and her sisters are dressed in the gaudy colors chosen by her tasteless mother, but she is burdened with that in-your-face solar yellow color to make her already socially unacceptable (larger than the norm) figure stand out even more. Being a man-sized woman myself, who has lived through many decades of the wallflower effect of taking up space but not being seen, I completely relate to Penelope. I cheered when I saw her bustline shifted to the appropriate location. I adored her up hairdo at the final ball. We large ladies can dress as stunningly as our smaller sisters, and we should be taken just as seriously.
Agreed! I think they missed one excellent opportunity, in particular (spoiler alert!) when the viscount found her alone in his library during the storm, Kate totally should have been wearing some amazing pajamas with a real pashmina! also, Anthony would’ve looked cute in a nightshirt instead of breeches (making kate the one weainrg the pants, literally!)
I had many a bitch with my Aussie friend (her in Melbourne and I in Kent, UK, both sat on our arses watching it together over time zones) and our comments were mainly horror; beaded overlays, weird ass fascinator hats, hair pin shortages and duchess satin (🤢). Also riding astride in a dress and Benedict’s FLIPPING WEORD ASS FLYING SIDE CRAVAT…THE F*****CK?! BUT kind of loving how gorgeous the Sharmas look in those frocks and hating on Cressida Cowper.
Those hats with the weird ribbon around the back of the head!!! I am normally very chill about the costumes in this show (it’s a fantasy, etc., etc.) but I did audibly gasp seeing (1) these hats and (2) a pair of gloves Eloise wears that are sheer with satin-y pointy cuffs.
That style of hat is meant to be worn with the band going under an updo, with the platter perched jauntily on top. NOT over long hair down and I can’t believe anyone thought that a good idea.
Yes, the hat+hair combo is definitely what makes it so bad! I have similar hair and made weird headband choices in my youth, so I know that ribbon would be gradually sliding up the back of her head creating a weird little poof of hair that needed to be fixed every three minutes.
Just the worst of many unflattering hat or hair treatments this season. It seemed like they way reduced the budget for hairstyling, or someone has an aesthetic I don’t get at all! Fortunately I liked Kate’s hair and her whole character a lot.
I loved the hunting/riding gear for Kate’s character. They were some of the best pieces. Otherwise, I would say that Lady Bridgerton and Lady Danbury have the best outfits of everyone. Wouldn’t the Featherington’s have been in some kind of light mourning colors still? This takes place supposedly only 10 months later from the death of their husband/father. I was happy to see Penelope in better fitting clothes. But damn, they really did Eloise dirty again. The guys seemed to look pretty good. And I still want Kate’s hunting/riding outfit.
I liked the costumes a lot this season, but… why is Queen Charlotte still dressing in Georgian gowns? Is there a reason? Did the real one continue to do that even after the fashion changed? Seems like someone determined to “set the fashion” and be the talk of London wouldn’t be wearing gowns decades out of date?
Someone else might have made this pont before, I’m sure, but I think this ties into the show universe portraying King George as having alzheimer’s or dementia; its common in real life for spouses or family members of people with those or other memory loss conditions to keep their hair and clothing styles the same so their loved one continues to recognize them. The producers/designers might be invoking that, alongisde Charlotte’s quasi-true reputation of wearing dated clothes
I think they did the court dress just to make a dramatic difference. Someone read about Regency court dress (which didn’t look like something out of the 1770s, nor did they continue with the stupid hairstyles) and thought it was a good idea.
I just wish they’d call it Regencyland, which kind of ties in with Shondaland, and gives the makers a “world” they can use when they run out of these stories. And differentiates it from the real Regency.
That would make sense within the narrative, but I doubt that’s their reason. xD
at least King George didn’t say Penguin at the end of each sentence like the real one! and the love and affection between the two monarchs was treated correctly. even if Queen Charlotte was dress horrificly!
As I’ve heard it (at least for the purposes of this show) Mad King George’s brain was well and truly broken by the loss of his American colonies, so his Queen continued to dress in pre-1776 styles as a gesture of love, and to keep his moods on a even keel.
In reality it’s likely that he didn’t have Alzheimer’s or any form of senility. It’s generally thought that he had porphyria, an inherited blood disease that causes the episodes George had. It wasn’t a long slow decline, it was intense periods of “madness” followed by periods of clarity. It affects the neural system.
There are other theories, but his pathology doesn’t indicate Alzheimer’s. He could have been bipolar.
So he wouldn’t have much cared how she dressed. Court dress in this period was ugly, pure and simple. Hooped skirts and high waists. Elaborate hairdos but not the towering monstrosities of the 1770s. That extreme style didnt last long.
My theory is that Lady Featherington is secretly a time-traveler from the 1960s. It would explain so much.
Ha! Spot on! I loved her 1960s prints, especially the orange one. They are so deliciously over the top.
It also explains the tight-lacing scene in S1! Clearly Lady F saw GWTW in her youth, so when she time-traveled back to the Regency Era, she thought this is how things were done.
I don’t like the fussy fiches/tuckers/whatever they have that choke Eleanor’s neck in her dresses. I can’t stand the identical flat tiny bodices – none of them are gathered or wrapped or side opening or decorated at all. Agree completely that they are wearing ball/dinner dresses for daytime outdoor events inappropriately. And while there were a lot of dresses with sheer overlays, there were other things too! Dresses of rich fabrics, printed or embroidered or brocaded patterns, in all kinds of colors.
I think a point can be made that Kate’s one Indian garment, her striking blue shawl, is the only thing she brings as a memory of India, and that the Sharmas’ clothing is intentionally non-Indian influenced – after all the mother was raised in London.
Kinda disappointed that they missed the opportunity to have Kate dressed up in a muslin peshwaj which would be a cute spin on the high waisted Regency style( https://images.app.goo.gl/zmcSHe7bf4ND1rrQ8 ).
However it’s the least troublesome thing when for the leads they chose a Gangetic Brahmin surname who notoriously did NOT travel overseas and bizarrely enough they call their dad as ‘Appa’ which is a thing in Dravidian languages not up in the North. Even more problematic was the depiction of “Indian” culture through priveleged Brahmins while there is a well recorded history of migrant labourers and workers from South India and Bengal(predominantly Muslim)in London.
So it’s about as accurate as everything else, then?
I too was maddened by the lack of sari fabric. Kate did have one thing made of “Indian” fabric, the blue paisley shrug that has the irregular exploding petri dish pattern that isn’t really appropriate for the period, and reflects the tastes of the English, rather than Indian, market. There were also some Indian touches in the jewelry, but it was disappointing to see the lack of sari fabric, especially when it’s used so often in regency productions.
OK, so many people have said how I feel – cheap, mass produced, all the same pattern, relying on all over lace too much. Not a patch on last season. LOVING the pelisses that Ladies Danbury and Bridgerton wear, I’d wear them now. Modern really but SO good. Queenie’s dresses look like costume shop. It’s all cheap and nasty and lacks an overall impression of anything, whereas at least season 1 had a really sense of WTF? that was quite enchanting.
I think a big irony about everyone commenting on the lack of sari fabrics is that reenactors actually use saris to make Regency dresses. It’s a cheaper way to get lengths of decent silk and some reasonably passable trim around the hems.
4 questions: 1) why on earth is Kate riding astride? 2) why is she comfortable flashing an extremely large amount of thigh to Anthony? 3) why are the brides wearing white? 4) why is she having sex with Anthony before they’re betrothed or married? there was a LOT of risk there both socially as well as the possibility of getting pregnant. it’s not something someone in her position would EVER do, risk her reputation and social standing in such a way. I wish they’d used sari fabrics for the Sharma family, it would have been a lot more logical.
With regard to 1), Kate is doing cross-country jumping, which is incredibly dangerous riding astride, let alone sidesaddle. Given the emerging historical evidence that women rode astride in many more contexts than previously thought, and the fact that her morning rides are both private and transgressive, I’m okay with her riding astride.
Jumping sidesaddle on modern saddles is incredibly secure. Women do it all the time. https://eventingnation.com/tuesday-video-from-spectravet/
People did jump back in the early 1800s but not the big hedge jumps you see in modern fox hunt/cross-country courses. First, farms didn’t use big modern, style fencing so those types of jumps didn’t exist. Secondly, jumping or “leaping” was over low jumps like logs, streams, or low stone fences. There are period sidesaddle manuals that include “leaping” instruction but it’s clear that it’s referring to low jumps.
Now Indian women never rode sidesaddle. They always rode astride and even played polo. So I have no problems with Kate riding astride in the wee hours of the AM as a way of getting a bit of freedom before she’s reined into strict social conventions again. I definitely think she should have ridden sidesaddle for the hunt, like that hapless maid.
I do have an issue with her riding in a silk dress and not trousers. Silk is not something you’d want to ride in regardless. Plus Indian women wore various forms of trousers.
The answer to all of those is that it’s only vaguely connected to the Regency. Although (sigh) people will be quoting the series for years to come as “proof.” Because they do that.
My biggest problem with Bridgerton is that they wear ball gowns ALL THE TIME so when there is a ball they don’t look dressed up at all