Frock Flick Free-for-All the First


You asked for it, so here’s an occasional open thread to bitch about anything tangentially related to history, costume, movies, or TV shows! Or whatever else is on your mind right now. Note that URLs are automatically held for moderation, but most anything else goes as long as you’re not bitchier than we are!

FYI: Marie Antoinette (2006) is on Netflix as of January 1, so we don’t even have to go through the trouble of digging up our DVD and trying to remember how the DVD player works (seriously, lazy AF here). You can find us drooling in a pile of silk scraps, empty champagne glasses, and half-eaten macaroons.

Marie Antoinette (2006)


How you doin’?



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The Frock Flicks Team

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Three historical costumers who decided the world needed a podcast and blog dedicated to historical costume movies and everything right and wrong with them.

78 Responses

  1. Trystan L. Bass

    I’ll start — minor annoyance of the new year is that there are still SO MANY flicks on our upcoming movies list that don’t have premiere dates! I’ve searched & can’t find actual dates. Some are showing at film festivals (like Sundance) but they don’t have general release dates yet. And a bunch of TV series are still ‘coming soon’ to Netflix or Amazon but without a specific date. Very irritating.

    • Kelly

      There’s some weird paradox where there are always movies that the trailers have me excited to see, but when I feel like going to see a movie in theaters on the weekend and actually look at what’s playing, there’s nothing I’m interested in.

      Maybe because what I’m interested in either never plays at my local theater, plays briefly, or goes straight to streaming and Avengers XV plays for four months straight.

      • Kristine

        Kelly, yes, this! Every time I think of going to see a movie, all that is playing are super hero movies or some comedy with actors who irritate me. Why is that? I live in a big city, I should have better options available when I want them, dang it!

        • Janet Nickerson

          Several films have had release dates moved ahead, particularly anything from the Weinstein Co.

  2. Alden O'Brien

    Here’s my opening salvo: Saw preview showing of Phantom Thread. Loathed it. Love Daniel Day Lewis of course but his character is a major jerk and the relationship with Alma, his “muse” and lover is toxic (although, yay her for standing up to his crap–not that I approve her ultimate actions). Lesley Manville as DDL’s sister is very good altho brrr, chilly (having seen her in North and South and Harlots I will say that she seems born to play the 1950s somehow). Great 1950s couture-style and everyday clothes including shots of models getting in and out of clothing with all the layers of the 50s including hip pads, which of course is costume porn for us costume geeks. So, maybe I’m weird not to like the almost nonexistent plot and slow pace and sick relationship–rotten tomatoes has a 90% approval rating–but be warned. I’m not entirely sure the clothes were worth my sitting through it. Your results may vary!

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Interesting! The NPR review also hinted at a weird-ass relationship between DDL’s character & the female lead. I’m not so into 1950s clothes, so I dunno. Maybe Kendra will review it?

      • Alden O'Brien

        yeah, I don’t want to do spoilers but it gets very twisted. I found it repugnant towards the end after being just tedious and annoying. Some beautiful Dior/balenciaga/balmain-style evening wear only slightly redeeming (to me, not that into 20th c). Maybe, as they used to say about Barry Lyndon, best watched on mute…

  3. Penny H

    So happy about the recent Criterion Collection DVD of Barry Lyndon–finally a good transfer of the film after more than 40 years. Sadly, one can’t go back to one’s first experience of seeing the film in the theater (“It’s a time machine!”) because one’s eyes have changed. I may be one of the few who love, love, loved it right from the beginning.

    Of course, after reading Kendra’s review
    it was impossible to give many of the men’s hair styles a pass, and I had to keep a lookout for the back laced dresses.

    Another thing I wondered about was whether, during the time frame of the story, the women’s fashions wouldn’t have evolved more, especially towards the very end.

    The made-for-Criterion costume featurette mentioned that they used only original lace on Marissa Berenson’s costumes.

    I went back and reread Thackeray’s novel (which I hadn’t read before seeing the film for the first time), and if Kubrick hadn’t softened and condensed the story and made everything beautiful, the film would have been much harder to watch, as the main character is way more nasty and stalkerish than in the film (Thackeray based him partly on the historical Stoney-Bowes piece of work).

  4. broughps

    Still waiting for you guys to review the second half of Outlander season 3. You’ve at least got to do the Governor’s ball.

    Saw The Greatest Showman, liked it and can’t wait so see you guys have a go at the costumes.

    It’s going to be a month or so of playing catch up on all the historical shows I’ve been trying watch. Binging watching like crazy.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Greatest Showman? Really? The songs in just in the commercials are making my teeth itch (sorry, I’m a bitch, it’s a known fact!). And I’m the musical fan here :D

      • Olivia M.

        Not to mention it makes that asshole Barnum into some able-bodied savior instead of the exploitative jerk he really was…

        • suzieday

          Exactly. As a crip myself, I find it REALLY offensive that they rewrote him this way. They are already talking about the film for awards season (historically, “inspiring” disability films are considered a short cut to awards season) and all I can feel is bubbling anger that they are portraying him as a saviour rather than the exploitative slave owner that he was.

          General Tom Thumb, who you meet in the movie? His really name was Charles Stratton, and Barnum purchased him from his parents at age 4. It wasn’t a voluntary decision he made as an adult.

          • Olivia M.

            I was born with a partially-deformed right hand (middle three fingers are missing the third bone and are pointed, basically like claws) that has gotten me quite a lot of mocking and disdain from other people, and as such was the source of a lot of emotional pain for the first two decades of my life; to give you an idea, I was begging my parents at the age of ten for a finger transplant, which was basically impossible at the time, because my classmates told me I belonged in a freak show (or worse).

            I’ve even had potential romantic partners bail when they noticed it, and there’s few things as horrible as having someone recoil from you like you’re diseased and/or dangerous. I’m only now starting to come to terms with the whole thing and begin the process of not hating myself.

            So seeing the trailers and all the idiotic positive hype for that damn movie made me want to punch Hugh Jackman and the producer with the aforementioned claw hand. Very, very hard. -_-

  5. Kelly

    I just finished bingeing Black Sails and i’m still emotionally recovering. Recommend it highly for the quality of the writing, queer visibility*, acting, Vanes abs** and accuracy of naval/military/martial scenes*** but boy were there some interesting costume choices in the first season. Things got a bit better when they hired Tim Aslam.

    it was marketed as a very tits and explosions kind of show but the wlw character’s are fully fleshed out people and their relationships with each other are important and not just there so they can have sex scenes. Plus there are queer male character but that’s all I will say about that for spoiler reasons.

    **directly in tension with historical accuracy I know. I was conflicted when the new costume director made him wear a shirt.

    *** does anyone here follow scholagladitoria? I love his reviews. It’s like frock flicks for violence.

    • Kendra

      I watched the first episode of Black Sails before nope-ing out on the half-assed costumes. Glad to hear it improved!

      • Trystan L. Bass

        Yeah, the costumes kept me from taking Black Sails seriously, but I’ve had multiple ppl tell me the story was excellent. Goddamn, it’s hard being us sometimes.

  6. Claudia Lopez

    I just saw a BBC Mini Series of The Miniaturist and Little Women. The Miniaturist remind me of Girl With A Pearl and Tulip Fever. Little Women was mostly alright, I hope you guys do them in the future!

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Both are coming to PBS — Little Women in May but the Miniaturist date is TBD (see my rant above!). I’ve seen pix for the 2nd one & AM MUCH EXITE.

      • suzieday

        Does this mean we get another guest post from a Low Countries specialist like we did for Tulip Fever?

        Seriously, the Medieval Low Countries Re-enactment FB group LOVED that review. We get so few films from our area of interest (admittedly, all three of the above are from the Golden Age of Amsterdam, which is post-Period for us) that we go nuts every time!

      • Knitms

        All the Little Women previews and production shots feature the March girls in beachy waved tresses, which put me off even watching it. Even young girls would wear their hair braided, or at least keep it tidy. The Miniaturist was better, though the 17th century is not my main area, I think the costumes skew earlier than its mid 1680’s setting.

  7. Richard Stephens

    I know Frock Flicks doesn’t do Fantasy or Sci FI, unless a historical setting – but I just want to rant that if you are doing a Fantasy movies using historical settings – PICK A DAMN TIME PERIOD and stick to it! I had recorded ‘Pan” with Hugh Jackman over the holidays to see if it was as bad as I heard. Within 15 minutes I was having to restrain myself from gouging out my eyes with spoons – and they hadn’t fled the orphanage yet.

    The movie is terrible on so many levels, chief amongst the offenses that this was not a small budget tv movie, this was a major studio production that clearly spent a lot of money. So many misteps and misfires and ghastly costume choices that sent the viewer ping ponging all over the historical timeline. The only saving grace of these “WTF” moments was that it distracted from the awful storytelling.

    Which is a shame- they had some good ideas. But really, can we be done with White Washing and handing people of color roles to white actors? Roomey Mara as Princess Tiger Lily – in the WORST “faux tribal native’ fantasy gobbledy gook outfit – dear LORD!!!!

    Text book example of how not to do a period fantasy movie, how to piss away a big costume budget, waste the time of talented leads, further marginalize and shut out people of color and piss all over the memories of a beloved children’s story.

  8. Nzie

    Gah, why can’t I remember the costumes that were driving me nuts lately? Must’ve been so bad I put them out of my head. Love reading these though. Most pressing complaint/laugh I have is from watching royal romance-themed holiday movies where they really do terribly on the closest thing to a historical costume—the pseudo-military uniforms every prince/king must wear—but I wasn’t expecting great things from these movies anyway. :-)

        • Nzie

          I know! Gosh they’re awful. But also enjoyable—partly for being so awful, and partly for what they are… no clue how that works. I think the worst uniform was A Royal New Year’s. Watched it with family and turned it into a drinking game.

  9. Saraquill

    Has anyone else seen “I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House?” This ghost movie has flashbacks to the 1960s and some vague Victorian age. I don’t know enough about 60s attire to comment on the clothes, but the faux-Victorian outfit is so snark worthy.

  10. Susan Pola Staples

    I’m binging on Father Brown on Netflix bc I love mysteries and the early 1950s fashion seems to be spot on with Britain’s WWII postwar rationing. Lady Felicia is the bright spot fashion wise but I loved the cricket episode in season 3.

    A pet peeve is that while I subscribe to Hulu, Starz (Outlander you know) & Netflix, there’s a dearth of costume drama. Good Jenny Bevan Costume Drama. What ever happened to films like Anna and the King, Maurice, À Room with a View? They have tons of dreck like the g*d awful White Queen, etc but no quality stuff.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Bec. those flicks are “too old”! It kills me. Netflix is the worst — if a movie was made 5 years ago, it’s ancient on that service.

      • Alden O'Brien

        yes yes on netflix. hardly anything old. Like Acorn for some Brit and even Aussie stuff altho even that is heavy on the murder mysteries (no complaints but for me it’s all about the frock flicks). Why can’t there be a frock flicks channel??

    • Kendra

      Yes! I recently subscribed and was shocked that there were like only 2 Jane Austen adaptations.

    • Janette

      My sentiments too. Not being a royalist in any way, the subject kind of makes me grit my teeth anyway. What really annoys me about The Crown however is that I keep hearing so many positive things about it that I feel as though I should give it a try regardless of being a committed republican, (Not the U.S. variety, the Aussie type which means something completely different.)

    • Susan Pola Staples

      Re season 2 of The Crown. HRH Prince Philip comes across as a whinging whiney brat. An unsensitive and uncaring brat. Albert in Victoria is a mature feminist – as if – compared to Whiney Phil

      Only reason I finished season was the fantastic job Claire Foy does.

      And if HBC is Season 3 Princess Margaret, great. I would love a scene where she’s watching Pantomime Princess Margaret on Monty Python and….

    • Nzie

      I like The Crown enough to finish it eventually. I’d only binge with friends. I do love Olivia Coleman, though, so I might be more on top of S3.

    • Kaite

      I actually really like The Crown, mainly because the costuming, although modern, is very well done, and the acting is great.
      That said, some of the best parts were early in the first season, showing the interaction between Elizabeth and her grandmother, Mary of Teck-who I hadn’t known much about prior to watching the show, and have now read a biography of, and now I kind of what a series about Mary of Teck.
      (minor spoilers, even if it is history)

      The scene were Elizabeth has returned after the death of her father, and, the first time they meet, Mary of Teck who is a elderly and infirm lady, does a full on to-the-floor curtsey, something that she pulls off through sheer force of will, is chill inducing.

  11. Kimberly Rose

    Hi! I am long time reader, but this is my first comment. I discovered Frock Flocks about 3 years ago and I adore this blog! I love all your snark, humor, and interesting historical knowledge. Not to mention this blog is one of the things hta keeps me sane right now. I have always loved history costume movies, and you ladies have made me appreciate/annoyed by them on a whole new level, so thank you. Even if I have to restrain myself from repeatedly at the screen for Demelza to put her hair up during Poldark. The writer side of me tells me its poetic license, but then the practical, Frock Flicks educated side thinks, “ugh! so not historically accurate and I would not want my hair whipping around in my face!”
    Oh, and ditto on the movie theater selection comments above. Mainstream movie theaters are the worst. they’d rather show superhero(although, I loved Wonder Woman, but then I love greek mythology and history) or modern set gore-fest horror movies than anything interesting. :(
    Anyway, Just thought I would voice my appreciation. Keep on Snarking!

    • Kimberly Rose

      Opps! I meant *That keeps me sane and repeatedly yelling

      • Kimberly Rose

        Also, I meant *a long time reader. I wish could go back and edit that comment!

  12. Brandy Loutherback

    I’m going to bitch about Beauty and the Beast (2017) especially about Emma Watson being a fucking dumbass about thinking Not wearing stays = Fucking the patriarchy! Stays were worn to achieve the desirable silhouette! And those FUCKING BLOOMERS?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bloomer’s weren’t worn until another 90 years minimum! But they dis have an 18th century print! I did like the 18th century pockets called Necessaries! They would hold nosegays due to bathing not being generally acceptable. Did you know they designed a more historically accurate version of Belle’s iconic yellow gown? I don’t know why they didn’t use it, I guess because of Emma’s aforementioned dumassery!

    • Saraquill

      I’ve called that blue dress the Boob Wrinkle Gown. The people around me were perplexed until the did an image search, and couldn’t unsee it.

      • Brandy Loutherback

        It would have been more interesting to see the more historically accurate yellow gown!
        Not as bad as her white Ballerina dress though! I would have loved to see at least one accurate gown! Is that too much to ask for?!

        P.s. Have you gals seen Cables Girls S2?

    • Alden O'Brien

      I agree Emma makes me roll my eyes BUT the designer brilliantly made it work in the context by giving her layered bodices or “corps” as seen in French Provincial dress. If I ignore the damn bloomers (they did NOT have to make the skirts THAT high or hike them up that much altho above ankle would be correct for provincial), the village clothes are terrific fantasy-ized but well HA_based Provencal dress, including my fave brief view of the back “tails” of the jackets of Gaston’s fangirls. The designer knew what she was doing.

  13. Jilly

    Any interest in covering Godless? I actually haven’t finished it yet (I’m about halfway through) but I keep wondering what you all would think about the clothing.

    • MoHub

      I had issues with Godless storywise, but I liked a lot of the costumes. What impressed me most was women wearing men’s clothes that fit them like men’s clothes: too tight in the bust, too broad in the waist, and generally not at all proportioned to a woman’s shape.

  14. Olivia M.

    I’ll actually going to be making a Frock Flick of my own this year! To be more exact, I’m making a documentary about a reenacting group I’ve been in since I was sixteen; no fine gowns or frock coats, since we’re just average civilian Highland Scots, but we cover a time period of 400 years (1314-1746), so there’s something for everyone! Men in proper kilts, ladies in arisaids, and plenty of skill demos, so hopefully there’ll be at least one film this year that won’t make everyone say “What the Frock?!”

    • Kendra

      I’m sorry, I’m still stuck in about 3 years ago when it was rumored that Tom Hardy would be playing Marc Antony. I WANT TO SEE ANGELINA AND TOM WRITHING ON THE FLOOR IN SWEATY, SWEATY PASSION. Anything else will be a letdown.

      • Peacoclaur



      • Nzie

        I finally saw Tom Hardy’s face (it’s often obscured—Bane? the pilot in Dunkirk). On that basis I decided I’m ok with not seeing it. Not my ideal for handsome Roman lover.

    • Teresa

      That author needs to do a little more research. Cleopatra VII was Egyptian but believed to have Macedonian blood? (Bangs head on desk.) No. Why can’t they get this right? Cleopatra was primarily of Macedonian descent with a dash of Iranian blood. Her paternal grandmother is unknown–could have been Greek, Macedonian, Syrian, or Egyptian. That still means mostly Macedonian, and Macedonians could be dark-haired with olive skin, or quite fair with blond or reddish blond hair (like Alexander the Great, for example). As for the nose, some of her ancestors had prominent beaky noses, too.
      What I would like to see are scenes with the Queen showing off her linguistic skills (the first of the family in some three centuries, as far as we know, to learn Egyptian); going over the accounts with her finance minister; inspecting a shipyard; carrying out formal Egyptian religious rites. Instead of lounging on a couch and being fanned, obsessing over makeup, bathing in milk, and dropping pearls into wine (or vinegar).

      • Peacoclaur

        Cleopatra the stateswoman and political is the direction that the filmmakers are taking this time around saying that it will be from C’s POV and will be a 2 hr political thriller as opposed to a 3 hr prestige picture. Sounds promising but could go either way.

        It should focus on C’s character and accomplishments not her sex life or looks. But that isn’t going to happen anytime soon so this is probably the best we can hope for.

        However, the question of ethinicty always focuses on C and yet nobody seems to have a problem with romans being played by decidedly Anglo Saxon actors when people of Southern European/middle eastern ancestry would be more authentic from a ethnographic standpoint.

        The ancient Greeks and romans get whitewashed to such an extent in film and tv it’s crazy; especially when you consider that most slaves in this period were pale skinned celts (try showing THAT instead of Africans as slaves in a swords n’ sandals – it’s accurate but I can imagine the reaction from the Fox newz/Daily Fail crowd…)

        I know that Black Athena was mostly rubbish but the first volume had a lot to say about the whole subject of race, ethinicy and how it affected our view of the ancient world. Also the book Cleopatra, histories dreams and distortions is good too as that unpicks how she has been represented over Millenia.

        • Peacoclaur

          Sorry about the mistakes – I’m posting this off my phone and I’ve got fat fingers

          • Janette

            All good points. People ie especially in Hollywood, tend to forget that Ancient Greece was well, Greek and Ancient Egypt was Egypt. I was also a little annoyed by the claim that this will be filmed from Cleapatra’s pov but is directed by a male, so a male interpretation of a woman’s perspective then. Just a part of my larger gripe about how film in general is made by men, for men and boys and then critiqued by male reviewers. I also gripe about the Hollywood/Uk dominance of the film industry. I would like to see international films get more funding and greater prominence. Why is Hollywood making a film about Cleo’ and not Egypt or Greece. It is their history, their story, after all.
            (sorry for the rant. I am getting “rantier” as I age.

            • Peacoclaur

              Me too. I think it comes down to some idea that the “classical past’ is some sort of universal past and that modern Greeks/Italians/Egyptians etc for reasons (cough racism cough) don’t deserve their past on their terms and its fair game for anyone who wants it.

              I was hoping they could at least pretend to find a director and screenwriter who is a woman. Oh well.

              The only person from this time period that gets whitewashed and misrepresented as much as cleopatra may well be Jesus. If i had a shekel for every time he’s portrayed as Northern European instead of middle eastern I’d have enough to turn Judas the other way.

              • misat0

                Have you ever thought that those films most likely exist but aren’t shown in the USA? Italy and Greece have a working film industry (many Ancient Rome films are made at Cinecittá’s permanent backlot; many of the best costume houses in Europe are in Italy or Spain) but are mostly ignored in the subtitle not reading Anglo-saxon world.

  15. Alys Mackyntoich

    Watching the trailers for The Alienist on TNT and feeling some trepidation about what the network may have done to the book.

  16. Kiki

    Ok so I’ll talk about an amazing movie for once, The Witch (2015) and how a minor detail totally drives me insane.
    Let’s be clear: I give the production a perfect 10 for making a movie filled with accurate historical setting with all the due attention to the dialogues( with real phrases from trials and documents actually recorded and spoken by characters), and the costumes are breathtakingly true to the 1630’s down to every minor detail…. BUT there is one small yet disturbing ecxeption.
    First and foremost, SPOILER so read at your own risk: there is a small , 30 second scene, where the witch appears in her younger form, seducing and ultimately causing the slow death of the prepubescent Caleb. Yet for the small screentime she gets, she surely sticks out like a sore thumb. Her dress is not that bad per se, even if it is ill-fitting for she is a huge breasted model-actress ( who doesn’t get to speak a line,btw, in her 30 seconds screentime); But her hair is just atrocious. I mean, raven- black, articifially colored, long , loose, perfectly wavy hair, the kind you see on a Pantene Ad.
    In most hollywood productions I wouldn’t really complain about such a minor detail, but in a glorious movie, such a mistake is so glaring I wonder if it was done on purpose. I guess since she is a witch, maybe they wanted to portray sexiness and libido as opposed to the strict rules of the protagonist puritan family, but damn, they could have achieved the same result by letting her have her boobs almost exposed in that tiny bodice, as she does, but at least doing something, like an updo or a braid or whatever, to avoid the really out of place hair.

    Well’at least it’s just a -blnk and you miss it- scene, and thankfully she is never to be seen anymore in the movie.

  17. Queenie

    When actresses moan about their corsets being ‘so uncomfortable’. Can no-one who works in the film industry make a corset which fits? Not even once? And when the corset is all wrong for the period, it just makes me wonder who did the research, it’s not actually that hard to find out if a corset is correct for a specific period. Corsets are to give a correct silhouette and to take the weight of the garment worn above it and distribute it around the body and if that’s wrong, the stuff above it is wrong.

  18. Kate D

    These comments were fun to read. I love this site, thank you for all the work you ladies do for it!

    I’ve always loved learning about historical costumes. I like witty dialogue in movies, but I’ll watch (almost) anything for the dresses. My snarking of costumes in the period dramas I watch has increased in quantity and quality over the last few years, mostly based on my “Frock Flicks education.”

    We’ve canceled Netflix for the moment, it had too limited a supply of what I’d like to watch. So many period dramas on my “To Watch” list are not available streaming online (that I’ve found so far anyway). Alas…

  19. Teresa

    Ever thought about reviewing those dramatic “re-enactments” that the Discovery Channel uses to pad out its “documentaries”? I’m sure there’s plenty of material there.

    I don’t have cable and wouldn’t choose to watch the Discovery Channel; I know archaeologists who’ve had their words edited to alter the sense of their comments, and I’ve seen a few clips with Egyptian settings in which commoners were wearing the royal nemes headdress (or cheap versions thereof), just as you would see in “Tut” and “Cleopatra” (check out the soldiers delivering Pompey’s head on that Frock Flicks post). I’ve been told that the episode about Hatshepsut from 2007 claimed there were “love letters on tomb walls” (there weren’t) and that she feared for her life (where oh where is the evidence for that). In a “re-enactment” clip I saw, the actress portraying Hatshepsut walks out a door and looks up at a statue–of Ramesses II! So I’m sure that these fictionalized vignettes would provide some juicy fodder for Frock Flicks snark!

    • MoHub

      I’ve been asking for such for some time now. My “favorite” is an episode of Mysteries at the Museum about an 18th-century Englishman who managed to steal the secret of producing silk fabric inexpensively from the Italians. The Italian nobleman shown in the vignettes was wearing 16th-century garb and looked like a stereotypical Medici.

      And let’s not even go to the obvious zippers and cotton-candy wigs in 18th-century reenactments.

      • MoHub

        ETA: Just saw an episode in which 1864 reenactments displayed 50-star American flags.