Frock Flick Free-for-All


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!

We had a “behind the snark” panel at Costume College last weekend, where we got to meet some of you! YAY!!!! Now, we’re slowly hearing about fall costume dramas on TV here in the states but there’s not much else on the immediate horizon. What are you up to?


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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.

18 Responses

  1. Nzie

    Someday I hope I can get out to Costume College! :-)

    I was wondering if anyone else had seen Glamour’s YouTube series with a fashion historian critiquing Disney movies for historical accuracy? I think she simplifies some language for the audience (e.g. using corset for earlier things) but overall pretty good, and better than those “here’s what women wore in” videos (which meme mom Karolina Zembrowska has critiqued). Anyone else seen them? I think I’ve watched the ones on Snow White and Princess and the Frog. She also mentions that the hair is often the least accurate part. :-)

    • MoHub

      I’ve seen everything posted so far. They’re generally pretty good.

    • Katie O.

      I loved Karolina’s video critiquing them! It put to words a lot of the issues I have with those videos but waayy more articulately than I ever manage lol. I’ll have to check out the Glamour videos, they often seem better than some others for accuracy

  2. Miles

    A friend of mine raised an interesting question that I’ve been struggling with, and thought ya’ll could help with at least a bit – they’re looking for period dramas (movies or tv shows, either one) that aren’t about the wealthy or nobility. So far we’ve come up with Newsies (okay, it’s trashy and inaccurate, but it’s fun), Harlots, and Black Sails, along with a bunch of ones that have us going “maybe?”

    For example, Outlander….Main character’s a lord until he loses his title, but he ends up with a very large amount of land, and a lot of the plot is politics-centric, especially in season 2. And in Peaky Blinders they’ve accrued a large amount of money by the beginning of season 3.

    But for definites, I’m left scratching my head for recommendations, aside from some literary adaptations. At this point costumes and even accuracy are second to enjoyable writing, or even just existing.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      There’s tons! We may not review a lot of them bec. the costumes are very simple & thus not as interesting to comment on.

      But hey, start with Little Women — the family wasn’t wealthy, they were struggling, & there are specific scenes pointing out financial differences between them & those around them.

      Cranford is solidly middle-class, not poor, but there’s only 1 rich person & nobody really likes her. Same with the Brontes in To Walk Invisible (2016).

      If you want to get really gritty, search the site for reviews of The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant (2005) & Banished (2015), both about women in the 18th-c. Australian penal colony.

      Other random flicks on our site — The Immigrant (2013), Nora (2000), Bomb Girls (2012-2014), the Bletchley Circle (original & SF update), Dark Angel (2017), Underground (2016), Thousand Pieces of Gold (1991), Taboo (2017), Beloved (1998), Jericho (2016).

      And for a reality series, the BBC did The Victorian Slum (2016) that played on PBS in the States, which we also reviewed.

      I might suggest a lot of Charles Dickens adaptions, bec. his stories often have a contrast between the very poor and the wealthy — but we don’t have many reviews bec. none of us are fans, lol.

    • Susan Pola Staples

      Harriet due out in November-December. The trailer on YouTube is totally awesome.
      And does Bleak House in all of its varied versions?
      North and South with Richard Armitage has several.
      And maybe Poldark – Morwenna and Demelza’s relatives.
      And the tenants in Gentleman Jack.

    • Saraquill

      There’s Ju Dou, Yellow Earth, Red Sorghum and Farewell My Concubine from Chinese cinema. Japanese cinema has Harakiri (technically samurai, but features impoverished ronin,) Sabu, Oshin, Rashomon, The Hidden Fortress and so on. Yes, I’m a big East Asian buff.

  3. Andrew.

    There are a fair number of movies and tv shows that fit that criteria. Most westerns for example. Some ‘easterns’ too: Drums Along the Mohawk, Daniel Boone, The Crucible, Black Robe. Also as noted, a lot movies have been made from 19th C. novels which focus on the non-wealthy: Dickens, Melville, Cooper all come to mind. Others that come to mind: The Return of Martin Guerre, All Creatures Great and Small, The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. Some comedies and musicals also.

  4. Kate D

    We subscribed to the Criterion Collection streaming service recently, so I’ve been watching movies and miniseries that are on there.

    The 1960s War and Peace was great. Much better costuming then the recent BBC version, though there were touches of ’60s hair, as one might expect.

    I just watched Gaslight and reread your review. Agree with the ick of the plot, but those natural form dresses were gorgeous!

    Now I’m watching Olivier’s Hamlet.

    If anyone else has Criterion Collection streaming service, let me know what you’re watching!

    • Trystan L. Bass

      I keep considering a subscription, but I’m already so behind with what I’ve recorded from Turner Classic Movies & all the regular streaming sources, so IDK yet…

    • M.E. Lawrence

      That version of “War and Peace” does feature the greatest coming-of-age dance ever, but the production sticks pretty close to Tolstoy, and pays a fair amount of attention to estate workers, common soldiers, etc. There’s a wonderful scene where Natasha visits some of her parents’ tenants for the evening; everyone’s happy that while she’s “the little countess,” and all that, she is also a true Russian and dances like one.

  5. Roxana

    The actual historical record suggests that Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth of York were a tight knit trio with the common goal of not just putting young Elizabeth and Henry on the throne but bringing a final end to the cycle of dynastic violence that had cost all three of them dear.

    Also Elizabeth of York probably knew Margaret better than her son did after years of separation and may well have been equally fond of her.

  6. Gwyneth

    Anyone seen the trailer for “Sanditon”? I was impressed by one of the male leads who usually looks like an absolute goof, looking somewhat serious. But oh the leading lady seems to be so poor she can’t afford hairpins. Woe.