Frock Flick Free-for-All October


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!

It’s Halloween month, that most magical time of year for costumers, goths, and anyone else who loves fancy dress (or candy). What are you wearing October 31st?

Miranda Richardson in Sleepy Hollow (1999)



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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.

29 Responses

  1. Kate D

    I just watched Under the Greenwood Tree and Cranford.

    Cranford was a delight! I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to watching it. I loved the bonnets and hats! All those older ladies gossiping and getting into misadventures… Just too much fun!

    I have Amazon prime, but I think I’ve watched all the (very few) period dramas that they have. I had Netflix, but I recently cancelled it when I felt I had run out of period dramas. I’ll have to keep digging for more. Any advice? Should I just get BritBox?

    I saw the Gene London History of Fashion and The Hollywood Collection Exhibits at my local mall and they were fantastic. Gene London’s tour showed how much love he has for collecting, preserving, and displaying these garments. Seeing so many gorgeous historical pieces and famous Hollywood dresses in person was a highlight of my life!

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Yes, BritBox is fabulous! You can subscribe to it as a channel on Amazon, if you prefer — I do that so I can watch it through Amazon on my TiVo or Blu-ray devices, in addition to computer. The full list of current programmes is here

      Totally a fan! Wish they would sponsor us, LOL.

      And I adore Cranford too. I saw it when it first aired, even tho I was reluctant — bleh, fussy 1830s, bonnets, little old ladies. But it’s absolutely fun & filled w/the best actors, & now it’s a series I turn to when I’m feeling down & need a pick-me-up.

    • Kendra

      Yeah, Netflix is full of Spanish period productions… and then like 2. I mean, I’m glad to have access to non-US/UK shows! But it’s just weird.

    • Annette Keith

      I own set of three Glas Kelly films, lost the books to a house sale, Cranford is delicious talk time film.

    • Nzie

      Amazon Prime Video has been getting quite a few foreign properties. They do have S2 of Ekaterina as part of that.

  2. Kay

    I started off really looking forward to Outlander, because I had loved the books in high school and college. I liked the first season well enough, but each subsequent season I have looked forward to it less and less for many reasons that I won’t drone on about. But one of the most insignificant things that I have issues and the one that perhaps irritates me the most is Jamie’s bangs. I could give them a pass in the first season because he was recovering from a head injury and could have been growing out his hair. But they didn’t go away. I understand they were supposed to make him look boyish. Last season there was a significant time jump and they should be trying to make him look older. Nope. Still got those silly bangs. IMO, he looks much more attractive with his hair combed back away from his face. Also, more practically how can he fight with his hair constantly in his eyes?

    • Kendra

      YES YES YES. SO agreed! I’m guessing they feel like that’s his Official Look now so they’re sticking with it, but it makes NO sense.

      • Emily

        Yup, yup, yup. I really don’t like what they’re doing with Jamie’s hair. I do not understand it.

  3. Charity

    The good: I’m going to a Murder Mystery Dinner for Halloween. It’s a 20’s theme, and myself and my friends are all going as flappers. I have a black bob wig and everything. I’m excited.

    The bitching: Outlander bored me last season so much, I never saw the last couple of episodes. I have zero interest in the new season as a result. Guess I’m just over it? Nothing is truly grabbing my interest these days.

      • Emily

        When I read the books, Voyager was my least favorite–and it still is, when I re-read. I LOVE the colonial period in American history, so once we got to North Carolina, I was thrilled with the period and the history that was coming up.This is the one, one area where I “know” my historical clothes. (thank you, Felicity doll, for inspiring the love affair.) Book three has always been the “bridge” book for me and I just go mehhhh over it. Bring on America!

  4. Sarah F

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!
    I’ve mostly been doing a lot of quick alterations on store bought Halloween costumes for my friends, and they pay me with burritos and booze while I watch Vincent Price movies and live the dream.

    • Denise

      House on Haunted Hill is a fun one of his that I try and watch every year.

  5. Susan Pola Staples

    I am looking forward to seeing Outlander season 4.

    But what I really love to see now is te Tolkien biopic, The Happy Prince (Oscar Wilde) and the Colette movies.
    Also season 3 of Victoria.

    What bugs the crap out of me are two things.

    Example of 1, Mathilde had really beautiful costumes, but The White Queen and Princess were more historically accurate.

    Example of 2: how studios/producers/directors talk down to their audience in historic frock flicks. Example MoS as a twit

  6. Anonymous

    The new MQoS movie reeks of sexism… They age up Elizabeth I badly, but Mary looks like she’s 20 until her death, even though their age difference was less than a decade. And from the trailers it seems like they want us to think Mary is more of a “real” woman because she marries and becomes a mother🙄
    I’m crossing my fingers that I’m just misunderstanding, and that the movie is better than the trailers.

  7. Saraquill

    Halloween is my wedding anniversary, so I hope to do something romantic then.

    When I was planning my wedding dress, I took a page from Trystan’s book and used Truly Victorian patterns to create something period-inspired without fretting on accuracy. Lots of pre hoop petticoats and skirts, an early bustle bodice and pretty embroidered fabric everywhere.

  8. Lady Hermina De Pagan

    I just finished a movie, Tea with the Dames, on Amazon Prime that I adored. Maggie Smith, Judi Denich, Joan Plowright, and Eileen Atkins get together with a documentary producer and just talk about their time as actresses.
    Because my Chubby Bubby and I are giant nerds, I’m making use a set of Hogwarts house robes. I’m Gryffendor and he is Slytherin.
    The current Queen of the east kingdom issued a challenge for the Fashion Show at Birka. People are being encouraged to take their favorite Marvel/DC heroes and villains and reimagine their costumes as period costumes. I plan on doing a Pict version of Phoenix. lol

      • Nzie

        Any chance of a similar series or even just a one-off post showing historical influences on fantasy? I know it’s not the main thing of this blog, but Disney also isn’t directly historical for the most part. It would be neat to see influences on LotR or GoT. :-)

        • Rori

          I know they may never gonna touch upon the series, but It would be really interesting for them to talk about the manga Berserk. Because while usually fantasy series mushed up inspirations from medieval while modernizing them, Berserk is a dark fantasy, but it draws literal historical fashion you can easily recognize them – Medieval, Italian Renaissance, Elizabethan, Americans, Regency, etc.

  9. Black Tulip

    Just putting this out here because I know you’ll understand . . .

    I saw the poster for the film ‘The Little Stranger’, and now I HAVE to go and see it. This despite the fact that I’m a total wimp with ghost stories, and I won’t be able to sleep for a week afterwards. So why put myself through this? Because apart from the colour, Charlotte Rampling’s dress is a bang-on copy of the 1946 Hardy Amies evening dress that appears in Jonathan Walford’s ‘Forties Fashion’, so now I want to see the rest of the costumes!

    • Kelly F

      I’m currently reading the book, and I thought it was going to be psychologically creepy like Rebecca or the Miss Havisham bits in Great Expectations. Nope. Full on ghost/poltergeist/thing. Do NOT read at night if you live alone and have squirrels in your attic. (I rent, landlord sucks at maintenance).

  10. Rori

    I recently watched the Oscar-nominated Phantom Thread. Fantastic cinematography, musical score, and especially costumes, but jesus the relationships between the two leads is so toxic. I can’t fathom the layout of their relationships when it’s so dysfunctional on so many levels. I get it’s suppose to be about communications and hard work, but can’t really related to it when the male lead has a turn-on from being poisoned.

    As for Halloween, granted I never dressed up for Trick-or-Treating. But if i have enough money to effort it, I would like to dress up in a Edwardian gothic outfit. It would be fancy to walk around in a second bustle dress holding a parasol.

    • Frannie Germeshausen

      Hive mind! I watched Phantom Thread last night, and came away totally flummoxed – he REALLY liked being given poisonous mushrooms? His mom really is coming for him, because his liver won’t last long in that scenario!

  11. Nzie

    Anyone seen Outlaw King yet? Looks like the reviews weren’t great. But to a non-Scots who watches a lot of British TV, the accent sounded creditable (we’re certainly not in Braveheart territory).

    I watched Woman Walks Ahead on Amazon recently while sewing. The costumes seemed generally right to me (as a non-expert)… it’s supposed to be right around 1890 and it looks right for that, although we get some hair pin shortage moments and, now that I think about it, there should’ve been more hats involved. But the plot was lackluster, and while it wasn’t exactly white savior, it wasn’t not white savior, either… I will admit I don’t know the history well enough to speak with authority, but I have a guess that Sitting Bull didn’t need to be told to stand up for the Lakota by a white lady from New York. And both he and the main character were interesting people in real life—but not in this movie.

    Getting key elements in place, like hints that not all Native Americans are the same or get along, hiring NA people to play NA characters, and showing various levels of antipathy, sympathy, collaboration, etc… I’m glad they were there, but they are baseline, and don’t make up for poor plotting and insufficient character development. And it bums me out, because I think Jessica Chastain is a great actress. Conversely, while it’s not a frock flick, Wind River managed to do a much better job, imo, of making compelling native characters and letting them tell their stories, even with a white woman as the lead. Heads up it’s a hard watch, but it’s so much better.

    Also, spent a day at New York Comic Con and spotted some historical/historically inspired cosplays (aside from my own)—one in the cosplay contest was from Outlander, and I spotted some others I’m guessing were Westworld (which I’m assuming is inspired more than historical given the set-up) and maybe Godless (although probably Westworld). Only got a quick glimpse of some ladies heading away, but it was neat to see. :-)