Frock Flicks Birthday: 16th-Century Flashback!


We’re celebrating our birthday (the Frock Flicks blog is one year old this week!) with a look back at some of our most popular posts. Like us, you’re clearly big fans of movies and TV series set in the 16th century. Oh yes, we especially love the Elizabethan and Tudor periods on screen. But alas, even productions with the best intentions get some things wrong. Usually the same things.

Two of our most popular blog posts are all about what movies and TV fail at when it comes to this historical era — first, during Snark Week, we counted down the 9 Things Movies Get Wrong in 16th Century Costume and later, yet just as popular was our Top 5 Costume Inaccuracies in Wolf Hall, about the BBC’s 2015 miniseries. The first piece was a general incitement of all the inaccuracies, shortcuts, cliches, and falsehoods portrayed on screen, while the second one showed how even a TV show that tried to be super-duper historically accurate in so many ways still trotted out a few of those same old errors seen in more schlocky productions.

So let’s review some of the top offenders in 16th-century costume on film and TV…

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Hey sis? Why are we wearing upside-down visors on our heads? Also, matchy dresses past age 8, isn’t that a little weird?

1. French Hoods

Why does it have to be so hard? We have hundreds of portraits, so we should know how they look and how they were worn by all the upper-class French and English ladies. A French hood should not stick straight up from the head, and the wearer’s hair should be covered by the “hood” part of the headgear. And it’s not just a headband.


Shakespeare in Love, 1998

Rockin’ the button fly AND boots! We need to talk

2. Codpieces

Men need them in the 16th century, especially in England. They don’t have to be gigantic, but they should be somewhere in there, especially earlier in the century. A Tudor or Elizabethan man without a codpiece is, uh, lacking, to say the least.


2007-10 The Tudors

Maybe wearing boots will ensure a male heir…

3. Men’s Shoes

If a man is riding a horse or doing outdoorsy things, sure he would be wearing boots. But otherwise, if he’s an upper-class gentleman, it’s far more likely that he’s going to be wearing shoes, not boots.

This is, of course, the tip of the proverbial iceberg! Check out the original posts and the comments for all the dirt.


What irks you about 16th-century costumes in historical movies and TV series?


7 Responses

  1. Michael L. McQuown

    What irks me most? The fact that so many shows seem to fail to recognise the changes in fashion over 100 years. “The Tudors” was the worst, with high Elizabethan fashions where there should have been the wide-shouldered, narrow-waisted, broad-skirted look Henry VIII.

  2. Pixel Pixie

    What drives me bonkers about any movie is people wearing their hair long and loose and it always looks perfect. I run, dance, rockclimb, do yoga, and weightlift, and wearing my hair loose for that is awful. I can’t imagine doing that in combat with someone trying to kill me.

  3. Clara

    I have actual high hopes for the Spanish TV show “Carlos Rey Emperador” based on what I have seen of the costumes, both in the instagrams of the actors and the promos that have been released. In one of the first pictures that were ever released, the actor who plays Charles I was wearing shoes instead of boots (I cried of joy), the actor who plays Francis I of France actually posted a photo of his codpiece in Instagram (and I giggled like a school girl), and the hoods I have seen the actresses that play Catherine of Aragon and Mary I are proper hoods each one in the styles of their decades. And some costumes are exant replicas of portraits. (Louise of Savoy and Isabella of Portugal, for example.)

    I still reserve complete judgement until the show is released, but it might end up being one of the most accurate shows costume wise for this era.


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