Frock Flicks Free-for-All February


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!

Whew, another Snark Week is in the books — hope you had a good time! Even though we have all that content is behind us, we can’t rest on our laurels because most of us are headed to Venetian Carnevale this month. While that won’t net us any Frock Flicks specials, it does mean we have to buckle down and plan stuff in advance for the blog at the same time as we’re frantically sewing all our costumes to wear in Italy. So if we seem a little extra frazzled this February, that’s why.

DragRace - sewing machine fucked


What’s keeping you busy this month? Got any movie or TV recs for us to catch up on when we’re back?


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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.

43 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    Buon Carnavale!

    Primarily I’m bothered about certain directors and ‘their dream’ regarding costume. Yes Littke Women I’m addressing you are Oscar nominated and Portrait of a Lady on Fire is neglected. It just won the Cesar, I think and it’s been on my must see list since you blogged about it in forthcoming flicks.

    Main thing, have fun in Venice.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Portrait of a Lady has an ‘internet’ release date of 2/28 in the UK, so I’m hoping it’ll be available on streaming or on-demand in the US pretty quickly — because I want to see the costumes up close!

      • Susan Pola Staples

        Thanks for the streaming UK release. I too want to see close ups of clothing the actors and actresses wore. What is on Pinterest leaves me wanting more.

  2. Roxana

    I am dying to talk about Sanditon and Howard’s End. The latter had some really lovely outfits. The former is a hot mess. The latest episode of Sanditon had our heroine playing Cricket with guys, loose hair flying, arms bare. The nineteenth century had a word for girls like that ‘hoyden’.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      We reviewed the Howards End remake when it first aired on cable! And we have Sanditon recaps coming at the end of the month, thanks to a guest writer :)

      • Roxana

        I did a search for Howard’s End and didn’t find it. There were some really lovely multicolored blouses that looked like silk but I did wonder about Helen’s ponytail.
        Can’t wait for the Sanditon recaps. I find the show rather hard to watch.

        • Katie O

          Sanditon was so disappointing to me. I love Jane Austen adaptations, and I liked that it’s one that doesn’t get a lot of love because it’s unfinished, but what a mess. Both in the costumes and in the plot.

          • Roxana

            Interestingly the biracial Miss Lambe is a genuine Austen character. Jane had referenced West Indian slavery in two previous novels, Mansfield Park and Emma, I wonder if she intended to address the issue more directly in Sanditon or if Miss Lambe was to be no more than background color. The whole workers plotline is very un-Austen as she limited herself to what she knew, which was the gentry. And the incest between the young Denhams is way out of left field!

    • Sharon in Scotland

      I’ve always loved the word “hoyden”, I’ve worked with a few “roaring” girls in my time, pretty much the same thing……..boisterous, loud, smiley, grubby and loveable

      • Roxana

        Hoyden has positive connotations for me too, but it certainly didn’t for Austen!

  3. broughps

    Outlander will be back on the 16th and am looking forward to seeing how the new costume designer measure up to Terry.

    • Frannie Germeshausen

      Waiting to see your pictures of Venice! It’s one of my places in the heart. Trystan, when you have a moment, I recommend you revisit The Durrells in Corfu. I agreed with your assessment of the tone of the first few episodes, but it turns into a delightful story about a family that supports each other and allows each member to be true to themselves. With really good hats.

      • Trystan L. Bass

        I did catch up with a few later eps of Durrells & it wasn’t as annoying as the first season, true. But costume-wise, I’d already written that it was lovely so I didn’t feel like writing about it. Sorry!

  4. Sarah

    Has anyone else seen the Little Women portraits done with 19th century style photographic processes? While very cool, I think it just further emphasizes how awful the costumes were. Anyone who’s spent 5 minutes on Pinterest looking at 19th century photographs could tell there’s something off. The hair on Jo March makes me want to weep.

    • Colleen

      Those photos were terrible. Even Louis Garrel couldn’t make it better. I’m sick of hearing how Greta Gerwig is a visionary because she turned Little Women into the narrative she wanted. I have a hard time watching anything if the costuming and hair are off.

    • mjsamuelson

      Oh dear. Those pictures underscore how terribly miscast Timothee Chalomet was, IMHO. And Jo’s hair is so, so, so bad.

      • M.E. Lawrence

        I love the process, and I like these images, hair aside. (Marmee’s is particularly awful.) Jo looks very Joish to me here; I can even kind of imagine her insisting on wearing her hair down. At least it doesn’t look like a conditioner ad.

        • M.E. Lawrence

          P.S. Damn–just looked at them again; Jo’s hair is way too beachy. Even as free-spirited a mother as Laura Dern would have made her brush her hair.

  5. Saraquill

    Can anyone point me to fashion sources re: 1890s Malacca?

    In other words, “The Ghost Bride” is now a Netlifx series. I enjoyed the book, and am curious as to how period the clothes are. Some of the clothes, like Li Lan’s party dress are pretty, but I have no idea how period they are. One character who dresses in Western clothes, wears some pretty modern looking suits though. Not sure what this says about the rest of the outfits.

  6. Brandy Loutherback

    Could you do a post about Titanic and pre WWI hairstyle trends? Rose mostly had her hair up except for church/touring the ship, was this normally done? Side note: Kate Winslet has hair to die for in this film!

  7. Nadejda

    My brother and I are having an arguments on whether or not the costumes (and the overuse of the colour black for menswear) on Thieves of the Wood are historically accurate. I would really like to have your opinion on this Belgian TV show (which I think is available on Netflix) to maybe settle our argument.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      This one is on our to-watch list — but since it’s subtitled, we haven’t been able to watch it during Carnevale prep, sorry (watching TV during sewing is hard!).

      • Maggie May

        TV is great in the background during other activities. Especially reruns of old favorites.

        But subtitles demand you pay attention!

        • Trystan L. Bass

          Yep! And I like to watch & take notes at the same time, so I have to watch a subtitled flick 2-3 times so I don’t miss dialog. It’s more of a commitment to review.

  8. Charity

    I’m eager to see the new Emma adaptation, but not digging a blonde Knightley or her tiny little curls. But my real complaint? Not knowing if it’ll be showing anywhere around me or not. HOW CAN I PLAN FUN OUTINGS IF I DON’T KNOW THINGS???

    I really, really enjoyed the new Little Women adaptation for a lot of reasons (minus the hairpin issue, the skirt hiking issue, and other various issues) but Mom and I discussed it the other day and agreed if you hadn’t read the book / seen a zillion other adaptations, you might get really lost with all the flashbacks. :P

  9. Mizdema

    Portrait of a lady on fire is a masterpiece.Yet not entirely sure about the accuracy, but every cloth has a meaning: hiding your face or revealing it, refusing a marriage…..And there is a little embroidery scene, very symbolic of love, how long it lasts, what it remains……

  10. Mizdema
    Eternity: 2016 movie.Way tooooo looooong, boring.Off voice and piano I couldn’t bear.My advice: turn off the
    sound and enjoy it like a photo album: best french actresses Audrey Tautou, Berenice Bejo, Melanie Laurent. Gorgeous dresses.I wanted them all.And children actually playing in the garden wearing their period outfits : not those 30 seconds in Mom’s arms and back to the nursery (Downtown abbey, see what I mean?)

  11. Mizdema

    Florence Pugh in «the young lady».She was great.I remembered the blue dress, a cashmere shawl,
    white hand-embroidered sleeves (all in holes): vintage ones?
    Center parted hair, up, no bangs.

  12. Mizdema
    «Angelo» : XVII century, a countess adopted a young black boy as a pet…
    I watched the movie on a very arty streaming platform.(Not sure you could find it) Interesting subject and the countess’wigs…
    My last post for this friday!

  13. mjsamuelson

    I binged Wolf Hall this week and went back to listen to the Frock Flicks podcast on it. All of which made me very hungry for more Tudor-era flicks – just not any that have already been produced. Something serious about authenticity and that isn’t just Henry shtupping sweet young thangs would be amazing.

    Or, just some assurance that they’ll do an adaptation of The Mirror and the Light.

  14. Penny H

    Just watched The Dead (1987), thanks to your Dorothy Jeakins guide. Don’t know if I missed it at the time or if I just totally forgot about it. It was totally worth it. Nothing in the costumes, hair, or makeup to blast one out of suspension of disbelief. Why can’t they do that nowadays? Anyway, thanks.

    Also thanks for a hilarious Snark Week.

    Also hoping to see pics of your Venice wear.

  15. Shashwat

    Which movie do you guys feel has the most accurate gable hoods?Sarah’s interpretation of French hoods was a masterpiece,but I am yet to find an accurate gable hood.Most movies end up with a birdcage or just a pretty headband with a veil flowing free in the back(no diamond box and split veils).The other Boleyn Girl featured an excellent gable good on Elizabeth Boleyn,until you see the back and the lack of coif underneath the hood.Any other suggestions?

  16. Roxana

    Why is it so hard to get 16th c. Headgear right? We’ve got pictures and everything!

  17. Nzie

    Well… I loved Little Women but I didn’t want it to get best costumes… I think the costume voters must just see a lot of sewing and have a hard time voting for anything else. Thank goodness that didn’t hold true when the historically inaccurate nominee was MQoS last year.

    • Shashwat

      I literally stopped breathing when i got to know of this travesty at the oscars.Thankfully Parasite’s wins revived me.

      • Nzie

        I am planning to watch that. I was curious but went for other movies over it because I got a hint that it would devolve into violence and I wasn’t sure I was up for that. But I am glad it won out of the choices available as it was one of the more original types of storytelling. Of the ones I saw up for it, my pick was Jojo Rabbit. But I really wish The Farewell had gotten at least a nomination… beautiful film and probably my favorite of a year in which I really saw a lot of movies and was generally happy with all the ones I went to see.

  18. Eliza

    Listen, I’m SO sick of all queer period movies being Sad LesbiansTM. Consider: a romp through late 19th century Europe about a mild-mannered transgender milliner with major Mama Bear instincts, her wife who dreams of a life on the stage, and two young, imperious lads studying at Oxford who are harboring some animosity for each other, but also perhaps a hint of affection? A lick of Greek desire? Shenanigans ensure as this unlikely gang embarks on a most indecent and disgraceful adventure. Starring Laverne Cox, Cate Blanchett, Louis Garrell and Avan Jorgia. Directed by Taika Waititi. Coustumes by Sandy Powell. mic drop