Frock Flicks Free-for-All July


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!

Frock Flicks is making a charitable donation for July to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute which protects and defends the human rights of Black transgender people.

This month had a wonky schedule, sorry about that. We’ll get back on track at some point. But first, we’re taking next week off for our annual summer repeat week.

Vacation - The Go-Gos


Let us know what costume dramas you’re watching and what we should add to our queue!


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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.

26 Responses

  1. Shashwat

    A slightly “please share your views on” sort of question,but it is something that I only come across in period dramas and people trying to copy those.The ubiquitous wannabe 18th century “done up in the back with a dainty lock of wavy hair on my shoulder” look that has been copied in literally every single film out there.Barring a handful of films that make an effort at accuracy,or the ones that discard any attempt at historical accuracy and resort to beachy waves.And weirdly many reenactors too try to emulate this style but I have not come across a single visual evidence remotely similar to it.All I see is tete de moutons or simpler hairstyles but with the back always smoothly up.There are a many allegorical royal portraits that have braids starting from the nape(or so it seems from the front)but those are much longer,thinner and more than one.Besides they look like braids than just tendrils,and weirdly those seem like fake hairpieces because they unpowdered sections and have dark shades while the ladies depicted were known to have lighter shades of hair.And I could not find those “braided locks of hair” on any one less than a member in the closest family of monarch.

    • Alexander

      Hi there! In the 1760’s women of all classes wore a slightly poufy updo and these did often have side ringlets which hungover/rested on the shoulder… is this the sort of style you are talking about in your first instance?

      • Shashwat

        Yes,but those 1750s braids look finer than a thick hot curled tendril and are just an accessory to the main bun,but in movies it gets reflected as a ponytail from a half updo.Besides the 1760s hairstyles have a substantially vertical(or seemingly vertical due to curls sloping up and back)so they do it with either thin braids or just tiny tight ringlets,often three in number.The movies interpret it with a pouf in the front,chignon in the back and a corkscrew curl tendril on the shoulder which looks less like 1760s and more like Belle’s half updo(with the bun mellowed down too much and the side ringlet overdone)to have a rather modern,soft half up-half down look.The 1760s hairstyle works best when the natural hair is completely put up and the braids are achieved with fake hair(unless you are blessed with long and voluminous tresses),which gives an altogether different look and silhouette.
        I mentioned the 1750’s royal portraits because those actually have hair lower in the front like the movies,but then the braids are many and that style certainly was for the royals exclusively.

  2. Alexander

    Talking of the 18th Century… I have just finished ‘Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies’ edited by the fantastic Hallie Rubenhold – the book which the drama series Harlot’s was based on. Hilarious, fascinating and often causes a wryly raised eyebrow! Has any one else read it? I would love to know your opinions. Did anyone else feel an unintended but innate sadness beneath the original text?

    • Katie O.

      I want to read that so badly! Unfortunately neither my library nor any of the libraries it shares books with throughout the state own it :( I’ve read her books on Lady Worsley and the victims of Jack the Ripper, and they were fascinating

      • Alexander

        It is indeed really difficult to find a hard copy – but you can get a kindle copy from Amazon. :D

        • Janet Nickerson

          I was lucky to have two copies – one purchased, one gifted. I kept the gift and sold the extra to a fellow who portrays a late 18th century doctor.

  3. Brandy Loutherback

    I have a two part comment:
    1. Have any of you seen Magic In the Moonlight? Set on the French Rivera in the late 1920s? I have a few quibbles, but overall it was nicely done!
    2. Have any of you seen Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story? It was a TV miniseries set during WWI from Summer 1915 to Autumn 1919. The costumes were designed by Ruth Secord, and she found the Fugliest vintage fabric colors for Anne’s costumes! I wish I could post pictures, Alas!

    • Katie O.

      I saw Magic in the Moonlight around the time it came out. I didn’t know much about historical costuming then, but I remember thinking the costumes were pretty. To be honest, I spent most of the movie distracted by the age difference between Colin Firth and Emma Stone’s characters lol

  4. Lily Lotus Rose

    I’m working my way through season 5 of Grantchester and season 1 of Poldark. I’m re-watching Downton Abbey: The Motion Picture. I recommend the films Mr. Holmes; Gods and Monsters; and Frantz.

    Other random thoughts for July: Visiting FrockFlicks so often has been one of the factors that steered me toward reading reading historical works–classic novels, historical fiction, non-fiction history books. While I’m reading these works, I’m casting their costume drama versions in my head. It’s been a very soothing imaginative excerise. Also, it makes me long for adaptations of historical fiction series I’ve enjoyed over the years like C.S. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries and Laurie R. King’s Russell and Holmes series.

    • Karen K.

      If you have room in your schedule for more books, I recommend the entire Poldark series — the first few series of the book are excellent, but the books are even better, and there are twelve of them! If you’re really a fan there was also an adaptation in the 1970s (the original Ross Poldark shows up in the new series as a judge, which is fun). It’s good for its time, though I really disliked the 1970s Demelza.

      • Lily Lotus Rose

        Karen, the Poldark novels have been recommended to me before, and I do plan to read them eventually. I prefer t go to a film or TV adaption as a blank slate and then read the book. Why? That way, the book fills in all the gaps and makes the story richer. When I watch adaptations of books I’ve already read, I find the adaptations to be lacking because of what was left out and/or changed from the original source (even though I know that is a natural and necessary part of the process of adapting a book for a filmed project). When I finally get around to reading the Poldark series, I will definitely picture Aidan Turner as Ross. (Sigh.)

  5. Saraquill

    No recommendations, I’m just imagining a movie or miniseries of women vs. the hairpin thieves. There’s travel, intrigue, and battles thwarted because hair keeps falling in their eyes!

      • Karen K.

        Do the thieves also steal all the sensible shoes for female action stars?

        • Roxana.

          Decades ago, at a convention, I asked John Nathan Turner, then producer of Dr. Who, if he’d ever tried to run in high heels. He said yes! So why did he put Nyssa and Tegan in six inch heels??
          And I will never forget that B7 episode in whick Jenna and Cally save the day and rescue the guys while wearing long skirts and high heels.

  6. M.E. Lawrence

    Finally saw “Downton Abbey, the Movie”–the first half, anyway–and I think the appropriate term is “low-energy.” Lovely costuming, of course, but I’m not sure why anyone bothered, apart from the possibility of profit. Does it pick up toward the end?

    • Lily Lotus Rose

      M.E., I can’t answer that objectively. I was one of those rabid fans who would’ve watched anything Downton Abbey-related with pure glee. After the movie was over, I told my friends, “I hope they keep making Downton Abbey content forever until Lady Mary and I are old ladies. I will keep re-visiting this world no matter what.” In other words, I was hooked from the opening scenes and the movie continued to go up and up in my estimation. So, yes, give it another chance to enthrall you!

    • Colleen

      I know I’m late, but, no. It doesn’t pick up. I watched every season of the show, became overwhelmingly excited when the movie trailer came out, and rented it when I finally got the chance. Only to be severely disappointed in the final result.

  7. Kirre

    For reccomendation the movie Bulbbul is a very good watch. It’s more on the dark side, story-wise, being a dark folktale /fairy tale (not horror specifically) with interesting characters and women especially – if Bengali Gothic is a genre this certainly fits it.

    Also it has Indian (speciafically Bengali) fashion from 1880s to the early 1900s. It’s more rooted in reality than the pretty (without a purpose) Devdas 2002, which is based on a Bengali novel, which while glameorus doesn’t do justice to the book it’s based on (if you want authentic from novel to movie then the 1955 Devdas is a good one). If you want more Bengali fashions then the movie Parineeta (2005) has fashions from the 1960s.

    • Shashwat

      Atlast someone who is on the same ground with me on 2002 Devdas.But Frock Flicks’ policy of watching certain films with cocktail might help them.Even Madhuri’s most wholesome performance in her career couldn’t save it for me.
      Aesthetically Bulbbul is perfect.A brilliant film if one doesn’t go in expecting conventional horror.(Is parallel-art-folk tales-horror cinema a genre?)But is is amusing how they did the costumes,jewellery and women’s hair so well(adequately historically accurate AND stunning)but the dialogue is too contemporary North Indian(of course none of it matters with subtitles,but certain slangs and mannerisms fail at versimilitude if you know both Hindi and Bengali).The boys with the long hair are no better,lowkey mullets galore.And the cotton worn is certainly the thick machine woven ones,not the fine cotton that is Bengal’s heritage(they had budget constraints though,so it went to silk over muslin).Those details shouln’t matter,except the film mentions the exact date “1881”,giving an opportunity for scrutiny.

  8. Karen K.

    How do people feel about Beecham House? I couldn’t get through the first episode — it’s supposed to be set in the late 1700s but it just felt like cosplay, especially the main character. I felt the same way about the 2016 War and Peace adaptation, I shut it off after half an hour.

    • Roxana.

      I did see the first episode. I’m no expert on early 19th c. India but I kept going What? Our hero’s outfit was very becoming but not very period I thought. And I gather those who know their Indian dress have problems with the show mixing and matching garb from entirely different parts of India.

      • Roxana.

        BTW, did anybody else notice that Cholis have built in cups?

  9. Mary

    Now that Hamilton is streaming on Disneyplus, I’ve linked your 2016 blog post on the costumes to a bunch of friends/family who are just now getting to see it. And on the small (well, depending on one’s home theater setup) screen, and with all the cool closeups, we can get a really good look at them! So beautifully done!

  10. Angel Kumasaka

    Is there enough content to do a Man Candy Monday on Matthias Schoenaerts? Btw, a few years ago he was going to portray William Clark in a Lewis and Clark mini series, but it got called off during production. That probably wouldn’t have been too interesting costume wise for you to review, but I would have enjoyed it. Casey Afleck was portraying Meriwether Lewis.