Frock Flicks Starter Kit!


We get new readers all the time, especially during Snark Week. YAY!!! But that means we have to catch y’all up on some of the basic stuff we bitch about as being big no-nos in movie and TV historical costumes. Some of these are pet peeves, some are massive historical inaccuracies. We run the gamut — after all, we’ve been writing this blog since 2014 and each of us have been studying and creating historical costumes most of our lives, so there’s plenty for us to snark.

A cheatsheet you can start with is the Bad Costume Bingo card we designed for Snark Week. Yep, it’s an actual PDF you can print out and see if you can get “BINGO” by catching five things across while watching a costume drama. We’ll try to explain the less-obvious items on the card here, along with whatever else we think should be common Frock Flick knowledge.

Think of this as your 101 introductory class at Frock Flick University — click through these links to start your education!


Problems Movies & TV Have With Historical Hair

Hairpins — Adult women’s hair should be styled up and not hanging free most of the time before the 20th century. We fear there is a Great Bobby Pin Shortage effecting filmmakers.

Bangs — Foreheads were fashionable, thick straight bangs were not, until rather recently. We checked.

Side-parts — Not super-common on women pre-20th century, despite what some recent TV productions would have you think.

Beachy waves — Very au courant, but not very historical.

White wigs — High status folks in the 18th century did not wear shiny totally white wigs; their hair was powdered, it’s different!

Contemporary hairstyles — For more about how movies & TV fuck up historical hair, see Kendra’s on-going series about how modern hair fashions affect frock flicks decade by decade.

Sasha Velor



Problems Movies & TV Have With Historical Headgear

Head necklaces — That’s our term for the not-really-a-circlet-or-crown thing movies & TV love to slap on top of women’s heads randomly. There’s only a select few times during history they were worn, and they didn’t look like what most frock flicks use.

Unfortunate biggins — A mostly medieval and renaissance head covering that is widely abused on-screen, such that it has become truly unfortunate.




Problems Movies & TV Have With Historical Garment Closures

Metal grommets — Metal grommets are the visible panty lines of historical costumes. It is a truth universally acknowledged.

Unnecessary lacing — Historical people weren’t dumb, and they only used as much lacing as required to get in and out of a garment, especially if they were poor.

18th-century back-lacing — Most women’s gowns in the 18th century opened in the front, so they did not have back-lacing at all.

18th-century buttons — Even buttons were a legit option for closing a woman’s garment in the 18th century.

Good god girl get a grip



Problems Movies & TV Have With Historical Corsets

Corset chafing — It’s historically accurate, more comfortable, and helps your corset last longer if you wear a smock / chemise / SOMETHING between the corset and your skin. Trust us.

Anachronistic corsets — Corsets / stays / a pair of bodies / stiffened undergarments have been worn by women in many time periods, yet movies & TV love to use one or two styles for every possible era.

Too much cleavage — Sure, sex sells, but in most historical eras, the boobs were covered. Hence our phrase, “I don’t care if it’s historically accurate, I just want my tits out.”

Violet Chachtki


A Bunch of Problems Movies & TV Have With Historical Clothing

Skirt-hiking — Not the worst inaccuracy, but dumb and annoying. Just stop it!

16th-century boots not shoes indoors — Gentlemen could afford to have boots for riding, and nice shoes to wear indoors at court.

16th-century ruffs don’t float — This item of neckwear should be attached to a garment because it’s not a necklace.

18th-century men lace bibs — Men’s neckwear was a little complicated in the 18th century, but movies & TV need to stop simplifying it to shitty bibs.

Tartan & kilts & Outlander — Everything you ever wanted to know about when Scottish tartan and kilts were used historically in fashion and how well Outlander did.

Alaska - Please stop immediately

This isn’t everything we’ve ever said, but it’s what we have articles about at this moment. As we write more, we’ll add another class list!


Detox - Darling



About the author

The Frock Flicks Team

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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.

9 Responses

  1. Lynne Connolly

    And cover art for historical romance. Oh Lord, where do I start? Perhaps with a wedding dress recoloured does not make it Regency.
    And hats. A Georgian woman (my period of note) never went outside without her hat, bonnet, or headcovering. They had caps too, to keep the hair clean and tidy during the daytime. Sometimes said cap was a frill of lace. Other times it was a complete biggins with lappets. But no respectable woman (or not-respectable one for that matter) went outside without something covering her head.

  2. Susan Pola Staples

    And gloves.
    Pinset Tailoring has a few videos of what the well dressed Regency gents wears.

    Is there a link to Kendra’s hair blog?

    Love the JA reference

  3. Roxana

    Tight lacing of corsets was indeed a thing but the majority of women had better sense. Surviving corsets average 20+ inch waists.

  4. M.E. Lawrence

    Stretchy panne velvet, especially for medieval gowns. I don’t know why it looks even worse for that period,–it just does.

    • Roxana

      Contractually required leather pants? Which as near as I can tell were never a real thing historically. Leather insets at wear points, yes; chaps, yes; leather trousers, not really.

  5. Nzie

    Yay! Fantastic guide. And by now I remember most of these things being mentioned, so I feel like I have learned things. :-) The only thing I’m surprised didn’t get a direct mention is the fabric choice. But it is on the bingo set. :-)