I’m not even quite sure how to introduce this post, other than to say we’ve received a STELLAR email from a reader that is so impressive, it needs a public response. Any identifying information is being redacted, because I’m the nice cop of the group, despite this reader not having figured that out.
Starting Off on the Right Foot
Dear Ms. Pretentious Kendra,
As a costume designer who has an PhD in fashion and textile from Oxford University in London, I have been studying your snippety reviews regarding costumes for films listed in “Frock Flicks” for over a month on their website. With a great deal of reservation, considering I try to avoid dunderheads such as you, I have decided to write and let you know, in short, that although you seem to pride yourself with your preposterous theories, you know NOTHING about costume designing and little to nothing about period fashion.
First of all, you have lost all touch with reality in your views, undoubtedly because you have never personally engaged in the very difficult field of costume design and are spouting a lot of claptrap that has no basis.
Normally, we would just link to our FAQ, which covers many of your complaints. However, since you’re calling me out specifically, let’s do this. (Side note, did Oxford once have a satellite campus in London that offered fashion and textile PhDs?)
“Yes, we approach costume in movies/TV from a historical perspective, not a design perspective. None of us are professional costume designers in any way, shape, or form. We do make costumes, but for ourselves or other individuals who are wearing them for historical reenactment or fun. So we fully admit that there is a wide range of considerations and needs in terms of costuming a large cast, working with tight budgets, and dealing with producers/directors/actors/etc. who all have their own vision, all of which we are less familiar with” (Frock Flicks POV: Just the Facts, Ma’am).
“What I am saying is that there is a legitimate place in journalism for accuracy in reporting, and that includes reporters with some depth in the subject matter on which they are writing … Each of us has spent years studying and making historical costumes, including professional and academic work. We’re also trained researchers, in a mix of academic and journalistic disciplines. While we don’t know everything (who does?), we do know a hell of a lot more than the average random reporter when we compare what’s in a movie/TV show to the current research on what was worn in a certain period… So when fans of a movie or people who work on a TV show get huffy that we’re critiquing the costumes, please remember that this is our beat. We’re making up for all the weaksauce media reporting on historical costume out there. When the latest historical costume movie comes out and Generic Movie Critic is easily impressed by the “lush costumes,” sorry, they don’t know jack” (How We Are Different From Other Movie/TV Reviews).
We’ve Covered This
One, the job is not a one-man band operation. There are many people other than the costume designer that has input into what is seen on the screen. There is a script, that is usually quite specific about a certain look to start with. If the producer wants something, whether it is factual for the time or not, it’s what end up being seen. There is also the director who has major input, as well as a very precise, most often, less than substantial budget that only allows so much room for creativity. The rest is traversing a mine-field of opposition from anyone who thinks their input is relevant: special effects, makeup and hair, secretaries from the production offices, assistant producers, wives or family members of production executive and network executives, all who usually know zilch for the most part. Lastly, there are the stars who are usually exercising their own willful idea of control and insist on having things their way. When all is said and done, one is lucky to create anything that has an iota of fact for any period.
“One thing we try to be very careful about around here (although we may slip up occasionally) is not to assume that the costume designer is calling all the shots about the overall costume design. The director sets the vision for any film/television production and is the person who works with lead individuals to decide what the film is trying to achieve — scriptwriters, costume designers, set designers, etc. And, of course, we’ve all heard the stories of producers and studios getting involved in the vision and either proactively, or during filming, influencing how a production is shaped. So costume designers are not all on their own in an ivory tower, doing exactly what and how they want” (Should Designers Mess With Historical Costume?).
“But just like fashion designers who take inspiration from historical clothing and interpret it into something new, movie/TV costume designers may be interpreting historical fashion for their work instead of making literal copies of historical outfits … Costumes are typically a very small part of a film or TV series’ budget … So it’s no wonder that historical movies and TV series take shortcuts with costumes. Whether that means using less-than-period materials (because real silk and authentic lace is ridiculously expensive) or skimping on petticoats and other undergarments, it may just be a lack of budget or time issue … Sometimes the director or screenwriter has an idea about how the history should be. Not how it was. Usually, this starts with the action of the story — changing names, dates, and what happened for dramatic effect. Nine times out of ten, this leaks down into the costume and means historical accuracy will be sacrificed in the looks department too… Movies and TV are a business, and thus market forces are at play. Yep, they aren’t always making this for us, the history-loving weirdos” (Movies Playing Fast and Loose With History Part II: Why Does It Happen?).
Secondly, your bromides are in terrible need of exploration. You cavalierly toss off generalities about periods without taking into account, say the middle of the 18th century, where the same rules of dress did not apply to English, German, French, Italian and American revolutionary garments. It wasn’t until 1770 when fashion publication began to be printed that the mode of dress began to coalesce.
Well, pulling out the citations since we’re throwing down, fashion magazines did exist in the 17th century, most notably the Mercure de France (1672-1791), which published occasional articles on fashion from its inception through 1731, and also published the semi-annual, fashion-focused Extraordinaire (Reed Benhamou, “Fashion in the Mercure: From Human Foible to Female Failing,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 31 [Fall 1997]: 27). However, yes, the fashion press didn’t really get underway until the 1770s with (in France) the Courrier de la mode (1768-70), Gallerie des modes et costumes français (1778-87), Cabinet des modes (1785-86), Magasin des modes (1787-89), and Journal de la mode et du goût (1790-93); and in England, the Lady’s Magazine (1770-1847).
Fashion magazines certainly caused many changes in fashion cultures, and they certainly helped dress “coalesce” as you say across regions and countries (Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette [New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015], 16; Raymond Gaudriault, Répertoire de la gravure de mode française des origines à 1815 [Paris: Promodis-Editions du Cercle de la librairie, 1988], 146-70; Aileen Ribeiro, The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France 1750 to 1820 [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995], 76; Aileen Ribeiro, Fashion in the French Revolution [New York: Holmes and Meier, 1988], 20-22; Daniel Roche, The Culture of Clothing: Dress and Fashion in the “Ancien Régime,” trans. Jean Birrell [Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994], 13-14, 187; Françoise Tétart-Vittu, “La Gallerie des modes et costumes français,” Nouvelles de l’estampe, no. 91 [March 1987]: 16; Françoise Vittu, “Presse et diffusion des modes françaises,” in Modes et révolutions: 1780-1804 [Paris: Musée Galliera, 1989], 129; Dictionnaire des Journaux; The Lady’s Magazine Project).
I think anyone who knows the history of 18th-century fashion as well as earlier eras can tell you that there were definite commonalties as well as very distinct differences based on region, class, religion, and more. I’d say my favorite sources for a broad overview of regionalism in 18th-century dress is Aileen Ribeiro, Dress in Eighteenth-Century Europe, 1715-1789 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002) and François Boucher, 20,000 Years of Fashion: The History of Costume and Personal Adornment, trans. Yvonne Deslandres (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1967), although of course one would then want to move on to research that particular area, as I have done, for example, with Provençal dress. Oh, right:
- “It is plausible that Caroline Matilda would wear the English ‘nightgown,’ precursor to the robe à l’anglaise, since that was a style popular in England throughout the 18th century” (A Royal Affair).
- “The majo (men) and maja (women) were a very typical and unique look worn by the working/lower classes, particularly in Madrid…” (The Liberator).
- “This is an era of distinct regionalism in fashion, which starts to blur in the late eighteenth century (see: fashion magazines created, among other trends) — what was worn in Central Europe was slightly different from France or England or Sweden or Spain or Russia, and all of those were slightly different from each other too” (Maria Theresia’s Costumes: Actual Research!).
- “Her first dress is a robe à l’anglaise, the French reincarnation of the English nightgown. It’s rather fashion-forward for 1774 — most English women would still be wearing nightgowns, which would be cut as seen here, but with a pleated center back that is cut in one piece between the bodice and skirt” (The Duchess Deep Dive: Georgiana’s Proposal Gown).
- “I’m seeing the proverbial ‘general 18th century’ mishmash without some of the important elements that would make these costumes 1720s-specific. On the other hand, there are some things they did really well! Basically, you should see four basic styles of women’s dress (at least for French dress; I don’t know enough about Spanish dress in this era to comment intelligently)” (The Royal Exchange Mish-Mashes the Early 18th Century).
- “These kind of jackets started as regional (i.e., non-Parisian) styles… What particularly impressed me was the number of references to late 18th-century Provençal costume” (18th-Century Costume Influences in Beauty and the Beast).
- “You get to see some nice 1760s costumes” (18th-Century Quest Visits the Convent With The Nun).
- “What got me particularly excited were all the Provencal prints on minor characters and extras. The south of France was a leader in terms of wearing cotton prints, which were imported via the port of Marseille” (Perfume: the Story of a Murderer).
- “We looked in-depth at upper-class fashion previously, but let’s now add to that with some analysis of the middle classes” (Just How Fashionable Are Poldark’s Ladies? Part 3: The Middling Sorts).
- “Did Older Ladies Dress Differently in the 18th Century? The short answer: They certainly could! Some ladies clearly preferred to wear dress, hair, and/or accessory styles that were 10 to 20 years out of date. Others dressed more fashionably” (Just How Fashionable Are Poldark’s Ladies? Part 2: The Older Generation).
And, I AM THE FIRST TO SAY WHEN I DON’T KNOW AN ERA:
- “I recently got into a bit of a tiff on Facebook with a reader who was irritated that my post on Exodus and Troy didn’t include extensive scholarly research. I had a whole post in mind about how ‘Frock Flicks is not an academic publication,’ but I’ve realized it’s silly to write a whole rant aimed at one person [ok yes, I am now doing this. The hypocrisy!]. The thing is, the three of us have our own expertises, and sure, if there’s a film/series set in an era/place that I don’t know well, but another of us does, I’ll leave it to them to review. We also sometimes bring in guest experts. But no academic can possibly know every sub-area of their field, and finding guest experts is a big pain in the butt, so yeah, sometimes we review stuff that’s outside our specific expertise. And honestly, we need content five days a week! So I’m not going to watch a film like Manikarnika (or Exodus or Troy) and NOT review it simply because I don’t know much at all about 19th-century Indian dress (or ancient Egypt or Greece), given that neither does either of our other regular writers. This is a blog, not an academic publication. Personally I’d rather read a review where someone admits their limitations rather than pretend they know more than they do. And nobody is getting paid or getting tenure from this here blog” (Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi Is Not “The Warrior Queen of Jhansi”).
- “I wish I knew more about ancient costume, so if you do, please weigh in on the historical accuracy of the costumes in Exodus and Troy!” (Ancient Two-Fer: Exodus / Troy).
- “I don’t know 18th-century West African dress. I reached out on social media hoping to find someone who did who’d be willing to comment, but no dice. So unfortunately I’m unable to comment on the historical accuracy (or lack thereof) in terms of costumes in the first half of the episode!” (Roots (2016): Part 1).
- “So, here’s the problem: none of us know diddly about ancient Egyptian costume” (Tut: Heavy on Pretty, Questionable on Accuracy).
- “I’m not a Regency expert, so the most I can say is that most things passed muster with me. (I’m sure someone can point out why they put an 1809 sleeve with a 1797 hem)” (Confession Time: Why I Love Lost in Austen).
- “So while I’m interested in Indian dress history, I will freely admit to not knowing a lot about it” (Jodhaa Akbar: A 16th-Century Indian Romance).
- “Now, I’m no expert in Spanish fashion of the Renaissance, and certainly not of the 15th century. So I decided to ping someone who is” (WTF Is Queen Isabella Wearing in 1492: Conquest of Paradise?).
- “I don’t know enough about regional German fashion to say whether or not these are historically accurate” (Dueling Catherine the Greats).
Back-Lacing Apologists Unite!
Additionally, many items of dress, at the time had center back openings that were laced, hook and eyed, or sewn together when put on and then cut open when the day was done. Your remark, “Oh, my god, not more lacing!” shows how ignorant you are. Not every gown was a ‘robe à la française’ with a stomacher.
This reminds me of a moment, years ago, when I was walking down the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA, one of those pedestrian-only streets filled with restaurants, theaters, and shops, where many people congregated on weekends. There were some preachers proselytizing, using a microphone for themselves, with another mic set up so that if listeners wanted to debate them, they could. Normally I wouldn’t pay much attention, but as I passed, I heard one of the preachers declare something like, “There is more historical proof that Jesus existed than that Napoleon existed.” And I’m sorry, but if you’re going to throw down, you’d better have some documentation. So I went up to the mic and started asking them about their historical documentation, had they been to the National Archives in France, had they visited collections/sites in Israel, etc. I eventually used the word “bullshit,” was told I was “not a lady” (to which I agreed), and had my mic cut off. Fin.
While I rely heavily on primary sources (historical artwork, extant garments) in my posts, one could claim I cherry pick those that fit my vision. So, let me clearly state that my use of primary sources is based on my knowledge of secondary. For example:
- “During the first three-quarters of the eighteenth century there were three main styles of gown, with a number of variations in each style. The first is the mantua… The second type of gown, with a fitted bodice, seems to have evolved from the mantua. The dressmaker made a linen bodice and pleated the material for the gown over this foundation … using a stomacher to fill in the shape left at the center front … The style of gowns with fitted bodices changed slowly… the fronts met edge to edge, fastening with hooks and eyes … The third style of gown, the sack or robe à la française … Early sacks … were joined from the hem to just below the waist at the front, fastening above this with lacing, or ribbons tied in bows … A new form of construction was introduced around 1800, with the bodice fastening at the center back. This method of opening the dress grew more and more popular, until the old form of the stomacher front, which folded down, became obsolete around 1810″ (Janet Arnold, “The Cut and Construction of Women’s Clothes in the Eighteenth Century,” in Revolution in Fashion: European Clothing, 1715-1815, ed. Jean Starobinski [New York: Abbeville Press, 1989], 126-34).
- “Early versions of the sack dress had loose pleats … It was worn either with the front seamed from just below the waist, or it was completely open in front, revealing the petticoat … The fitted gown had long been the favourite in England and, in the 1770s, it had a new lease of life with a closed front fastening” (Ribeiro, Dress in Eighteenth-Century Europe, 35-37, 222).
- “Another type of bodice was also in use at this time [1725-40]. This consisted of a fitted jacket … it was completed by a stomacher worn over the chest and stomach… The robe volante changed radically, becoming fitted over the bust … The front of the gown was open at the top to show either the corset itself… or a triangular stomacher … From the waist down the gown opened to reveal a matching underskirt or petticoat… In the middle of the century another style of dress was adopted … the robe à l’anglaise … At the front the skirt was detached to the bodice, which formed a point slightly below the waist, opening to reveal a separate stomacher… The robe à la polonaise… [was] a dress cut like a waisted coat, fastened to the bodice in front and revealing the lower point of a small bodice below… The robe à l’anglaise was open in front …” (Delpierre, Dress in France, 14-20).
So, if you’d like to offer me examples of center-back opened adult women’s garments from the 18th century that are NOT stays or court gowns, by all means. I can think of two sources off-hand; one is a dress in the Gallerie des modes that is specifically described as being “laced in back,” the other is the fourreau dress, a late 18th-century dress that began as a girl’s dress and laced in back, and became an adult woman’s dress that may have occasionally still laced in back.
Also, despite your ridiculing comments about bonnets (hoods) being a century early, “there were many in satin, taffeta or linen worn by women of all classes, on any occasion when full dress was not required, such as going to church or for a morning walk.” (Costumes of the Eighteenth Century by James Laver, A& C Black, Ltd., 456 Soho Square, London, W1. 1931)
First, there has been research published since 1931. How about:
- “Apart from the tricorn and the shepherdesses’ straw hat as worn by Madame de Pompadour for walking in the garden, the traditional headgear for women was the cap; for going out this was covered by the coqueluchon [hood], or by a mantelet or mantle … Caps… followed the modifications of the hair-style … during the Regency and at the beginning of the reign of Louis XV, fashion-conscious women wore only a scrap of lace on their heads. By the middle of the century… caps were worn only in the house … These caps, with their circular crowns gathered into a headband with ruffled edges … After the accession of Marie-Antoinette, headdresses, already tending to grow taller, were driven … to greater and greater heights… To cover these structures, the coqueluchon expanded to become the thérèse or the calèche, supporting by hoops like the roof of a carriage … The most significant item introduced during the period was the milliner’s hat … In 1778 a band began appearing at the base of certain caps; it either covered a circle of brass wire or was made of woven straw. The crowns of the caps were still soft, but the rigid brims now made them officially into hats. In about 1785 real hats began to be worn … These hats were made of straw or fabric, stretched over card or brass; they had broad brims and high, cylindrical crowns …” (Madeleine Delpierre, Dress in France in the Eighteenth Century, trans. Caroline Beamish [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997], 39-41).
- “The more usual wear for out-of-doors was the cloak; a modest woman would not wish to be seen much in the streets in the early eighteenth century, and the loose-fitting cloak, often hooded … The Mercure de France for 1729 mentioned bagnoletes, which were hooded short cloaks made of satin in winter and muslin in summer” (Ribeiro, Dress in Eighteenth-Century Europe, 46.)
- “Caps and other hair ornaments were always considered as part of the total hairdressing. In the 1740s, the linen cap edged with lace and with lappets was increasingly a middle-class fashion … For more formal occasions, tiny wired caps, also from France, were the height of fashion in the 1750s…” (Ribeiro, Dress in Eighteenth-Century Europe, 155-56).
- “At home and on informal occasions women wore small lace caps. Outdoors and while riding and traveling, women wore broad hats similar to men’s. Loose hoods, kerchiefs, and hooded cloaks were worn at night and in bad weather” (Jennifer Jones, Sexing La Mode: Gender, Fashion and Commercial Culture in Old Regime France [Oxford; New York: Berg, 2004], 21).
- “Cloaks and hoods were made either from woollen cloth, usually red, or silk, usually black, with no discernible change across the period…” (John Styles, The Dress of the People: Everyday Fashion in Eighteenth-Century England [New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007], 90).
Second, I’m sorry, are we talking 18th-century fabric, soft hoods? Or are you saying that James Laver was claiming that women wore 1830s-60s-style, structured bonnets in the 18th century? Because sure, fabric hoods (either attached to the dress/jacket/cloak or as separate garments) were certainly a thing in the 18th century, as were hats. The term “bonnet” was used in France in the 18th century and referred to the cap — not the same thing as a stiffened straw, felt, or buckram bonnet. Yes, they wore hats made of these materials, but they were in a different general shape to the 19th century. You’ve basically lost me, here.
Let’s Play Nicey Nice!
It seems evident that you are a person who likes to take herself far more seriously than what you offer in terms of knowledge or experience. Someone who loves to watch herself speak in front of a mirror since no one else pays that much attention to your waspish remarks.
It seems evident that you are a person who likes to reprimand others for disagreeing with you, or claiming any knowledge. Maybe you’d enjoy our April Fool’s post on The Spanish Princess?
Also, let me point out again that I AM THE GOOD COP:
- “The bodice fitting isn’t 100%, but I ascribed that to the fact that this is a well-off but not rich woman living in a small town. Am I being too generous?” (Finding Altamira: Banderas & Bustle Gowns).
- “Would audiences have found this wider, lower bust attractive? Probably not, so you can see why the filmmakers went with the silhouette that they used. But it’s interesting to see the differences, and to know more about the real history!” (Titanic (1997) Corsetry: Historically Accurate?).
- “Elisa’s wardrobe is overall pretty decent” (The Load Portrays 16th Century Mexico).
- “It’s an interesting film with some overall nice costumes … Albert does a good job with getting the era right. There’s a lot of robes à la française (sack-back gowns), a few gowns that are more anglaise in style, and she uses mostly appropriate fabrics with a few too many obviously machine-embroidered elements, but that seems par for the course these days” (Mademoiselle Paradis).
- “There are MANY MANY shitty elements, and yet I found lots of things I thought were pretty or semi-decent or if-I-squint-I-can-see-where-you’re-going-there” (The Other Catherine the Great (2015) Comes to Amazon).
- “Impressively, there was a dearth of poly baroque satin and even, dare I say it, silk was worn! The costumes got the general gist of mid-17th century right. And okay, there were some metal grommets, but at least they were the small ones?” (The Queen & the Cardinal).
- “Some things they did very well, others were somewhat odd, and only two things made me WTF” (Beaumarchais l’Insolent).
- “To be fair and balanced, I feel like I need to point out some of the things that the production got right from a historical angle” (Top 5 Costume Inaccuracies – and Accuracies – in War & Peace).
Humor Is Subjective
Furthermore, you are far from funny or entertaining in any way,
1) I write for an audience that enjoys snark.
2) I write for an educated audience that prefers knowledge to “ooo pretty!”
“But our self-designated job here at Frock Flicks is primarily to discuss historical accuracy in costume (although we’re interested in other aspects as well). Our audience is comprised of people who love historical costume movies, and a large subset of those are people who know about costume history. And the Frock Flicks team is made up of writers who have an appreciation for all kinds of costume, but who are particularly versed in costume history” (Just the Facts, Ma’am).
and should be reprimanded for the put down you do of very talented individuals who are being creative, and not all the time ‘on the money’ which you have decreed a sin if they aren’t.
“So, when we point out inaccuracies, we’re just discussing the facts. I’m sorry if it hurts feelings, but it’s not a judgement call. There are probably 5 million people who love that design element, and we’re the 0.0001% who aren’t necessarily saying we don’t like it, we’re just saying that it’s not accurate to the period. That’s all. It’s a fact that gold lamé wasn’t invented in Cleopatra’s time. I’m not saying that to be mean or to be a spoilsport. I’m not going to lie and claim that Mary Queen of Scots totally dug the Coachella boho look, just because that’s how she’s been dressed in Reign” (Just the Facts, Ma’am).
“What we do is not criticism. It’s critique and, yes, there’s a big difference between critique and criticism. Critique is pointing out issues in a body of work or, in our case, historical inaccuracies in film and television, not just saying the entire body of work is utter shit and everyone involved in making it should be taken out back and shot. The former (‘this costume has these inaccuracies’) is critique. The latter (‘the costumer is a drooling idiot’) is a criticism” (POV: Opinions [A Story in Gifs]).
I do not care for Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and think the costumes come nowhere close to the requirements of the period, but I do give it credit for being very inventive.
Ya know what?
SO DO WE.
Other movies/TV series we have praised for inventive costume design that doesn’t strictly follow history but does interesting, beautiful, and story-serving things:
- Angels & Insects (1995)
- Sleepy Hollow (1999)
- Vanity Fair (2004)
- Marie Antoinette (2006)
- Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
- The Crimson Petal & The White (2011)
- Anna Karenina (2012)
- Outlander (2014-)
- Penny Dreadful (2014-16)
- Crimson Peak (2015)
- Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (2015)
- Harlots (2017-19)
- The Favourite (2018)
- Six: The Musical (2019)
- Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
- Hamilton (2020)
- The Great (2020-)
And, I will point you to this interaction with costume designer James Keast. I reviewed his designs in The Scandalous Lady W, writing, “The costumes were designed by James Keast, and while there are some recycled costumes and a lot of re-wearing, he and his team did a good job with what I assume were limited resources. I pretty much liked all of the outfits — they were shiny, they were appropriate to the era (mostly 1781-ish), and they did a good job with adequate amounts of underwear and accessories.” He commented on the post, “Yes, the budget was very small, in fact the smallest budget I have worked on for years, I did my best. Very pleased with all the positive comments and pleased people have recognised the research that has gone into my work, James Keast, Costume designer The Scandalous Lady W.” We’ve had similar interactions by email with several costume designers. Sure, we’ve also pissed some people off. But we give props where props are due.
In that line, here’s some films/TV shows about which we’ve basically said, “Given budgetary limitations, it’s pretty good”:
- The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970)
- The Last King (2003)
- Elizabeth I (2005)
- Casanova (2005)
- The Virgin Queen (2005)
- The Crown Prince (2006)
- Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012-15)
- The Girl King (2015)
- Underground (2016)
- Timeless (2016)
- Mystère à la Tour Eiffel (2017)
- One Nation, One King (2018)
- Maria Theresia (season 2, 2019)
- Belgravia (2020)
Big Books in a Stuffy Library
I think you should sit back in your lonely library chair where you rule the roost, just like you are trying to impose in your articles and give imagination and talent its fair due. Those that can do, those who can’t teach (or shuffle around big books in a stuffy library)!
I shudder to follow your own tack, but you don’t actually seem to know what a modern (academic) librarian does. Here’s some resources:
- Here’s What It’s Actually Like to Be a Librarian
- A Snapshot of a 21st-Century Librarian
- What Exactly Does a Librarian Do? Everything.
The world is filled with enough self-imposed tyrants, like Trump, we don’t need another egoistic nincompoop like you have made yourself out to be.
We’ve already established that there’s no pee tape starring me (and that Frock Flicks is a feminist, anti-Nazi, pro-Black Lives Matter, pro-LGBTQ, flamingly liberal publication), so you might want to rethink that comparison.
Take a course in Costuming 101 and you might make more sense.
Well, I’ve taken two, maybe that’s the problem?
I love you all. And I am here for this masterly academic muscle flex.
You get me!
I wonder if this person is even english, let alone the owner of a phd, since anyone knows oxford and london are an hours drive away from one another. If she really had oxbridge qualifications she would have started by quoting the college, then the university.
I would love to see the consequence if anyone mailed this to Trystan.
Anyone who thinks that gowns were backlaced in the 18th century should be forced to wear a shirt that buttons entirely in the back.And shoes that cover the top of the foot and lace at the soles.And trousers that have to be unbuttoned in the back to access the front.The reason people defend back lacing on women’s gowns in the 18th century is because they are utterly ignorant of it.No anglaise or full sleeved gown was ever back laced.21st century doesn’t seem to comprehend the fact that people weren’t fools back then-can we name a single occasion when any modern man wore a tuxedo with the coat buttoning in the back,unless the occasion was Met Gala?Apart from grand robe de cour bodices,only late 18th century soft unboned corsages(sometimes spelled corsets)had back lacing but they they were sleeveless and then a short jacket over it-like the lilac robe de cour bodice that Kendra herself made inspired from a fashion magazine.Women’s hunting ensemble waistcoats(again sleeveless)too had back lacing but of course they were menswear inspired and covered with long coats.It is not too hard a concept to understand that a jacket closes in front because it is supposed to shut there.There were some back lacing Prussian and Austrian robes,but why would any normal lady in France or England wear those unless she was an super rich aristocrat.Besides those robes were courtwear and court robes were like uniforms,not just fashion.Which is why English mantuas,French robe de cours,Prussian robe “allemandes” and Russian court robes with decidedly rounder skirts and comparatively barrel shaped(not with a cuirass front)bodices existed with sharp differences,not just bodice-skirt ensembles.Atleast in those times,the mix and match was seen as mixing with the enemy(people saw foreign fashions as vain and tried not to be influenced by them in court settings to avoid scandals.Marie Antoinette wasn’t criticised all for nothing-her fashions were seen as different from French protocol)unless when done by rich for sheer decadence of fashion.
This wasn’t meant as a reply.Sorry.
Oh don’t worry, we got the letter & read it together. Over cocktails, LOL.
My assumption is that back-lacing helps for dressing the actresses — it’s more size adjustable, especially if you put a placket under there. But then filmmakers should just admit that’s why they’re doing it and not try to defend its accuracy. If it ain’t stays or a court bodice, it closes in front in the 18th century.
She didn’t use the full name of the school: Bubba’s Oxford Sewing for Fun and Profit Institute in London. Arkansas.
The PhD is a Post-hole Digger
You are being very kind there.
Bravo! What a marvelous post! I love the scope of research that goes into this site, and any excuse to dive into old posts and read them again.
This person reminds me of one of my favorite movie quotes:
“She’s one of those third year girls who gripe my liver…You know, American college kids. They come over here to take their third year and lap up a little culture…They’re officious and dull. They’re always making profound observations they’ve overheard.” –An American in Paris
I love that you are quoting one of my favorite movies to sum up the writer of this ridiculous letter. I really need to watch American in Paris again!
Wow! Maybe she should just stay away from the site until she can criticize in a civilized manner instead of coming across like a spoiled toddler. We know you’re not perfect–who is?–but we’re happy to have you keep doing what you do.
She (or maybe even he) lost me right at the start. That first sentence is wrong in so many ways. As Opusanglicanum says Oxford and London are two completely different places and no-one who has studied at Oxford at any level would refer to it in those terms. Yes, even if they came to study from elsewhere. If you start with a lie, nothing you say afterwards has any credibility.
You guys on the other hand do what you do brilliantly and that includes saying when you don’t know and admitting when you get it wrong. That’s real scholarship.
I don’t see any fashion or textile courses at Oxford. Dodgy creds.
And they have “an Phd”. That’s how you know it’s English. Because of the “an”.
MA art history, MA costume history, ABD art history.
Love you cited proper references and you cited them correctly.
And I heard your excellent talk at CSA and have read your articles – you know your stuff.
(I just wish you could site where to watch the film/movie/show … then again, there is Google)
I am gobsmacked by this pretentious and petty email AND by your amazing, comprehensive, and kind reply. Reading it was a delight, and so much more than Oxford-London PhD deserved. Kudos!
BTW I’m also a Boomer who loves Frock Flicks. We’re not all crabby know-it-alls; these probably exist in every generation.
My favourite part of this dumb letter is that anyone here from any political stance can laugh at the Trump comparison.
Sorry you had to go through this!
As a regular reader your blog gives me happiness everyday and I really appreciate the effort you put into it (for free, as you mentioned).
Also, as a person who has absolutely nothing to do with fashion history (I just like costume movies), I have learnt a lot reading your articles, and I feel a more educated and engaged when watching costume content. I feel you need to know the rules to break them and your articles about historical accuracy really helped me understand and appreciate the work of costume designers much more than before.
So thank you !
I needed that today. You brought it. Furthermore, to quote you:
“And I’m sorry, but if you’re going to throw down, you’d better have some documentation.”
I think that phrase is going to come in really handy in the next few months.
And don’t forget the bergere hat (with a graves accent, but I can’t find it on my keyboard). I write books set in the mid 18th century, and all my heroines wear one at some point, because it’s just so bloody cute.
also, the demand to brandish your qualifications is coming thick and fast on Facebook. I won’t do it. You had to here.
That’s a student, or newly qualified person carried away by loyalty to The Spanish Princess. Mark my words, that’s what it is.
Ooh, I hadn’t thought of that! Probably thinks that PFG can do no wrong. Good call.
(Love all you FF ladies, BTW)
PFG fans are the strangest breed. I got into a tiff with someone the other day who was insisting that Anne Boleyn would have loved reading The Other Boleyn Girl and been flattered by her depiction. You know, the books that tells us that she was a bigamist, betrayed her sister by stealing her child, slept with Henry almost immediately, and possibly slept with her brother.
This! This person isn’t even a costume designer, just a wannabe. S/he’s lucky if s/he’s even completed Costume Design 101, much less ever worked on a show. The passion, wordiness, lack of specifics, offended pearl clutching, and general cluelessness all read “freshman” to me (whom I used to teach), and I say that realizing it’s deeply unfair to most freshmen.
SO MUCH pearl clutching!!
Sorry, the demand that I brandish my qualifications? Or this reader? I actually didn’t get into my own, since I felt like my work should stand on its own merit. I’m glad now that we’ve realized this person was trying to impersonate another (famous) designer who does have a PhD… which is a pretty shitty thing to do!
Oh, her doing the demanding, not you, starting with, “As a PHD,” as if that made everything she said valid. It’s a common thing on social media, the battle of the qualifications! (I have a bunch of them, but I got them so long ago that they don’t really prove anything about me any more. So I don’t brandish).
I don’t need to know yours, because it’s all there, on your blog. You know what you’re talking about, and you do it with wit and style. Like Christopher Wren’s epitaph in St. Paul’s – “Reader, if you seek his monument look around you.”
It’s an extraordinary letter. Must have taken her ages. My money is still on her being a fan of something you’ve commented on, most likely PFG.
BTW, if the world overwhelms me, I put on the first five minutes of Dangerous Liaisons. Cheers me up no end.
I love the bergere hats too but never knew the name, so thanks for this! I googled it and now I’ve learned something today — one of the many reasons I love this website, I learn so much from the posts and the commenters.
Well, you have my vote of confidence. I am a retired historian who has long been interested in historical fashion. And historical accuracy in film and television as far as possible. While accepting that some sacrifices have to made for accuracy, it does hurt when designers (or facts) get too far off mark. And where is Oxford University in London? I thought I knew the university well.
That was excellent.
My first thought on reading their letter was “Okay, Boomer”, not only because of what they wrote, but I also get the impression that this is an older person. My second thought is “They can fuck right off.” If they have such an issue with Frock Flicks, and Kendra specifically, why do they even bother reading it?
Adding to this: I ****LOVE**** your snark, it breathes life into my coal black heart.
Ya know, I thought about adding this but didn’t — I may save the long version for snark week. But THIS IS HOW PEOPLE WHO ARE EDUCATED ABOUT HISTORY/COSTUME TALK ABOUT FILMS & TV SHOWS. These filmmakers are just hearing (or reading) it for the first time. But travel back in time to 1975, and there were a few in-the-know people sitting around cackling about whatever period film was in the theaters.
Please do save the long version for Snark Week! I would love to read it!
Seriously. There are many, MANY other sources of reading material in the universe!
Please do not characterize “Boomers” in such terms. I am a certified (late) Bloomer, having been born in 1950. This is first I have ever heard that Bloomers do not like historical costume–I know of plenty who do, although I am probably the most fanatic in my set. I ADORE Frock Flicks, and especially the combination of snarkiness and the authors’ genuine knowledge of historical costume and cinema.
I actually do have a PhD, although it has nothing to do with costuming. But I did once have a job with the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in San Francisco, where one of my tasks was to catalogue all their books for the library. I never really got it done, because I spent all my time reading the costume books. So you might call me a very, very minor “expert”.
The original “Oxford” writer was nastier than she needed to be and the F.F. response was a masterpiece of good documentation, good humor, and, well, snarkiness.
With all due respect,
The Montrose Courtesan
Have you seriously never heard the phrase “Okay, Boomer”? If not, please look it up.
As I said, based on the style of writing, OP is definitely giving off the vibes that they’re older. And where did we say ALL older people hate historical costume?
LOL! I fucking love you! And now my neck is sore from nodding along as I read your responses to this haughty glorified troll. I am ever more saddened by the slow death of humanity’s sebse of humor, quirkiness, and twisted but direct expressions of ideas and perceptions. Many have traded all of that in for a shiny, righteous pole up the ass and it’s very frustrating! The haters will hate while the rest of us laugh and perhaps live a little longer for it.
‘Haughty glorified troll’ is such a perfect description, thank you!
I really appreciate the “shiny, righteous pole up the ass” also!
When will people learn to never question a librarian on sources? We will bury you in them in the turn of a page.
My library (I’m a director…lol) isn’t stuff. Nor do we “shuffle around books!”
Love your rebuttal (and the blog, of course!)
I’m just amused at the idea that anyone with a graduate degrees in the humanities would think that librarians “shuffle around books”. When last I was an undergrad book-shelver at a graduate humanities library the grad students (or at least the smart ones!) knew the value of the librarians!
Seriously. As I always say, sometimes my hair goes in a bun but I never shush!
Exactly! The whole point of libraries is to preserve the collective knowledge to make accessible to others. Why would we object to our patrons making noise when they are enjoying learning and sharing with others?
I may shush sometimes, but only when the older kids on the computers are making so much noise that this small preppies can’t hear the story being read.
There’s a lot of internet available–why get so hung up on one site? I can only imagine writing something like this when I was a teen or just out of college (uni). Without justifying this quite rude and condescending email, I wonder if the writer would’ve been more able to let it go if we weren’t all shut up in our houses. That said, many cooped up people haven’t lashed out like this.
I think this blog does a good job of taking into account a lot of factors, but of course you’re not going to mention every possible reason why the costume designer may not be responsible for things you’re critiquing every time. At any rate, this is the only blog I check regularly and I plan to continue doing so. It’s fun and informative, and I expect it will continue to be so, regardless of whether I always share an opinion expressed here (seriously, are we not grown ups anymore about that?).
Keep up the good work, team.
Fabulosity. Cackling with glee.
Man, not that I want you to get angry emails, but this response was delightfully fun to read! I love your research and your snark. I’m so happy to be a patron and support your excellent work in a small way. Keep the snark flowing!
Wow, this was an amazeballs post for the “beginning” of the week – hopefully you’ll let us know if the person responds to this post!
Ooh the tone of this is very familiar, I think I might know who wrote this! The condescending attitude is a lot like that used by a costume designer who was recently spouting off over Twitter about the TV shows of a British historian.
Call them out!!!!
Even if it’s not them, spill the tea.
Bloody love it 🤣 I really hope she isn’t British. We do not need another thing to be ashamed of right now….🤦♀️
After that line about Oxford University in London, I suspect it’s an American who likes to pretend they’re ever so English just because they once tried to bed someone from Cardiff and they think they look good in tartan.
Sir, that comment nearly made me spit-take my coffee! Hilarious, thank you!
Either way it’s such a brilliant 2020 email. ‘The world is burning, disease ridden and being overtaken by nutbars but I know more about olde frocks than ye to the point that I took a whole day to write this when I should have been homeschooling my kids!!!’ 🤣🤦♀️
I know, right? What a thing to get worked up about! Wish I had that much time & fucks to give about such minor things anymore ;)
I like to follow my 2 year old daughter’s current icon’s catchphrase and just….’let it go’. Apparently this chick (dude?) is not aware of the healing magic of watching Frozen and Frozen two over 900000 times. Sigh.
SERIOUSLY. Don’t we have more important things to worry about?
This reminds me of when my alma mater referred to the then college president as “Our Notorious RBG” on the cover of the alumni magazine. Some idiot wrote in condemning the editors for comparing the president to a “thug rapper.” So they published the letter and noted the reference was to Ruth Bader Ginsberg. People like this deserve to be shown the error of their ways. Oxford in London indeed.
Oxford University in London?!
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha noooope. This dingbat’s credibility just went down faster than Lady Chatterley’s drawers at the sight of Mellors.
Yikes! Good job…and it is so easy NOT to read blogs you do not like…why stress yourself out? Write your own…
I don’t think I have ever commented here (I am a lurker by default) but wow, this was a read and a half and I am utterly boggled at the entitlement of someone who though to email you all of that, ahem, ‘guff’.
I read every single word and cheered you on from the sidelines.
My bs radar went off when I read “Oxford university in London” and kept on bleeping.
Continue what you’re doing x
Soooooo…costume designer who’s super salty that their work got critiqued? LOL
This, right here, for the win.
That’s what I suspect as well!
I came here for the snark and have learned a ton of stuff from you (and added to my movie binge list). Having had two moronic historic throw-downs at a living history event this past weekend, “I took two” (so there) is going to be my new historic throw-down mental mantra.
Having said that, you and your collaborators are amazing and the site is wonderful – bask in the love from non-know-it-all’s who aren’t still suffering from costuming that college play and the Director didn’t agree with her vision so she had to lace all the dresses in the back.
Love this: Come for the snark, stay for the knowledge. LOL
I need this on their next merch shirt…. :) Or coffee cup.
Jeebus, what an insufferable letter. If they hate the site so much, why are they bothering? They need to get a life or start their own website. I’m sorry y’all have to put up with this shite. You have many loyal readers who love you and your snark, it helps us get through the day.
lolololol please respond to them with just “k”
I wish there was a way to upvote because I love the passive aggressiveness of that. So petty. So delicious.
I LOVE THIS
Oh, bless their overwrought little hearts.
I went on a UK grad-school researching kick a couple of years ago – in various disciplines – and I call bullshit on the letter-writers’ credentials. PhD in costume? Maybe. Oxford in London? Bwahaha. London grows inexorably p, but it hasn’t swallowed Oxford yet…
“As a costume designer who has an PhD in fashion and textile from Oxford University in London…” I think not! LMAO! There is no specific costume course offered by Oxford University and it certainly isn’t based in London! From what I am aware, they only offer modules occasionally covering singular aspects of costume, when needed for a particular and wider subject – such as “The role of costume in Roman comedy”. They certainly do not offer a PHD or even a BA in the subject and I repeat again… certainly not in London. What a whooper to begin with. HOOT. I detect someone who wishes they had such a qualification getting a nefarious thrill through writing a large amount of crap regarding someone else’s well considered and researched work. Basically a rather frustrated and bitter person. You are ALL STARS and what you offer is educational, informative and at the same time highly amusing and engaging – a winning combination. I adored Kendra’s witty response and I hope that whoever wrote the original message reads it carefully, checking out all the links and learns a little more about considered and informed critique as well as developing a sense of humour – which I fear may be sorely missing at present.
I know nothing about costumes except that I love to look at them and enjoy your site totally. after all today’s fashions are drab and shapeless in general. if this nasty person dislikes you so much, s/he should go elsewhere. there are many of us who love this escape from today’s news. thank you for doing what you do.
I’m a Boomer, and I love Frock Flicks.
Me, too, and I do, too.
Same here. And I was turned on to the site by another Boomer.
Same here. I collect historical clothing and love this blog; my degrees are in English and the writer of this letter does not really speak like an educated person.
The writer of this bilge certainly had their knickers in a twist. Your response was amazing and definitely made my day.
Sorry you had to encounter this troll. Glad you provided your documentation. I’ll bet the writer has never actually MADE an 18th century garment. When I was really active in the SCA (with a Laurel in Costuming), I was asked to judge many competitions. If I got some dicey stuff to judge every now and then, and a fair amount of BS from competitors. I would just flutter my lashes and sweetly ask for documentation on whatever they were going on about. That usually shut them down.
Trump has a soulmate in costuming
I knew once I read “Oxford University in London ” I was in for a treat. This did not disappoint! I’d be wary of going tête-à-tête with this obviously well-educated twatwaffle; I mean, they moved the 900-year-old university to accommodate their degree!
Reading your response to this idiocy made me want to grab popcorn and soda. While the visuals were all in my mind, it was definitely a glorious smack down.
The paragraph that is made up entirely of citations is sending me. Absolutely sending me.
Someone’s mistaken Karoline Zebrowska’s “Boobs” and “Actress in a Corset” videos for documentaries.
Do some people not have a sense of humor anymore? Instead they have a chip on their shoulder, and are missing the whole point? Sad on them.
Bravo for responding to that troll, which is the best I can give them.
Funny and [citations]. Love it. And Cambridge University is where you go for arts. bats eyelashes
Oh, Lord! I echo ALL the positive remarks by the other commenters and will add this one: Another thing I appreciate about your posts is that you make time–explicitly and repeatedly–to address your raison d’etre, philosophy, attitude, approach, etc. Your POV is not hidden away on some hard to find page tucked away on this website (cf: all the self-citations and links in this particular response to the troll). I love those blog posts and have learned so much not only the costumes and the dress of their relative historical periods, but also your attitude and approach when addressing these films. I have to add these two grievances about the troll. NO ONE who has a PhD–whether or not they go on to teach in the academy–would: 1) dare to endorse that tired old saying, “Those who can do, those who can’t teach.” and 2) disrespect the work of librarians.
You ladies are amazing, and so is this site. Keep on keepin’ on! Drown all memories of this troll with pink drinks while watching the next fab frock flick to review. Your fans can’t wait for the next fun, snarky, and informative review. Cheers!
I have a PhD and am a history professor and I can confirm that NOBODY with a PhD would say either of those things! Librarians make our jobs possible!
This is how I feel when someone tells me how to “science” properly, using some wiki article or FB post.
Thanks for the entertainment, from the post and from the comments.
Your sharing of well informed research compared to how a costume should have looked like in a movie/series is not only pleasing, but somehow vital for those who take costuming seriously. Unfortunately it is described here how period movies are not given nearly enough finances to recreate costumes in as much accuracy as necessary…which in my opinion, should be at least 40% or more of the allocated budget. I mean, why even bother making a period film with crap costume??? I have seen productions with zippers, and they were a hurting eye-sore! Anyways, be sure that you have a long queue of happy fans who appreciate your research…a lot!!!!
Glad to hear it! We’re sympathetic to budgetary limitations! Just, again, because you couldn’t afford it doesn’t make it historically accurate.
So… they came hear to learn and got mad instead?
Pfft. This person either isn’t a costume designer or worked on a project you tore to pieces, after being so proud that they did their research first by watching The Tudors.
Uff da – Bad Uff da to the person who felt that email was necessary, and Good Uff Da to your response :)
Wow. It is amazing the amount of work they put in only to be so wrong! All three of you are some of my favourite people and don’t deserve any kind of vitriolic garbage like this. Absolutely adore this website and everything you ladies do <3
Twit. Only twits attempt to critique others via gratuitous insults, as in, “Someone who loves to watch herself speak in front of a mirror since no one else pays that much attention to your waspish remarks.” (If I knew the twit better, I’d mutter, “Projection.”)
Meanwhile, am watching “Jefferson in Paris.” Which is what I first thought this piece might refer to, given the image.
Oh Kendra – you are a credit to your profession! And all the other fun hijinks you get up to!!
I was annoyed on your behalf during the whole read and then I got to the library part. If this person where truly an academic then there would be no putting down of libraries.
Great response to the whole thing! You ladies are the best!
I wish to state for the record that I find all our writers here extremely entertaining!
HOOBOY! What a nice read for an unseasonably cold and rainy day in MN. What an epic takedown. I am not a scholar, but I am a fan of good costuming. And good costuming and historical accuracy can walk hand in hand and still support the story and acting. I also love me some good old-fashioned snark! That is why I love and support (via Patreon) this site.
While the state burns around me, I enjoyed reading this burn.
Wonder if it’s a Putin drone?
I must confess the snitty side I generally try to tamp down is super curious if the letter writer has responded at all (presumably in email, rather than here).
Newp, they haven’t. Cowardly hid behind a fake address along w/the fake credentials.
Wow, faking an email address? I wouldn’t know how to do that, and I imagine a lot of folks have never given it a second thought.. so not only did this person want to dress you all down (ha!), they didn’t want to have to listen to any answer or be accountable for their own errors. Sounds like a troll, tbh… probably getting a kick out of the hubbub, but what an asshat.
Google fake email. It’s shockingly easy, as I found the time I had to “join” a book pirating site to make sure my books weren’t being pirated there!
Not so far!
I have the impression, that there was somebody maybe reading your blog for a month but don’t understanding, what you are writing. You are so often writing about the problems of costume-designers and write in depth if you know about details of the production. Therefore all the problems of the critic are hilarious.
As I had the chance to be in some German productions (mostly documentaries) I got the the Impression, that Money in most cases is not the problem. You can have a very tiny budget but you can ask reenactors or collectors for help if you are not too much focused on yourself and recognize that there is in most parts of Europe (and the US) a reenactment-company for nearly every time period. To find the right persons is not too difficult today in times of the Internet. You can even ask a open air museum, where you maybe had found photos of events with very good reenactors on their Homepage and ask there to get connected with professional historians or talented not academic historians for extras with the complete extras (including costumes) or even the Chance to lend very well researched costumes. One example: https://wackershofenannodomini.blogspot.com/2020/06/ankundigungen-und-kurze-filme.html
Just to add to everybody correctly deriding this person’s claim to have “an PhD in fashion and textile from Oxford University in London” (dont you just love that ‘an’ before the ‘PhD’, presumably inserted in the hope that it would give an impression of old-fashioned English scholarship?):
In 2009 the Iranian parliament impeached their former Minister of the Interior, Ali Kordan; among the charges was that he had falsely claimed on his CV to have an honorary doctorate from ‘the University of Oxford in London’.
The institution in London that really does teach costume design is the very highly-regarded London College of Fashion. A genuine holder of the LCF’s MA in costume design would hopefully have something worth saying and listening to. The fact that this poster evidently didn’t have a clue where in Britain to claim a degree from if you want costuming clout, and instead invented one that doesn’t exist, says all we need to know about this person’s credentials.
Applied to Oxford and studied at London, and there are definitely no fashion or textile courses from Ox in London. Immediately disproved, disregard all else.
Well, add another (Boomer, born 1955) voice to those deriding the letter-writer in general and an PhD in fashion and textile from Oxford University in London in particular. Oxford isn’t a campus university and does not have institutions based a hundred miles away. It’s a great university, but has no drama, textile or art history courses, not even of any kind. It’s the last place you would choose to study specialist costume history or performance costuming.
There are some very distinguished places in the London area which specialise in fashion and textiles, but anyone who had studied there would be proud to name them, confident that they are in themselves a stamp of quality. This individual has very little grasp of the concept of “quality” at all and, it would see, only one textbook, nearly a century old.
I happen to know someone who has just been awarded a doctorate from the Shakespeare Institute (part of Birmingham University but in Stratford-on-Avon), specialising in modern theatrical representations of the Tudor/Jacobean periods. (Mostly “theatre” in the British sense of live stage performance rather than film or TV.) She was sent to study with The School of Historical Dress (http://theschoolofhistoricaldress.org.uk/) and did a long placement at the V&A, working with actual clothes and costumes, as well as working at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust archives. That’s what an actual PhD in that area looks like!
I think you handled the whining troll with impressive dignity. And citations. Who doesn’t love citations?
Actually, some Oxford colleges offer the history of art, either on its own, or as a part of some classics degrees. https://www.hoa.ox.ac.uk/colleges
You have to be careful, because the University of Oxford is the old Polytechnic, and also offers an excellent art history degree.
No fashion courses, though. Nada.
Everything else you said? Spot on. And yes, if the person had said they went to St. Martin’s in London, they’d be very proud of that.
I did my history of art degree at Manchester Art School (now Manchester Met University).
Oxford Brookes University is the former Poly; it’s the “other university” in Oxford as Anglia Ruskin is in Cambridge. Both admirable institutions despised by some of the students of their older cohabitees. And, yes, anyone with real costume credentials would be very proud of being from St Martin’s or, back in the day, Wimbledon. And people who know what’s what would recognise that.
Actually some Oxford colleges do offer art history. https://www.hoa.ox.ac.uk/colleges
But no fashion.
The rest of what you said? Spot on.
Ah, thanks for that. It must be relatively new, then – not an option when my daughter did the subject at UCL.
I think she missed the entire point of your webpage. but then she’s from “oxford” in London (!) and as a Library employee, I can swear to it that we rarely “move dusty books around” we leave that to our minions aka student employees. most librarians spend their time in meetings, committees and overseeing departmental budgets of millions. (we also don’t spend all our time reading and collecting cats.)
Though the cats do sound like a bonus :)
To state the obvious: By critisising bad costume choices, Frock Flicks is empowering another group of costume designers who happen to be brave enough to take a stand for historic accuracy …
Long time reader, just simply had to come out of my lurk to say, what a masterful and unmitigatedly deserved roast. You have more patience than I.
And I believe the term here called for is,
“Supercilious little chit.”
I think my favorite part of this whole take-down is your EXTENSIVE sourcing! As someone who really enjoys other people’s work in this field and occasionally dares to dabble a little myself, I’ll be mining this post for the rest of my life for those sources! And as an MLIS student, I a) appreciate the way you cited your sources (so many sources! <3) and b) was surprised that your critic had such a narrow, outdated view of what librarians actually do. Makes me wonder just how much (or how little) time that person has actually spent in libraries or archives.
Keep up the good work – long my FF snark!