Why Are We Covering Wonder Woman?


Wonder Woman is a big superhero movie/comic book adaptation that’s coming in 2017, so why are we writing about it at Frock Flicks? Because it’s being set during World War I! The trailer just came out at San Diego Comic Con, so let’s take a look:

The costumes were designed by Lindy Hemming, who’s done a number of superhero and action movies (including Bond) … but who also designed The Man Who Cried (2000), World War I-set The Trench (1999), Topsy-Turvy (1999), and Sister My Sister (1994). So we’re in luck, because she clearly knows her history — although I am sure she’s having to balance that with the expectations for a superhero film. So far the only comments I’ve been able to find from her are about the Amazons’ battle armor, which is of course pure fantasy.

Let’s look at the historical costumes more specifically. I’m not sure exactly which year the film is set, but the US didn’t enter the war until 1917 (and WWI ended in 1918), so I assume it’s in that window.

2017 Wonder Woman

Chris Pine plays Steve Trevor, and he appears to be wearing flight gear here as he’s washed up on the beach and found by Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot.

2017 Wonder Woman

He’s wearing a double-breasted leather jacket with a sheep’s wool hood.

2017 Wonder Woman

Next the two arrive (in the US?). Pine/Trevor is in a turtleneck sweater, leather jacket, overcoat, and newsboy cap; Gadot/WW is in a wool suit with wide-brimmed hat.

Wonder Woman (2017)

Here’s some better shots of WW’s suit. I like that they got the natural waistline and full skirt of this era.

Wonder Woman (2017)

Very military-inspired with the pocket flaps and the leather belt.

Compare that suit to these 1917-18 suits:

Eaton's Spring & Summer 1917 Catalog

Eaton’s Spring & Summer 1917 Catalog via Pinterest

Suit, American, 1917, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Suit, American, 1917, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Uniform, 1917, American, Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Metropolitan Museum of Art

And drum roll … I’m thinking they may have been inspired by this real 1917 uniform! Uniform, 1917, American, Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Wonder Woman (2017)

Here’s another shot of Trevor.

2017 Wonder Woman

Next we’re at a fancy party with military brass and some REALLY well-dressed ladies in attendance. Check the gown on the far left (peach and blue) — that’s right out of a period fashion plate.

2017 Wonder Woman

WW is wearing something a bit more questionable, but I’m guessing they’re going for Grecian goddess here. Hey, they put her hair up! Again, the extras’ costumes all look great.

2017 Wonder Woman

Every teens-era woman needs a back-sheath for her sword, right?

Compare all the background ladies’ evening dresses with these period images, where you’ll see the same layered net and opaque fabrics and wide sashes:

Evening dress, American, 1917, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Evening dress, American, 1917, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Wedding ensemble, American or European, 1917, Madeleine and Angels, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Wedding ensemble, American or European, 1917, Madeleine and Angels, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Clarisse Coudert, Mrs. Condé Nast in Evening Dress, circa 1917, from woman as decoration by Burbank, Emily, Via Wikimedia

Clarisse Coudert, Mrs. Condé Nast in Evening Dress, circa 1917, from woman as decoration by Burbank, Emily, Via Wikimedia

2017 Wonder Woman

More military flight gear on Trevor.

Look at the lapels on these suits for comparison:

Vintage Suit Catalog -1918. Via Pinterest

Vintage Suit Catalog – 1918. Via Pinterest.

2017 Wonder Woman

Okay, so WW has her iconic outfit…

2017 Wonder Woman

Which looks pretty badass…

2017 Wonder Woman

Yep. Badass.

2017 Wonder Woman

In the trailer’s final scene, we can see that they’re clearly going for modern makeup on WW. And I’m going to reserve judgement on the hair until I know the context.

2017 Wonder Woman

Trevor’s secretary, Etta Candy, looks WONDERFUL. That square blouse collar with the lace edging? That hat? SPOT ON.

2017 Wonder Woman

There’s maybe some gingham in there? Or is that a bag?

Compare the blouse collar and hat to:

New Idea Quarterly – Summer 1918

New Idea Quarterly – Summer 1918. Via Pinterest.

Bellas Hess & Co, New York, Fall and Winter Catalogue No 74, 1916-1917, page 135, hats, Via Smithsonian

Bellas Hess & Co., New York, NY. Fall and Winter Catalogue No. 74, 1916-1917, page 135, hats. Via Smithsonian.

If you’re like me, you’re wondering where you know the actress playing Etta Candy from. Well, that’s Lucy Davis from the British Office Space The Office and … Maria Lucas from Pride and Prejudice (1995).

Pride and Prejudice (1995)

You know — “There is such a sight to be seen!”

1995 Pride and Prejudice

Hey, I just realized there IS a pig reference in the 1995 P&P — “I expected at least that the pigs were got into the garden” is Elizabeth’s response.

Pride and Prejudice (1995)

So young, so innocent, so un-spray tanned!


Will you be seeing Wonder Woman when it comes to theaters?


About the author



Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

21 Responses

  1. Rowen G.

    The square-collared blouse on Lucy Davis / Etta Candy – what little we can see of it – looks suspiciously like Folkwear Patterns’ “Armistice Blouse” pattern – which was, of course, based on designs from that exact era. (I’ve made a few.)

    • thedementedfairy

      And a lovely thing it is too [I just finished mine!] We have just watched Batman V Superman, and are looking forward to Wonder Woman, very bad-ass indeed, but not a bad ass. Ahem.

  2. MoHub

    Minor correction: Lucy Davis wasn’t in Office Space; there is no British Office Space. She was in the original UK The Office.

  3. mmcquown

    God, yes! WW was my first-ever crush as a kid. I actually got a bit teared up over the trailer. I dunno why they decided to move it back to WWI instead of 2, but, what the hell. My only cavil is that WW never killed anyone in the original comics, but I can live with it.

    • Kendra

      I haven’t yet seen anything discussing that — early press did talk about it being set during WWII.

    • lesartsdecoratifs

      Rumor has it that it is because the DC’s rival Marvel had a character origin movie set during WWII and they wanted to avoid the direct comparison.

      • MoHub

        WWI also makes sense in the context of the postwar period bringing the dawn of women’s rights. That period leads into suffrage, less restrictive clothing, bobbed hair, and a variety of other new freedoms for women that fit in nicely with a character like Wonder Woman.

        Provided the producers were even thinking that deeply.

        • hsc

          Except that a WWII setting was so very much part of Wonder Woman’s origin– the war effort needed women to take the jobs of soldiers and keep the country running, and she was emblematic of that movement as much as Rosie the Riveter and the “We Can Do It!” poster.

          WW was the female equivalent of Captain America, and it’s obvious that when Marvel not only launched the CA film series with a WWII-set origin film, but continued the WWII adventures of Peggy Carter in “Agent Carter” on television, the producers felt they had to shift “Wonder Woman” to another era.

          Wikipedia says it was originally set in WWII in early drafts of the script, but now is going to be the first of three films, each one taking the character closer to the present.

          While the costumes in those photos are great, I can’t get my head past the fact that Steve Trevor and Etta Candy are in there. Sure, Diana isn’t going to age, but are they just out of the story after this one? Or are we going to get “Steve Trevor, Jr.” and “Steve Trevor III”?

          • MoHub

            When the TV series moved from the ’40s to the one contemporary with the air dates, Steve Trevor’s son—still played by Lyle Waggoner—became WW’s new love interest, so there’s a precedent.

            And my “explanation” of the WWI setting was just my shot at giving the filmmakers an excuse for changing the period.

  4. Ginger St. George

    I’m so bloody excited about this movie. Other than Affleck’s Batman, which I loved, she was the only thing worth watching in Dawn of Justice.

    Sticking with the WWII era would obviously have been truer to the comic book roots, but with Marvel’s Captain America having his own origin movie in that era and, I suppose, with the current run of DC’S Bombshells already featuring a WWII Wonder Woman, the change makes sense.
    I find it quite refreshing actually – something a little different!

    The blue dress was the only real issue I spotted in the trailer too, but, like you said, I figured it was a goddess/deliberate stand out decision, especially because everyone else around her seems to be getting it right!
    The final scene with Etta Candy I’m guessing is early on in the film, not long after she leaves Themyscria. If Etta is going to be as important in the films as she was in the comic books (please say so, DC!), it makes sense for her to meet WW early on. That might well explain the hair!

    • Knitms

      The blue dress, I think is actually a few years out of date. It looks like they were going for an early Vionnet dress from 1913/1914: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ateliersol/1968215135/in/set-72157602156412189/
      Or a Fortuny dress from the same period, sans the pleating. The color seems a bit Fortuny/Poiret from the first half of the decade, definitely not a Vionnet color, she favored light colors. In fashion terms, Diana would be standing out by being 4 to 5 years out of fashion. But she’s a goddess and can thus pull off anything.

      I will now take a moment to confess my love of the 1970’s TV show, and admit that I dearly want all of Lynda Carter/Diana Prince’s 70’s wardrobe (even if I can’t really pull it off)

  5. ladylavinia1932

    I’m so bloody excited about this movie. Other than Affleck’s Batman, which I loved, she was the only thing worth watching in Dawn of Justice.

    I found a lot of stuff worth watching in “Dawn of Justice” and Wonder Woman was one of them. It’s interesting that the movie will be set in WW1, instead of WW2.

    Has anyone seen Season One of the 1970s series with Lynda Carter? Only that particular season was set in the 1940s. The seasons that followed were in the series’ present.

    • hsc

      The Lynda Carter series started on ABC as a TV movie, a set of specials, and a full season, all set in WWII; while the ratings were good and the show got a lot of attention, the cost of doing it as a period piece caused ABC to hesitate over renewing it.

      CBS took advantage of ABC’s slowness in committing, and made Warner Bros. a better offer– with the provision that it be updated to the present day.

      The premise became that after the war, Wonder Woman returned to Paradise Island and returned 35 years later to encounter Steve Trevor, Jr. (still Lyle Waggoner) who had grown up hearing about WW from his father, though he never met her or saw a photo.

      Dad Trevor never apparently mentioned working with Diana Prince, though, because she picked up the same civilian identity without Junior noticing that she never aged a day, either.

  6. mmcquown

    Saw it when it first came out; haven’t seen it since. I lived through WWII, so I have some hazy recollections, but the uniforms and such seemed pretty good.

  7. Nick Friend

    Some observations on the uniforms and the timing of America’s entry into the war. Steve spends much of his time in the trailer in German uniform. That’s a German pilot’s kit in the opening beach scene–note the “Blue Max” cross at his throat–at one point he’s walking away from a Fokker biplane on an airfield, and the fancy-dress ball is top-heavy with the Kaiser’s finest. Obviously, he’s serving as a spy (see also his line to WW, “This is too dangerous, I can’t let you do this…). Conversely, whenever he isn’t undercover, he and Diana are surrounded by British military–for example, in the train station–and those are Tommies going “over the top” during WW’s trench warfare scene. He also has a British secretary. The conclusion I draw here is that he volunteered to serve in the British army prior to the US entry into the war, so using that as a basis for the date may not necessarily apply.

  8. mmcquown

    Of course, a number of American aviators went to the UK prior to the outbreak of WWII to join the Eagle Squadrons. Once the US entered the war, these units were remanded to the US Army Air Force. I suppose this is what inspired Trevor’s action in WWI. btw, since WW is immortal, I happen to know this Scottish guy…

  9. Nick Friend

    On the other hand, the US could very well be in the fight already, and Steve might be on loan to the Brits as a spy. It would be odd if our “All-American” heroine were to make her debut as a Britsh army secret weapon, but one is left to speculate in the dark until more plot details fall off the internets.

    (PS, a correction- monoplane, not biplane.)

  10. Jill

    I feel pretty certain that setting WW in WW1 is a deliberate attempt to channel Downton Abbey and perhaps attract a few of its devotees to come and see this film. And, of course I’ll go see it, probably wearing my pussy hat.