SNARK WEEK: Costumes Brought to You by David’s Bridal


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This is a trend in the last decade or so that I wish would just stop: Putting actresses in obviously modern, obviously bridal or prom gowns. Is it out of sheer laziness? What’s the deal? It’s a step further than the usual “historical clothing looks weird so modern audiences can’t relate to it” mentality that a lot of showrunners of historical films and TV seem convinced is a major problem (I’ve always wondered why they even decide to make historical flicks if that’s the case. Just go make yet another modern rom-com or something and leave history alone).

Let’s take a look at some of the more egregious examples of this trend!


Da Vinci’s Demons (2013-2015)

Da Vinci's Demons, Clarice Orsini

They’re not even trying to hide the fact that this is a straight-up prom dress. 15th century? What’s that? Also, extra negative points for the head necklace.


War & Peace (2016)

War & Peace (2016)

Gillian Anderson’s costumes in War & Peace are almost entirely bridal couture, so you could pick nearly anything she wore in this show and it would apply. But I thought this “sexy mother of the bride” look was worth a special mention. Imagine having your new mother-in-law show up to the wedding dressed like this. *shudder*


Another example from War & Peace that actually would have made an excellent 1930s film costume, but has no business being in a film set in 1805. The dress itself is absolutely be something you would find in any bridal shop today.


Reign (2013-2017)

This show’s entire aesthetic was based around the idea that what if Mary, Queen of Scots, was a high-school prom queen? The gowns were often beautiful, many of them pulled directly from haute couture runways, but they were just modern dresses at the end of the day.


Anna Karenina (2012)

Keira Knightley historical flicks always run the risk of falling prey to the bridal gown. In Anna Karenina, the more unhinged Anna becomes, the more always-the-bridesmaid-never-the-bride-gonna-get-shitfaced-on-champagne-at-the-reception-and-bang-a-groomsman-in-a-broom-closet her dresses get.


Pride & Prejudice (2005)

I got married in 2003. Yes, my wedding dress looked a lot like this. The ex-husband did not look anything like Matthew Macfadyen, unfortunately.


What are some other egregious examples of bridesmaid and prom dresses in historical flicks that grate on your nerves? Share them with us in the comments!




20 Responses

  1. EA Gorman

    I would wear that purple and gray gown Gillian Anderson is wearing if I could. But then again I’m not a Regency-era Countess in Russia so maybe it wouldn’t be quite as ridiculous?

  2. Susan Pola Staples

    At least Gillian Anderson’s Russian Countess isn’t a part of the Tits Out Clan. I will probably get jumped on, but I loved ever after, but in no was was Cinderella’s aka Drew Barrymore ‘s Ballgown Renaissance Francis I France. It’s gorgeous, not David’s Bridal, maybe Pnina or Zahair or Lazaro.

    • Nzie

      I think I remember a post on this blog that was generally favorable to Ever After — the fashions were mostly Italian, not French, renaissance, and of course some fantasy, but for that they were good if I recall correctly.

  3. Trudy Leonard

    Just saw King’s Daughter with horrid prom dresses on all the women. Men’s costumes were somewhat better, but were drawn from about 200+ years of menswear.

    • Nzie

      This is the one that came to mind for me–haven’t seen it but I keep seeing trailers and… no.

  4. spanielpatter14

    Gillian Anderson’s War and Peace mother-in-law outfit makes her look like she’s sizing up all the guests to pick one to take home to her boudoir; or else she’s waiting to seduce Napoleon. Guaranteed to strike fear and loathing into the hearts of young brides and bridesmaids everywhere.

    • SarahV

      I would totally watch that as an adjacent project, like how Wicked is a re-telling of Wizard of Oz from the Wicked Witch’s POV!

  5. Ewa

    The new “Sisi” tv series, especially the gowns on Sisi before she married Franz. And she hicks ’em up so high while walking that you can see her bare (ENTIRELY BARE!) legs. Seriously, wtf is so difficult in teaching an actress how to walk in a long gown?

    • Susan Pola Staples

      I the director wanted to show Sisi as a tomboy and free spirit, maybe? Dresses are pretty. Hope FrockFlicks will review.

      • Ewa

        Well, there are better ways of showing Sisi’s free spirit, than making her run around in prom dresses and flashing bare legs to strange men (and not wearing the knee lenght panties). Also it’s obvious that it is the actress that can’t walk in these dresses. When they get her in the hoop skirts she keeps hikin’ em up. There is one moment, when she tries to sneak away from Hofburg and in effect she runs away from the courtladies that are keeping an eye on her, In that scene she hikes her skirts so high, everyone can see her underwear. I repeat, the empress of frockin’ Austria shows everyone her damn underwear, That, though, pales in comparison with scene when during his first night with Sisi, Franz jumps out of the bed stark naked, opens the door full width and yells at the ladies in waiting that were listening outside. Poor chicks get an eyeful of, erm… kaiser’s private sceptre, iif you know what I mean.

        • Susan Pola Staples

          I have only seen snippets on YouTube and I want to see it when it streams here. I didn’t know she hike all the skirts in it though. They do show the blue Ballgown dress hike. I don’t know how much prep time the actors, especially the women had getting accustomed to wearing the period styled clothing. I wonder if the court ladies were impressed by the kaiser’s scepter, though. Lol. I have seen portraits of Sisi with her hair down, although I wonder if the stars portrait qualifies bc it’s worn sorta up.

          • Ewa

            There are two portraits of Sisi with her hair down, both by Winterhalter, and both were quite intimate, designed for the eyes of the emperor, to decorate his private rooms. On the Star portrait (also by Winterhalter) Sisi’s hair were very carefully done. I can assure you she was not running around in public with her hair flowing free.

    • Kathleen Norvell

      Many years ago, I encountered a book entitled “The Waering of Clothes.” Among its virtues were descriptions of how to walk in clothig from various periods.

      • Nzie

        The book sounds interesting so I googled–could it be The Wearing of Costume: The Changing Techniques Of Wearing Clothes And How To Move In Them, From Roman Britain To The Second World War by Ruth M. Green?

  6. Kristina

    Gillian Anderson’s one shoulder gown in War and Peace will forever have a special place in my heart. 🤯

    • Ester

      I would have chosen to feature that one on this list as well. It set the tone for the whole show, as it was pretty much the first costume shown on screen. For the first few seconds of the first episode I thought I was watching a well researched, costumed and designed interpretation of a classic novel. After that there was no mistaking as to what kind of a mess the whole show was going to be. Watched it all the way through all the same, thoroughly enjoying the outrage.

  7. Kat

    I knew the fashion in Anna Karenina was going to be OTT when they had a tie-in fashion line with I believe it was Banana Republic. Gave me shades of BBC’s Merlin and how Kate couldn’t wear historical clothes because they wanted young female viewers to want to dress like her.

  8. Lily Lotus Rose

    I’m sure I’ve see other FFs brought to us by David’s Bridals, but I can’t think of a single one right now. Your examples above are some of the more obvious ones!