The Greatest Showman: Historical Accuracy Quiz


Okay, so we missed covering The Greatest Showman — the musical starring Hugh Jackman as famed late 19th century circus director PT Barnum. We apologize, and humbly submit this quiz about the historical accuracy of the film’s costumes as an apology:


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.

30 Responses

  1. LadySlippers

    Hmmmmm but you gotta admit some of the costumes are fun!!! 😂

  2. Konstantin

    So not going to watch it… I’d love to see Victoria in chartreuse, btw!

  3. Susan Pola Staples

    LOL. Got a 6/6 accuracy. But the costumes were a we fully bad. Made me look fondly on Reign as the costumes were not intended for accuracy.

  4. Gail

    I don’t know why —but this is the second ‘quiz’ which doesn’t work on an ipad.

    • Kendra

      Weird! Have you tried more than one browser? It works for me on mobile in my phone…

      • Gail

        Not on my iphone either …. not sure why? as the regular blog posts are fine; though Eldest has a pi hole blocker or some such on the network in the house. I’ll have to try on my work laptop.
        As an aside — your talk at CSA in Williamsburg was one of the best I heard there. My area was French 18th c art and costume, once upon a life ago.

        • Gail

          to update – it’s Eldest’s ad blocker thing. I sat in the doctors office waiting for the Husband and it worked on my phone.
          It was funny! Another joy to having a computer science nerd in the house.

  5. broughps

    Who cares if the costumes sucked, the movie was lots of fun. And hey Hugh Jackman.

  6. Frannie Germeshausen

    Hugh Jackman is a love. But meanwhile, I don’t understand the fondness for putting New Look into the Victorian era.

  7. picasso Manu

    Why don’t I see your quizzes anymore? I felt like I missed a good laugh. I’m on my PC, BTW. Oh, well, gonna get a little drinky, I guess…

    • Jillian

      Your ad blocker is blocking them! Turn it off or try a different browser :)

  8. Myrrh

    I agree, the costumes and “plot” had little claim to historical accuracy, but the songs were really great. And Hugh Jackman!

  9. EAG46

    Well of course the costumes weren’t accurate to the time. The story wasn’t. And I think the real P.T.Barnum would understand that. It’s what would sell better, after all. (Once he got over the shock of seeing so much of women’s skin, of course.) And Hugh Jackman is just SO PRETTY I don’t really care.

  10. Sam

    Oh, and let’s not forget that Zendaya’s character basically goes to meet Queen Victoria in what would have been considered UNDERWEAR.

  11. Emissary of Wind

    I feel like this is a bit harsh, judging the accuracy of the costumes to the Victorian era when there clearly was an aesthetic decision of basing the visual aspects on the 1940’s. Maybe they didn’t achieve the “1860’s as if designed in the 1940’s” as well as the 2015 Cinderella movie but it’s kind of missing the point to try to look for accuracy in a movie that doesn’t even pretend to try for it. But maybe that’s just me.

  12. gina myers

    I think it’s a wonderful movie,the songs are wonderful,and at least it was trying to go for a Reign inspired look.It’s definetly better then Da Vinci’s Demons and the costumes might not be accurate,but they’re pretty,a mix from every time period.Can you do a full length article on it? Also,that high skirt,low skirt is seen in Gone with the wind on Scarlett ‘o’Hara.And we all know Walter Plunkett was accurate with his costuming for that movie.

  13. gina myers

    Also,the clothing used for a lot of the performers came from the original Barnum and Bailey circus.And Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron are so handsome!

  14. minette

    Oh, snap! I actually hated this movie, mostly because of its bland story and characters + the insult to Barnum’s performers who were barely in it despite having the most complex and interesting journey you can imagine.

  15. Eryn

    I was out the moment I learned they made Jenny Lind, of all people, a homewrecking gold-digger. “Never enough?” She donated all of her profits from that tour to charity! Since then, every new tidbit I find out makes me less and less likely to watch it. I guess having bought and exhibited an elderly enslaved woman wouldn’t make Hugh Jackman Barnum as ~totally dreamy~.