Top Five Friday: Top Five Dresses I Would Wear the Shit Out Of


Because there are frock flicks you’re dying to raid the wardrobes of…


Anne Boleyn’s Yellow Dress – Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s not historically accurate in the construction, but I have a deep and abiding love for yellow historical gowns, and this one designed by Margaret Furse is at the top of my list.


Angelica’s Ball Gown – The Leopard (1963)

I have never seen this film, but the costumes are to die for. Which is obvious when you realize that the famous Italian costume shop, Tirelli Costumi, produced the gorgeous gowns for this film, and designed by the master Piero Tosi.


Giulietta Guicciardi’s Blue Gown – Immortal Beloved (1994)

I never get tired of watching this actress in this gown (another Tirelli masterpiece, btw, and designed by Maurizio Millenotti). One of my favorite details about the gown itself is the little vestigial sacque back pleats at the back, showing the last remnants of the grand 18th-century style clinging to the fashion of the upper classes in the early 19th century. This extant gown from the Victoria & Albert Museum also features the same treatment at the back, and one day I will get off my ass and recreate it.

1994 Immortal Beloved


Danielle’s Red Velvet Dress – Ever After (1998)

This film is chock full of fabulous frocks, designed by Frock Flicks favorite, Jenny Beavan, but this dress has been at the top of the list of movie costumes I want to reproduce since I first saw the movie over 20 years ago. One of these days I’ll actually get around to it!


Pretty Much Every Dress Holliday Granger Wears – The Borgias (2011-13)

Just give me anything she wears. It won’t fit me, but fuck it. Who cares? Costumes designed by Gabriella Pescucci, who did a number of other frock flicks of note, and who also worked closely with Umberto Tirelli.

Holliday Grainger, The Borgias (2011-2013) Showtime's The Borgias Showtime's The Borgias


What historical costumes from movies or TV would you wear the shit out of?


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

35 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    I also would wear anything Holliday Granger wore in The Borgia, Michelle Pfeiffer’s clothes from Cheri, Janet Suzman’s Alexandra Feodorovna wardrobe in Nicholas and Alexandra, Zeffirelli’s Danilo Donati Romeo and Juliet costumes worn by Olivia Hussey, Susan Hampshire’s Pallisers and Glenda Jackson Elizabeth R. Also Wynona Rider’s Mae in Age of Innocence, Sandy Powell’s Orlando.

  2. picasso Manu

    Crimson Peak. ALL ZE DRESSES!! And the house decor… And Hiddles in Goth mode… And the puppy, come to think of it.

    • SarahV

      Anything Rosalind Russell wears in Auntie Mame except maybe hat fluffy flouffy thing she wears to meet the Southern prospective in-laws. Not a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about that glitzy russet hostess pants redingote ensemble she wears in the film’s climactic scene with the insufferable Upsons from Connecticut.

  3. Tara Mueller

    Every gown in The Age of Innocence..all of them! Also, MIna Harker’s red dress in Dracula.

  4. stacysix

    Someone’s going to yell at me for this, but I love all the dresses and jewelry in Troy and would wear every single one of them. Ditto everything that Phoebe Cates wore in Princess Caraboo, except for the actual regency outfits. ;) Oh, and everything on Glenn Close in Hamlet.

    • avantgarbe

      Fuck yeah the Troy costumes! Sometimes I just want to be a pretty pretty princess and not GAF about any form of accuracy.

  5. Liz

    Pretty much anything any of the three top female characters wore in The Borgias, please! Also anything Glenn Close wore in Dangerous Liaisons. I especially love that in both of these, women who are past the age of 30 are allowed to look and dress glamorous AF.

  6. Audrey Arini

    Hell to the yes for Ever After. Actually, quite all the dresses are so gorgeous (my fav being the library one and the ruins one) that I’d like to wear them all. This film is tremendously underrated.
    And i agree on Holiday Grainger’s wardrobe too.
    I have a celebration with my reenactment association for the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance and I have to sew a dress, I don’t know what I’m gonna do but I will definitely inspire from one of those 2 sources (ever after and the borgias).

  7. healthybodieshappylife

    I would love to wear the costumes Sophia Myles wore in Tristan and Isolde and of course Vivian Lee’s gorgeous green dress as Scarlett. Also the ballerina in Red Shoes. I can only think of this amazing white tulle ball gown in an old black and white movie. Also the femme fatale in another old Pirate movie – can’t remember the name

  8. healthybodieshappylife

    Oh I remember as well the gowns in June Alyson’s Little Women and the gown in Lawrence Olivier’s rendition of Pride and Prejudice. I must say I don’t know some of the above films, will have to watch. The red dress in Outlander if I had the figure! And the bridal gown in Outlander. The silver work on it is magnificent. Terry Dresbach’s blog explains how the put the shiny silver highlights on.

  9. Lily Lotus Rose

    All the costumes in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the wedding dresses in a terrible 1990s era Sylvester Stallone film called Oscar, costumes from The Age of Innocence, Eva Green’s costumes from the Starz craptastic show, Camelot, and costumes from Rome.

    • SarahV

      Pish. Posh. that move was adorable! The whole design was 30’s inspired gorgeousness, and Ornella Muti (of Princess Aura fame) just exudes glamour and poshness as the stylish mob don’s wife.

      Plus Yvonne de Carlo!

  10. SarahV

    I myself would microwave butterflies for the cray-zee black and white dress Miranda Richardson wears in Sleepy Hollow, plus and I know it’s not really historical, but it’s Medieval 30’s art Deco favukousness, anything Cate Blanchette wears in the recent Live Disney’s Cinderella. Who knew chartreuse and acid green could be so fucking gorgeous?

  11. Alexa

    I really dislike 1830s but the sheer sleeved big pink dress Anne Walker wears in ep1 of Gentleman Jack is slowly converting me. I agree wholeheartedlůy with the pick of Angelica’s ball gown (perhaps a review of the movie in the future? wink wink?), but I also need to add the yellow gown Glenn Close wears when visiting crying Uma thurman.

  12. M.E. Lawrence

    “The Wings of the Dove.” The first time I really liked Helena B.C., playing a complex character, and so exquisitely outfitted in my favorite period styles.

  13. Roxana

    Anne of the Thousand Days costumes fall short of total accuracy but the silhouette is right and they’re pretty. You forgive a lot of minor sins for pretty. My personal favorite is Anne’s coronation gown.

  14. Nzie

    For things I’d actually wear on a regular basis, I loved Lily James’ wardrobe from Guernsey Literary & PPPS. Just vintage enough to be pretty, not too far back to look costume-y.

    For total historical dress fabulosity, I haven’t actually seen it, but the Daniel Deronda ones are amazing. I also like some of Romola Garai’s looks in Amazing Grace—that 1780s dress in Bath is quite lovely, and I like the hat. :-)

  15. Barbara Shaurette

    My top 5 (at least today):

    Mina Harker’s green walking gown (the one with the folds down the back of the skirt), from Bram Stoker’s Dracula
    the late Victorian blue bustle gown worn by Orlando as Shelmerdine is leaving (this one with ruffles in different shades of blue down the back – apparently I am a sucker for interesting back-of-skirt detail)
    Molly’s rust and white day dress (the one with the big lace collar) from Wives and Daughters
    the sweeping blue ballgown from the 2015 live-action Cinderella
    the fringed dress and headpiece Julie Andrews wears for ‘Le Jazz Hot’ in Victor/Victoria

  16. Julia

    Amen The Borgias! There is a brown dress Lucretia wears in the third season that I would murder for. Give me anything from Dangerous Liaisons too!

  17. KayHay

    Holliday Grainger was BORN to wear that pink number. And every single thing Olivia Hussey wears in Romeo and Juliet is stunning. Not a hint of a detail out of another time period, or worse, the 1960s when the film was made (looking at you, Raquel, in Musketeers, 3&4!!).