Who Wore It Best: 1780s Falling Collar Edition


Somebody in British costume-making has a thing for one particular collar style. I’m calling it a “falling collar,” if you’ve got a better name for it, let me know! But this particular style of folded collar keeps coming up in late 18th century-set films and TV shows, including Poldark, Love and Friendship, and The Scandalous Lady W.

Now, I think it’s a pretty design element! But it’s one I’ve never seen in the period, in either extant garments, fashion plates, or portraits, so I’d be VERY interested to know if anyone has seen it before. And it Just Keeps Coming Up!

I first noted it when watching The Scandalous Lady W (2015), when I,  1) admired Natalie Dormer‘s fabulous stripey redingote, and 2) thought she was rewearing the same dress as worn by Harriet Ballard in Poldark and Lyndsey Marshal in Garrow’s Law:

Scandalous Lady W

Natalie Dormer as Seymour Dorothy Fleming, Lady Worsley wearing a fabulous striped redingote with folded? falling? collar. Costumes designed by James Keast.


I thought “Hey, that reminds me of Ruth’s jacket in Poldark (2015- )!” Season one costumes designed by Marianne Agertoft.

Garrow's law

So I looked on RecycledMovieCostumes.com, as one does, and saw what looked like the same thing worn by Lyndsey Marshal on Garrow’s Law (2009-11)! Costumes designed by Andrea Galer.

2013 Death Comes to Pemberley

And RecycledMoveiCostumes noted it was also worn by Maria Gale in the small part of Mrs. Younge in Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)! Costumes designed by Marianne Agertoft.

Then we were incredibly chuffed, to use the British term, to have The Scandalous Lady W‘s costume designer — the faaaabulous James Keast — pop up in the comments of our review to sort us out:

I would like to let you all know that the striped moire costume Lady W wears in the courtroom is NOT the same as the costume in Poldark or Gallows Law [he means Garrow’s Law], it was made especially for Natalie for the courtroom scenes, The fabric is from the same company but a different colour, The hat was made especially to match the hat. (I will say the costume maker also made the other costume for Gallows Law).

SO! Different garments — I originally thought the Poldark dress was a jacket, but now I’m not so sure:


I’m having a hard time spotting the color difference versus The Scandalous Lady W — maybe it’s slightly darker?

The Scandalous Lady W (2015)

THEN, I started spotting the collar on totally different costumes! Like on another, solid redingote on Garrow’s Law:

2009 Garrow's Law eps 2-3

I’d call that navy, wouldn’t you?

Garrow's law

With a stripey petticoat.

And then remembered there’s ANOTHER redingote-type costume with the same collar style in The Scandalous Lady W:

The Scandalous Lady W (2015)

Pale blue with a pink lining!

And then I discovered this had been reworn by Chloe Sevigny as Alicia in Love and Friendship:

2016 Love and Friendship

Costumes designed by Eimer ni Mhaoldomhnaigh.

And on Poldark, by Heida Reed as Elizabeth:

2016 Poldark

So, what I want to know is, who is the costume maker out there that is in love with this collar, and do they have a period source? Are there any other examples of this collar style out there in movies or TV?


And, since this is a Who Wore It Best post, let us answer the incredibly vital question:



Someone on FB reminded me that Lily James wears a redingote with this collar as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies! Costumes designed by Julian Day.

2016 Pride + Prejudice + Zombie


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.

17 Responses

      • Susan Pola Staples

        I love Romola Garai but I cannot remember her in any Tudor/Renaissance piece and I feel she was the perfect Gwendolyn Harcourt.

  1. Nzie

    Oh, I hope there is a period source, because I really like the falling collar. :-)

  2. Katelynn

    It’s 100% a thing. I work in a costume shop and we’re all on the hunt for where we have seen it!

  3. A Reader

    It’s so distinctive that when I saw it in an historical film, it made the film seem more historical and accurate. So if we discover that it’s a modern invention, I’m going to feel dumb.

  4. susan l eiffert

    I wonder, if it’s not a period thing for the fashions, if it is inspired by some curtains seen in the 18thc (and in use to this day). I’m sure they have a name. Carefully folded into usually 3 folds
    , sewn, and draped over the sides of windows in a fashion similar to those collars.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Yeah, both of those are typical collars where the fabric has a fold over from the bodice. It may have an additional layer added on top, but it’s not the waterfall ruffly thing these movie/TV ones do. Different cut!