Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Historic license is nothing new...

I'm a big fan of silent film, but any historian who's watched the first forays into Hollywood costume dramas will tell you the results were... kind of kooky.

Take Mary Pickford, for example. I've found some shots of her wearing absolutely gorgeous dresses, but can I figure out what period they're supposed to be? Nope, I doubt I have a chance in hell.

They're pretty much all clones of the one above, using different prints and textures. Are they Elizabethan? Are they Tudor? Those are my two guesses and I'm torn between them. Hanging sleeves starting at the upper arm look Tudor, but these hang down too far and they don't have the cuffs. The standing collar is an Elizabethan idea, though they've taken a lot of artistic license. And the hat thingie looks vaguely like the headgear of women in the early German Renaissance. I give up.

Yup, 20's films took serious liberties. But still, I find that they evoke the era much more successfully than a lot of modern movies. After all, they didn't use synthetics back then or dress women up like Red Sonja.


  1. I just want one. I promise never to pretend it's historical. I will wear it to go to the grocery store and the post office.

  2. You know, I recently got the idea for singing early music in streamlined, modernised updates of period dress, when I'm in a concert situation and fiddly historical accuracy would distract from the music. I want one of these for that... though I'd better get it without the stand-up collar.