Movie making requires a sharp eye for detail. As viewers, we only see the final product—where everything comes together seamlessly to create an entire world and experience. But behind the scenes, there are a thousand different pieces and jobs that go into creating the final product. One of these pieces is costuming. And costuming, especially when shooting a historical film, is tricky. Every piece of every costume for every scene and every character has to be exactly right—a major work load. Here are 15 costume mistakes from your favorite movie that are laughable, and so crazy, you’ll be surprised they weren’t caught by anyone (until now).
15 Pirates of the Caribbean: Red Coat uniforms
If you know anything about English or American history, then you’re probably well-aware of the fact that Redcoat soldiers have long been a symbol of the British Empire. The iconic cardinal-colored jacket was popularized in 1747, during the reign of King George II. In Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl Capitan Jack Sparrow has a fair amount of interaction with redcoated British soldiers—seeing as how he spends a large part of the film trying to steal from their empire. The problem is, the movie is set during the reign of King George I (so somewhere between 1714-1727), years before the redcoat was commonplace military wear. Which means Jack Sparrow and the rest of the gang aren’t just working against ancient pirate curses, but against soldiers from the future as well. Tough draw!
14 Pearl Harbor: No stockings
Another ocean-centric movie that mixed up the costuming a little bit? Pearl Harbor. The WW2 flick generally gets most of the details and order of events correct—which is impressive for a historical film—but they missed the boat on the stocking detail. The 1940s were still a pretty conservative time in America. For example, in the late '30s and early '40s, women still didn’t really wear pants in public (if even at all). It wasn’t until America joined WW2 and women began working in factories that pants became acceptable for everyday wear. Same with stockings. In the '40s, women wouldn’t go outside without stockings on under their skirt or dress. Even when the war brought about the nylon shortage, women would draw a line up the back of their legs to give the illusion of wearing a pair. So the fact that all the women in Pearl Harbor are running around with uncovered knees is just straight unrealistic.
13 The 10 Commandments: Nefertiti's dress
Chances are that at some point in your life, an older relative has made you watch the 2.5 hour epic that is The Ten Commandments. The movie’s slow pace and '50s special effects, as well as its subject material that’s been hashed and rehashed for the last couple of millennia, makes it one of the more boring Academy Award-winning movies. In fact, one of the only things the movie has going for it is the costumes. A crew of five Hollywood legends led the costuming for the film, with a slew of helpers in their charge. Somehow this gaggle still managed to make several costuming errors—zippers are seen throughout the movie on the backs of Egyptians, safety pins can be seen holding diapers together, and (biggest of all) Nefertiti’s legendary aqua-blue dress is historically impossible (there wouldn’t have been any dying methods known to produce a dress that shade).
12 Pompeii: Corvus' color
Speaking of dye mistakes, another historical epic, Pompeii, makes a big gaffe with its color choices. Under the reign of Roman Emperor Nero between 54 and 68 AD, purple dye did exist. However, the emperor loved the color so much that he kept a tight reign on it, writing laws that made it so that he was the only one allowed to wear it. Anyone else who dared to don the shade could face a death sentence. In the film, the Roman general Corvus, and his legions of soldiers, all walk around in purple capes and togas. In real life, not a single one of them would have dared to do this. Instead, they would have been walking around in red or white (depending on their rank).
11 Ben Hur: Star of David
Whoever was doing the costuming for these 1950s religious history movies should have been doing a little more research when it came to costuming elements. Ben Hur was released two years after The Ten Commandments swept the nation, and had the largest budget ($100 million) and sets of any movie at the time, and was the fastest and highest grossing movie of the year following its release. But there are still some major blunders. For example, when Sheik Ilderim pins the Star of David on Ben Hur’s belt before one of the most famous race sequences in film, it’s intended to be a sign of the Sheik’s defiance of the Romans and their customs. The problem is that the Star of David would have literally meant nothing to the Romans. The symbol wasn’t used until at least the 12th century—a cool 1174 years later.
10 Django Unchained: The sunglasses
Costume mistakes aren’t only a problem for movies made 50 years ago—they’re just as common in some of our favorite films from the last couple of years as well. For example, in 2012’s Django Unchained, the movie’s titular character, Django, constantly wears a pair of round-rimmed sunglasses. The John Lennon style does a lot to provide him with a feel of badassery and mystery, but they’re not realistic. The movie is set in 1858, but sunglasses didn’t really make their way to America until 1929 when they were sold at Woolworths on Atlantic City’s boardwalk. Prior to their success on East Coast beaches, sunglasses were occasionally used for medical purposes, but they weren’t at all popular and hadn’t made the crossover to streetwear just yet.
9 The Informant: Golf shoes
Likewise, in 2009’s The Informant, a movie about the Lysine price-fixing scandal that involved dozens of executives from dozens of companies across the world, we get a glimpse of time-traveling fashions. The movie itself is based on real life events, particularly on a book of the same name by journalist Kurt Eichenwald. In it, we watch a bunch of corrupt business leaders play a bunch of golf, almost always wearing Nike golf shoes. Which is all well and good, until you realize that Nike didn’t break into the golf scene until 1996. Which is a good six years after the scandal broke open, and most of these men were either in jail or forced out of the business world (AKA no longer playing golf on the company card). Oops!
8 My Girl: The mood ring
If you ever need a good cry, all you need to do is watch My Girl. The '90s movie is hands down one of the saddest films to ever come out of Hollywood, and makes us bawl every time we watch it. One of the key components of the movie is Vada’s mood ring—which is what she’s looking for with Thomas J. when the beehive incident happens. The movie is set in the '70s, so it would make sense that a mood ring is the prized possession of an 11-year-old girl. The problem is that Vada and Thomas J. are 11 in 1972 and mood rings didn’t debut until 1975. We can only imagine what would have happened if the timeline was correct and Vada didn’t have that blasted mood ring—maybe she would have married Thomas J. and lived happily ever after.
7 Robin Hood: The telescope
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was the second highest grossing movie in 1991, and its theme song "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" by Bryan Adams became a '90s anthem (that we low-key still live for today). The casting decisions were a little interesting—Kevin Costner played Robin Hood, Morgan Freeman played Azeem and Alan Rickman the Sheriff of Nottingham, but it was the '90s after all, and a lot more was forgivable then than would be today. But one thing that’s not very forgivable? The telescope that Robin Hood uses throughout the film. The magnifying device wasn’t invented for 300 years after the movie was released, meaning Robin Hood wasn’t only robbing from the rich, but robbing from the future as well.
6 Gladiator: Lyrca shorts
Romans were extremely advanced for their time—that’s a basically undisputed fact. They invented concrete, daily “newspapers,” welfare and bound books. But one thing we’re pretty sure that they didn’t have? Lycra. That stretchy fabric didn’t make its debut until 1959. But the costumers for Gladiator might dispute this timeline, seeing as they dressed Russel Crowe in Lycra for a good portion of the movie. Crowe wears Lycra bike shorts under his short togas and wraps in most of the scenes, probably to avoid any accidental flashing. In a couple different points of the movie (usually in the middle of a fighting scene) you can catch very clear glimpses of his black shorts. We’re sure this is an accidental costume mistake, but it’s hilarious nonetheless.
5 The King's Speech: The royal kilt
The King’s Speech was the 2010 historical drama, which focused on King George VI’s ascension to the throne. The movie was mega successful in the box office and among critics, and won a lot of praise for its attention to historical detail and its visual style. But there was one major mistake—one of the kilts that Colin Firth (as King George VI) wears is an Irish tartan design made in 1997. The correct kilt for the royal family at the time was a Scottish Balmoral design that they had been wearing since 1853. This costume blunder caused actual outrage among proud Scots, who were insulted that this detail—in a movie that focused so much on the details—was the one that was missed. The pushback was so hard that the movie’s crew actually issued a correction and an apology for their mistake.
4 The Other Boleyn Girl: French hoods
The King’s Speech wasn’t the only film about the royal family to make a mistake in the costuming. The Other Boleyn Girl made a pretty significant error as well (though this one didn’t draw quite as much outrage as the kilt mix-up). The film is based on a novel by Philippa Gregory, and looks at the love triangle between King Henry VIII, his mistress Mary Boleyn and his doomed second wife Anne Boleyn. Both Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) wear French hoods throughout the course of the movie, but they aren’t quite right. Traditionally, French hoods were a decorative headband with a veil in the back that covered a woman’s hair in public. But for these two Hollywood divas, there was no covering their perfectly coiffed hair, making the French hoods more like French headbands.
3 Schindler's List: The shaving
Shcindler’s List has often been described as the most touching and realistic Holocaust movie of all time. The brutal film so accurately depicts what Jews went through during WW2, and is so touching that people like Oprah Winfrey and President Bill Clinton have urged Americans to see it. One thing that’s a little off, though? All of the women in the movie have shaved legs and armpits. In Eastern Europe, where the film is set, during this time shaving would not have been the societal norm. Especially after these women had been rounded up and held captive in concentration camps. At that point, shaving absolutely would have dropped to the bottom of their to-do list. But, we can’t get too angry about this one, because you can’t expect every actress in Hollywood to feel comfortable with neglecting this grooming norm.
2 Pride and Prejudice: Wellington boots
Pride and Prejudice is arguably one of the greatest novels ever. The beloved book details the class struggles of the age in the love story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Jane Austen’s novel has been turned into multiple movies, a BBC miniseries, and a stage show. But, in the most recent Hollywood reproduction, the 2005 version starring Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfayden, the costume department made a little blunder. While she’s traipsing around the family’s estate and through the fields between her own house and Mr. Bingley’s residence, Elizabeth can be seen wearing rubber Wellington boots. However, the story is set in 1813 and rubber wasn’t invented until forty years later in 1853. It would have been more accurate to see the heroine wear a pair of muddy leather boots for her long walks.
1 Catch Me If You Can: The braces
Seeing as Catch Me If You Can is a biographical film about a mega-successful con artist, it’s not surprising that it tried to pull a fast one over on us viewers. Before he was 19 years old, Frank Abagnale earned himself millions of dollars posing as a pilot on Pan American World Airways, a doctor in Georgia and a parish prosecutor in Louisiana. Frank meets his love, and eventual fiancé, Brenda at the hospital while he’s posing there as a physician. Brenda is lovely, but Brenda is wearing braces. In the 1960s. Even though braces (of that railroad track style) weren’t invented until 1970. So it seems that Frank wasn’t the only one being a little dishonest about himself in this ill-fated relationship.
Sources: stars.topix.com, scribol.com, thechive.com, lifebuzz.com
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