10 Historical Movies That Got Their Costume Design Right

(Photo Credit: Universal Studios/ MovieStills DB and Robert Alexander/ Getty Images)

Costumes play a major role in historical movies. Not only do they show a glimpse of the past, but they help movie watchers feel transported back to the time the movie is portraying. Here, we look at some costumes from major historical films and compare them to their real-life counterparts.

1. Hamilton versus Alexander Hamilton

(Photo Credit: Theo Wargo/ Getty Images and GraphicaArtis/ Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Theo Wargo/ Getty Images and GraphicaArtis/ Getty Images)

Here, Lin-Manuel Miranda (left) plays Alexander Hamilton in his hit Broadway musical-turned-movie Hamilton. The musical is based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, who was a founding father of the United States and the founder of the nation’s financial system. The costumes worn in the musical are largely based on styles from the late eighteenth century.

2. Pride And Prejudice versus The Georgian Era

(Photo Credit: Universal Studios/ Focus Features/ MovieStills DB and The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

(Photo Credit: Universal Studios/ Focus Features/ MovieStills DB and The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

This is Elizabeth (Kiera Knightly) in the evening gown she wore when she danced with Mr. Darcy. Pride and Prejudice was set in the Georgian Era (1714-1830), and women during that time would often wear long gowns similar to the one on the right, made in 1797.

3. Little Women versus Civil War Era

(Photo Credit: Sony Pictures/ Columbia Pictures/ MovieStills DB and The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

(Photo Credit: Sony Pictures/ Columbia Pictures/ MovieStills DB and The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Little Women (2019) took home the Oscar for the best costume design and it’s easy to see why. The film required nearly 75 period costumes, each of which took almost 40 hours to make. Pictured here is Amy (played by Florence Pugh) in a casual dress compared to an actual walking dress from 1865.

4. Elizabeth versus Elizabeth I

(Photo Credit: Universal Studios/ MovieStills DB and Robert Alexander/ Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Universal Studios/ MovieStills DB and Robert Alexander/ Getty Images)

The portrait “The Coronation of Elizabeth” was used as inspiration for the coronation scene in Elizabeth (1998). On the left is the coronation scene in the movie compared to the painting that the costume was based on. The movie was nominated for Best Costume Design at the 1999 Academy Awards and won for best makeup.

5. Memoirs of a Geisha versus real Geishas

(Photo Credit: Sony Pictures/ Columbia Pictures/ Dreamworks Pictures/ MovieStills DB and Jim Heimann Collection/ Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Sony Pictures/ Columbia Pictures/ Dreamworks Pictures/ MovieStills DB and Jim Heimann Collection/ Getty Images)

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) follows the story of Chiyo Sakamoto (Ziyi Zhang) over the span of about 30 years in Japan. The film examines the sacrifices and lives of geishas before the Second World War and the challenges they faced in the aftermath of the war. On the left is Ziyi Zhang in Memoirs of a Geisha compared to a real geisha from Japan prior to the Second World War.

6. The Great Gatsby versus Flapper Fashion

(Photo Credit: Warner Brothers/ MovieStills DB and Underwood Archives/ Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Warner Brothers/ MovieStills DB and Underwood Archives/ Getty Images)

The Great Gatsby (2013) features a number of stunning period costumes from the 1920s, truly highlighting flapper fashion. In fact, the movie took home the Oscar for Best Costume Design at the 2014 Academy Awards. Here, Daisy Buchanan (played by Carey Mulligan) wears a headpiece commonly known as a “gypsy cap.” On the right is a young woman from 1929 also wearing a similar headdress.

7. Mary Queen of Scots versus the real Mary, Queen of Scots

Photo Credit: Focus Features/ MovieStills DB and Print Collector/ Getty Images)

Photo Credit: Focus Features/ MovieStills DB and Print Collector/ Getty Images)

Mary Queen of Scots (2018) followed the relationship between cousins Mary, Queen of Scots (played by Saoirse Ronan) and her cousin Queen Elizabeth I (played by Margot Robbie). The costume design for this movie had to reflect the fashion at the time in both England and Scotland. Pictured left is Saoirse Ronan as Mary Queen of Scots compared to the actual queen on the right.

8. Marie Antoinette versus the real Marie Antoinette

(Photo Credit: Sony Pictures/ MovieStills DB and GraphicaArtis/ Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Sony Pictures/ MovieStills DB and GraphicaArtis/ Getty Images)

Marie Antoinette (2006) is a historical drama that focuses on the life of the real Marie Antoinette. There were about 70 different historical costume pieces created for Kirsten Dunst, who played Marie Antoinette in the film. Although some liberties were taken with the colors of the dresses, the cut of all the clothes was historically accurate. Here, Kirsten Dunst wears a blue dress similar to the one worn by the actual Marie Antoinette in 1783.

9. Mad Men versus early 1960s fashion

(Photo Credit: MovieStills DB/ Chaloner Woods/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: MovieStills DB/ Chaloner Woods/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Mad Men was a television show set in the 1960s to 1970s, meaning the costume designers had to constantly be creating new pieces to keep up with actual fashion trends from that time period. On the left is Betty Draper (played by January Jones) in a typical dress worn by housewives in the 1960s, compared to an actual dress from 1959 on the right.

10. Anna Karenina versus the Russian Imperial Court

(Photo Credit: Focus Features/ MovieStills DB and The State Hermitage Museum)

(Photo Credit: Focus Features/ MovieStills DB and The State Hermitage Museum)

More from us: 9 Historical Dramas With Big Budgets That Still Made Costume Mistakes

Anna Karenina (2012) follows the life of Russian aristocrat and socialite Anna Karenina in the 1870s. Here, Anna Karenina (played by Kiera Knightly) catches the eye of Count Alexei Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) at a ball. Beside it is a style of dress that would be common at imperial balls in the late-nineteenth century.  This particular dress was worn by Empress Maria Feodorovna in the 1890s.

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