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Costume Mistakes that Ruin the Movie Magic

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A good movie, especially one that isn’t set in contemporary times, needs to convince you that what you’re watching is “authentic.” To achieve that, filmmakers go to great lengths to make sure everything they present on screen is coherent with the story’s time period and the characters’ personalities.

However, even though there are entire crews dedicated to continuity and historical accuracy on film sets, some things get past them and end up in the movie’s final cut.

We’ve created a list of wardrobe and continuity mistakes that you won’t be able to un-see ever again.


Legends of the Fall

Legends of the Fall starred Brad Pitt in all of his gorgeous, rugged, unshaven, long haired, blond glory.

Unfortunately, the film is set in 1910, and while men sporting long hair today – or back in 1994, when the film was shot – back at the turn of the 20th century, any man walking around with long hair and a five O’clock shadow would have a very difficult time of being taken seriously – and so, we had trouble believing the film, too.


Raiders of the Lost Ark

Soon after it first hit theaters back in 1981, it was clear that Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark was more than just a movie; it was a cultural phenomenon that redefined what “cool” is.

A big part of that was Indie’s globe-trotting, on which we got to be whisked away with him to exotic times and places. It’s a bit of a shame, then, that in the Cairo bazaar scene, supposedly set in 1930s Egypt, we can plainly see a member of the production crew walking around in a very 1980s jeans and t-shirt outfit!


Pride & Prejudice

One of the reasons Jane Austen’s books – and their movie adaptations – are so popular is thanks to the romantic allure of the early 19th century. Parasols, white lace gloves, corsets and afternoon garden tea parties all make for wonderful escapism, and watching the films really allows us to imagine ourselves taking part in the delicate courting rituals of British aristocracy.

So when things aren’t period-accurate in the films, it can really strike our blow to our dainty fantasies. This was the case with 2005’s Pride & Prejudice, in which Keira Knightley, playing Lizzie, can be seen wearing Wellies – rubber boots that would only be invented several decades after the events depicted in the film took place!


Captain America: The First Avenger

The first Captain America film, 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, introduced us to Captain Steve Rogers way back in World War II. And while the film won several prizes for its truly astonishing visual effects, one thing they got wrong was Agent Peggy Carter’s hair.

You see, back then, military regulations would not have allowed her to wear her hair down in that manner – she would have been required to keep it off her uniform collar. Then again, nobody can really tell Peggy Carter what to do, so maybe rather than a slip up, this was intentional?


Gladiator

2000’s Gladiator, starring Russel Crowe, was a groundbreaking film in many ways, not the least of which were the phenomenal, period accurate visuals that brought ancient Rome to life on the big screen.

But movie magic only goes so far, and in some scenes, Mr. Crowe actually wore a skin tight lycra body suit under his costume – whether to stay warm or to allow himself freedom of motion. While it went over most viewers’ heads, the if you look hard enough, you can see the modern cloth peeking under his ancient costume in some scenes.


Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

People watching any of the Indiana Jones films may do so for the adventure and mystery but they rarely watch them expecting to receive historically accurate accounts of real-life events. Which is why this next fact may be a bit nit-picky – but for history buffs out there, it may be inexcusable.

If you look closely at the German antagonists’ uniforms in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, you might notice an array of shiny medals tacked on to their chests. And while German uniforms did gain medals during the war, the film is set in 1938 – long before the Wehrmacht had time to accrue the medals shown in the film.


The King’s Speech

Colin Firth’s performance as Prince Albert of England in 2010’s The King’s Speech garnered him an Academy Award – and he spent a lot of time and hard work on preparing for it, studying his character and his speech impediment, and getting it exactly right.

One thing the film failed to get right, however, was the kilt he wore in one of the scenes. The tartan design on his kilt in the film is Irish, while in real life, British royalty don Scottish kilt colors.


Glory

Glory, directed by Edward Zwick and starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman, spared no expense in recreating the historical environment of the American Civil War, during which the events of the film take place.

But while the movie spent a lot of money on uniforms, period weapons and props – one thing they forgot to do, apparently, was to ask actors to take their digit wristwatches off! Wristwatches weren’t in use until 1923 – not to mention digital Casio ones!


Captain America: The First Avenger (again)

In Captain America: The First Avenger, the Howling Commandos were a troop of special forces soldiers rescued by Steve Rogers which later become one of the most elite and fearless (fictional) military units in the war.

But while the Howling Commandos were equipped with the latest, experimental military equipment available, the radio headset Jim Morita, played by Kenneth Choi, sports as part of his uniform was way ahead of its time, even for a special military unit. These kinds of headsets actually only entered military use in the late 1990s.


Public Enemies

2009’s Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, was lauded for its historical 1930s set design, and its outfits were extremely memorable and well thought out.

But one thing that was entirely anachronistic was Judge Murray’s black robe in the courtroom scene. Back in the ’30s, judicial robes would have been made of a heavy cotton fabric, while in the film, the judge’s robe is made out of a sleek, lightweight, synthetic, polyester-looking fabric.


Almost Famous

Almost Famous is an amazing period picture, recreating the vibes and atmosphere of 1970s’ America’s rock ‘n’ roll scene. Special attention was given to the film’s soundtrack, outfits and vehicles, making sure they’re all in line with the movie’s set time period.

But one piece of clothing somehow fell through the cracks. Funnily enough, despite this being a movie by music nerds about music nerds, someone is seen wearing a Black Sabbath t-shirt which actually wasn’t manufactured until 1997! Is this an intentional “easter egg” planted by the film’s production for music fans to discover, or was this an honest mistake on the part of the clothing supervisor? We guess we’ll never know!


Pearl Harbor

When making a historical film, some level of historical inaccuracy is to be expected. This was, apparently, the case during the filming of Pearl Harbor. The film tells the story of the Japanese bombing of Hawaii that made America enter WWII in 1941 – and is, for the most part, pretty historically accurate.

One thing they got wrong, however, was stockings. You see, back in the ’40s, no self-respecting woman would be seen wearing a skirt with no stockings – but despite this, many of the women in the film are seen doing just that!


Braveheart

Mel Gibson’s Academy Award-winning war film about Scottish patriotism, Braveheart, is truly a beautiful work of cinema. But despite its elaborate set pieces and dramatic speeches, the film was, by no means, historically accurate. The entire historic setting of the film is anachronistic, and misrepresents historical characters in various ways – but perhaps one of the most glaring problems with the film, if you’re a clothing history buff, is the fact that everyone seems to be wearing kilts in it!

It might be difficult to imagine a film about Scotland without kilts, but the truth is that William Wallace predated the Scottish kilt by about three centuries.

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