What’s Next in the World of Historical Costuming?

Downton Abbey, 2010

No doubt our hobby of historical costuming follows trends, and usually it is very influenced by what period films have or will be coming out.  For awhile it was medieval, then it was pirates, followed by Steampunk.  Elizabethan was big when Elizabeth came out, then the Civil War, with Cold Mountain, and let’s not forget the 18th century, with Marie Antoinette, and even moreso with The Duchess, and one might even argue that never did it leave us since the ’80s, and Dangerous Liaisons.

So what’s next?  Is there even a next?  It seems there’s quite a lot of hype surrounding Downton Abbey, and I admit I now *really* want to make some 19teens clothes.  And the beautiful 1930s clothes from The King’s Speech were oh so tantalizing, do you think?  We also have films coming up – Jane Eyre, for example, may have us all foaming at the mouth for the 1840s.

What do you think?  What’s on your costume to-do list?  Vote, or enter your own answer!


  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    March 7, 2011 at 1:21 AM

    Now which leads to which? In the 80's there was a whole swag of Merchant Ivory movies like Room with a View and Passage to India as well as Out of Africa that all seemed as much to be influenced by the retro fashions of the time as vice versa. In the 90's, the revival of Jane Austen movies and TV series were equally, I think, influenced by trend as setting it – the empire line fashion of the time came mostly from the '60's retro revival not so much the regency. And yet in particular with the Kate Beckinsale Emma,it is so easy to see in retrospect the influence of '90's fasion on the choice of styles and colours in the costumes. And all along, I've made wedding dresses to match the film trend of the day – not only the period films but also the modern ones – the trend for men to wear flamboyant waistcoats after seeing Four Weddings and a Funeral for example. 🙂 It's cool. Trying to trace influence cause and effect to source could do one's head in, but it's nice to spot the links!

  • Rowenna

    March 7, 2011 at 2:22 AM

    There's a new Upstairs/Downstairs!?! How did I miss this? I love the original! I'm going 30s because I've seen more repro 30s patterns popping up out there, and I would love to get some more 30s in my own wardrobe…of course, I needn't follow the trends, hmm?

  • A Baronets Daughter

    March 7, 2011 at 3:36 AM

    While I enjoy the styles of the teens, they aren't figure flattering to anyone thats more than a size 2. While i will enjoy watching you make these beautiful pieces, I will stick with no later than 1825. 🙂 I can not wait to see the pictures!

  • Lauren Stowell

    March 7, 2011 at 3:43 AM

    Mrs C, good point, which leads which? I like watching the trends…but I'm also trying to predict 🙂 or maybe we should just start a movement? control the trend? teehee 🙂

    Traveller, the Big 3 usually sit up and take notice a couple years *after* a trend has gone through. And the annoying thing is that they trend watch too much, and discontinue historical patterns for eras they don't think are "trendy" anymore…I'm thinking of 1860s and the distinct lack of decent Big 3 Civil War patterns nowadays, but there were LOADS of them when I started costuming some years ago.

    Mrs. Strange, I think it depends on what teens fashion one wears, as there are certainly really bad dresses, hahaah! I think it's more flattering than Regency, for most people, though.

  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    March 7, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    Teens fashion is really flattering if you are selective (as with all eras. It can tend to be a bit frumpy but like everything else, good fabric and style choice will sort that. I think one of the most flattering outfits in an woman's wardrobe is a suit with an ankle length straight, wiggle/hobble or slightly gored skirt, and an empire line jacket. The endless variations of fastening, symmetry, neckline, collar style etc accommodate every shape and taste and it is a a very teens look 🙂
    @ Duchess – one should always attempt to set fashion, not follow it. WE are the "Belles Brummell" of our era 😉

  • Evangeline Holland

    March 7, 2011 at 10:40 PM

    I've been hearing rumblings of a 1930s revival for the past two (fashion) seasons. I love teens fashions, but they are rather limiting for today, since women did not wear trousers and the era is still associated with corsets, petticoats, etc, and there are no "icons" the way we can look to Katharine Hepburn or Jean Harlow or Wallis Simpson for the 1930s.

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