Bridgerton costumes — a historical mess but definitely, a beautiful one

We thought we were getting a Jane Austen-style show… and, we were greatly mistaken. Bridgerton doesn’t even come close to it. The show gives off an overall mood of being fanfiction. It’s basically how we thought the Regency era was like. With that said, as a disclaimer, I acknowledge that the costumes didn’t have to be accurate. Usually, when it comes to period dramas like this, being precisely era-appropriate becomes one of the production’s main priorities. Bridgeton costumes may be a historical mess… but, I can admit that it’s a beautiful one.

Bridgerton costumes — a historical mess but definitely, a beautiful one

Focusing on the overall feel and style of the designs and costumes in this series, they all have a very “plastic” feel. You can tell that none of the fabrics they used didn’t come from natural fibers. You can also tell that everything may either be fake or made from plastic — especially, the pieces of jewelry and the wigs. If you ever thought of visiting the set, you can probably feel the piles of polyester from a six-foot distance. Having a “plastic” feel doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Usually, it adds something new to the design. Many period dramas used polyester or plastic fabrics that make everything look authentic and high quality. However, with Bridgerton costumes, it makes everything look a little bit too unreal.

Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick opened about the 7,500 glorious costume pieces in an interview with Bazaar.com. Mirojnick and her team definitely put a noticeable modern twist on Regency attire: “The fashion in Bridgerton has an interpretation of what people would have been wearing at the time, but with a contemporary upgrade. For example, the Featherington family wears floral prints in bright pinks, yellows, and oranges, which feel more [like] the 2020s than the 1810s. And the heavy jewel embellishments on the gowns are more extravagant than they would have been in the actual time period.”

Regencycore – the internet’s most regal trend.

They increased the amount of glitter, increased the amount of color, and increased the over-embellishing. They’ve done things that can actually relate a little bit more to today’s point-of-view. The show allowed for an unconventional approach to just about everything… especially, the costumes. Mirojnick and her team used nothing from history but the silhouettes of the period. But, the thing is… It actually makes sense!

A lot of people today understand that they can wear whatever they want to. And, Bridgerton bringing a modern twist on Regency attire made it aesthetically pleasing that everything feels trendy and wearable. With the silhouettes coming in modern fabrics and palette, it finally has us Googling something other than yoga pants, tracksuits, and pajamas. Regencycore arrives as a surge in searches for corsets, headdresses, long gloves, and empire line dresses soared.

Modernizing historical clothing for the sake of storytelling.

In order for modernizing historical clothing to actually work, the designer should have a clear understanding of what they’re modernizing. People took a twist —  modernizing and making those awful cheap Halloween costumes. But, are they good? Without doing extensive research on the period, it would be difficult to create a believable costume style. That way, you don’t feel taken out of the story.

Modernizing historical clothing for the sake of storytelling works best if you respect the basic fashion rules of the era. Using completely modern fabrics wouldn’t be as jarring due to the fact that the era’s most-used silhouettes remained present. Even though the costumes look nothing like what people wore during the said era, Bridgerton viewers still get the feel of the era while achieving the unique aesthetic that the designer had in mind.

Although it is beautiful, Bridgerton is still an inaccurate mess. Here’s why:

The freaking corsets pissed me off.

We’ve all seen period dramas before that portray corsets as torture machines. There’s nothing new in that and it has become a popular stereotype. But, a lot of it didn’t quite hit the mark when it comes to misunderstanding the basic physics of a corset. First of all, Bridgerton made their characters wear corsets without any type of undergarment which would result in painful bloody chaffings. However, they have chemise – a garment that could protect you from that. Why not use it?

They also portrayed corsets as extremely tight which didn’t make any sense. Because, again, this is the Regency era. The corsets should be stays which are quite comfortable. It’s simply impossible for Bridgerton characters to feel any pain or have chaffing. Stays are fully made of cotton and feature little to no boning. So, trying to make them tighter to make your waist tinier would be kind of pointless.

Unlike Victorian corsets which can be tightly laced, Regency stays will be damaged if pulled tighter because metal eyelets weren’t invented yet. You would just tear the corset apart and damage it. I also don’t see any logic in making corsets tighter so your waist looks nice. Because they completely cover it with loose skirts due to the raised waist. You can’t even see your natural waist at all.

Disrespecting societal norms regarding Regency era fashion.

Bridgerton is a show where societal norms decide the fate of the main characters. With that said, it should be accentuated when it comes to clothing as well. Fashion played a huge part in your social position at the time. The rules about what to wear, what not to wear, and where to wear them remain very strict. For example, trains, short sleeves, and long gloves were reserved mostly for evening wear but we see Bridgerton characters wear them during the daytime.

Whenever we see dresses back then, we see them with faded dyes and just think, “Well, I guess that’s what it looked like back then.” Such thought is actually so wrong. We tend to ignore that rich people love vibrant colors. The colors that rich people could afford were so much more vibrant and so different from what poor people could achieve with their herb-plant dyes. Obviously, some of the colors worn on the show wouldn’t have existed back then. For example, magenta only started being used in the mid-19th century.

Still, Bridgerton remains very beautifully unique.

The overall look of the costumes in this series remains quite unique and it would be silly to dismiss that. It’s definitely something fresh and unique. It’s more like a historical fantasy, not a historical romance. Obviously, they created the whole world. It didn’t happen. It’s a world where you can refuse a prince because you’re not in love with him. A world where people of color can be aristocrats and not treated inferior as they would be in the Regency era. It’s also a world where you can invite an unmarried pregnant over and not be damned by society. A world where women can attend all-female gambling clubs.

Let us know what you think!

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