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Our Top 5 Must Watch Costume Dramas

If there’s one thing I’m sure most people are doing right now it is watching more films and TV.

Period dramas offer a wonderful escape to simpler Covid-free times and can actually be a great way to learn about vintage fashion and period costume.

Costume designers put enormous effort into making costumes historically accurate as well as part of the character and story development. Details and accents can easily be copied on a budget to allow your own vintage style to stand out.

Abdul Basit has provided a quick run-down of his favourites!


There is something about period dramas that gather all our attention. The beautiful sets – often in original historical buildings, the language, the beautiful costumes, are some of the things that attract us. Period dramas successfully take us back in time and let us visually experience how the world was in the past. And if you are into vintage fashion then get ready to lose yourself in the beautiful vintage costumes and imagine yourself wearing them and taking those elegant walks.

There are numerous period dramas available and in this time of social distancing, watching them is the best way to indulge yourself. Here, I have listed down 5 top period dramas that display alluring and elegant dresses from history.

1. The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

This 2008 film was an adaptation from the Philippa Gregory novel of the same name. It showcased the Tudor Dynasty and the journey of the Boleyn sisters – Anne and Mary. The movie was directed by Justin Chadwick and starred Scarlett Johansson as Mary Boleyn, Eric Bana as Henry VIII and Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn. The costume designer was Sandy Powell – one of the true greats - who had also designed costumes for movies like Orlando (1992), Shakespeare in Love (1998) and The Young Victoria (2009). The costumes worn by the Boleyn sisters in the movie reflected their life story. When Anne became more ambitious to become the Queen, her costumes became more conspicuous and richly decorated, whereas Mary’s costume became saint-like after she left the court drama. Some stand-outs include the pale blue brocade gown and the teal gown with velvet sleeves with black neckline worn by Anne and the gold brocade gown worn by Mary.

2. Marie Antoinette (2006)

This classic period drama was directed by Sofia Coppola and stars Kirsten Dunst as Queen Marie Antoinette. The movie presents the life of young Marie, how she became the Queen of France and her dramatic, troubled life until the French Revolution.

The costume designer, Milena Canonero designed remarkably detailed costumes for the movie – florals and laces, frothy ruffle detailing, pink and gold, and regal gowns were seen throughout the movie. Some of the memorable costumes were the black gown with the lace mask, the pink gown, and the extravagant wedding dress. While the film received criticism for the use of modern music and frivolous touches, the atmosphere this creates is a great mirror for the world Marie lived in and the reputation she had.

3. The Young Victoria (2009)

This 2009 film, directed by Jean-Marc Vallee is based on the early life and reign of Queen Victoria. The film stars Emily Blunt as Victoria and Rupert Friend as Albert. Sandy Powell, again is the costume designer for the beautiful and vibrant costumes for the movie. She has eye-catchingly displayed how the 1830s fashion was. Beautiful pastel colours like yellow, pink and light blue is integrated into the dresses which also reflects Victoria’s youth. The dresses were mainly designed with ruffles, lace, bows and sashes. Some remarkable dresses from the movie are the yellow frothy dress with white lace and the silvery striped blue dress.

4. The Duchess (2008)

This British drama film is based on the real life story of Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire and ancestress of Diana Princess of Wales. The film was directed by Saul Dibb and starred Kiera Knightley as Georgiana and Ralph Fiennes as William Cavendish. Michael O’Connor designed 30 different gowns for the movie. Georgina was considered very glamorous in her time as she used her fashion style to show who she really was. Gowns with crystal embellishments, velvet dresses and the larger than life hair styles and hats were the fashion statement and Georgiana was definitely the leader of fashion. The enchanting gown with feathers and opulent pearls and the dramatic velvet cloak are some of the memorable costumes.

5. The Great Gatsby (2013)

This movie is based on the famous novel of the same title by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Baz Luhrmann is the director while Leonardo Dicaprio is starring as Jay Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan. The movie has been a favourite for vintage fashion lovers prompting a huge resurgence in flapper style and 1920s parties and immersive events. Catherine Martin, the costume designer, beautifully portrays the Jazz Age fashion with feather headpieces, long strings of beads and fringed frocks.

What do you think of the list? Are there any other period films with beautiful vintage costumes that you love? Let us know in the comment section below!

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