Costume designers are the unsung heroes of the movie industry. You can’t get completely immersed in a story if the movies in any given film aren’t believable. Also, costumes often reflect the inner attitudes and feelings of characters. When costume designers do their job right, their work is almost invisible. You don’t notice it unless you’re looking for it, and that’s how it should be.
The costume designers on this list made a few missteps. Keep reading to see all of the most glaring costume mistakes in your favorite movies.
The Other Boleyn Girl
This is one costume “mistake” that may have actually been done on purpose. Back in the 1500s, women wore French hoods that completely covered their hair. The hoods in this movie are pulled back so we can clearly see the tops of Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johanson’s heads.
It’s very possible that filmmakers wanted us to see Natalie and Scarlett’s hair so we could identify one as the blonde one and one as the brunette.
Where Did Dorothy’s Red Slippers Go?
When you think about iconic costume pieces from cinematic history, Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz immediately come to mind. The costume designers who worked on this film definitely made those shoes sparkle. The editors of this film, though, they could have done their job a little bit better.
In the scene after Dorothy and Scarecrow are fighting with the tree, take a look at Dorothy’s shoes. She is wearing plain black leather shoes instead of ruby red slippers.
Baywatch’s Swimsuits Were Transparent
Baywatch had its own kind of wardrobe malfunction that didn’t have anything to do with continuity or improper time periods.
One time, actress Gena Lee Nolin almost had an embarrassing incident when she discovered that a swimsuit she was supposed to wear on the show became transparent when it got wet. The actress informed the director before she was scheduled to shoot and the costume designer found her a more opaque swimsuit. That could have been really awkward.
Jeans In Raiders of the Lost Ark?
If you look closely in the background of this shot, you can see that there’s an extra walking around wearing a pair of blue jeans.
I just don’t think that jeans were a thing in Egypt in the 1930s. Maybe that guy was part of the crew and he wasn’t supposed to be in the shot.
The Mummy Returns Left The Tags On
I really don’t think that branding was a thing in ancient Egypt. During an epic fight scene between Nefertiri and Anck Su in The Mummy Returns, you can see some tags on the women’s undergarments.
I just didn’t peg Nefertiti as a Fruit of the Loom kind of girl.
Dirty Dancing Didn’t Look Like The ’60s
Baby’s style wasn’t so much emblematic of her time as it was an inspiration for her time. The movie was set in 1963, even though it was filmed in the ’80s.
Those cut-off jean shorts she wears came into fashion in the ’80s. Nobody would be caught dead in those in the ’60s.
Peggy’s Hair Wasn’t Up To Military Code In Captain America (The First Avenger)
Look, we can all agree that Peggy is super attractive. I know that I love her gorgeous wavy brown hair. The thing is, that hair just isn’t army appropriate.
Even though it fits the time period, during the war, women were required to have their hair up off their collar and tied back.
Saving Private Ryan Was A Decade Ahead Of It’s Time
This epic war thriller has become the film that kids watch in school about WWII. I bet you saw it for the first time in a high school history class.
The film isn’t entirely historically accurate, though. The black boots that Matt Damon wears throughout the movie weren’t introduced until the 1950s.
The Shawshank Redemption Didn’t Do Their Beer Bottle Research
The Shawshank Redemption regularly tops “best film” lists. A lot of people love this movie, and costume designers did a great job outfitting the characters in this film in believable prison garb. The props department though? They should have done their research.
If you look closely at the beer bottles in the movie, you’ll notice that they have spiraled tops, indicating that it is a twist-off beer. In the late ’40s, twist-off beers hadn’t been invented yet.
Pearl Harbor Was Scandalous For Leaving Out Stockings
It’s important to do some historical research before you start making a movie. If you skip out on this very important step, you end up with glaring mistakes like this one.
There’s no way that women would be seen without stockings in the WWII era. It would simply be too revealing.
Braveheart is one of those films that everyone has seen but almost nobody remembers. Like, what even was this movie? For some reason, it has continued to stay relevant.
The thing is, it got the costumes all wrong. It takes place in the 13th century, but Scots only began wearing kilts in the 16th century.
Amadeus Shouldn’t Have Zippers
Zippers are a modern invention, historically speaking. They definitely didn’t exist when Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was alive in the 18th century.
A bunch of zippers are visible in this film even though they wouldn’t be invented for another hundred years. Get your facts straight, people!
The King’s Speech
While to the untrained eye a kilt is a kilt, these traditional Scottish and Irish clothing items actually have a very detailed history. Kilts of certain colors and patterns were only worn by certain regions. Whoever designed the costumes for The King’s Speech clearly wasn’t paying attention to the intricacy of kilts.
The kilt design that the king wears in this scene only dates back to 1997, and it’s Irish — not Scottish — Balmoral.
Back to the Future Shouldn’t Have Had An Electric Guitar
Back to the Future is a movie all about different points in time and the uniqueness of those moments. Costume designers had to be sure that they communicated various time periods through clothing and props alone. For the most part, they succeeded, however, one prop stands out as ahead of its time.
The red electric guitar that Marty plays in the 1955 scene wouldn’t be invented until 1958. Three years isn’t too much of a stretch, is it?
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Brad Pitt looks like a cool cat on this old-timey motorcycle with those Aviator sunglasses on his face. While those sunglasses are certainly stylish, they aren’t very historically accurate. In the 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Pitt as Button is seen wearing a sleek pair of 3025 Aviator Ray Ban sunglasses.
The problem is, this scene is supposed to take place in 1945, but the 3025 Aviators were not introduced until 1952.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Disney usually does their homework, but they let a few things slide while they were creating Pirates of the Caribbean. If you look at the shot above, you’ll see that the men trying to catch Captain Jack Sparrow are wearing British Royal Navy uniforms. Those uniforms were not introduced until 1747.
Yet, in the film, the King of England at the time was George I, and George I was the King of England between 1714 and 1727.
Almost Famous has become something of a cult classic. Who could forget that great “Tiny Dancer” scene? This movie is all about being a true fan of rock and roll, and what fans will do to get a taste of the rock and roll lifestyle. For a movie so heavily based on rock culture, the band merch in this film should have been flawless.
One of the cast members wears a Black Sabbath t-shirt in the movie, but those shirts were made in 1997. The movie is set in the early ’70s.
Legends of the Fall
In Legends of the Fall, Brad Pitt plays Tristan Ludlow, a cowboy coming of age in the early 1900s.
His hair, however, looks like it belongs in the ’60s. Also, his shoddy shave would never pass in those days. He looks more like a glam rock star than a turn of the century farm hand.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
The scene where Costner and Freeman look through their telescope in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves isn’t entirely accurate. Telescopes like this one were invented in the 17th century after the events of this film take place.
There’s no way Robin Hood would have a compact telescope at his disposal.
Captain America (The First Avenger)
I commend Marvel for doing a period piece, but if you’re going to do it, do it right. That radio earpiece that Jim Mortia wears in the film looks a little bit out of place.
The system was designed much later, around the year 2000. That means there’s no way the military had it during WWII.
It’s a good thing Tarantino wasn’t exactly going for realism in this film. This movie was everything we didn’t know we needed. It made almost $300,000,000 worldwide, but this awesome movie still had its flaws.
Those sunglasses were invented in 1929. Sorry, Django, you’re just going to have to squint.
This costume mistake is so small and insignificant that you may have totally missed it— but don’t worry, we caught it for you.
In American Hustle, Louis CK wears a Rolex that didn’t exist until 2010. That seems pretty out of place for a film that’s set in the 70s.
Gangs of New York
Gangs of New York takes place in the mid 19th century, and yet, the firefighters in the film are dressed in modern firefighting gear.
I expected more than this from Martin Scorsese. You have to pay attention to history if you’re going to make a historical drama.
We think of ruffs as some kind of old-timey fashion accessory, but just because they existed a long time ago, it doesn’t mean you can just throw some into a film and hope for the best.
Ruffs were worn in a very specific way. Nobody would wear one without an undershirt. That was considered inappropriate and even scandalous in the 1500s.
Public Enemies takes place during the depression era in America. Johnny Depp nails his performance as bank robber John Dillinger. He certainly acted like a ’30s bank robber, but he didn’t really dress like one.
The high quality, flexible, light fibers we make jackets out of today were unavailable back then. The character’s jacket should be a lot heavier and more structured.
Pride and Prejudice
Costume design is especially important in period films. Those costumes need to transport viewers back to points in history that are much different from our current era. Pride and Prejudice made use of several costume pieces that reflect the Georgian era, however, the costume designers who worked on this film did get one thing wrong.
In one scene, a character is seen wearing rubber boots. rubber boots weren’t invented until twenty years after the events of the book.
The Ten Commandments
I still think that The Ten Commandments is the best biblical film ever made. That doesn’t mean that it’s perfect, though. Anna Baxter as Nefertiti wears a stunning blue dress.
The problem? Nobody had access to blue dye during that time period. It was incredibly difficult to make and even when it was available much later, it was reserved for royalty. I know Nefertiti was royalty, but it’s just a little too early for that shade of blue.
Somebody, please explain to me how this one happened. Glory is set during the civil war. Nobody had wristwatches like the one in this scene. This movie had a big budget and it was full of big name actors.
Wristwatches didn’t exist until the ’20s, and even then, they weren’t digital until much later.
Check out the tasseled red umbrella behind Orlando Bloom in this shot. Well, this little detail is totally inaccurate. The umbrella was actually invented in the 5th Century BCE, way after the Battle of Troy took place.
Sometimes you just have to suspend your disbelief.
Good Night and Good Luck
Army uniforms have very strict rules and regulations. You can’t just make up what they look like as you go along— you have to do a bit of historical research.
This film takes place in the 1950s, but there are some casually dressed military officers in the movie who wear name tags that were only introduced in the late sixties.
The Color Purple
The Color Purple tells the story of African American women living in the South during the 1900s. It’s based on a novel by Alice Walker.
Danny Glover appears in the film wearing a clip-on tie, a fashion accessory that wouldn’t be introduced to the market until 1928.
I really don’t think that spandex lycra shorts existed in ancient Rome. Russel Crow is wearing some pretty epic leather armor. but I just can’t get over what he’s wearing underneath it.
I don’t think anyone was too focused on comfort or stretchy pants in gladiator times.
It’s hard to forget the iconic and gorgeous white wedding dress Cinderella wore in the classic 1950 Disney animated feature film of the same title.
Most viewers remember the dress being a modest long-sleeve style, but in the scene when she is riding away in the carriage after the ceremony, the dress suddenly becomes short sleeved.
Catch Me If You Can
This movie about a world-class fraud played by Leonardo DiCaprio took place in the 1960s. In one scene, we see Amy Adams as a nurse with stainless steel braces that are adhered to the front of her teeth.
In the 1960s, most braces were made of gold and were wrapped around the teeth rather than being glued to the front. Stainless steel and adhesives weren’t universally integrated into orthodontics until the 1970s.
The ring character Vada wore in My Girl was not just some regular ring with a basic stone in it. No, it was the ring we always wanted to try when we were teenagers: a mood ring.
The movie was set in 1972, but what’s wrong about that is. Mood rings were not invented until 1975.
The Informant was set during the early 1990s. In The Informant, a biographical/crime/drama film which follows a whistleblower during a price-fixing controversy, there are various times when you see stars such as Matt Damon, Joel McHale, and Scott Bakula wearing Nike brand golf shoes.
This was a pretty big oversight considering that Nike didn’t release a line of golf shoes were until years later, in 1996.
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade
In the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Nazis definitely live up to their reputation by playing the movie’s bad guys. The Steven Spielberg-directed movie is set in 1938, which was one year before World War II began.
As you watch the film, you can see that the Nazis are already wearing medals that did not come into use until World War II had started.
Singin’ In The Rain
In Singin’ in the Rain, the 1952 romantic comedy musical, Lina Lamont (as played by Jean Hagen) wears a large poofy dress.
But wearing this style of dress would have been more correct if it were the 1950s, when the film was created. The movie is set in the 1920s, making the dress choice a huge style conflict
Toby Maguire played a horse jockey in the film Seabiscuit named Red Pollard. The movie is set in 1930 and follows the story of a Thoroughbred racehorse.
Looking at Red Pollard’s helmet you will probably notice that it has chin straps. The thing is, chin straps were not around until 1956.
The jacket Costner wears as Eliot Ness in The Untouchables came to define gangsters for years, but did you notice the one little mistake with this costume choice?
The single-piece type of lapel that Ness wears in the film was concurrently being adapted from earlier versions which used three-part patterns. This just shows that he was right on top of the latest fashion trends.