A lot of work goes into making a movie, but one crucial role in the production process is played by the costume department. That’s the one responsible for clothing the actors in time-appropriate outfits, as well as making sure there are no accessories, gadgets or items of clothing that hadn’t yet been invented. But sometimes, the costume department messes up – big time. Here are some of the most glaring costume mistakes made in famous movies that really should have known better.
Dirty Dancing: Shorts
Perhaps it’s time to put Baby back in the corner as the shorts she was wearing in the famous romantic movie Dirty Dancing are historically incorrect. The film is set in the 1960s, but the jean shorts (or jorts if you’d prefer) actress Jennifer Grey sported were not fashionable until the 1980s.
Clearly, this did not impact the popularity of the movie, released in 1987, with many people attempting to replicate the famous dance move ‘The Lift.’
Legends of the Fall: Brad Pitt’s hair
Historical wartime drama Legends of the Fall starred Brad Pitt, who was as effortlessly handsome as ever. Pitt has a great head of hair, but for this role, his costume department lets him down.
Not because his hair looked terrible, surely not possible, but because for the time period it was inaccurate. The film was set in the 1910s when men would have been cleanly shaven and not rocking a 1960s style hairdo; the stubble on his face would also have been a huge no-no along with his flowing locks.
Raiders of the Lost Ark: Jeans
Jeans have become a permanent item in our wardrobes, but in the 1930s it was not cool to step out wearing them. Unfortunately this extra in the fast-paced adventure film Raiders of the Lost Ark was caught out of place wearing them.
It is a casual look that would be commonplace today, but back then no one would have been stepping out looking like that. Harrison Ford has stolen the shot because he looks fantastic playing Indiana Jones, so the unlucky extra most likely went unnoticed until now.
Pride and Prejudice: Rubber boots
The classic novel was released in 1813, written by Jane Austen. This 2005 period drama was based on the book and set in the same era. Keira Knightley’s character, Lizzie, can be seen wearing a pair of rain boots when plodding through a field.
Unfortunately, these rubber boots were not invented until 40 years after the book was set, so it appears the researchers didn’t thoroughly check the facts on this one.
Captain America (The First Avenger): Hayley Atwell’s hair
In the first of the comic book adapted Captain America films, the hairstyle Hayley Atwell wore during her portrayal of Peggy Carter is not correct. Her hair does follow the trend set by women during WWII, however, as a member of the army, she would have been required to wear her hair up.
This is to ensure their hair was kept off the collar on their uniforms, so it is unlikely she would have been allowed to get away with her style, as beautiful as it looks.
Gladiator: Lycra shorts
Lycra is great, it’s comfy and useful for doing so many activities. However great it is, it was not available during Ancient Roman times. So it is bizarre to catch a glimpse of it in the Roman adventure movie Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe.
During several scenes, including the infamous tiger fight, Crowe can be spotted wearing skin-colored lycra under both his armor and his slave clothes. The costumes look like they were itchy so they probably would have been glad of some lycra back in Roman times.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The bad guys’ medals
In the adventure film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, we can see the German soldiers exhibiting some medals. At first glance, it doesn’t appear as though anything is amiss.
Well, the film is set in 1938, before the second world war even started. WWII didn’t begin until September 1939, and these medals were not worn by the German army until near the end of the war. You tried to fool us, but we’re on to you.
The King’s Speech: Kilt
People of Celtic origin may be aware that each family has its own tartan print that their kilts are made from. Colin Firth can be seen wearing a kilt of Irish design in the 2010 biographical drama The King’s Speech, but he should have worn one with a Scottish design from Balmoral.
Firth gained plaudits for his portrayal of speech impediment sufferer King George VI of England. The speech delivered in the movie has 269 words, but the original public address actually had 407 words.
Glory: Digital watch
Historical biopic Glory was set during the Civil War, which makes it odd that in one scene a soldier is visibly wearing a digital watch. The Civil War took place between 1861 and 1865, just over a hundred years before the invention and popularity of digital electronic watches in the 1970s.
Not exactly a small historical discrepancy. The film, released in 1989 and starred Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, and Morgan Freeman was directed by Edward Zwick.
Captain America (The First Avenger): Modern headset
We’re back to the comic book adaptation Captain America: The First Avenger, not because we’re picking on the filmmakers but because they overlooked another historical accuracy.
Actor Kenneth Choi, portraying Jim Mortia, is wearing a sophisticated headset under his hat. This type of headset was not invented until the year 2000, so unless he is a time-traveling soldier we aren’t sure how he got his hands on this bit of equipment, maybe he called in a favor from the Avengers.
Public Enemies: Advanced robe
The judge in crime drama Public Enemies wears a modern robe not fitting to the outfits his judicial peers would have worn at the time. Set in the Depression era the lightweight and sleek robe would not have been possible to create and design.
Public Enemies was released in 2009 and stars Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, and Marion Cotillard. The film follows the final few years of John Dillinger, a notorious bank robber and the FBI’s attempts to bring him to justice.
Almost Famous: Black Sabbath t-shirt
Coming-of-age comedy drama Almost Famous, released in 2000, follows a 15-year-old kid on tour with an up and coming rock band in the 1970s.
Russell Hammond, played by Billy Crudup, is tasked with documenting a tour for Rolling Stone magazine and can be seen wearing a Black Sabbath t-shirt which wasn’t manufactured until 1997. It is a small wardrobe mix-up which doesn’t make too much sense, but at least we can look back at it and have a giggle now.
Braveheart: Kilt ahead of its time
This historical drama tells the tale of Scottish warrior William Wallace, played by Mel Gibson, and the revolt he leads against the English. The type of kilt that Gibson wears in the movie was not worn until the 16th century in reality, but the film was set in the 13th century.
It seems that Wallace was something of a fashionista as well as a legendary warrior if we are to rely on this film for Scottish clan wear advice.
Django Unchained: Sunglasses
Tarantino’s western Django Unchained was released in 2012, starring Jamie Foxx as Django. In the film Django was not afraid to be bold, he wears a purple jacket and some pretty cool round sunglasses while having his horse dance around to impress Broomhilda, played by Kerry Washington.
While his fashion choices should be commended for bravery and awesomeness, unfortunately for Django sunglasses were not invented until 1929, way after the film’s 19th-century setting. His look, therefore, wouldn’t have been possible for him to achieve, no matter how good he looks.
The Untouchables: Suit lapels
Crime thriller The Untouchables was set in the 1930s, starring Kevin Costner in the role of Eliot Ness. Ness is a Federal agent tasked with taking down legendary crime lord Al Capone, no mean feat.
The film is bursting at the seams with Hollywood royalty, so it is a little strange this costume mistake was overlooked. In the scene, the lapels on Ness’ suit are not fitting with the style of the time, and these were actually made much later.
The Other Boleyn Girl: Portman’s hair
Natalie Portman wears a French Hood in the historical biographical film, but crucially her hair is worn down instead of pulled back, which is not how it truly would have been worn.
The hair should be hidden from view when wearing a hood like that. Set in the 1500s, The Other Boleyn Girl received mixed reviews despite starring Portman, Scarlett Johansson, and Eric Bana. Mark Rylance, who plays Sir Thomas Boleyn in the film was reportedly unhappy with the historical inaccuracies of the film.
Julius Caesar: Pointy underwear
Back in the 1950s certain pointy underwear worn by ladies were all the rage. Most ladies wore them, and it was considered a sophisticated piece of clothing.
While they may have been popular then, they definitely would not have been worn in 44 BCE, the time when historical drama Julius Caesar was set. It stars Hollywood heavyweight Marlon Brando as Mark Antony, which gave the actor his third consecutive Best Actor Oscar nomination in three years.
Saving Private Ryan: Boots
Second World War drama Saving Private Ryan was an intense look into a squad’s journey to rescue a paratrooper behind enemy lines. The film was a huge hit and left many people with a damp face from all the tears shed as the events unfolded.
You can see some of the soldiers wearing black boots, but these boots were not made until the 1950s. WWII was over by 1945, so those black boots were slightly ahead of their time.
Catch Me If You Can: Braces
Frank Abagnale Jr. is the focus of this crime biopic which featured the charming Leonardo DiCaprio as the protagonist and Tom Hanks as the man trying to track him down. Funnily enough, the film was guilty of a crime itself. Well, not exactly, but almost a crime against history.
The wired-metal braces worn by Amy Adams’ character were mainly used in the 1970s; however, the film was set in the 1960s – a time they were not generally in use by orthodontists.
The Tudors: Ruffs
Ruffs are a cool accessory, it’s a shame we can’t get away with wearing them these days. In this historical drama, we see women wearing these ruffs without shirts underneath, something that would have been considered scandalous at the time.
Western European women in the 1500s would not have been so outrageous. The Tudors was released in 2007 starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII, and Natalie Dormer as one of his many wives – Anne Boleyn.
Good Night and Good Luck: Name tags
George Clooney directed and starred in this biographical drama about a news team trying to expose fear mongering. Set in the 1950s we see officers sporting name tags, but it was not until 1967 that army personnel wore such artifacts.
For writing, directing, and starring in the film Clooney paid himself just one dollar for each role – this was in order to keep production costs of the 2005 release low.
American Hustle: Rolex
The cast of crime drama American Hustle really looked the part, no-one could forget Christian Bale’s sweeping combover. Nominated for many Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, American Hustle was a big hit.
The film was set in the 1970s so there were plenty of great outfits and hairstyles to feast your eyes on. One distraction for moviefans and watch aficionados though is the Rolex watch worn by Louis C.K. as it did not exist in the decade. Whoops!
The biopic, released in 1984, focuses on the sensational story of classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Alive and composing masterpieces in the 18th Century, Mozart may have had a laugh at this historical costume error.
It would have been impossible for the dancers in the film to have zippers on their costumes. Zippers would not be used by tailors and dressmakers for another 100 years after Mozart had passed away, which is slightly embarrassing. Amadeus featured the acting talents of F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, and Elizabeth Berridge.
Pompeii: The color purple
Kiefer Sutherland did well to come out of this historical disaster movie without being fed to the lions. Sutherland plays Corvus, who can be seen wearing a fetching purple cape.
It doesn’t seem like such a big problem, but the ruling Emperor Nero would have punished anyone with death for wearing the same colored cape as him. A bold move on Corvus’ part as that was Nero’s favorite shade, but one that he wouldn’t have gotten away with, unlike the creators of this 2014 release.
Back to the Future: Guitar
Robert Zemeckis’ time-traveling adventure gets a little confusing with all the jumping between decades, so it is not a surprise that a continuity mistake was made. It’s hard enough keeping track of who and when you are watching, so it must have been doubly hard to stay in the right time period for the filmmakers.
The guitar Marty McFly famously plays as his family is fading from his photograph was a Gibson from 1958, three years earlier than when he is on stage in 1955.
There will be Blood: Waffle soles
Daniel Day-Lewis plays the ruthless oilman Daniel Plainview so well that many viewers left cinemas reeling from his brutality. There Will Be Blood, released in 2007, is a drama set in the 19th century, but we see Day-Lewis wearing waffle soles on his boots that Nike later invented in the 1970s.
Hopefully, there wasn’t any blood spilled when the error was discovered, but we won’t be asking Day-Lewis about his boots just in case he reverts back to character.
The Mummy: Actors moving around
Brendan Fraser charms us as the reckless Rick O’Connell in the 1999 action-adventure movie The Mummy. There is a silly continuity error made during a fight scene with Imhotep’s priests where the heroes magically switch sides of the room.
We see them on one side getting ready to take aim and then when it cuts back to them firing they have changed positions and locations. Magic. This was due to scene cuts, as explained in the director’s cut.
The Ten Commandments: Dress from the future
Biblical epic The Ten Commandments stars Oscar winners Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner and Anne Baxter, so it is no surprise that it is considered one of the all-time greats. Being such a renowned film doesn’t spare it from a historical error, however.
We can see Baxter’s character, Nefertiri, wearing a dress dyed teal. This is not historically plausible as the only way silk could have been dyed during biblical times was using natural color tints.
Pearl Harbor: Bare legs
It can be easy when Looking back at past moments to forget how conservative people dressed. Take this scene from the historical romantic drama Pearl Harbor, do you notice anything untoward?
Back in 1941 women would have in no way shape or form been seen bare legged, they would most certainly have been wearing stockings. The 2001 release, featuring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, and Kate Beckinsale, tells a story of romance during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Color Purple: Clip-on tie
The film is based on the book of the same name, written by Alice Walker. It tells the story of African-American women in rural Georgia in the 1930s and their struggles within that community. A serious topic, but there is one distraction thanks to a costume error.
They gave Danny Glover’s character a clip-on tie – maybe Glover struggles doing up a normal one, and the costume department were being kind to him? As convenient as they are, they were not invented until 1928, twelve years after the film was set.
Gangs of New York: Firefighter’s uniforms
Martin Scorsese directed this 2002 crime drama, so it comes as a surprise that there is a costume error. Set in the 19th century, the film focuses on New York and the gang clashes that blighted the city.
One of the firefighters can be seen wearing a modern uniform when protecting people from a blaze, which is strange because that is not how the firefighters of that period dressed. The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis.
My Girl: Mood ring
Family drama My Girl broke people’s hearts thanks to the tragic fate suffered by Macaulay Culkin’s character Thomas J. Sennett. This movie mistake was fatal for Thomas J. as he and Anna Chlumsky’s character Vada are looking for the young girl’s ring after they disturb a beehive.
Thomas J. suffers an allergic reaction to the stings and sadly passes away. The movie was set in 1972, but the rings didn’t become popular until 1975, so they shouldn’t have been looking for the ring in the first place!
Sense and Sensibility: Modern diaper material
We’ve seen it all now – diapers, that’s right, diapers are on the list. When period drama Sense and Sensibility was set, babies had to make do with a cloth to capture their business. Which is not exactly the wonderfully absorbent material we get a glimpse of in the 1995 release.
The 19th century had not quite broken through to Pampers levels of potty protection. Despite the lack of authenticity there can’t have been too many complaints on set about using the modern material on the young child.
Singin’ in the Rain: 1950s style dress
Many consider this film to be the greatest musical of all time. It is not the most historically accurate though. Debbie Reynolds, playing Kathy Selden, wore a dress akin to the decade it was made in, the 1950s, rather than when it was set, the 1920s.
The netting in the skirt is reminiscent of ’50s dresses, not those common just after the First World War. Alongside Reynolds, the movie stars Golden Globe winning actors Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor.
The Wedding Singer: Unlikely hairstyle
Drew Barrymore sports a distinctively 1990s hairstyle despite this romantic comedy being set in the 1980s. Barrymore plays Julia, whose hair is ten years ahead of its time, although the same cannot be said of co-star Adam Sandler’s character, Robbie, who has an iconically 1980s permed mullet.
Robbie saves Julia from a mismatched engagement, stopping her from becoming ill-named Julia Guglia in the process. The film is a story that sees two unlikely lovers engaged to the wrong people but some hilarious moments help them see they belong with each other in the end.
Schindler’s List: Hairless women
Typically, in the 1930s and 1940s European women didn’t shave their armpits or legs, but in the film we can see that they were indeed shaven. Furthermore, it is unlikely in the horrible circumstance the women found themselves in the concentration camps that women would have been afforded the luxury of shaving.
Spielberg’s historical biopic focuses on the true story of Oskar Schindler who turns his factory into a safe place for Jews. He saves about 1100 Jews from being gassed at Auschwitz.
Picnic at Hanging Rock: Wrong hair for the time
Filmed in the 1970s, Picnic at Hanging Rock is a mystery that takes place in Australia in the 1900s. The hairstyles worn by the girls were popular at the time of filming in the 70s but would have been very out of place for the period.
Women’s hair at the time was usually worn up with wispy tendrils, not free-flowing with noticeable center partings as seen on several of the girls in the movie.
The Informant: Nike golf shoes
Nike did not begin manufacturing golf shoes until 1996, which makes it strange to see them worn in the 2009 comedy The Informant, set from 1992 – 1994.
FBI officers in the film are enjoying a game of golf in Hawaii, but are wearing golf shoes that would not have been possible to own at the time. Matt Damon gets tangled up in his own web of lies until everything takes a turn for the worse in this hilarious undercover spy movie.
The Last Samurai: Ancient armor
Historical military drama The Last Samurai gets its facts slightly wrong as Tom Cruise dresses in armor that is 250 years older than the movie’s setting. That means Cruise was running around in obsolete samurai gear while trying to dodge bullets.
We can’t help but feel if he had the right outfit he might have done a little better at avoiding being hit. Ironic in a film that ends with Cruise’s character urging the Emperor to modernize Japan’s trading strategy and be open to interaction with other countries.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Sunglasses
Fantasy drama The Curious Case of Benjamin Button tells the story of a man who lives his life backward. It is a bit of a confusing plot and one that requires your full attention otherwise you might end up lost.
The film stars Brad Pitt and in one particular scene the actor is wearing a dashing pair of sunglasses while astride a cool motorcycle. Unfortunately, the sunglasses were not manufactured until 1952, the scene, however, was set in 1945. Only a seven-year gap, but still incorrect.
Pirates of the Caribbean (The Curse of the Black Pearl): Red coats
Swashbuckling Disney adventure Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl stars Johnny Depp as the charismatic Jack Sparrow. The first in a long series of ‘Pirates’ films sees Sparrow and company try to escape the clutches of his undead former pirate allies.
Soldiers representing the British Empire can be seen wearing red coats – the mistake here is that the uniforms were only issued in 1747, but the film is set in the 1720s.
Seabiscuit: Helmet straps
Evergreen actor Tobey Maguire stars in the heartwarming tale of an undersized horse in the Depression era, who gallops to victory against all the odds.
The movie exhibits some strapped helmets which were not around until 1956; the Great Depression lasted between 1929 – 1939 so the useful safety feature on the movie’s helmets were well ahead of their time. Seabiscuit, the horse, was awarded the high honor of American Horse of the Year in 1938.
Pretty Woman: Vivian’s nightgown
Iconic rom-com Pretty Woman helped launch the career of Julia Roberts in 1990. Roberts played Vivian opposite Richard Gere as Edward. The film is building up to the all-important moment when Vivian and Edward kiss for the first time.
It is such a monumental moment that the costume department failed to notice the length of Vivian’s nightgown dramatically change from long to short. We’ll put it down to the crew concentrating so much on the terrific acting they completely forgot to check the costume.
The Notebook: Ever changing hair color
Considered to be one of the most romantic movies of all time, 2004’s The Notebook is a time-old tale of two people falling in love, but the obstacle of social standing is blocking their path to happiness. The film follows the ups and downs of Allie and Noah’s relationship.
Allie is engaged to Lon, played by James Marsden, whose hair bizarrely keeps changing from brown to black and back to brown, it is distracting from what is otherwise an excellent movie.
Where Eagles Dare: Hairstyle
Wartime adventure movie Where Eagles Dare was set during World War Two, featuring a who’s who list of stars including Clint Eastwood, Richard Burton, and Ingrid Pitt. The film was shot during the 1960s, and Ingrid Pitt’s contemporary hairstyle seemed to have slipped through unnoticed.
Pitt plays the role of German waitress, Heidi, who definitely would not have been able to wear her hair in that fashion. A concentration camp survivor, Pitt struggled during filming as many cast members were wearing German army outfits.
Pretty Woman: Edward’s tie
We mentioned a costume error on Julia Roberts’ behalf earlier, but not to be outdone Richard Gere has popped up with one of his own from rom-com Pretty Woman.
In a comical scene, Roberts approaches Gere and undoes his tie only for it to be done back up moments later when she leaves him alone. Pretty Woman, released in 1990, grossed $463.4 million from box office sales but was only the third highest grossing film of that year.
The Great Escape: Trendy POW clothes
Steve McQueen is a male style icon, and in the historical adventure The Great Escape he is a questionably stylish prisoner of war. The epic film tells the story of British prisoners during the Second World War on the run from a German POW camp.
McQueen’s khaki pants and cut-off t-shirt look like they would be at home in the 1960s – when the film was released – rather than WWII, when his clothes would not have looked so cool.
Quadrophenia: Motorhead t-shirt
British social drama Quadrophenia follows a bitter rivalry between two groups, Mods and Rockers. The film was shot in 1979 but set in the 1960s, which is why it is bizarre to see a rocker wearing a Motorhead t-shirt.
Motorhead did not form until 1975, so it was not possible for anyone to be wearing their band t-shirt. Quadrophenia is set in London and features British icons such as Phil Daniels, Ray Winstone, and Sting.
Unforgiven: Belt loops
Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the western, Unforgiven, where he played retired gunslinger Bill Munny. The costume department would have been asking for forgiveness once this mistake surfaced. The film was set in 1880, but we see a fashion trend that didn’t occur until the 1920s.
Gene Hackman can be seen wearing pants with belt loops, something that would only have been used on sportswear at that time. More likely if Hackman wanted to keep his pants up he would have been wearing suspenders.
Ben-Hur: Star of David
This epic historical drama stars Hollywood icon Charlton Heston as the titular character, Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince. The film is an adaptation of the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Heston can be seen wearing the Star of David around his neck, a powerful image but not very authentic.
Records indicate that the Star of David was first associated with Judaism in the 12th century. More likely, he would have worn a Menorah which was a more relevant symbol at the time.
Not often do you see someone riding in a chariot using a pink umbrella as shade from the sun. In the historical drama Troy, we see Orlando Bloom be that person, but there is a problem with that picture, we shouldn’t have seen it at all.
The type of umbrella in the image below was invented in the 5th century BCE by the Greeks which was 800 years after the Trojan War was won. Bloom does manage to make it look good though, so maybe we can look past it.