Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday: Movie Costume Highlight: Little Dorrit - Period Drama Fashion Week

Today, we'll be looking at an insight to the costuming of Little Dorrit. The costumes of Little Dorrit are kind of interesting. The story takes place around 1826. On the one hand, Regency attire is used for some characters (tends to be worn by poorer characters), but on the other, dresses that look more like Romantic Era wear are used (tends to be worn by rich characters).

The Poor/Middle Class Characters
Now, as I've said before, the poorer characters tend to wear fashions that are closer to Regency attire. They have the high empire waist that was popular in the Regency era and their sleeves aren't as big as sleeves are in the Romantic Era. For the poor and middle class characters, it wouldn't be impossible for them to be wearing "older" fashions since mothers could pass down their old clothes to them or for financial reasons they wear their clothes until they can't be worn anymore.

An example of a character that wears Regency Era fashions (but only for the first part of Little Dorrit) is Fanny Dorrit. Since Fanny doesn't have as much money as, say, someone like Mrs. Mertle, she would probably get the most wear out of her clothes for as long as she can. Granted, she does try to maintain finery, but in the meantime, she wears older fashions while she is poor. There is a question whether she bought the outfit by herself or if it was a hand-me-down from her mother (though her mother died not long after Amy was born: Amy being born in 1806 would mean that a hand-me-down would have to be from 1795 - 1806, so it would be considerably old).

Maggy also wears Regency Era Fashions (but throughout the entire miniseries). It's very likely that Maggy's outfit was a hand-me-down from someone. What is unusual with this picture is Amy's outfit, which does not have a Regency Era waist. It would make sense if Amy wore Regency attire since at this point in the story, she is still poor. Not quite sure why her dress is different...

Not only do the poor characters wear Regency wear, but even some of the middle class ones wear Regency wear too. Take a look at Pet's and Tattycorum's dresses. Both dresses look like they are Regency since they have the empire waistline; if the outfits are not Regency, they are probably not too long after the Regency Era.

Mrs. Clennam also wears Regency wear. Since she is an invalid and doesn't leave the house, she doesn't have much of a need for the latest fashions. 

The Rich Characters
The rich characters would obviously be able to afford the latest fashions. They want to appear fashionable in society. A lady like Mrs. Merdle would have the latest fashions that society has to offer. The waistline on her dress is much lower than the Regency waist. The sleeves on her dress are also bigger than the sleeves of the Regency Era.

Okay, so you can't see Fanny's dress in this picture, though you can see evidence of bigger-than-Regency-sleeves sleeves. Just by looking at Fanny's hair, we can see that she has adopted the latest fashions. The particular style of hair that she is wearing became more popular towards the 1830s.

Here is a picture of the Dorrits after they became rich. Some of the fashions are still reminiscent of Regency wear (note, Fanny's short sleeved pelisse). This picture is from when the Dorrits were newly rich. Is it possible that they weren't fully aware of the current fashions and as they were more in "good" society, they became more aware of current fashions? (Though Fanny did see Mrs. Merdle enough when they were poor.)

So that is my movie highlight for the day. Have you seen Little Dorrit? What were some of your favorite costumes?

 God Bless,
God Bless, Miss Elizabeth Bennet

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