If you haven’t already seen the hit Netflix original "Bridgerton" by Shonda Rhimes, you’re sorely missing out. If you’ve binged it multiple times like I have, then you’re familiar with the lavish balls, elegant dancing and conspicuous scandals that encompass the eight episode drama, not to mention the elaborate costumes and sets that bring the piece to life right before your eyes.
One of my favorite parts of the show was seeing the grand detail in the dresses, corsets and hairstyles. The actors must have endured countless hours sitting through hair and makeup just to film one scene. As much as I loved this aspect of the show, it made me wonder - were the costumes I was seeing historically accurate, or merely another layer of fantasy for viewer entertainment? I did a little bit of research to find out.
The show takes place in the third period of the Georgian era, 1813, in London, England. According to YouTuber HauteLeMode, during this time much of the period’s clothing was influenced by fashion from the 1790’s. These neoclassical designs were reflected in simple dress structures modeled by the Greeks and Romans.
A dress style that was well known at the time, the Empire style, which highlights the underbust area, can be seen worn by many of the female characters, including the main character, Daphne. This dress style is worn throughout the series; however, costume designer Ellen Mirojinick decided to up the ante by adding heavy embellishments and vibrant colors. Although these bright pops of color and detailed beading may not be historically accurate, it makes for a breathtaking range of styles that scream “17th century Vogue.”
The dresses shown in "Bridgerton" also seem to give symbolic meaning through color. It’s no secret that the two main families in the series, the Bridgertons and Featheringtons, have drastically different tastes. The Bridgerton family is usually seen wearing neutral or pastel tones, with the use of blue and gold being a common motif in their dress. On the other hand, the Featherington sisters display bright yellows, greens and magenta in their day to day wear. This could potentially show the difference in family dynamics and personalities that the character groups possess. The Bridgertons seem more reserved and polished throughout the show, and the Featheringtons maintain a flamboyant air about them as they yearn for societal approval.
The colors shown in the series may not have been viable options considering the fabrics that were popular during this period, but nonetheless they bring an extra layer of drama to the show that would be missed without it. My guess is that the costume designers wanted to bring a hint of modernism into the show without straying too far from the designs of the time. With that being said, it is interesting to see the ladies dress in corsets when less limiting versions of this garment have emerged as a major fashion trend within the past year.
Even though "Bridgerton" may not be perfectly historically accurate, I still enjoyed every moment. Historical inaccuracies are forgivable considering the show’s audience. Additionally, the costuming only adds to the elegance and romantic aspects of the series. So, in true Lady Whistedown fashion, I hereby announce that this inaccuracy be put to rest. Fashion mishap or not, one thing is for sure: I will be fantasizing about the Duke and Daphne’s romance until there is a season two.