The Biggest Costume Mistakes Seen in Movies

By Jake Schroeder
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Photo Courtesy: Columbia Pictures/Movie Screencaps

One thing that engages movie lovers is the magic of seeing glorious, authentic costumes in their favorite flicks. Sometimes, the costumes are the only good thing people remember from a flick. The right costumes can immediately set the right tone and strengthen the film's credibility with viewers and critics alike.

In some cases, costume designers miss the mark and get it wrong, leaving actors looking out of place. In other cases, the actors themselves cause the problem by adding things — intentionally or accidentally — to their costumes for the shoot. Regardless of how it happened, these films feature some noticeable costume errors that made it past the final cut.

Braveheart

Co-produced by Mel Gibson, Braveheart revolves around the First War of Scottish Independence. At the 68th Academy Awards, the film won five awards out of its 10 nominations. Those wins included the highly coveted Best Picture and Best Director Oscars.

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Photo Courtesy: Paramount Pictures/YouTube

Braveheart is set in the 13th century, but Gibson made an error by putting the Scots in kilts in the film. The kilt wasn't actually worn until the 16th century, and the attire didn't become synonymous with Scotland until the 19th century. This wasn’t the only historical inaccuracy found in Braveheart, but fortunately for Gibson, the viewing audience didn't seem to care.

Glory

Glory followed the trials and tribulations of an African-American regiment in the Civil War. The movie featured some big players, including Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. It even earned Washington his first Oscar win for Best Supporting Actor.

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Photo Courtesy: TriStar Pictures/YouTube

Glory takes place during the 1860s, but one modern device slipped into the movie undetected. In one scene, an extra is seen wearing a digital watch for a split second. This device didn't show up in the United States until 1920. In this case, it was clearly a case of them forgetting to remove it before the cameras started rolling.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger gave audiences their first glimpse of the superheroes that make up the Avengers in the MCU. The film had been in development since 1997, but a 2003 lawsuit slowed things down. Fortunately, Marvel Studios was eventually able to get the ball rolling on its slate of films.

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Photo Courtesy: Marvel Studios/Fandom

In one scene, soldier Jim Morita is seen communicating with an earpiece. With the film taking place during World War II, this particular device wouldn't have existed during that time. This wasn’t the only error in the film. Peggy Carter wears her hair down, which is still against the rules today for women in the Army.

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Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark introduced Indiana Jones to movie fans worldwide. With $389 million earned at the box office, it became 1981's highest grossing film. The movie ultimately helped kick off a franchise that earned nearly $2 billion combined at the box office.

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Photo Courtesy: Lucasfilm/Kiss Them Goodbye

Extras are cast in movies to help fill the screen with people during scenes. In one scene, an extra is seen wearing jeans and a T-shirt. This might not seem like a big deal, but Raiders of the Lost Ark is set in the 1930s. This kind of fashion wasn't worn at the time.

The Doors

The Doors follows the life of acclaimed singer Jim Morrison and his band of the same name. Before Val Kilmer got the lead role, Tom Cruise, Richard Gere and Johnny Depp were all considered. The Cult's Ian Astbury and U2's Bono also wanted to portray the singer.

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Photo Courtesy: Tri-Star Pictures/Radiator Heaven

Kilmer's portrayal of Morrison was well received by fans of the band. Unfortunately, the costuming was a little distracting, thanks to his sunglasses of choice. The aviator sunglasses he wore didn't come into fashion until the '80s. The remaining members of the Doors didn't seem to mind, as the film's release helped connect them with a new generation of fans.

Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing became Vestron Pictures' first (and only) hit in the company’s history. The song "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" earned a Grammy, Golden Globe and an Oscar. Dirty Dancing has been in the public eye since its release, with ongoing stage productions and a 2017 remake.

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Photo Courtesy: Vestron Pictures/YouTube

The film was based in the summer of 1963, which leads to questions about the choice of attire for Baby. In the film, she is seen wearing jean shorts, which became popular in the '80s. Considering the film's release was in 1987, it’s possible the producers simply didn’t notice this blooper.

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Gladiator

Gladiator follows Maximus Decimus Meridius and his journey to exact revenge for the death of his family. The film's release helped revive interest in content related to ancient Rome and ancient Greece. The trend continued with shows such as Spartacus and Roman Empire.

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Photo Courtesy: DreamWorks Pictures/YouTube

In the film, Maximus, who was played by Russell Crowe, got into some heated battles. During these fights, fans can see the actor's lycra shorts under his costume. This type of fabric and related apparel weren’t invented until 1958. As expected, Crowe wore these shorts to remain well covered while filming the brutal fight scenes.

Pride & Prejudice

Jane Austen's novels have produced some great film adaptations. Pride & Prejudice is no different, with a cast that included Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen and Judi Dench. The film earned four Oscar nominations, including Best Actress for Keira Knightley's performance. In 2017, one person from Chile reportedly watched the film 278 times that year on Netflix.

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Knightley's character, Lizzie, wears rubber Wellington boots at one point in the film. This poses a problem since Pride & Prejudice takes place in 1835. Wellington boots actually already existed, but they were made entirely of leather. The rubber version didn't hit the market until 1853.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Johnny Depp landed his biggest role to date as Captain Jack Sparrow in 2003's Pirates of the Caribbean. The actor's performance led to his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor at the 76th Academy Awards. He also received a nomination from the Golden Globes and BAFTA Film Awards.

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Redcoat soldiers appear in the film, but their appearance is a major problem, considering they were wearing uniforms that weren't used until 1747. Pirates of the Caribbean takes place in the early 1700s. The film didn't have a time traveling side plot, so this can be chalked up to an error by the costume department.

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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has the distinction of being the first PG-13 rated film in the franchise. Despite this, kids still flocked to theaters to watch the titular hero search for his missing father. The film earned an impressive $474 million at the box office.

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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade takes place in 1938, and some historical errors were evident based on that time period. For example, the Nazi soldiers are seen with World War II medals on their suits. The actual war didn't start until the following year, so medals wouldn’t have existed for either army until some time after that.

Troy

The 10-year Trojan War received the condensed movie treatment with Troy. The film's production cost $185 million, which was an enormous amount for a movie back in 2004. The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Costume Design, but it lost the award to The Aviator.

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You have to wonder if the loss had anything to do with Orlando Bloom's character, Paris, using a pink parasol for cover in the movie. The umbrella doesn't become a thing until 5th century B.C. in Greece, and Troy takes place in 10th century B.C. Whether it was historically accurate or not, the bigger problem was the use of a feminine looking umbrella at all in scenes with warriors.

The King’s Speech

The King’s Speech deals with King George VI's speech problems. Colin Firth, who played King George VI, received accolades at every turn for his performance. Queen Elizabeth II gave the film high praise following a private screening. Originally, she didn't even want the film to be made.

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In one scene, Firth's kilt has an Irish design on it. In reality, the British family wears kilts with the Scottish Balmoral design, and many Scottish natives were angered by this blunder. "The expertise would have been available to the film makers if they had bothered to ask," historian Peter MacDonald told Irish Central.

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Elizabeth I

With Elizabeth I, director Tom Hooper showcased the final 24 hours of the formidable queen’s reign. Helen Mirren, who played the queen, hopped on the project before the script was even done. Before Elizabeth I, Hooper and Mirren worked on the drama Prime Suspect.

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In the film, Mirren is often seen wearing a neck ruff, which was a common accessory in England. Unfortunately, she wore it the wrong way. Neck ruffs should always be worn with shirts reaching the neck. Mirren and Hooper missed the memo, as the actress is seen with her shoulders out and exposed.

Pearl Harbor

Michael Bay gave the tragic yet heroic story of Pearl Harbor the big-screen treatment in 2001. The film, which earned $449 million at the box office, had a polarizing effect on viewers. It was nominated for both Oscars and Razzies, which is a rare — and bizarre — occurrence.

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Many women in the film are seen with bare legs, for one thing. In the '40s when the events in Pearl Harbor took place, this fashion choice was unacceptable. Women always made sure to wear stockings before going about their daily routines. The only time they could get away with not wearing stockings was at the beach.

The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments turned Charlton Heston into a box office star. Since its release, the film, which cost $13 million to make, airs on network television during Easter each year. It was Cecil B. DeMille's final movie before dying from a heart attack on January 21, 1959.

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Oscar-winning actress Anne Baxter gained praise for her portrayal of Egyptian queen Nefertari. While her acting was grand, her aqua-blue attire threw up some red flags. Aqua-blue was a shade that was unobtainable in those times. The dress was dyed to look teal, but the color choice backfired because of the cameras.

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Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino paid tribute to Spaghetti Westerns with 2012's Django Unchained. The film landed on numerous top-10 lists and earned Tarantino the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Django Unchained also gained comic book treatment by Dynamite Entertainment with a crossover with Zorro.

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Actor Jamie Foxx portrayed Django Freeman, who agrees to hunt down the Brittle brothers. This film takes place in the 19th century, which means Foxx's sunglasses in the movie weren't even created yet. His nifty shades were first available to the public in 1929. Aside from the eyewear, the film also included a slew of historical inaccuracies related to slavery.

Pompeii

Pompeii follows the destruction of the Roman city from a catastrophic Mount Vesuvius eruption. Starring Kit Harington and Kiefer Sutherland, the film was Canada's highest grossing film in 2014. Competing with the release of The Lego Movie, Pompeii earned $117 million worldwide.

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In the film, Kiefer Sutherland portrays Senator Quintas Attius Corvus. He wears purple in the film, which is a major historical blooper. History clearly indicates that Nero, who was emperor at the time, killed anyone who wore purple. He was the only person allowed to wear the "royal" color in Ancient Rome.

Jonah Hex

Based on the DC Comics character, Jonah Hex features Josh Brolin as the titular character. In the film, the hero is forced to hunt down a terrorist in exchange for his own freedom. The film's score was created by Grammy-winning metal band Mastodon.

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In the movie, Lilah Black, who is portrayed by Megan Fox, has a different look than the comics. Unlike in the source material, her left eye is intact, and she doesn't have any scars on her body. She also wears inappropriate clothing for the time. Women did not wear such revealing garments during the Civil War.

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Saving Private Ryan

No other film features a more graphic glimpse at war than Saving Private Ryan. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie was 1998's second highest grossing film worldwide with $482 million. It also helped rejuvenate the war genre and earned Spielberg his second Best Director Oscar.

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In the film, soldiers are seen wearing black boots. This is inaccurate because military boots that color weren’t made until the '50s. In reality, soldiers at the time wore brown boots during their missions. This minor detail was overlooked by many viewers, including some individuals who served in the war.

Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can tells the story of iconic con artist Frank Abagnale, who stole millions through check fraud. The film's development began in 1980, but it didn't hit the ground running until 2002. The movie also spawned a Tony-winning Broadway musical.

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Golden Globe-winning actress Amy Adams had her breakout role as Brenda Strong in the film. Something people noticed about her character was her wired braces. With the film taking place during the early '60s, this was a minor problem. Braces didn't become a part of dental treatment until a decade later.

Quadrophenia

Quadrophenia is based on The Who's popular 1973 rock opera of the same name. Before Phil Daniels landed the lead role of Jimmy Cooper, John Lydon (Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd) auditioned for the part. The film was nearly scrapped following the death of The Who drummer Keith Moon.

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With the film taking place in the '60s, director Franc Roddam accidentally let one thing slip by him. In the movie, a Motorhead shirt is worn, and the band didn't officially form until June 1975. Of course, at the time of the film's 1979 release, the band had already turned heads with two studio albums.

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Good Night, and Good Luck

Good Night, and Good Luck portrays the real-life war between journalist Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy. Aside from portraying Fred W. Friendly, George Clooney wrote and directed the film. His efforts earned him Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

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In the film, police officers are seen walking around with name tags. The film took place in the '50s, so this was a minor issue. Police officers couldn't legally wear name tags in public until 1967. With so much great acting, however, audiences didn't seem to notice this error.

American Hustle

Taking its inspiration from the FBI Abscam operations, American Hustle wowed audiences with its storytelling. Directed by David O. Russell, the film earned 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor. Unfortunately, no one attached to the movie walked away with Oscars that night.

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In the film, Louis C.K. portrayed Richie DiMaso's boss, Stoddard Thorsen. On screen, he is seen wearing a modern Rolex watch. Unfortunately, the model he wore wasn't around in 1978, which is when the film takes place. He could have worn one of the luxury watch makers earlier models, which were released as early as 1953.

Gangs of New York

Iconic director Martin Scorsese took inspiration from the book The Gangs of New York for this 2002 masterpiece. He discovered the book in 1970 but didn't lock down the film rights until 1979. Scorsese's vision of 19th century New York was complex, and the film didn't get moving until 20 years later.

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While Scorsese had the right vision for retro New York, something was still off in the final version. In the movie, firefighters in modern-day uniforms are seen in the background. In the 19th century, firefighters wore completely different attire to take down raging fires across the city.

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Sense and Sensibility

As a kid, producer Lindsay Doran wanted to work on her own film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. In 1995, she got her chance with the help of director Ang Lee. Unfortunately, out of its impressive seven Oscar nominations, the film only earned one win for Best Adapted Screenplay.

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In the film, a baby is seen wearing a modern diaper. Sense and Sensibility takes place in the 19th century, which means this type of diaper didn't exist. During that time, cotton diapers were commonly used by the public, but disposable versions were still years away.

The Informant!

The Informant! tells the story of Mark Whitacre, who became the highest level whistleblower for the FBI. Whitacre's involvement with the film was minimal, except for the occasional question. "I'm cooperating, but I'm not getting paid for it," Whitacre told Herald & Review back in 2008.

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In one scene, FBI officers are seen playing a game of golf. While this isn't peculiar, they are wearing Nike golf spikes. These Nike shoes weren’t available to the public until 1996, after their promotion by golfer Tiger Woods. The film takes place between 1992 and 1995.

Seabiscuit

The life of racehorse Seabiscuit gained a film adaptation, thanks to director Gary Ross. Starring Tobey Maguire and Jeff Bridges, Seabiscuit made $148 million at the box office. The film earned seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Costume Design.

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One costume flaw occurred with the horse jockeys. They wore strapped helmets, which weren’t standard equipment until 1956. Ross switched things up to ensure the safety of the actors on the course. Fortunately, Gary Stevens and Chris McCarron knew a thing or two about horse racing. Both men won the Kentucky Derby before starring in the film.

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My Girl

My Girl deals with the ups and downs in the life of 11-year-old Vada Sultenfuss. Veep actress Anna Chlumsky, who plays Vada, made her acting debut in this picture. Against a $17 million budget, the film earned an impressive $121 million at the box office.

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In the film, Vada is seen wearing a mood ring, which became popular in the late '70s. With the film taking place in 1972, this is a blooper. The ring was created in 1975 by investors Josh Reynolds and Maris Ambats. The original asking price was $45 for a silver ring and $250 for a gold one.

The Color Purple

With The Color Purple, director Steven Spielberg switched things up from his normal films. Spielberg had doubts about making the movie because of its controversial subject matter, but producer Quincy Jones loved the idea. At the Golden Globe Awards, Whoopi Goldberg won for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama.

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Danny Glover's performance as Mister is just one of many stellar roles in his career. In the film, his character is seen wearing a clip-on tie, which was created in 1928. The iconic film took place in 1916, which raised some eyebrows for wardrobe fanatics.

Amadeus

Amadeus gives iconic composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart a proper dramatization of his life. Actors Mark Hamill and Kenneth Branagh were in line to play Mozart before the role went to Tom Hulce. The film won eight Oscars, including Best Actor and Best Picture.

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Many of the characters in the film had zippers on their clothes. Unfortunately, zippers weren't a thing until 1913, and Mozart died way back in 1791. The director didn't do a great job of hiding this discrepancy while filming. Thanks to the film's countless accolades, critics weren't bothered by it.

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