31 costume mistakes and wardrobe malfunctions in films
Big budget films have huge costume, accessories, and props departments whose job is to make and maintain the films’ look and feel. Outfits need to match the movie’s spirit, fit the characters’ personality and nature, and co-exist with the storyline and the plot’s setting. Sometimes, however – whether intentionally or not – films make some serious choices when it comes to actors’ apparel, and it happens extremely often, even in big-budget films that actually have people whose job it is to make sure there’s always continuity. These are the best times… (31 photos).
Pretty Woman: Vivian’s nightgown changes length
We all watched and loved Julia Roberts (Vivian) and Richard Gere (Edward) in Pretty Woman.While filming the most romantic and important scene in the film, Vivian’s and Edward’s first kiss, the crew was so excited that they didn’t notice one important detail. In the beginning of the scene Vivian’s white nightgown is long and by the end of the same scene it’s already short. Big mistake. Big. Huge. (See image below).
Glory: A digital watch during the Civil War
They sure got digital during the Civil War! The film, which was directed by Edward Zwick and has Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes and Morgan Freeman starring in it, is set during the American Civil War. However, in one scene, you can see a soldier wearing a digital watch around his wrist. Wristwatches weren’t really around until 1923, let alone electronic ones which only became trendy in the seventies. (See image below).
Legends of the Fall: Brad Pitt’s blond hair was too beautiful
Legends of the Fall starred Brad Pitt who was looking as handsome as ever (per usual). However, his hunky portrayal of Tristan Ludlow wasn’t exactly “with the times.” Set in the 1910s, Pitt’s character was sporting 1960s style male hair and stubble on his face. Five 0’clock shadow, no matter how attractive, simply was not acceptable back then. (See image below).
Raiders of the Lost Ark: An extra is wearing jeans
Although it’s quite hard to notice anything else in this picture besides how great young Harrison Ford looked in Raiders of the Lost Ark, look harder. If you look close enough you can see a person in the background wearing jeans and a t-shirt. As much as we love that casual look, it has nothing to do with the fashion that was being worn in the 1930s. (See image below).
Dirty Dancing: Baby’s shorts should’ve been a skirt
While the entire cast and production team of Dirty Dancing were having “the time of their lives,” they didn’t notice that Baby was wearing jean shorts that only became fashionable later in the 1980s. The movie, as you may remember, is set in 1963, and so it doesn’t really make sense – fashion wise at least. This wardrobe mistake at least doesn’t take away from the beautiful love story between Baby and Johnny (See image below).
Pride & Prejudice: Rubber boots were not yet invented
This 2005 romantic drama was based on the classic novel by Jane Austen which was published in 1813. When reading the book, it gives you an opportunity to imagine the characters as well as their costumes and really have your own sense of time and place set in your head, something which is part of the beauty in reading books. In the film version, Lizzie, played by the lovely Keira Knightley, wears Wellies, also known as the rubber Wellington boots. Rubber boots, however, as we wear them today were not produced until 40 years later. (See image below).
Captain America (The First Avenger): The actress’ hair should be up
In the first of the Captain America films, Peggy Carter’s hair reached her shoulder. While her hairstyle was true to the decade and without a doubt, done beautifully, it would have been a big no-no in the army. During WWII female soldiers (and special agents) were required to wear their hair up, keeping it off their uniform collar.
Gladiator: Crowe’s lycra shorts are visible
If you look closely during the tiger fight and several other scenes, you can see Russel Crowe’s body-colored, high-waisted lycra shorts underneath his Gladiator armor. In case you weren’t sure – no, lycra sports shorts were not available during this time period. Ancient Rome, being the exact time period.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Germans were not supposed to wear medals
In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, you might’ve noticed some shiny, fancy medals being worn by some of the German antagonists. These medals, in fact, were worn towards the end of World War II and the film was set in 1938. The full-scale war hadn’t begun quite yet.
The King’s Speech: The king was wearing the wrong kilt
Colin Firth gave the performance of his lifetime in the 2010 film, The King’s Speech. His role was important on so many levels, and he had prepared for it for a very long time beforehand. Firth played Prince Albert of England who has a speech impediment. However, in one of the scenes, the King is wearing an Irish design on his kilt. If they wanted to be extra accurate though, he should have been wearing a Scottish Balmoral model.
Captain America (The First Avenger): The headset was invented in the 2000s
Under Jim Mortia’s hat in Captain America: The First Avenger, he’s sporting a pretty advanced headset.
Public Enemies: Depp’s robe was too advanced
Judge Murray is seen in Public Enemies wearing a sleek, modern robe that most judges of his time would not have had access to.
Almost Famous: The Black Sabbath t-shirt
They almost made it with Almost Famous. Who can forget Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit or Billy Crudup in the 2000 film that was written and directed by Cameron Crowe?
What people do forget is that little wardrobe mixup that was tiny (but kind of hilarious). In one scene, someone is wearing a Black Sabbath t-shirt backstage that was actually manufactured in 1997. The film, however, was set in the early seventies, which is why it doesn’t really make sense.
Pearl Harbor: Bare legs were not appropriate back then
When it comes to historical or period films, it can be a little tricky sometimes to get all of the facts right. After all, neither the producers nor the director probably weren’t alive at the time that their film was set.
The film that tells the unbelievable story of how the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, portrays the women at the front wearing skirts but no stockings. There was no way that a woman would be seen bare legged at that time.
Braveheart: Gibson’s Scottish kilt was premature
This Oscar winning epic war film was one of the most successful movies back in the mid 1990s.
No one can forget Mel Gibson’s breathtaking performance when he played the role of William Wallace, a Scottish warrior. The movie, which is set in the 13th century, features Gibson wearing a Scottish kilt. However, these were not worn by the Scots until later in the 16th century.
Django Unchained: Sunglasses were not invented yet
Django Unchained is set in the nineteenth century and deals with the sensitive topic of slavery in the south back at the time, in a very Tarantino way of course.
Jamie Foxx’s performance as well as the other excellent performances have led the film to gross nearly $300,000,000 in the box office worldwide. One of the most iconic accessories that Django (the main character played by Foxx) wears throughout the movie are his sunglasses, which were not invented until 1929.
The Untouchables: The suit had lapels which didn’t exist yet
So many legendary actors in one film and no one noticed that costume mistake? In the 1987 film which is set in the 1930s, Kevin Costner, who plays the role of Eliott Ness, wears a suit that has lapels.
The only problem is that those were actually made much later and clearly don’t reflect the period of time the movie is set in. Thankfully, this mishap didn’t take away from the film’s success.
Gone with the Wind: the lamps were electric
There are actually multiple scenes that show advanced technology in Gone with the Wind (1939). For instance, there is one scene where Melanie picks up a lamp and an electric cord is clearly visible.
Other times, you can tell that there are electric lightbulbs in the lamps. It would have been impossible for these to exist at the time in which the film takes place because it is supposed to be during the Civil War and electric lamps weren’t invented until about 15 years after the war ended.
The Other Boleyn Girl: Portman’s hair should’ve been pulled back
In this scene, the stunning Natalie Portman is seen wearing a French Hood but with her hair down instead of being pulled back.
At the time the movie is set in, the 1500s, the right way to wear those hoods was with a veil attached in the back which hides the hair. This is actually not the only inaccuracy that was apparent in the film, and perhaps that is part of the reasons it got mixed reviews.
Pirates of the Caribbean (The Curse of the Black Pearl): The red coats did not exist
We have a little ‘back to the future’ moment with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
The soldiers that are seen wearing red coats, are actually wearing them to represent the British Empire. However, these uniforms were not issued until 1747, while the movie is set sometime around 1720s. So basically, these soldiers are real fashion trend forecasters.
Jonah Hex: Completely inappropriate costumes
While we don’t think this is the reason the film Jonah Hex was a huge box office flop, it turns out Megan Fox’s costume was utterly inappropriate for the time period.
No matter who they were, an every day woman or a lady of the night – which Fox’s character was – girls did not dress like that back then. The film took place during the Civil War era and this was a time that women were very modest in their clothing and would never show that much skin.
Troy: Umbrellas were not yet invented
Orlando Bloom’s pink parasol in Troy is more than just funny; it’s historically inaccurate.
This specific type of umbrella was invented by the Greeks in the 5th Century BCE, which according to our history teacher’s timeline, took place 800 years after Troy was conquered. You still make it look good though Orlando.
The Mummy: the actors switched sides
In the 1999 film titled The Mummy, there is a major continuity error that the director seemed to have overlooked. In one scene, Imhotep’s priests begin to attack and Rick and Jonathan start to fight back.
When we first see them, the actors are taking up arms on one side of the room, however, in the next shot, they have switched sides. In the director’s cut of the movie, it is explained that this mistake was due to scene cuts.
John Carter: the Princess’ costume was too revealing… or was it?
Lynn Collins, who plays Martian warrior Princess Dejah Thoris in the Disney sci-fi flick John Carter, admitted her costume was actually altered from the original design at her request.
While it wasn’t meant to be quite so revealing, when she tried it on, the actress felt the cut should be higher. Although the altered costume ended up being different than what the director had envisioned, in the books the film is based on, the outfits are described as even skimpier – as the Martian Princess should’ve only been wearing luxurious ornaments.
Julius Caesar: The bullet bras were not invented yet
Bullet bras were one of the most iconic pieces of lingerie back in the ’50s. Wearing those pointy bras was actually considered a norm and anyone who considered herself a lady was wearing one.
However, as stylish as it was to wear them, there is no way the female cast of Julius Caesar would have been able to own one in 44 BC, as the movie takes place nearly 2000 years before the bras were invented.
Saving Private Ryan: The black boots
If you watched Saving Private Ryan, there is no way you left the movie theatre without shedding a tear or two. The film, which was directed by Steven Spielberg, is set during the Second World War.
At the time, soldiers were mostly wearing brown boots, yet in the movie, the soldiers are seen wearing black jump boots. This would not have been possible as those boots were only made starting in the 1950s.
Catch Me If You Can: Braces were not widespread
We love Amy Adams, even when she looks all goofy in braces!
Before she became such a huge star, the 42 year old was part of the cast of the 2002 film, Catch Me If You Can where she starred alongside Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio. The biographical film is set in the ’60s. Amy’s character, Brenda, sports a dazzling pair of wired-metal braces, which really only gained popularity later, in the ’70s.
The Tudors: Wearing ruffs was almost scandalous
Fashion is a big part of a film’s success, especially if it’s a periodical film. In the film The Tudors, the women were portrayed wearing ruffs around their necks.
However, as much as we’d like to think that this is a fashion statement, this is not a very accurate look, at least not for Western European women in the 1500’s. Wearing ruffs alone and with no shirt underneath was considered almost scandalous.
Good Night and Good Luck: They shouldn’t wear name tags
This 2005 film which was directed by George Clooney received some critical acclaim. However, there wasn’t much luck on the costume side.
The historical drama film tells the story of the conflict that was happening between a veteran television reporter and a U.S. Senator. The film is set in the 50s and the officers that are featured in the film were seen wearing name tags, yet name tags were not worn by army personnel until 1967.
American Hustle: This Rolex watch didn’t exist in the 70s
Louis C.K. was just one of the unforgettable actors who were part of the cast of the 2013 film American Hustle.
The film gained was a huge success and received numerous Oscar nominations, including for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Picture and more. However, if there was an award for “best props,” perhaps it wouldn’t have done as well,. C.K.’s character, Stoddard Thorsen can seen wearing a Rolex which was produced in 2010, while the movie is set to take place in the groovy seventies.
Amadeus: Zippers didn’t exist yet
The period film from 1984 chronicles the biography of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who was alive and active during the 18th century.
If you pay close attention to the cast, you can see that the dancers are wearing clothes that have zippers underneath the buttons, which is a bit awkward because zippers weren’t invented until 1913. Zippers only began to be used about a hundred years after Mozart was already dead.
The Color Purple: The clip-on tie was not yet invented
Danny Glover starred in the film The Color Purple which was based on Alice Walker’s book from 1983.
The film tells the stories of the lives of African American women who lived in the south during the early 1900’s. Glover, who plays the role of Albert, is seen wearing a clip-on tie. Too bad the movie is set in 1916 and those were only invented in 1928.
Gangs of New York: The firefighters are wearing modern uniforms
The 2002 film starring Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis was directed by the one and only Martin Scorsese.
The movie is set in the 19th century and tells the story of the different gangs in New York at the time, as you can probably guess by the name. In one scene you can notice one of the firefighters wearing modern uniforms, which makes no sense considering how firefighters were dressed during that period.
My Girl: There were no mood-rings
Who can forget Anna Chlumsky and Macaulay Culkin from when they starred in the 1991 film, My Girl? In one scene Chlumsky, who plays the role of Vada, is seen wearing a mood ring.
Those types of rings only became trendy in 1975 while the movie is set in 1972. If you don’t remember what mood rings are here’s a little reminder – they have a capability to change colors according to your current body temperature. We guess they weren’t in the mood to check all the facts out.
Sense and Sensibility: The baby was wearing a diaper before they were invented
Yes, even a diaper made our list. It is, after all, a piece of wardrobe, for babies at least. There was a time when babies were wearing cloth in order for them to do their business in.
It took some time until parents and babies had the luxury of using Huggies or Pampers. In Sense and Sensibility, another great film based Jane Austen novel, it’s clear that the material that is used for the baby’s diaper is way too absorbent for the time, it’s almost like a modern diaper that is used in a film that is set in the 19th century.
Singin’ In the Rain: No one wore pink dresses
When the late Debbie Reynolds was “Singin’ in the Rain” she probably never thought that the film would ever be considered the best musical film of all time.
The 1952 movie (which was even included as part of the National Film Registry) experienced a little wardrobe mishap. Reynolds ,who played the role of Kathy Selden, wore a pink dress in the movie that was very fifties in terms of its style due to the tulle in the skirt. However the movie was actually set in the late 1920s.
The Wedding Singer: Barrymore’s haircut only became popular 10 years later
We just love seeing Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore together on set! These two share a unique chemistry, so it’s no wonder they have done so many films together.
The Wedding Singer is a film set in the 1980’s, but it could easily be mistaken to think that the movie is set in the 1990s due to the sweet actress’s hair. That haircut screams nineties. The short bob flip clearly didn’t fit anyone else’s hairstyle in the movie.
Schindler’s List: Women did not shave then
The women in Schindler’s List were seen throughout the film with shaved legs and armpits.
However, European women weren’t too keen on shaving their body parts and typically decided not to during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Plus, for those who struggled in the concentration camps, shaving was a luxury they were never offered.
Picnic at Hanging Rock: The hair did not match the period
Picnic at Hanging Rock was set in the 1900s but looking at the female characters’ hair would lead you to falsely believe that they grew up in the 1970s. During the early 1900s, a young girl’s hair was usually worn down and back, while grown women’s hair was usually worn up and accompanied by light tendrils.
In the film, the girls wore their hair straight with a light wave, while parting it in the middle and bringing in over their shoulders. Not to be outdone, the grown women in the film showcased every fashionable ’70s trend from frosted eyeshadow, and a bouffant so high it would make Brigitte Bardot jealous. Not very relevant for the supposed time period!
The Informant: Nike golf spikes
Nike has pretty much taken over almost every sports field, but it took the sports conglomerate quite some time to get into the golfing business with their Nike golf spikes.
In fact, they only started manufacturing them in 1996. However, The Informant is supposed to take place between 1992-1994. In one scene you can see the FBI officers playing golf in Hawaii while wearing those special Nike shoes, which doesn’t really make sense.
The Last Samurai: Tom Cruise’s armor was too old
Around the same time Tom Cruise was jumping all over Oprah Winfrey’s couch over falling madly in love with (now ex-wife) Katie Holmes, he was part of a film called The Last Samurai.
The historical film tells the story of a retired U.S. officer who happens to come in contact with Japanese samurai warriors. In the movie, Cruise is featured wearing samurai armor, but the suit that is worn by the actor in the film was actually used 250 years prior to the time period the movie is set in.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Pitt’s sunglasses were too modern
Sure, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button had quite a confusing storyline, and if you didn’t pay attention for a few minutes, you could get really confused in the plot.
So we could probably let a few wardrobe mishaps slide here and there. Brad Pitt stars in this unique film and in one scene his character is seen wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses. This model of sunglasses was sported in 1952 while the scene is set in 1945.
Seabiscuit: Strapped helmets were not yet invented
The sweet Toby Maguire played the role of the Jockey in Seabiscuit, which tells the story of the famous racehorse champion.
The jockeys in the film are wearing strapped helmets, however those kinds of chin helmets weren’t really around until 1956. Meanwhile, the film is set during the Great Depression. The movie did receive great reviews however, and was nominated for multiple Academy Awards.
The Notebook: Lon’s hair color changes
We can’t imagine anything could go wrong with the most romantic movie of all time, but apparently, even The Notebook had some bloopers.
No one can deny the incredible chemistry between Allie and Noah, but there was a time there that she was dating and engaged to a not less of a hunk named Lon. In the scene when Lon waits for Allie after he recovers from his war wounds, his hair keeps changing from brown to black and brown again.
Where Eagles Dare: a 60’s hair style
This 1968 British film was set during the times of the Second World War. The movie featured some of the greatest stars in Hollywood at the time including Clint Eastwood, Richard Burton and Ingrid Pitt.
The producers of the historical film, which was filmed during the 1960’s, must have forgotten for a second there that it’s impossible to have had a 1960’s hairstyle like the one Pitt had when she played the role of Heidi, the German waitress.
Pretty Woman: Edward’s tie goes from done to undone
Another big mistake, huge (ok we had to) which was found in the classic film which starred two of Hollywood’s favorites, Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.
This time it has to do this time with Gere’s character’s attire. The actor who played Edward was wearing ties throughout the movies. In the famous scene where Vivian watches I Love Lucy, she goes up to him and undoes his fancy tie. She then goes back to watching. The next shot shows the actor with his tie done again, and later undone. Now that’s confusing.
The Great Escape: The POW clothes were too trendy
If Fashion Police existed in the 1960’s then they would have definitely arrested Steve McQueen for wearing these modern and very trendy you might say, Prisoner of War clothes.
The epic film which was released in 1963 tells the story of British prisoners of war who escaped from Germany during World War II. According to the clothes McQueen is wearing, they were escaping during the 90’s more than anything with these khakis and cut-off T shirt.
Quadrophenia: The band didn’t exist at the time
The British film Quadrophenia follows the story two British subcultures and their ongoing rivalry – the rockers and the mods. The movie, which was shot in 1979, is set in the 1960s.
This is why it doesn’t make sense that one of the rockers would wear a Motorhead T-shirt, as the group was only formed in 1975. So which side are you on, the mods or the rockers?
Unforgiven: Belt loops weren’t common back then
The 1992 film which was directed by actor-director Clint Eastwood features some of Hollywood’s leading men including Clint himself, Morgan Freeman, and Gene Hackman.
The Western film was set in 1880 in Wyoming. Gene Hackman’s character is seen wearing belt loops in one scene, yet this couldn’t have been the case because those weren’t popular or common except for in sportswear until later in the 1920’s. This is certainly forgiven though.
Ben Hur: The Star of David was ahead of its time
Charlton Heston who played the title role in the film adaptation of the 1880 novel called Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, must have had no idea that the Star of David he was wearing on his costume is totally misplaced.
While it must have been powerful to see it on the character, it wasn’t very authentic because the first records which associated the Star of David with Judaism were found in the 12 century. The real Ben Hur would have probably been seen wearing another Jewish symbol which was more accurate for the time – a Menorah.
Pompeii: Purple capes weren’t allowed at the time
Another historical film with a not-so historical mistake. The disaster film which was released in 2014 is actually a co-production between three countries: Germany, Canada and the U.S.
This is probably why some of the historical facts fell through the cracks. Some of the generals in the film, including Kiefer Sutherland’s character, are seen wearing capes which are purple. However, the Emperor at the time, Nero, punished anyone who dared to wear purple besides him with death. Go figure.
Back to the Future: This type of guitar wasn’t around then
We have to admit we can be a bit forgiving with this prop mistake, after all it is a movie that deals with traveling back and forth in time.
In one of the scenes, Michael J Fox who played the role of the unforgettable Marty McFly, plays the song “Johnny B. Goode” with a ES-345 model Gibson guitar from 1958, when in fact the scene was set in 1955. You could say Marty and his guitar really did fly to the future in this one.
There will be Blood: The waffle soles
Ok, so there won’t be blood over this mistake, after all it’s just a costume blunder, but it’s still kind of embarrassing.
The amazing Daniel Day-Lewis played the miner-turn-oil magnate during the late 19th century. The actor is wearing boots with waffle soles in one of the scenes, when in fact these types of soles weren’t invented until later in the seventies by Nike.
The Ten Commandments: Nefertiri’s dress was too advanced
That was a silky mistake, literally. In the biblical film from 1956, which was also one of the most successful films in history, you can see Nefertiri (played by Anne Baxter) wearing a blue silk dress.
The dress the actress she was wearing was dyed in order to appear teal, which is not really historically possible because at the time the movie is set in the only way you could dye sheer silk was by using natural tints.
Wonder Woman: Superheroes probably wouldn’t wear high heels
Gal Gadot is the talented actress cast as Wonder Woman in the 2017 film and, needless to say, she did a “wonder”ful job. The only problem was her costume. People were disappointed by the lack of color and wished they had stuck to the original version.
While Gadot’s Wonder Woman costume is definitely more up to date, we have a hard time believing that any superhero can save the world wearing heels. And what is up with the risque choice? Superman is fully covered, so why can’t Wonder Woman be?