High budget films concentrate heavily on everything surrounding their characters for the audience to believe the fictional world set before them. This can be the characters’, accessories, each prop, and the details of their costumes.
If the costumes are weak or inaccurate, it’s hard to accept that much energy was put into transforming the world. Let’s explore some of the examples that hinder a film due to bad costume decisions or mistakes. You won’t be able to unsee these errors!
La La Land, 2016: Wrong Shirt
Continuity errors are one of the biggest ways films can make mistakes. That’s due to the multiple scenes and takes that are stitched together during editing, causing a few errors if they don’t align. In La La Land, Sebastian is seen wearing a brown shirt during a road rage scene – only for it to turn blue moments later.
In the next scene, Sebastian spoke to his sister in a different shirt. Then in the next scene, where he is practicing the piano, he is back in the brown shirt. Director Damien Chazelle has recognized the error.
John Carter, 2012: How Cropped is Too Cropped?
Lynn Collins played the Martian warrior Princess Dejah Thoris in this box office flop. She actually admitted that her costume was adjusted from the original idea at her request. It wasn’t meant to show so much of her torso, but when she tried it on she thought the cut should be higher on her body.
The altered costume resulted in being incredibly different from what the director had imagined. It’s ok – no one even saw the film.
Legends of the Fall, 1994: Brad Pitt Was Too Attractive
Is this a movie mistake? You’ll have to tell us! In 1994’s Legends of the Fall, Brad Pitt is starring as the hunky Tristan Ludlow. However, for a film set in the 1910s, he sure did look good!
We can’t help but feel that men wouldn’t have looked like that 100 years ago. They would have had worse hair – not something styled from the 1960s! We consider this a wardrobe mistake because he was over-groomed, which is still an error!
Dirty Dancing, 1987: Fashion Shorts
No one can deny that the cast of Dirty Dancing was having ‘the time of their lives’ during production. While they may have put a lot of energy into the singing and dancing for the film, it appears that they didn’t consider the costumes too much.
With the film being set in 1963, it causes problems with Baby’s choice of clothes. Her short shorts would only become fashionable in the early 1980s, which means she was dressing more for current audiences than for a girl in the 1960s.
Thor: Ragnarok, 2017: Green Powder Vanishes
The bigger the film, the more likely that there will be a few mistakes. In the 2017 Marvel film, there are plenty of errors that made it into the final cut. One moment that caught viewers attention was the scene between Thor and Bruce Banner.
During their escape scene, Banner is sprayed with green powder, a funny shout out to his alter ego, the Hulk. However, in the very next moment, he is clean again without any powder on his face.
The Notebook, 2004: Black to Brown
When Rachel McAdams’ character, Allie, is dating James Marsdon’s Lon, there is another continuity error. In the part when Lon is waiting for Allie after he heals from his war injuries, his hair changes from brown to black and brown again.
The scenes were obviously filmed over a long duration, and editors must have merged the two performances to create the best scene. Still, it’s amazing no one noticed the blatant hair change in the scene.
Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011: Tied Up Hair
The majority of 2011’s Captain America is set in the 1940s. It is here where Cap meets Peggy Carter, another member of the US Army. In many of the shots, we can see her hair re
However, this would have been a huge break in protocol. At the time, women were not allowed to rest their hair down – they were required to keep it up in a bow. This was to make sure their uniform was free from hair around the collar.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2008: Pitt’s Sunglasses Needed to be Old-Fashioned
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button had some interesting plot points when exploring the idea that someone could age backward. Brad Pitt’s character was born an old baby and would die a young man.
However, just because he aged backward, it doesn’t mean that time went backward! In one scene, he can be seen wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses in 1945 – a pair that wouldn’t be created until 1952.
The King’s Speech, 2010: The King’s Kilt was Wrong
For the most part, 2010’s The King’s Speech is a historically accurate retelling of the life of King George. The story beats and emotional impact rings hard with audiences today – almost 10 years after its release.
However, in one of the scenes, he is seen wearing an Irish kilt. This should have been a design based on a Scottish Balmoral model, true to the United Kingdom and his heritage. Not many people would have noticed the wardrobe mistake!
Pride & Prejudice, 2005: Rubber Boots Didn’t Exist Yet
Many films are victim to using props or costumes that weren’t invented or stylized during the setting. This is particularly true for films set in the past. The average cinemagoer wouldn’t notice these errors, but that’s why we’re here!
In 2005’s Pride & Prejudice, Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Bennett can be seen wearing wellies. Even though the story takes place in 1813, the boots wouldn’t be invented for another 40 years! Did you notice this?
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989: The Nazis Didn’t Wear Medal
No one watches Indiana Jones for its stellar historical accuracy – that we can all admit. Fans have enjoyed watching Harrison Ford play the titular hero for five movies across 30 years. But there’s one mistake which is hard to miss.
In 1989’s Last Crusade, Jones fights the Nazis who are seen wearing these shiny medals. The truth is, these types of medals weren’t worn until after the war. Considering the film is set in 1938, this makes it quite a few years off!
Glory, 1989: A Digital Watch During the Civil War…
Oh dear! This 1989 film starring Matthew Broadrick and Denzel Washington was almost perfect. That is until one very specific item got caught in the frame! Even though the film is set during the American Civil War, viewers can catch a very modern invention.
It appears that one of the extras in the movie didn’t get the memo to remove his jewelry! Here, you can clearly see a digital watch enter the shot, breaking the illusion and ruining the moment. Wristwatches were created in 1923 and digitized in the 1970s. Did you notice the error?
Django Unchained, 2012: Sunglasses Weren’t Invented Yet
Sometimes, the wardrobe mistakes in films are nothing to do with continuity. Sometimes, there are factual errors in what a character is wearing. This is on full display in Tarantino’s Django Unchained.
No one can deny how cool Jamie Foxx looked when he was walking around in his sunglasses and seeking his revenge. The only problem? Sunglasses weren’t invented until 1929 – years after the film’s 1800s setting. We don’t mind – it made him look more the part.
Pearl Harbor, 2001: Showing Bare Legs
Historical films rarely retell the story with 100% accuracy. Sometimes, timelines need to be compressed or rearranged to help the audience get the full scope of a story in only 90 minutes. However, one of Pearl Harbor’s biggest errors is in its costume design.
We can see how the women are wearing skirts with no stockings. While modern audiences might not have a problem with this, it would have been highly unacceptable at the time. Folks were a bit more conservative back then and so they wouldn’t have dressed like that! We can always rely on Hollywood to spice up some scenes…
Wonder Woman, 2017: Boots Made For Walkin’
Wonder Woman was one of the highest-grossing films of 2017, but that doesn’t excuse it from committing some mistakes in production! We all remember the iconic scene halfway through the film when Diana runs through no man’s land dodging bullets and warfare.
But how did her boots remain so clean? Moments later, she is seen looking spotless as they continue their journey. We don’t think this is a ‘mistake’ as much as it is production making sure she looks good.
Pretty Woman, 1990: Edward’s Tie Getting Tied
This is another example of multiple takes being sewn together and ultimately causing continuity errors. In Pretty Woman, Roberts and Gere are watching ‘I Love Lucy’ when Vivian goes to under Edward’s tie.
However, it only takes a few seconds before the camera turns and his tie is back up to being done up again. He talks for a few seconds and then the camera cuts again, to reveal an undone tie. Clearly, the editors didn’t notice this wardrobe mistake until way after the final cut.
Gladiator, 2000: Crowe’s Lycra Shorts Can Be Seen
This 2000 film helped make Russell Crowe a star and has certainly earned its place in cinematic history. Nearly 20 years later, fans still flock to see it. However, no movie is without sin and Gladiator is no exception.
If you look close enough, you’ll see Russell Crowe’s body-colored lycra shorts that he’s wearing under his armor. Of course, these shorts weren’t around in Ancient Rome and make for an embarrassing wardrobe mistake.
Almost Famous, 2000: The Black Sabbath Shirt
Almost Famous was almost perfect. The fan-favorite rom-com starred Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit, and Billy Crudup. Although everyone loved it, there was a slight mistake that even the filmmakers could have easily avoided.
In one scene, we can see an extra walk past in the hallway wearing a Black Sabbath t-shirt. Considering the film is set in the early 1970s, it doesn’t make much sense. The t-shirt he’s wearing is a specific design that was created in 1997. While it might have been popular during filming, it was way ahead of its time.
Braveheart, 1995: Gibson’s Scottish Kilt Was Premature
Who could forget this epic film? The 1995 Oscar-winning movie starred Mel Gibson and was one of the most successful films of the 1990s. Despite his worthy performance, there’s one error that could have been easily avoided with more research.
Braveheart is set in the 13th century, but Gibson is wearing a kilt that was made in the 16th century! It might be a common trope to imagine a Scotsman in a kilt today, but the film was off by about 300 years!
The Untouchables, 1987: Lapels Didn’t Exist Yet
This is another example of how period movies can omit or change some of the fashion and clothing accuracies. This Kevin Costner film had many legendary actors, all of who give stellar performances. However, there’s one thing that is obviously wrong…
Costner, who plays Elliot Ness, wears a suit with lapels on it. The fact is, lapels were actually invented much later on in the saga of sartorial success – making this wildly inaccurate. Still, it doesn’t detract too much from the story or the performances, so we’re willing to forgive the film for this!
Julius Caesar, 1953: The Bullet Bra
We all know that bullet bras were an iconic piece of lingerie back in the 1950s. It was during the golden age of cinema that people were truly experimenting with costumes and seeing what looked best on camera.
You don’t need to be a genius to work out that bullet bras weren’t invented during the time of Julius Caesar. The film is set in 44 BC, making this wildly inaccurate. The bras seen in the film wouldn’t be created for another 2000 years!
Catch Me If You Can, 2002: Braces
Another Spielberg film to be rather relaxed about historical accuracy is 2002’s Catch Me If You Can. There’s a part of the movie where Amy Adams’ character is sporting braces.
These wired-metal ‘train track’ braces were introduced in the 1970s and are still worn by disgruntled teenagers today. However, since the film takes place in the 1960s, it makes them impossible here. Sure, it might have been based on a true story, but these certainly weren’t part of it!
The Tudors, 2007: Scandalous Ruffs
The fashion choices made by a director and costume designer can be an indicater to its overall success. In 2007’s The Tudors, we see that they decided to dress the women in ruffs that sat around their neck.
Much like the other films on this list, this isn’t exactly an accurate look for what would have been the 1500s. Modern-day audiences probably wouldn’t notice this, but history buff took note!
Good Night and Good Luck, 2005: Name Tags at the Wrong Time
This 2005 drama was directed by George Clooney, and it explores the conflict between a veteran and a US senator. Even though some of the historical facts remain accurate, Clooney should have asked for some costume advice!
We can see how the characters are wearing badges made in 1967. Not too bad? Well, the film is set in the 1950s, making them way ahead of the times.
American Hustle, 2013: This Rolex…
In 2013, Louis CK was one of the biggest names in Hollywood, starring in the Oscar-winning American Hustle. However, there’s one error in the costumer design that avid watch fans will notice right away.
His character, Stoddard Thorsen, is seen wearing a Rolex which was released to the public in 2010. A pretty big error considering the film is obviously set in the 1970s.
Pretty Woman, 1990: Vivan’s Nightgown
1990’s Pretty Woman is full to the brim of iconic film moments. The performances of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere mesmerized audiences for years. It’s no wonder production didn’t notice this error!
In the start of one of the scenes, Vivian’s white nightgown is long and covers her in a modest way. However, by the end, it is a much shorter gown. Is it a magic cloak? More likely, it was two scenes stitched together while using different dresses.
Amadeus, 1984: Zippers
We see zippers on so many pieces of clothing that it’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t wear them! But there was a time: and it was 100 years before Wolfgang Mozart was born.
Unfortunately, no one told the wardrobe department and they ended up designing entire costumes with zippers. Did they think we wouldn’t notice? Well, sadly for them, we did. It doesn’t change the story or the performances much, but it is a bit distracting.
Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011: Headset was Created in the 2000s
Another wardrobe mistake that was committed in Marvel’s 2011 film. In one scene, Jim Mortia is seen sporting an army headset under his hat. However, during WWII, such technology didn’t actually exist yet.
Headsets would become integrated into the army in the next few years, so this was a historical inaccuracy. In fact, the particular design he is wearing in the movie wasn’t invented until 2000! Definitely a few years off.
The Color Purple, 1985: The Clip-On Tie
This period piece tells the story of African American women in the south during the 1990s. Here, we can see that Danny Glover is wearing a clip-on tie.
We don’t know if he is deliberately wearing it or if it was the actor just being lazy. Either way, clip-on ties weren’t invented until 1928 – 12 years after this film was set.
Gangs of New York, 2002: A Time Traveler?
This 2002 film told the story of, well, gangs in New York. It starred Leonado DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Cameron Diaz and was set in the 19th century.
So why is there a seemingly modern man in one of the scenes? Here, we can see that one of the firefighters is literally wearing a modern day outfit. Surprisingly, the costume department thought this was ok and that no one would notice.
My Girl, 1991: Mood Rings
This 1991 film shows Chlumsky wearing a mood ring, which you might think is ok. Afterall, both films are set in the 1970s, so what’s the problem? It appears the costume departments did their research.
Not so fast! This type of ring first hit the shelves in 1975, but the film is set three years before that in 1972. It looks like they did a little bit of background research, but they were off by three years.
Sense and Sensibility, 1995: The Diaper
Can you imagine a time when babies didn’t have diapers? We can’t choose who had it worse: the babies or the parents! Thankfully, they were invented and parents have been thankful ever since.
However, Sense and Sensibility clearly didn’t get the memo when it came to historical accuracy. Here, we can see Hugh Laurie and Alan Rickman ponder what to do with a baby wearing a very modern diaper. Imagine how surprised they would be if it wasn’t there!
Singin’ In the Rain, 1952: The Pink Dress
In the 1950s, Hollywood was still in its relative infancy, with more focus being placed on the use of color and music to wow audiences in screens across the country.
It makes sense, then, to assume that audiences in the 1950s didn’t mind if things weren’t always accurate. In the 1952 classic Singin’ In The Rain, Kathy Selden is wearing a pink dress that fit in perfectly at the time of the film’s release. The only problem? The film was set 30 years prior.
The Wedding Singer, 1998: Barrymore’s Haircut
1998’s The Wedding Singer was the first time that Drew Barrymore partnered with Adam Sandler. The duo would reunite at least two more times and Hollywood would be forever thankful.
Even though The Wedding Singer is set in the 1980s, Barrymore’s hair screams 1990s (when the film was made). Audiences might have forgiven this fact when it was released, but 20 years later it looks out of place.
Schindler’s List, 1993: Fresh shave
Here’s another example of how Hollywood often ‘cleaned up’ the look of actors and characters, despite remaining otherwise historically accurate. In the 1993 Oscar-Winning drama, the women are seen with shaved legs and armpits.
Younger audiences might be amazed to know that females shaving their bodies is somewhat a new fashion trend. Certainly, in the 1930s and ’40s, they would have grown it out. Also, the fact they’re in concentration camps also makes this unlikely.
The Informant, 2009: Nike Shoes
Nike is a lot of things to a lot of people, but we don’t think time-traveler is one of them! In the 2009 Matt Damon hit, he can clearly be seen wearing Nike Golf shoes in Hawaii. You might think it’s an innocent bit of product placement.
However, the shoes worn were made public in 1996, two years after the film is set. It looks as though the costume department didn’t think of this before accepting the check.
The Last Samurai, 2003: The Armor
Tom Cruise has had a long and successful career, but you’ll be forgiven for forgetting 2003’s The Last Samurai. In the film, he’s seen wearing samurai armor. Sounds about right?
Well, like many of the period pieces on this list, they got a few things wrong in the costume department. The outfit Cruise wears in the film is actually around 250 years out of date. Oops.
Seabiscuit, 2003: The Helmet Straps
Tobey Maguire took a break from starring as Spider-Man to appear as a horse Jockey in 2003’s Seabiscuit. It tells the story of the racehorse champion and the success along the way.
Unfortunately, we often see Maguire sporting a red chin helmet – something that wasn’t invented until the 1950s. Aside from that, it was a popular and successful tale.
The Other Boleyn Girl, 2008: Portman’s Hair Should’ve Been Up
Hollywood often goes out of its way to make sure that actors and actresses look better than what they normally would in history. In the 1500s, Natalie Portman’s hair is a shining example of how costume designers take some creative liberty!
Truthfully, a woman would never have her hair styled this way. Usually, it would be pinned up and hidden in the veil. This was just one of the many inaccuracies in the film, which might explain why it got mixed reviews upon its release.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003: Red Coats Didn’t Exis
In this Disney classic, many of the soldiers are seen wearing red coats. It was probably a decision made by the director and costume department to help it ‘pop’ when audiences watched the adventure in cinemas.
The costumes are supposed to represent the British Empire in the 1720s. However, any history buff will tell you that the color red wasn’t added until 1747! While it may look cool on screen, it’s one of the historical facts this film gets wrong.
Zootopia, 2016: Different Shirt
Sometimes, crucial moments can be left on the cutting room floor in editing, which can cause continuity errors. In Zootopia, Judy is seen coming home from work and preparing her ‘Carrots for One’ meal – except she’s wearing a pink t-shirt in the shot.
The original sequence actually showed her changing her clothes into something more comfortable after a hard day at work – but it was cut out. The result is a continuity error that is pretty obvious once you see it.
Troy, 2004: Umbrellas Weren’t Invented
Most of 2004’s Troy was historically accurate. The performances were strong and the storylines were compelling. However, we couldn’t help but notice the large pink umbrella that would hang over Orlando Bloom’s head
Turns out that this specific type of umbrella wouldn’t have been invented for more than 200 years after the film was set. It might look nice on camera, but history buffs will notice the error.
Saving Private Ryan, 1998: Wrong Boots, Wrong Time
Steven Spielberg is obviously one of the best directors in recent memory. He has created some of the most iconic and loved movies in the last 40 years, cementing his place in Hollywood as one of the greats.
However, it doesn’t stop him from making mistakes! In Saving Private Ryan, the soldiers are seen wearing black boots. The boots seen were actually created in the 1950s – way after the end of the war. If it were accurate, they would have been the more conventional brown color.
The Ten Commandments, 1956: Silky Errors
In 1956’s The Ten Commandments, audiences are treated to Nefertiti’s silk blue dress. At the time, it was a wonderful display of color for a new industry that was experimenting with new colors on screen and in films.
The only problem? It was wildly historically inaccurate. At the time, the only way people could dye sheer silk was with natural tints. Therefore, the famous teal would be impossible to create. Did this bother you?
Where Eagles Dare, 1968: The Hairstyles
Sometimes it’s not just the costume department that makes mistakes. This 1968 British hit was set during the Second World War – so why did Ingrid Pitt look so darn trendy?
Turns out, the makeup artists modeled her with a current 1960s haircut when they should have used a more accurate 1940s style. Shame, she really should have had a different haircut.
The Great Escape, 1963: The Not-So-Great-Wardrobe
At the time, Steve McQueen must have been seen as a very trendy prisoner! In the 1963 classic, the actor wore a modern outfit that would have been perfect for the time it was filmed.
This wasn’t the case – since the film was set in Germany during WW2, it’s questionable about how ‘normal’ his clothes looked. It seems that in the 1950s and ’60s not many film studios focussed on historical accuracy.
Quadrophenia, 1979: The Wrong T-Shirt.
You may not have heard of this cult film from the 1970s. Quadrophenia tells the story of two British subcultures and their rivalry with each other. The movie is set in the 1960s, even though it was filmed and released in the late 1970s.
One of the rockers in the film wore a Motorhead T-shirt in the film, which doesn’t make sense once you consider the context. Since the band formed in 1975, there’s no way they would be able to have it.
Unforgiven, 1992: Belt Loops?
This 1992 western stars Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and Gene Hackman. This amazing trio contributed some great performances – but no film is without sin and there’s an obvious one here.
In this shot, Hackman’s character can be seen wearing belt loops. Sure, it’s probably convenient for the actor but these weren’t invented until 1920 – making them impossible. Oops!
Ben Hur, 1959: Star of David or Menorah?
Ben Hur was admirable in its attempts to be true to the historical novel on which it was based. In this shot, we can see him wear a Star of David – or Magan Dovid – around his neck.
However, the first records of the Star of David appearing within Judaism are first found in the 12th century. Most likely, Jews before then would have worn a Menorah around their neck.
Back to the Future, 1985: Time-Travelling Guitars
Back to the Future is considered one of the best time-travel films and 1980s adventures today. For a time-travel film, it does a surprisingly good job and tying up loose ends and keeping continuity strong.
However, no film is free of mistakes! When Marty plays Johnny B. Goode, he is using an ES-345 model Gibson. That model was created in 1958 – three years before the 1955 setting. It appears it wasn’t just Marty and Doc who went back in time!