This adorable brown and pink checked dress made its first appearance in the 2008 second season of AMC’s magnificent television series Mad Men, in the episode entitled Three Sundays. Janie Bryant, the show’s costume designer, uses a combination of original designs, vintage finds and rental costumes to outfit the cast of the show.  The dress was seen a second time on an Anna Camp as Jolene French in the 2011 film The Help.

Costume Credit: Melanie

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This Georgian era gown has been used in two productions. It was first seen in The Bretts in 1987, in the episode Grand Finale, where it was worn by Sally Cookson as Perdita Brett, playing Cinderella on stage.  The second time it was seen was in the 1991 adaptation of the Samuel Richardson novel, Clarissa, where it was worn on an uncredited actress as a singer.

What makes this costume notable is that this piece was designed to be seen as a costume. While its shape is clearly that of the eighteenth century, it is not meant to be worn as the everyday clothing of a character in the 18th Century. It is very specifically an 18th Century version of a stage costume.  This differentiation, though seemingly small, is extremely important, and serves to illustrate just how much thought a costume designer puts into their work to show the different ways in which a character would wear their clothes and how that character would actually view what they are wearing.

Costume Credit: Shrewsbury Lasses

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This pretty costume has been around for quite a while, having been designed and created for Francesca Annis’ performance as Lillie Langry in the wonderful 1978 mini-series Lillie.  The gown went on to be used again in the 1984 American mini-series Ellis Island, where it was worn on Faye Dunaway as Maude Chartaris.  It was seen a third time in the 2001 film Original Sin on Angelina Jolie as Julia Russell.  Each time the gown has undergone some minor adjustments - with trim being for Ellis Island and removed again for Original Sin.

The costume is currently online at Profiles in History, where it will go up for auction October 2014. You can see the auction catalog here. The auction  describes the dress as follows:

This elegant costume is comprised of a long creme and black lace gown with black velvet accents, and rose-colored lace at the sleeves and bust-line, a black lace padded corset with boning reinforcement and hook and loop front and lace-up back.

Costume Credit: James

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This dress is yet another example of costumes being used not only in film and television, but in other mediums as well. Costumes can show up as props, they can appear in print advertisements, commercials, and in this case on a book cover.

This dress was designed for the 2005 BBC mini-series The Virgin Queen, where it was worn on actress Sienna Guillory as Lettice Knollys.  It was used again on Jennifer Saunders in 2007 in Bucket O’ French and Saunders, where she portrayed Helen Mirren portraying Queen Elizabeth I.  The gown was used a third time in the 2009 third season of The Tudors, on Charlotte Salt as Lady Ursila Misseldon.  Lastly, it appeared on a book cover of the Turkish translation of Phillipa Gregory’s 2009 novel The Constant Princess, where the promotional photo from The Tudors has been utilized and edited.

Costume Credit: Katie S., Lauren, S.S. James

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This peach colored robe à la polonaise was designed by Milena Canonero for the 2006 film Marie Antoinette, where it was worn on Kirsten Dunst as the title character. Melina’s costumes for the film were honored with an Oscar win for Best Achievement in Costume Design. The dress was used again in the 2012 Danish film A Royal Affair (En kongelig affære), where it was worn on Alicia Vikander as Caroline Mathilde - a fact confirmed by the film’s director Nikolaj Arcel.

Costumers can find inspiration for their creations in many places. In the instance of historical characters, and especially in the case of Marie Antoinette, there are many extant portraits that can be drawn upon as sources. It is not known if the above drawing of a young of Marie Antoinette, by the Swiss artist Jean-Étienne Liotard was the inspiration for this costume, but its similarity, especially with regards to the color combination of peach with small accents of blue are close enough to at least be noteworthy.

Costume Credit: Andrew, Rebecca, Sabine

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This lovely pink embroidered gown has been worn in several ’20s era productions.  It was first seen in 1997 in A Dance to the Music of Time on Amy Phillips as Jean. In 2001 it was used in Another Life on Natasha Little as Edith Jessie Thompson.  Most recently it was seen in the four season of Downton Abbey in 2013 on Lily James as Lady Rose MacClare.

Costume Credit: Katie S., Shrewsbury Lasses

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If you are in the L.A. area between October 2, 2014 and March 2, 2015, be sure to stop by the Academy’s Hollywood Costume exhibit, which includes many famous costumes, such as Christopher Reeves’ Superman suit and Judy Garland’s ruby slippers.

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Occasionally a costume will not only be reused in another production, but it will be utilized on the same actor. In this instance, the Roman armor was appropriate to both productions. It appears both times on actor Francis de Wolff, first in the 1964 film Carry On Cleo, where he plays the character of Agrippa.  He wore it again the very next year in the 1965 episode of Doctor Who entitled The Myth Makers, in which he plays Agamemnon. The episode is unfortunately one of the Doctor Who serials that is still missing.

Something interesting to note about this costume is that it almost certainly was made for the Fox Studio film Cleopatra, which starred Elizabeth Taylor. It is not yet known if the costume appeared in the final cut of the film, but it matches very closely in style the other garments that are seen on screen. The Carry On series frequently reused costumes from the very films that they were trying to parody. Many costumes from Cleopatra were used for Carry On Cleo just as many pieces from Anne of the Thousand Days were used in Carry On Henry.

Costume Credit: Garrett

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Sometimes a costume that was originally used on a character in a film or television show will pop up later as a prop. Often the costume can be seen hanging in the closet of a character, or in this case, displayed in a shop window. 

This purple Victorian gown was created by costume designer Joanna Johnston. Johnston’s costume credits include Forrest Gump, The Sixth Sense, and Lincoln, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Costume Design.  It was Jacqueline Durran’s work on Anna Karenina, however, that ultimately took home the Oscar.

This dress was designed for the 1990 film Back to the Future Part III, where it was worn on Mary Steenburgen as the character Clara Clayton Brown.  In 1992 it was seen in a shop window in the film Far and Away, which was also costumed by Johnston.

Costume Credit: Cintia, Jordyn

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Jewelry is always interesting to find reused and recycled, because while certain styles and stones do go in an out of fashion over time, it is easier to use jewelry in a wide range of time periods and not have it look nearly so unauthentic as a piece of clothing might be. A necklace, like the example above, may be just as at home in a film taking place in the eighteenth century as it is in a period drama taking place in the twentieth.

This pearl choker was worn originally by Charlotte Rampling as Lady Spencer in the 2008 film The Duchess.  It later went on to make an appearance on Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess of Grantham in the 2011 second second season of ITV’s Downton Abbey.

Costume Credit: Ignacio

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