There are many legendary films that have made a mark on popular culture and media as we know it. Movies like Pretty Woman, Back to the Future, Catch Me If You Can, Schindler’s List, and The Last Samurai are just a few films that stood the test of time but have been found to have had flaws in their wardrobe or costume department. Some of these mistakes are so minor that most people wouldn’t even notice them, but there are others that would stand out to pretty much anyone.
We take films sometimes with a grain of salt in terms of their accuracy, but there are films that pride themselves on the fact that they got every little detail down pat. Sadly, even those films are not free of historical inaccuracies. Some mistakes can be small such as the wrong pair of sunglasses or shoe color that wouldn’t have existed at the time the film is set in. However, there are much larger mistakes, such as emblems that weren’t in existence yet, a color that was not allowed to be worn yet was in any event, and era specific style decisions that would not have been the way they were portrayed.
Costume mistakes in films are usually unseen by the general audience, but leave it to some history buffs who watch the films to call out the producers of the films as to their costume mistakes, something that can hurt the credibility of the film. We wonder what other mistakes we would find if we went film by film and analyzed every little detail.
Dirty Dancing | Baby should be wearing a skirt
The film Dirty Dancing was supposed to take place in 1963. If that really were the case, Baby shouldn’t have been wearing denim shorts but rather a skirt as that was the fashion at the time. Although some women were wearing shorts back then, it was really rare and unlikely. Denim shorts only became popular in the 1980s. While this mistake on behalf of the wardrobe department is funny, we, and most of the audience let it slide.
Legends of the Fall | Brad Pitt’s hair was too put together
In the film Legends of the Fall, Brad Pitt plays the role of the beautiful Tristan Ludlow. The film was set in the 1910s. During that time, it made no sense for a man to sport what looks like a 60s hair style of long locks. Brad, although looking fantastic, should have had shorter hair and no five o’clock shadow in sight.
Troy | Parasols had yet to be invented
See that beautiful pink parasol keeping Orlando Bloom and Diane Kruger in its shade? It is historically inaccurate for the film. Parasols came into fashion in the 5th century BCE when it was invented by the Greeks. The Greeks invented the shading tool a good 800 years AFTER Troy was taken. Most of us didn’t realize this inaccuracy since we didn’t learn when parasols were invented in school.
Raiders of the Lost Ark | There’s an extra wearing jeans
If you look in the background, where our guiding red arrow is pointing, you will see one of the film’s extras wearing jeans. The film is set in the 1930s – there is absolutely no way that someone would be dressed like that at the time. We love finding these kinds of errors, not even a film such as this one is immune!
Pride and Prejudice | Rubber boots didn’t exist yet
Kiera Knightly stunned in the role of Elizabeth Bennet in the classic film adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel. However, not even her impressive acting skills can hide that she is wearing Wellington boots, boots that were not in existence back in 1813. The boots were only created a good 40 years afterwards (which is still a long time ago – nice shelf life for a boot!).
Captain America | Her hair shouldn’t be down
The first Captain America film was set during World War II. At the time, women were not wearing their hair even half down as it was considered inappropriate. Furthermore, female agents and soldiers were required to have their hair pinned up and off of their shoulders. Peggy Carter, who we see here, clearly didn’t get the memo. Her hair looked lovely, though!
Gladiator | You can see Russell Crowe’s lycra shorts
Gladiator was set during Ancient Roman times. Back in Ancient Rome, lycra didn’t exist yet. However, that didn’t stop Russell Crowe from being seen wearing lycra shorts under his Roman garb in several of the scenes. Some were quick to notice this flaw, us included. The positive side of all of this is that the shorts were flesh colored and not too noticeable.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade | There were not supposed to be medals on the Nazi uniforms
The film was supposed to take place in 1938, just a year before the start of World War II. In the film, however, the Nazi officials you see are wearing medals. In 1938, there were no medals in place yet to be given to the officers as those were given out towards the end of the war and not in the beginning of it.
The King’s Speech | Firth isn’t wearing the right kilt
Colin Firth won critics and audiences alike with his portrayal of the Prince Albert in The King’s Speech. Unfortunately, Firth was also given the wrong kilt to wear during one of the scenes. During the scene we see here in the photo below, Albert is wearing an Irish kilt, the proper kilt would have been a Scottish Balmoral kilt. But we are kind of nit picking here.
Glory | There were no digital watches during the civil war
This is a case of someone overlooking the obvious. Glory was set during the American Civil War and starred big names such as Matthew Broderick, Edward Zwick and Denzel Washington. There is one scene, however, where we see a hand being raised with a digital watch on it. To put things into perspective, wristwatches weren’t in fashion until the 1920s and digital ones weren’t available until the 1970s!
Captain America | The soldier’s headset hadn’t been invented yet
We loved Captain America, we really did, but there are glaring wrongdoings when it comes to the timing of things. For example, the headset that Jim Mortia is wearing? Didn’t exist until the early 2000s. Considering the first Captain America film was set during World War II, this makes no sense. We put a nice red arrow to make sure you knew what we were referring to.
Public Enemies | Johnny Depp’s justice robe was too modern
Public Enemies was set during the Great Depression, so if we take that time into consideration we notice that Judge Murray, Johnny Depp’s character, is wearing a judge’s robe that is far too advanced for that time. Back then the robes in question were heavy and were hard to move around with; Johnny’s was light and easy to get around in.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves | There shouldn’t be a telescope
Robin Hood existed around the year 1194. Back in 1194, there was no such thing as a telescope yet! However, this little detail was overlooked by costume and production when Kevin Costner pulled out his telescope to get a better view at whatever it was he was looking at or for. Telescopes were only created in the 17th century, long after Robin Hood’s tale.
Almost Famous | Someone wore a Black Sabbath t-shirt
Black Sabbath, albeit a great band, didn’t have their t-shirts made until 1997. The reason that is curious is because there is a character who wears that very same t-shirt in the film, which was set in the 1970s. Overlooking the smaller details is what can cost a film their credibility. Luckily for this film, this was a small enough oversight that most people didn’t notice.
Pearl Harbor | Women didn’t walk around with bare legs
Pearl Harbor took place in 1941 (obviously). During the 1940s, it was unheard of for women to walk around outside their home without any form of covering for their legs. Women in the 40s wore stockings to cover their bare skin as anything else would be highly irregular and inappropriate. Producers didn’t seem to notice such a detail, and the wardrobe department didn’t pick up on that either.
Braveheart | Mel Gibson’s Scottish kilt was too early
Mel Gibson’s portrayal of William Wallace gave the world chills and catapulted his career to stardom. However, the kilt he is wearing here is inaccurate. The film is set some time during the 13th century while the kilt he is wearing, a Scottish kilt, wasn’t worn until much later on during the 16th century. We aren’t going to let a minor detail like this ruin Braveheart for us!
Django Unchained | Jamie Foxx’s sunglasses are too modern
Jamie Foxx did a fantastic job in Django Unchained, but someone in the costume department made a real mistake when they gave him those sunglasses to wear – they didn’t exist in the 19th century. The film was a mega success nonetheless, grossing approximately $300 million internationally. Those sunglasses, by the way, were invented in 1929. Perhaps Django was from the future?
The Untouchables | Costner’s lapels were also too modern
The Untouchables was one awesome film. However, the 1987 film, which was supposed to take place in the 1930s, had Kevin Costner’s character wearing a suit with lapels, something that wasn’t a thing until 1989. The suits in the 1930s didn’t have lapels such as the suit that Elliott Ness, Costner’s character, wore throughout the film. Minor error, no harm no fowl.
The Other Boleyn Girl | Portman’s hair should have been up
Natalie Portman played the role of the second wife of King Henry VIII in the film adaptation of the novel The Other Boleyn Girl. Back in the 1500s, when this film was set, Anne Boleyn wouldn’t have been caught dead with her hair down in public. Here we see her with her hair down and to her side, something that was done only when going to sleep or bathing.
Julius Caesar | The bullet bra wasn’t in existance yet
It was only in the 1950s that bullet bras came into fashion. However, in the film Julius Caesar, the women were seen wearing something very reminiscent to it, as you can see in the image below. Julius Caesar was set in 44 BCE, a full 2000 years before the invention of the bullet bra. Still, it is an iconic movie.
Saving Private Ryan | The soldiers are wearing the wrong boots
In the emotional tale of Private Ryan, set during World War II and directed by the legendary director Steven Spielberg, there is an error in the boots worn by the soldiers. The boots are supposed to be brown as the black ones had yet to be produced at the time of the Second World War, only in the 1950s. This is such a minor mistake that we easily overlook it.
Catch Me If You Can | Braces weren’t widespread yet
Actress Amy Adams starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks in the 2002 film Catch Me If You Can. The relatively unknown actress at the time played the role of a nurse with braces. What doesn’t make sense, though, is that metal braces were way too expensive for the ordinary American at that time. This means that Brenda (the character) probably would not have had braces.
The Tudors | Those ruffs were not allowed
The ruffs that this actress is wearing in the film The Tudors is not only incorrect but it would have been downright scandalous. In the film, the women are seen wearing these ruffs around their necks, while they are very pretty to watch, such ruffs were worn with a dress that was fitted all the way to the top of the neck, not with nothing underneath it.
Good Night and Good Luck | Name tags weren’t a thing
George Clooney starred and directed the film Good Night and Good Luck back in 2005. The film was set in the 1950s and boasted everything the 50s had to offer, plus an additional element that didn’t exist yet – name tags. The officers in the film were seen wearing name tags when in fact, name tags weren’t worn by military personnel prior to 1967.
American Hustle | The Rolex Louis C.K. is wearing didn’t exist yet
The design of the Rolex watch that Louis C.K. was wearing in American Hustle didn’t exist in the 1970s when American Hustle was set to take place. The watch was released in 2010 and is therefore a no-no on behalf of the wardrobe department. However, while this was indeed a mistake, it was so minor that it didn’t effect the films success as it went on to win a long list of awards and accolades.
Amadeus | Zippers were not invented yet
Amadeus is a film about the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whom we all know as one of the greatest composers in history. The film was set in the 18th century but the zipper on Mozart’s costume has us confused as to when the film really is taking place. Zippers were only invented in 1913, meaning that our dear Mozart couldn’t have had access to any piece of clothing that contained such an element.
The Color Purple | Clip-on ties didn’t exist yet
The Color Purple is a film that is known throughout the country as an adaptation of the novel by Alice Walker. The story takes place in the South in 1916. Danny Glover, who plays one of the key characters in the film, is seen wearing a clip-on tie, something that wasn’t in existence before 1928. The film was just as much of a success as if the tie was real, so we will let it slide.
Gangs of New York | The firefighter getup is too modern
The film Gangs of New York is set in 19th century New York City. One of the scenes in the film, however, had audiences confused as some of the costumes were too modern. The scene we see here of the great fire, has firemen wearing modern uniforms, very reminiscent of what they wear today, which would have made no sense for the time this film was actually set.
My Girl | Mood rings weren’t a thing yet
My Girl is a story about friendship, love, and growing up. Part of that growing up had actress Anna Chlumsky’s character feeling very blue. There’s a scene where Vada wears a mood ring that she describes to another character. The only problem? Mood rings weren’t around in 1972 (when the film is set) but only became popular later in the decade.
Sense and Sensibility | The baby in the film was wearing a diaper when they weren’t around yet
Another Jane Austen film to the list! The film Sense and Sensibility is based on yet another Austen novel. The film was set in the 19th century but has a serious problem with smaller more modern elements that were included in the film but couldn’t have been in existence yet. The perfect example of that is the diaper that the baby is wearing in the film.
Singin’ in the Rain | Pink dresses weren’t worn then
Singin’ in the Rain is a movie that dates back to 1952. The film itself, however, is set to take place in the 1920s. While in the 50s, it was all the rage to wear pink dresses, back in the 1920s it wasn’t a thing. The talented Debbie Reynolds played the part of the main protagonist and wore that pink number, which we still love despite the mistake.
The Wedding Singer | Drew Barrymore’s hair style didn’t make sense yet
Drew is always adorable in our book, but her hair style for The Wedding Singer, although sweet, was not in style in the 80s when the film was set. Her hair style only became popular in the 90s. That being said, it seemed to bother no one but only the strictest of 80s followers. The film has since become a classic.
Schindler’s List | Shaving wasn’t a thing for women
Putting aside the very unrealistic fact that women in concentration camps during World War II were in no way allowed to shave their body parts, the fact is that Eastern European women in the 30s and 40s didn’t tend to shave their body parts anyway. In the film Schindler’s List, the women were seen with shaved underarms and other such inaccuracies.
Picnic at Hanging Rock | Their hairstyles were wrong
Picnic at Hanging Rock was supposed to be set in the turn of the 20th century. The hair on the girls, however, says more 1970s than any other time period. The proper way girls and women wore their hair in the 1900s was up, as that was the most appropriate way to be on display. An interesting thing to learn if you weren’t sure.
The Informant | Nike golf spikers were made later on
The film was set in between 1992 and 1994. Matt Damon did a fantastic job as an FBI agent, but the production didn’t think everything through when they set him up with Nike golf spikes, as they were not released until 1996. Nike has had the incredible advantage of dominating the market of all things athletic, but even they couldn’t get into golf that easily.
The Last Samurai | The armor Cruise wore was too old
The historic film The Last Samurai has Tom Cruise play a United States officer who is captured by the Japanese while on their land trying to help them learn how to fight. During one of the battle scenes, when Cruise is on the side of the Japanese he was captured by, he wears a beautiful red piece of armor. The inaccuracy here lies in the fact that the armor he is wearing is 250 years too old for the film.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button | Brad’s sunglasses didn’t exist yet
The plot line of the film is a confusing one as is, with Benjamin Button aging backwards and having everyone else looking at him as if he were an alien. When Brad’s character gets to the younger ages (in terms of looks) but older in terms of his life after birth, he wears Ray Ban sunglasses in what would have been 1945. Ray Ban’s were not popular amongst the general public before 1952 (only ex-pilots wore them), making this scene one with an error in it.
Pirates of the Caribbean | Red coats weren’t a thing yet
In the first installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean film, The Curse of the Black Pearl, the English soldiers are dressed in red coats. However, the red coats didn’t exist at the time of the first film, which was set in the 1720s. The red coats were only introduced the the British military in 1747. Lucky for the film, we were too focused on Captain Jack Sparrow.
Seabiscuit | The strapped helmet wasn’t used back then
It was also not in existence yet. The strapped helmet that riders now use was invented in 1956. Seabiscuit took place during the Great Depression, a long time before the 50s. Despite this minor error, though, the film went on to earn a long list of awards, including several Academy Awards! We’ll let this one slide since it’s so minor.
Pretty Woman | The length of Vivian’s nightgown changes
Pretty Woman is one of the most iconic films to date. What Richard Gere and Julia Roberts did in that movie was pure Hollywood gold. However, the fact that it was so good doesn’t mean it was free of flaws. In the scene where Vivian kisses Edward, her nightgown changes from long to short as the scene was done in several takes and no one noticed the issue on camera.
Where Eagles Dare | Different era hair
In the 1968 English film Where Eagles Dare, was set during the Second World War. Stars like Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood were in it, as well as Ingrid Pitt. Pitt played the role of of a German waitress named Heidi (obviously). The problem with the whole thing is that Heidi is sporting a hair style from the 60s rather than the 40s.
Pretty Woman | Edward’s tie is both tied and untied in the same scene
In the scene where Vivian tries to undo Edward’s tie and get him in the mood, he turns her away and she doesn’t quite understand. What audiences noticed that was also not easily understood was the fact that in that scene, Edward’s tie is tied and the next moment it’s untied and then tied once again. Someone in the production seemed to overlook this little issue.
The Great Escape | The clothing wasn’t the right decade
The Great Escape takes place during World War II and deals with Prisoners of War that escape. Actor Steve McQueen played the role of the escaped POW but the issue had less to do with the storyline and more to do with the fact that his clothing seemed more fit for the 1990s than 1940s. He was wearing a t-shirt and khakis for crying out loud!
Unforgiven | Belt loops were less common
Honestly, this one is a stretch since 99% wouldn’t catch this inaccuracy. The 1992 movie Unforgiven, one of Clint Eastwood’s films, was set in 1880 in the state of Wyoming. One of the characters wore a pair of jeans with a belt. His pants had belt loops in them, which was very uncommon at the time that this film is set in.
Ben Hur | The Star of David was premature
In the film, based on the novel by the same name from 1880, the Star of David that is worn by the main protagonist is premature as the first signs of the Star of David were not found until the 12th century AD. We will chock this up to cinematic zeal and nothing more, most people wouldn’t think of it but symbolists would surely notice.
Pompeii | Purple capes were forbidden
While purple is a royal color indeed, it was actually forbidden at the time. The Emperor Nero, who ruled at the time would kill any person wearing purple other than him, meaning that Kiefer Sutherland’s character would never in a million years wear purple, for fear for his own life. We do think it’s a nice color on him, though.
Back to the Future | Marty’s guitar didn’t exist yet
The scene where Marty McFly plays on a Gibson ES-345 isn’t historically accurate as the guitar in question didn’t exist at the time that McFly was playing it (and no, he didn’t bring it from the future!). If you recall, Marty pays the song Johnny B. Goode during the scene. Back to the Future is still a classic in our book anyway.
There Will Be Blood | The sole of the shoes wasn’t produced yet
You know the waffle soles that many boots and work shoes have to prevent slipping and such? Well, they were invented in the 70s by Nike. The reason we bring this up is because of the fact that in the film There Will Be Blood, which is set in the late 19th century, the men were wearing shoes with waffle soles, which makes no sense.
The Ten Commandments | Nefertiti’s dress was over the top
According to historians, there is no chance that Nefertiri’s dress would have looked like it did in the 1956 film. The color alone didn’t exist at the time as teal or any other color that isn’t a natural shade couldn’t be dyed that color, especially a silk dress like the one she is wearing. The only way to color silk was to dye it in natural tints.