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  • Writer's pictureNancy, Hostess of Cup & Crown

Costume Drama Deja Vu

Have you ever been watching a period drama and suddenly thought you recognized an actress's dress from another show?

I used to think I was the only one who had these costume deja vus, that I was the only self-proclaimed dork who paid attention to these things or was interested in knowing if a garment had been previously filmed. I'd actually prefer to think of myself as astute or on the qui vive... Anyway, thanks to the internet that leaves no dork without a like-minded Facebook group, I found I was not alone. Among a few of the sites out there, I quickly formed an attachment to Recycled Movie Costumes, where I found a plethora of others like myself connect to this outlet that showcases hundreds of costumes that have been used in more than one show.

I've mentioned in the past that I watch a lot of British period shows, many of them which take place during the Victorian or Edwardian era, and a number which I have actually viewed more than once. Okay, twice. Okay, my particular favourites I'll watch once a year. Getting back on track...

I naively though that costumes were created especially for each show and each actor; and I'm sure that's often the case and possibly the norm. A quick perusal through the Recycled Movie Costumes website, however, will show you just how often ensembles are reused from one show to the next, sometimes with a little tweak or alteration. Submissions are organized by era or genre, so you can find reused pieces from Medieval to modern-day garments and even props and accessories. You may even get to learn the history of or inspiration for a costume's creation.

The first time I had that costume drama deja vu was while watching an episode of Downton Abbey from Season 1. Cora, played by Elizabeth McGovern, was wearing an unusual necklace with large, black starburst beads. A week or so before, I'd been watching the The Pallisers - an adaptation of several Anthony Trollope novels that ran as a mini-series in Britain from 1974-1975 [and may I just add... BRILLIANT! Add it to your must-see list], where I had seen those very same beads on the neck of Susan Hampshire playing "Lady Glencora" - refashioned for a new production, but clearly the same beads! I took cell phone pictures of both and submitted them to Recycled Movie Costumes and was pleased, a few weeks later, to have been given credit for the sighting.

It has now become impossible for me to watch any period drama without trying to keep a keen eye and memory for the costumes I see. I have since submitted several repeat sightings; and though not all have been posted or others have beat me to the proverbial punch, I have been the first on at least two others:

If you're a reused movie garment hound like myself, know you're not alone - there's a village somewhere for everyone! Recycled Movie Costumes is mine. As their tagline says, "Because you know you've seen that dress somewhere else before...", I encourage you to pause the tv, snap the pictures, and send them in - there's someone out there who's interested.

Note: pictures used in this article are computer screen prints from the Recycled Movie Costumes website. Images of the costumes displayed on their site and in this article are the property of the various studios to which each film or tv show represented is attributed.

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Nancy, Hostess of Cup & Crown
Nancy, Hostess of Cup & Crown
Sep 24, 2020

High praise from Super Woman - thank you!!


Marta Fosco
Sep 24, 2020

Congrats! You never cease to amaze me.

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