Movie creators work hard to produce clothing and accessories that are as realistic as possible for the time period of their movies. Unfortunately, the people responsible for creating realistic era-based props sometimes fail miserably. From digital watches appearing years before they were developed to clothing that didn’t come into fashion for decades, these costume blunders should never have occurred but they make for great conversation pieces.
The Ever Convenient (And Time-Traveling?) Clip-On Tie
The beloved clip-on tie is an accessory that many modern men rely on for easy dressing. Clip-on ties are also great for people who work in dangerous situations where a traditional necktie could cause a safety risk. In the film The Color Purple, the character Albert wears a clip-on tie. He is pictured wearing the tie in a scene that supposedly takes place in 1916. Unfortunately, that particular type of tie wasn’t invented until 1928 — December 13th to be exact.
Perhaps Albert was just a forward-thinking man who invented his own version of the popular accessory. The original inventor’s name is unknown… could it have been Albert?
Brad Pitt Wears A Style Of Ray-Bans Not Yet Introduced
Actor Brad Pitt has always been known is a considerably stylish guy, even when he’s off-screen. In the 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, he is depicted wearing a really stylish accessory in one scene — a sleek pair of Ray Ban sunglasses, specifically the 3025 Aviator model.
The scene in question takes place in 1945, but the 3025 Aviators were not introduced until 1952. Interestingly, Pitt and former wife Jennifer Aniston once considered producing the film The Time Travelers Wife (which they later passed on). That movie would have been a much better venue for historically inaccurate costuming!
Men Who Wear Kilts
It is perfectly fine for men to wear kilts. Some may even prefer it. In the movie Braveheart, William Wallace (played by Mel Gibson) rocked the popular Scotish clothing choice with no shame. In the film, he was living around the year 1300.
Unfortunately, kilts were not worn in Scotland until the 16th century. In fact, historical researchers have determined that Scots in Medieval times fought battles wearing clothing very different than kilts. Instead, they sported tunics that were dyed bright yellow with – get this – horse urine! The shirts were called “leine croich” and were frequently worn with deerskin vests.
Digital Watch In A Not-So-Digital Time
We all know Morgan Freeman for his famously unforgettable voice. In one scene of the 1989 movie Glory, Freeman’s character John Rawlins uses his great voice to speak to a group of newly-liberated slave children. If you look closely at the scene, you might notice that one of the children is wearing a digital watch.
The movie was set during the Civil War and it’s not a movie about time travelers. Oops. The entire film is rife with historical inaccuracies but was critically acclaimed regardless of its shortfalls. Co-star Denzel Washington won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his part in Glory.
Even Animated Films Can Contain Mistakes
It’s hard to forget the iconic and gorgeous white wedding dress Cinderella wore in the classic 1950 Disney animated feature film of the same title. Most viewers remember the dress being a modest long-sleeve style, but in the scene when she is riding away in the carriage after the ceremony, the dress suddenly becomes short sleeved.
Either the animator forgot to keep the sleeves long, or Cinderella simply couldn’t wait until the honeymoon to tear her clothes off. Hey, she looks good either way. That’s one of the benefits of being a cartoon character.
Everyone Loves A Nice Watch
It’s always the small details that cause problems! In the 2013 flick American Hustle, Bradley Cooper’s boss Stoddard Thorsen (played by Louis C.K.) is seen sporting a Rolex, one of the most fashionable and recognizable watch brands in the world. However, American Hustle was set in the 1970s and 1980.
The particular Rolex shown is a ceramic 116718LN Gold Rolex GMT-Master II… which was not manufactured until 2010. Certainly, the costuming department could have located a stylish vintage Rolex for the scene! In real life, Louis C.K. is an avid watch fan and owns several Rolexes. Perhaps he could have acted as a consultant for wardrobing?
Should He Have Been Wearing That Headset?
The 2011 superhero film Captain America: The First Avenger takes place in 1941, during WWII. In the movie, the fictional character Jim Morita is wearing a Bowman Communication military headset under his hat while he’s holding his gun ready to fire.
That type of headset was not made until 2000. Nonetheless, it still makes for a great film even with that costuming blunder. In fact, after only Saving Private Ryan and Pearl Harbor, Captain America: The First Avenger is the third highest-grossing motion picture set during the World War II era.
Anck su Namun’s Costume in The Mummy Returns
In The Mummy Returns, actress Patricia Velasquez plays the character of Anck su Namun, a mistress of Pharaoh Seti, who only he is allowed to touch. Her look was created by makeup artist Aieleen Seaton, and required a lot of makeup, considering her outfit was body paint!
The actress had to be careful, especially in her fighting scenes, not to mess up the paint that made up her outfit, otherwise, otherwise, she would show too much!
A Nice Bottle of Suds
There is a scene in The Shawshank Redemption when Andy earns beer for his friends after helping one of the prison guards. It’s a powerful scene as all of the inmates are enjoying their beer at 10 AM “feeling like free men”, except for one small mistake. if you look closely at the beer bottles, you’ll notice that they have spiraled tops, indicating that it is a twist-off beer.
However, this was overlooked when picking the props because twist-off beers hadn’t been invented yet in the late 1940s. A small mistake in an otherwise impeccable movie.
Django Gets His Hands On A Rare Accessory
In 2012’s grisly Quentin Tarantino-directed film Django Unchained, Django was on a mission to save his lady in the years leading to the U.S. Civil War. Nothing could deter him from locating and rescuing his true love from her cruel captors. Django was a stylish dude, and along the way to find his girl he had to look his best.
Sunglasses were not popular with the masses in the U.S. until 1929. Before that, they were used as a medical device and were scarce. But somehow Django had a pair, years before they would have been available to him.
Were Mood Rings A Thing Then?
The ring character Vada wore in My Girl was not just some regular ring with a basic stone in it. No, it was the ring we always wanted to try when we were teenagers: a mood ring. The movie was set in 1972, but what’s wrong about that is. Mood rings were not invented until 1975.
The filmmakers were off by three years, but that’s pretty forgivable when you compare the error to some of the others on this list. Plus, My Girl was a great movie in general. Young Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky were just adorable together and the story of their childhood friendship was both sweet and heartbreaking.
Sometimes Hair Can Cost You
Women frequently have to deal with issues that probably wouldn’t affect men, and this is nothing new. It has been the case throughout history. Beyond the glaring issues like reproductive rights, voting rights, and equal pay, women also are judged by their appearance more than men. One example of this comes in the film Captain America: The First Avenger. Character Peggy Carter, played capably by actress Hayley Atwell, breaks a military rule with her hairstyle.
During WWII, military women’s hair was not to be worn long enough to touch their collar when on duty. Unfortunately, Peggy’s hair did not follow protocol. We think we can overlook this one since she was a bit of a rebel anyways.
Dorothy Would Not Have Made It Home
“There’s no place like home.” It’s a phrase many know well and one that helped Dorothy escape the wrath of the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. That phrase, paired with the magical red slippers of course. In the scene after Dorothy and Scarecrow are fighting with the tree, look at her shoes. Uh oh, she is wearing plain black leather shoes instead of ruby red slippers.
This would have been bad news for Ms. Dorothy, as the Good Witch Glinda told her that she needed the magic in the ruby slippers to return home to her beloved Kansas and family. One pair of the ruby slippers used in filming is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History.
Golf Shoes Not Meant For The Time
The Informant was set during the early 1990s. In The Informant, a biographical/crime/drama film which follows a whistleblower during a price-fixing controversy, there are various times when you see stars such as Matt Damon, Joel McHale, and Scott Bakula wearing Nike brand golf shoes.
This was a pretty big oversight considering that Nike didn’t release a line of golf shoes were until years later, in 1996. This is definitely one of those mistakes that you’d need to be an eagle-eye to catch. Either that or a golf shoe expert. When you are attempting to outfit an entire cast for a movie sometimes the smaller mistakes go unnoticed until it’s took late.
Bike Shorts… On A Gladiator?
A great display of acting was performed by Russell Crowe in the epic 2000 historical drama Gladiator. But during the film, in the scene with the tiger fight, Crowe’s character was wearing Lycra shorts. Those type of shorts are biking shorts, and it’s probably a fair bet to say that there were no biking shorts in Ancient Rome.
Chariot-riding short possibly, but bicycles weren’t invented until 1817, and biking shorts like the ones sported by Crowe in Gladiator didn’t come around until quite some time after that. The film has grossed more than $457 million to date, so audiences must not have minded too much.
How Convenient For The Nazis To Have These Medals
Nazis are not a well-liked group of people. In the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Nazis definitely live up to their reputation by playing the movie’s bad guys. The Steven Spielberg-directed movie is set in 1938, which was one year before World War II began.
As you watch the film, you can see that the Nazis are already wearing medals that did not come into use until World War II had started. You have to admit, the war medals make the costumes look a little more intimidating, which is exactly what film-making and theatrics are all about. It was a simple mistake to make — did you notice it when you first saw the movie?
The Royal Navy Gave It Away
During the film Pirates of the Caribbean, the men are seen wearing British Royal Navy uniforms. Those uniforms were not introduced until 1747, but in the film the King of England was George I. George I was the King of England between 1714 and 1727.
Granted, this film franchise isn’t exactly known for its historical accuracy, but these are some pretty big errors in timing! Considering that there are now five Pirates of the Caribbean films in the series, it seems that audiences must not care much about trivial historical details like this.
Wrong Robe, Judge!
The film Public Enemies, a historical mob drama, is set in the 1930s during the booming crime wave. It is set on a book titled Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933–34. In one courtroom scene, Judge Murray is wearing a robe that has raised the eyebrows of some eagle-eyed viewers.
During that time period a judge’s robe would have been of a much heavier wool and no here near the look and feel of the more modern robe. Other tell-tale clues are that the robe in the film has a slight sheen to it as well as the delicate stitching.
They’re Supposed To Be Brown, Not Black
Before 1950s, the Army did not give out black boots. In Saving Private Ryan, which takes place in World War II’s Invasion of Normandy, some of the soldiers can be seen wearing black boots. In the 1950s, changes were made to Army uniforms and the standard was changed to brown boots.
Other changes were that the Eisenhower style of jacket was retired and uniforms were updated to a green color scheme with black accents. Next time you watch Saving Private Ryan, try and scope out how many soldiers are wearing black boots. It’s a lot!
Stealing From The Future?
Although Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was a blockbuster hit when it premiered in 1991, it wasn’t well-received by critics. Even worse was the rating that historians gave the wildly-inaccurate film, with one historian labeling the movie “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Gaffes”. One bit that seems to have attracted a lot of attention is during a scene with Kevin Costner as Robin Hood and Morgan Freeman as Azeem.
Azeem the companion has a very unique artifact. Unique in a way that makes you wonder how he even got a hold of it. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves takes place in 1194, but telescopes were not invented until the early 17th century.
An Umbrella Fit For A Chariot
You need shade when traveling around, whether it be by car or chariot. In the case of the epic war film Troy, set during the Trojan War (the late 12th Century BC), Orlando Bloom is riding in a chariot. On the chariot is a very nice umbrella, complete with dainty tassels.
How he got the umbrella is a question for the film makers because parasols were not brought around to Greece until 800 years after Troy took place. This little set blunder probably didn’t matter too much in the grand scheme of things, as the movie later made more than $497 million worldwide.
An Extra From The Present
Raiders of the Lost Ark takes place in 1936. All of Indiana Jones’ clothing makes it clear that the character’s career is as an archaeologist. But if you take a gander in the back during one of the scenes, you will notice a man wearing casual Western clothing as he strolls down the street.
He’s wearing a stylish and modern t-shirt and jeans to be exact – not exactly clothing you’d see people walking around wearing in Cairo in the 1930s. Did he forget to check the memo? As we’ll see in some other entries on this list, extras seem to sneak into films unnoticed all the time!
A Cowboy Among Pirates
We all know Pirates of the Caribbean is of course about pirates. Well in one of the films from the five-movie franchise, if you look closely at the background you notice something unexpected. Is it an extra or maybe even a pirate? Whoever he may be, his choice of headwear does not match the occasion.
To be fair, when you’re talking about filming a scene involving dozens or even hundreds of actors, extras, and crew members, there are bound to be some shots like this that slip by editing! Plus, they’re fun for fans to spot.
Maybe Try A Different Pair Of Boots, Lizzie
Wellington Boots were not popularized by the Duke of Wellington until 1815. The 2005 romantic comedy Pride and Prejudice takes place in 1790 and is based on the Jane Austen novel of the same name. Why this matters is that the character Lizzie (Keira Knightley) clearly wears Wellington boots in the movie.
The style must have been too hot to pass up or the producers did not know that small detail would be spotted by so many theater-goers. Or perhaps Keira Knightley didn’t want to ruin the gorgeous costume she’s wearing by getting mud all over it!
The Dress Is Thirty Years Early
In Singin’ in the Rain, the 1952 romantic comedy musical, Kathy Selden (as played by Debbie Reynolds) wears a large poofy dress. But wearing this style of dress would have been more correct if it were the 1950s, when the film was created.
The movie is set in the 1920s, making the dress choice a huge style conflict. Those who are into fashion probably picked up on this, but the casual moviegoer had no idea. Other big stars in the film included Gene Kelly, Rita Moreno, Donald O’Connor, and Jean Hagen.
Does Size Really Matter?
The Untouchables is a Brian De Palma-directed gangster film from 1987. The movie takes place during the American Prohibition period, which lasted from 1920 to 1933. During that time the common style for men was to wear their lapels really wide. But in the film, you can clearly see that Kevin Costner’s lapels are not as wide as they should be in correlation to the time period.
In this case, it is true, size does matter when it comes to costume mishaps. The people who mattered most didn’t seem to care though, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded the film four Academy Award nominations.
Women Need Support
There are hundreds of different type of bras available in the world, and they were all invented at different times. For instance, the sports bra wasn’t introduced until 1975. Women in the film Julius Casar, made in 1953, are seen wearing bullet bras. Clearly, those types of bras were not around in 44 B.C.E., which is the time period in which the movie is set.
In this case, directors seem to have gone for the style that was most popular during their time (the 1950s) instead of the era that the film’s action took place.
Not Quite Yet, Seabiscuit
Toby Maguire, perhaps most notably known for his role as Spider-Man, has been in lots of other films. He’s even played a horse jockey. In the film Seabiscuit, he acts as man named Red Pollard. The movie is set in 1930 and follows the story of a Thoroughbred race horse. Looking at Red Pollard’s helmet you will probably notice that it has chin straps.
The thing is, chin straps were not around until 1956. The filmmakers probably wanted to give Tobey Maguire more safety features. But doing so cost them some authenticity. Fans didn’t seem to mind, though, and the movie earned seven Academy Award nominations.
Testing A New Makeup Style Years In Advance
Makeup is a luxury that many women adore. It allows them to conceal things they don’t wish others to see, or accentuate the features they look best. In short, it can make them look exactly how they want to look. However, makeup was the cause of one film’s costume blunder.
In the 1969 movie Hello Dolly, Barbra Streisand’s character Dolly Levi is wearing style of makeup that was not even popular yet. The style is cat-eye which was not common in the 1890s when the film takes place. In fact, this style wasn’t cool until 1960.
French Hood Worn All Wrong
Natalie Portman wears a rather attractive French hood in the 2008 biographical film The other Boleyn Girl. Here, her hair is clearly down and is visible hanging out below the hood. However, French hoods were worn with a veil in the back, and her hair would also have been pulled up underneath the hood.
Back in the 1500s, when the film took place, this was probably a pretty big deal although it might seem archaic to our modern sensibilities. This might be an example of a director being more concerned with a character’s attractiveness than with historical accuracy. It was a great film regardless.
Modern Glasses For The 1920s
The film The Aviator follows the life of famed businessman, film producer, pilot, and investor Howard Hughes. As such, it spans a wide time range, from 1927 to 1947. Even so, there was a pretty glaring error in the timing of one particular character’s costume. Actor Brent Spiner played Robert E. Gross, a businessman who, like Hughes, was also involved with aviation.
He wears thin frameless eyeglasses. This style was much too modern for the film’s time frame by decades. This minor error did not stop the movie from receiving a whopping 11 Academy Award nominations.
These Name Tags Were Ahead Of Their Time
The George Clooney-directed 2005 film Good Night and Good Luck is part biography, part historical drama. The action takes place in 1950s and follows newsman Edward F. Murrow as he attempts to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy. The movie was critically acclaimed and very well received.
But as we’ve seen, just because a film is lauded by critics doesn’t mean it’s going to be free of errors. In Good Night and Good Luck, the Air Force men are seen wearing metal name tags, but the film took place several years before the Air Force started wearing name tags in 1967.
When You Didn’t Have To Worry If Your Fly Was Down
The 1984 period film Amadeus, a story about the legendary Mozart set in Vienna in the late 18th century, received an astonishing 40 awards and 53 nominations. It’s even been listed on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years… 100 Movies list.
So it might be surprising that the movie had a really glaring costume oversight. In an opera scene, the ballet dancers and even Mozart himself (played by Tom Hulce) are dressed in costumes that feature zippers, which were not invented until 1913, which was 120 years after Mozart’s death.
Firefighter Caught In The Wrong Time
Director Martin Scorsese’s 2002 drama Gangs of New York was set in the 1800s and follows a gang member who commits crimes for mob leader “Boss” Tweed. In one scene there’s a massive fire. As competing firefighting crews arrive to put out the flames, eagle eyed viewers might notice that one of the firefighters is wearing modern, yellow, firefighting attire.
This movie blunder can probably be blamed on the fact that real modern-day firefighters were on hand to make sure things stayed safe on set, but it’s worth a mention here anyway.
The 2007 dramatic film There Will Be Blood was lauded by critics and received multiple nominations and awards for everything from the screenplay to direction to acting to cinematography. Surely, a film this perfect wouldn’t include any errors, right? Wrong.
Daniel Day-Lewis’ character, a silver miner named Daniel Plainview, is shown in one scene resting in a chair, with the bottoms of his feet exposed. We see that his boots have waffle soles… which were not introduced until the 1970s. There Will Be Blood was set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — just a little too early for these kinds of shoes.
The Color Purple At The Wrong Time
Pompeii was a 2014 historical romance released in 3D and was a big attraction to history buffs. However, filmmakers included a costume blunder that ruffled a few feathers. Emperor Nero had outlawed the wearing of purple clothing by anyone by himself. In fact, the crime was punishable by death. The color was also steep in price and would have been nearly impossible for most people to purchase.
Yet in the film, viewers clearly see Corvus and other soldiers sporting prestigious purple robes. This one probably went over the heads of many who saw it, but you know how seriously some people take their history knowledge!
The Baby Gets Pampered
In the 1995 British period drama Sense and Sensibility (based on Jane Austen’s novel), costumes were very important. But even so, in one scene a baby is pictured wearing a modern disposable diaper. In the scene, the baby is being held by Mr. Palmer, played by actor Hugh Laurie.
The movie is set in the 1800s, when babies either wore cloth diapers or nothing at all. The modern diaper is a glaring error to anyone familiar with such things, but most viewers probably didn’t notice this one, so we can let it slide. After all, it’s just a baby.
Calrissian Quick Change
Lando Calrissian, a smooth-talking Star Wars character played by Billy Dee Williams, showed himself to be pretty two-faced in The Empire Strikes Back. But he took being two-faced to a new level in the following film in the Star Wars franchise, Return of the Jedi.
As he joyfully calls his pal Han Solo a “pirate,” Calrissian is inexplicably shown wearing all his clothes in a completely different way than they had been just a moment earlier. His military-style chest strap, holster, and badge are now on the opposite side of his body. How did he manage such a quick change?
Harry Does Magic Without Trying
Yes, Harry Potter is a wizard. Yes, it is safe to assume he can a ton of tricks with his magical powers. No, this blunder from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) had nothing at all to do with magic. In one, Harry is seen going to bed in a crewneck t-shirt (short sleeved) but he wakes up after having an intense nightmare about Voldemort.
He sits up quickly in bed and we see that he is now wearing a long-sleeved Henley shirt. Nope, nothing magical going on here. Just your average, everyday “oops.”
May The Force Be With You, Vader
Darth Vader, an ultra-powerful villain who once was a Jedi, dabbles in a new type of trickery. In 1977’s epic space saga Star Wars, there’s a scene where he is about to engage in a fierce light saber battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi.
During this action scene, be sure to take a good look at the control panels on his chest. The buttons and other components of Darth Vader’s chest plate seem to switch sides completely during the scene. By the way, that control panel in Vader’s uniform is known to Star Wars buffs as a “chest computer”.