Period Costumes in ‘Pride and Prejudice’

Designing costumes for period films can be very difficult. It takes a significant amount of research to get things “just right.” For films like Pride and Prejudice, which is set in the 1790s, few if any actual garments still exist. Costume designers must depend on existing sketches and paintings from the period, as well as the interpretations of previous costume designers. It can be a daunting task.

Costume designers also often rely heavily on prop or costuming shops to outfit the actors in the production they are working on. But these resources often have very little in the way of clothing and accessories meant to look as though they are from this time period. That means the costume designers have to have many outfits created from scratch. This was the case with the 1995 BBC production of “Pride and Prejudice.”

The designers who worked on the film have said many of the fabrics that would have been commonly used in this time period aren’t made anymore. For this particular film, the solution was to have modern fabrics printed to look like fabrics from the time period; and to have the clothing created from that.

In the 2005 “Pride and Prejudice” production, the costume designer has said she used the cut and colors of clothes to help tell the story in an interesting way. For example, the costume designer dressed Mr. Darcy to reflect the personality change he experiences. At first, his clothing is stiff and formal, much like his attitude to the people at the Meryton assembly. But by the end, when he and Elizabeth reach an understanding, he is dressed in much loser, more flowing clothes.