The Bridgerton family poses outside of their house (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
by Georgia Laganiere, a&e editor
Bridgerton is a Netflix original series that follows the Bridgerton family through the social season of the Regency period as the daughters and sons of the family are escorted to extravagant balls and events in the attempt to find the right spouse. As cast members are fond of saying in interviews, “this is not your grandmother’s period piece” as the show is rated TV-MA and contains large amounts of drama, promiscuity and mystery. That is what caught many American viewers’ attention fast even though the show is produced in England. However, the one thing that was criticized by viewers across the globe was that the show had a lack of historically accurate costuming. I’m here to say that Bridgerton has its own style that does take notes from the Regency era while still making the wardrobe palatable for modern audiences. It also allows for the incorporation of other cultures’ fashion as characters from those cultures are introduced. Warning: this story (or article) does contain spoilers for both seasons.
Bridgerton takes place in the Regency period, the short stretch toward the end of the Georgian period–1713 to 1830 with its rising of the waistlines as the mental health of King George III was declining–that was then followed by the Victorian era. This mere nine years, from 1811 to 1820, was characterized by empire-waist dresses, large hairstyles and poofy sleeves.
This short period was a large departure from the previous modesty expectations of women of the time. The neckline of the dresses dropped lower and is historically known for displaying the chest. Hemlines were raised a couple of inches above the ankle, something that was looked down upon previously and afterward for its suggestion of promiscuity.
Bridgerton has gained a reputation for not following the intricacies of this time period and pulling some trends from current and past time periods. For instance, the fashion uses bright colors all throughout their gowns and accessories, which is something the people of the time would not have had access to in that large of a capacity. Bridgerton has instead been known for having its own modern take on fashion, which to me, is not the worst thing. Who wants bonnets obscuring women’s faces in every scene? We wouldn’t be able to see all of the women’s yearning and vengeful expressions, and the shadows would be a nightmare. Also, the hair and makeup that followed the times would be unflattering and would take away from the iconic Bridgerton appeal of attractive people. Additionally, the bright dresses catch viewers’ eyes, and ultimately the fashion, while taking liberties, stays relatively true to the period. For a 2022 drama known for its risk-taking and daring scenes, I think the accuracy is pretty good, and it leaves room for storytelling and incorporating cultural accessories.
One of the things most prevalent in the shows costuming is the colors associated with the four major families: the Bridgertons, the Hastings/Danburys, the Sharmas and the Featheringtons. The Bridgertons, the main family of the show, are often dressed in shades of blues and whites, reflecting their high social status, affinity for traditionalism and their general likeability. The Hastings and Danbury family dons deep reds, which reflect Simon Hastings’ (Regé-Jean Page) hot-headed and liberated temperament and Lady Danbury’s (Adjoa Andoh) sharp but caring tone. However, as season one progresses, we see Hastings in blues that foreshadow his love for Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), and in season two, when the couple adjusts to marriage, we see Daphne in purple, a mix of the familys’ two colors. The season two stars, the Sharmas, are often shown in light pinks and oranges, but the eldest sister’s affinity for dark blues foreshadows her eventual marriage into the Bridgerton family. The eccentric and struggling Featherington family is always dressed in clothes that accentuate that. The three sisters of this family are often in pinks, oranges and yellows. Wearing a dress with bright pinks, oranges, and yellows- colors often associated with energy, creativity, and playfulness- show the contrast between the Feathertingtons and the Bridgertons, whose colors are associated with softness, power, and purity.
The color theory of this show is not the only thing about it that makes the fashion exquisite. The season two costumer, Ellen Mirojnick, found a brilliant way to incorporate different cultures into this style. The Sharmas are a small family of Indian descent who arrive back in London after a long departure due to the scandal of their mother marrying a commoner from India. The two daughters and their mother are often seen wearing pastel pinks and oranges as a nod to their Indian heritage. The costumers also used fabrics directly from Dubai to stay true to the culture. Additionally, accessories were matched to the dresses to make sure the outfits flowed.
Without the show taking the liberties it did in the fashion, we never would have seen such daring color association for the characters, such stunning costumes, or the blend of Regency fashion and Indian fashion. While it may not have been the most historically accurate, the fashion of this show turned itself into its own style: 2022 Regency.