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5 Great Shows That Made Distractingly Bad Costume Choices

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Posted on : October 1, 2017

Most of the time, a good costume goes completely unnoticed. It blends in with the world of the story. So if you’re thinking about the costume and not the character, the costume has failed at its job (which is preventing nudity and maybe telling you something subtle about the characters’ personalities). For example, you might see a main character wearing Crocs and quickly realize that they are deeply depressed. Then there are costume choices which are so wrong that they remind you that you’re watching a show, and that someone had the job of dressing the people on that show, and that person must really like Crocs. These shows all aggressively kicked down the fourth wall with some distractingly bad costuming.


Game Of Thrones Season 7: Shoulder Pads Arrive In Westeros

Game Of Thrones has won a bunch of Emmys for its costume work, and why wouldn’t it? It’s a fantastical series with a decent budget. In a sea of prestige television shows about dudes in suits yelling at other dudes in suits, Game Of Thrones is refreshing. Well, as refreshing as a bloody bear skin thrown over the shoulder of a hulking man-beast can be.

Obviously, GOT has some awesome costume designers. But a lot of things have been different in the most recent season. And by “different,” I don’t mean it hit an awkward spandex phase, or that it made a misguided leap into the world of identical track suits. I mean: What is up with all the shoulder pads? Cersei got herself a sweet pair o’ pads when she crowned herself at the end of Season 6, and apparently the costume team liked it so much that they decided that before winter, the ’80s were coming to Westeros.


It would be a struggle for you to find a female character in Game Of Thrones who didn’t get her shoulders tricked out in Season 7. Not only did Daenerys start rocking shoulder pads, but Sansa gets a big fuzzy pair, and even Arya and Missandei eventually get some built-out shoulders. There’s no logical reason for these characters to suddenly start dressing alike in such a bizarrely specific way, unless Instagram came to Westeros in Season 7 as well.

The designers obviously asked themselves what makes women look powerful, and couldn’t think of any women more badass than Melanie Griffith and Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl. But seriously, Season 7 was so ’80s that I was fully expecting to see an Oingo Boingo poster over Daenerys’ bed when she was having sex with her nephew. Season 7 was so ’80s that I know how they traveled around so quickly: Jon Snow has a DeLorean. Season 7 was so ’80s that I’m fully expecting Cersei to name her baby Reaganomics. OK, I’m done. For now.

The point isn’t only that there were shoulder pads; the point is that shoulder pads were suddenly everywhere. In a series that’s supposed to take place over great distances, and which started out with vastly different costuming to display regional tastes, it’s slowly become more and more homogenized, and it’s now obvious that one person is dressing everyone. And that one person fucking loves shoulder pads.


The Daredevil Costume Was Plainly Impossible To Move In

Superhero costumes are tough. They were not originally designed to be worn by real people, or even thought about too much by real people. The internet has been wondering how superheroes go to the bathroom for years, with no definitive answer other than “very carefully.” Daredevil faced the issue of costuming for Season 1 in a way that I loved.


The street-level superhero (as he’s often referred) wore cargo pants and a breathable workout shirt to fight crime. He could be any dude on his way to CrossFit until he puts on that mask and becomes Daredevil. It’s a costume that kind of makes sense — so of course people hated it. Being a dude who fights crime doesn’t necessarily make you a superhero. You have to have the suit, or you’re just a delusional man with a good excuse to kick people.

When Daredevil finally caved and gave us the suit, you could see why we went so long without it. It looked like a skintight jumpsuit made out of motorcycle leather, which would be completely impossible to go jogging in, let alone do sweet ninja flips. In fact, it actually was impossible to move in, and it required a redesign for Season 2. Charlie Cox said the changes were made for “maneuverability and comfort. And aesthetically as well.” So, basically every possible reason. It was also haunted, and poisonous, and it made Vincent D’Onofrio cry, and at one point a witch came by the set and cursed it. So we just thought, you know, maybe some minor changes would be helpful. The creators of the show seemed to realize this as soon as they brought the costume on-camera, which is why they constantly bathed it in copious shadows:

The redesigned costume debuted in Season 2, and it did look marginally more capable of movement, but it still has armor over the nipples, so nobody is really winning here. Obviously it wouldn’t be fun to get your nip sliced off, but Daredevil is weirdly overly concerned about it. Also, why would you ever make a Daredevil costume with eyeholes? Please highlight the one cool thing about Daredevil and take out the eyeholes completely. That’s like creating a fingerless superhero who still has to wear gloves everywhere. It just seems a little dickish.


Reign Decided Cable Knit Sweaters Existed In 1558

Reign is a CW show which I believe was an experiment to see what would happen if someone was given a million-dollar costume budget and $10 for sets. Basically, it’s about a bunch of people who sit around a castle looking hot. The premise revolved around making the tragic life of Mary, Queen of Scots sexy. Because nothing is sexier than an era when you could die of an ear infection at the age of 16.

Instead of striving for historical accuracy in any way, the series dressed its cast in couture dresses with kind of old-looking belts and called it “period clothing.” I was willing to suspend my disbelief for Mary, Queen of Scots in an Alexander McQueen gown. A pretty dress looks like a pretty dress in any decade to an uncultured swine like me, and I like to see pretty dresses on TV.

Then there was a scene in the middle of Season 1 in which the king of France needs to be vulnerable, and the costume designer decided his usual black jacket with 15 gold buckles on it was too tough for the scene. Their solution was to drive down the street to JCPenney and buy a sweater for him.

For reference, this is what he looked like before they decided to go with the winter clearance sale option:

That sweater made me so angry. I did a lot for Reign. I said nothing when they named Mary’s lady in waiting “Lola.” I said nothing when sexy Nostradamus was a lead character. But when I saw that damn sweater, I lost all hope for this fictional universe. Also my current physical universe. I’m pretty sure that sweater got Trump elected. That sweater was the First Horseman of the Reign apocalypse, heralding future seasons of absolute nonsense. In a world in which sweaters existed in 1558, anything is possible, all the rules are made up, and in a soul-crushingly existential way, literally nothing matters.


Pretty Little Liars Had No Idea How Teenagers Dress

I’m not sure if Pretty Little Liars actually had a costume designer. It looks like they chose pieces of clothing based on an ancient pagan ritual that involves cutting a chicken’s head off, and whatever it’s blood touches as it’s headless body runs in a circle goes onto an actress. These poor tiny actresses are plainly miserable, weighed down by sequins, leather, and so many accessories that a New Jersey drag queen would tell them to tone it down, honey.

Warner Bros.

More importantly, they look like no high school student on Earth. When I was in high school, my morning routine involved throwing on whatever fit that wouldn’t get me suspended. After sifting through all of my “Fuck the police” shirts and extensive neon mesh collection, I usually came up with jeans and a T-shirt. If I was feeling really spicy, maybe a T-shirt on top of a sweater. Lydia, you fucking rebel.

Pretty Little Liars never hired a costume designer who heard of the concept of jeans and a T-shirt. “What do you mean jeeeens and a tee-shurt?” they must have asked the producer, obviously offended. “Do you mean a leather bustier, half a jean jacket, and the WWE Light Heavyweight Championship belt? Do you mean a skirt that looks like recycled wrapping paper, a blue leopard-print top, and a black cater waiter vest? Overalls attached to a skirt, knee-high boots, and a Van Halen shirt?” These are all mostly accurate descriptions of actual outfits from the show.

My favorite example of the bonkers dress style on Pretty Little Liars is this promo poster which says “Oh we’re going to prison? Let me put on my swimsuit and suite jacket.” It doesn’t take comfort, or a teenage girl’s time management skills, or the fact that these teenage girls are not meth addicts, into consideration at all.


Smallville Brought The Justice League To … The Winter Wear Section Of Target

Smallville had to tackle not just one superhero costume, but a whole bunch of them, and on a Smallville budget. Remember, we’re talking about The CW. Their entire costume allocation for their entire fall season of shows is probably equal to what Game Of Thrones spends on a single shoulder pad. And five functional modernized superhero suits is no small task. Luckily, Smallville employed some of the greatest costuming designers of our generation, who- hahaha, psych, they stuck hoodies on allllll those bros.

Literally every single member of the Justice League is a guy in a hoodie that is the same color as his traditional comics costume. Except Cyborg, who is a guy in a hoodie the same color as his traditional costume which also looks completely ridiculous. Are they all really concerned about keeping their hair a secret? But only sometimes, because sometimes they just need to pull down that hood and feel the wind on their follicles.

I’m not sure if someone thought hoodies were what all of the young hip kids were wearing these days, or if they really just couldn’t afford the thousands of straps and pockets normally required to make a superhero costume, or if there was a guy in the costume design meeting whom they just could not get to stop saying the word “hoodie.” Did someone go, “Greg, I swear to god, if you say ‘hoodie’ one more time, that’s all you’re getting. Every single Justice League member but Clark is getting a damn- what did you just say, Greg?”

Maybe it was a likability issue? I like most hoodies more than I like any of the characters on Smallville. Hoodies are soft and keep me warm, while the characters on Smallville make me feel cold and dead and resentful inside. Honestly, when I look at it that way, maybe there should have been more hoodies in Smallville. Could we replace all of the people in Smallville with talking hoodies? Because that’s a show I would totally watch.

You can follow Lydia on Twitter.

Don’t settle for a terrible costume this Halloween. Not when you can get this dope as hell T-Rex suit you’ve seen everywhere online. Join the very floppy T-Rex army!

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