When ever a new costume drama comes out, my friends and family call or text to see what I thought of the costuming. For the most part, I either have too much to say and the questioner glazes over or I just say it is a theatrical interpretation and move on to something else. A issue for me with costuming in film is that I inevitably have a customer who wants to look just like that character. Part of our mission at Timely Tresses is historical accuracy. How can I in good conscience dress a customer in a bonnet that is 20 years out of date to the impression or that is just a fanciful creation of a costume designer? Even when movies get the dresses right, the bonnets are usually terrible. I have started many times to review the millinery in a movie or series and ended up with a passage far too long to post. I have decided addressing one bonnet at a time is a far more manageable task.
When I think of bonnets in the movies that really impress me, this bonnet from the 2011 adaptation of Jane Eyre always comes to mind. The shape is appropriate to the late 1830s and early 1840s. The brim flares neatly around the wearer's face. The curtain is an appropriate length. The crown goes strait back rather than earlier raised crowns. The tip (the tiny circle at the back of the crown) is sort of weird. Unlike the rounded blocked tip of most 19th century bonnets, It is super flat and the one thing that is strange about this bonnet. The rest of the bonnet is so phenomenal that I choose to ignore the tip.
Finally, the straw . . . . . the straw is just amazing. I can't say enough about the straw. I don't know who they found to do this straw work, but it rings true to the 19th century. Popular throughout the 19th century, fancy straws were a lighter than air option for summer. Usually the decorative work was produced in strips and then sewn together either to other strips or to straw braid. I purchased straw thread and a straw splitter years ago in the hopes of making a fancy straw. I realized after starting, the bonnet would end up being a ultra time intensive labor of love that I would be afraid to wear for fear of damaging it. For the Jane Eyre bonnet, my fear is that they took the straw off of an original bonnet. My hope is they paid someone an exorbitant amount of money to make this masterpiece. One day, I hope to finish my fancy straw bonnet. Until then, I will enjoy looking at this one.