Set in Regency Era London, Netflix's Bridgerton tells the tumultuous story of a high-status family. This show is far from your typical period piece, with a diverse cast and the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ characters in its story. Styling is another thing that sets this show apart from the rest. Costuming for a period piece can easily be boring, but Bridgerton's styling was so iconic that it helped catapult it to worldwide popularity. Costume designers Ellen Mirojnick (season one) and Sophie Canale (season two) both struck gold in the colorful and flamboyant styling of these characters.
When creating season one of Bridgerton, Mirojnick led the costume house that clothed the scandalous and ritzy characters of the show. She disclosed to Vogue that the costume preparation took five months and the team was composed of 238 people. And if you think for even a second that any of the 7,500 looks made for the first season might be boring, you are mistaken.
Despite the show being set in the early 1800s, the Shondaland production refused to resort to boring, predictable outfits. Mirojnick shared, "The first way in which you create something new is to shift the palette. We’re not talking about 1813 and Jane Austen and beige, cream bonnets." With a refusal to adapt to what was expected of them, the costume design team produced outfits that presented a modern take on the Regency Era to reflect the scandalous nature of the show.
Source: Teen Vogue
In order to distinguish the Bridgerton family from others, namely the Featheringtons, color palettes were extremely important. Being that the Bridgerton family is the most prominent among the social settings in the show and a long-standing wealthy family, they were dressed in powdery blues, silvers, and greens. Opting for powdery colors shows that the Bridgerton family is more traditional and does not have to resort to bright colors in order to get attention from the others.
The Featheringtons, on the other hand, are meant to embody new money and therefore were dressed in more flashy patterns and colors. Throughout history, there has been a generalization that people who have new money wear their wealth more outwardly to show the world what they have, as opposed to old money aesthetics which favor tradition and simplicity. By dressing the Featheringtons in more gaudy styles, the costume design team is able to convey the difference in status between them and the Bridgertons. As Mirojnick tells it, "They’re bolder, brighter and more brazen than everyone else, and everything is overly embellished. They just don’t know any better."
For the second season, Canale was made Head Costume Designer, and she was on a slightly different mission for the new season. Canale shared that with the foundation set by the costume design of the first season, she wanted to then explore the individualism of each character through their clothing. Characters who once dressed alike were made to appear different for the second season, allowing the audience to know more about them through their styling.
The progression of characters can also be tracked through what they wear. Canale shared that Kate (played by Simone Ashley) arrives in dark, heavy clothing to show her rigid, uptight nature. As the season progresses and Kate's emotions develop, she begins wearing brighter, more light-weight clothing to show the freedom and lightness she feels. This, though audiences might not consciously realize it, is such an important tool in costume production.
While the costumes of Bridgerton are not entirely historically accurate, they make up for it in how chic and relevant to the story they are. It is not everyday that the styling of a period piece goes on to inspire current trends, but this show toes the line of historic and modern so perfectly. The costume design in this show is top tier. Mirojnick and Canale both manage to transport viewers to Shondaland's version of Regency Era London through their use of clothing, and nobody was left disappointed.