2008 Summer Costuming Movies

It’s not the Plot, it’s the Costumes:

Rating the costume possibilities in the 2008 summer movies

By Julie E. Washington

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                If you’re a costumer like me, you watch movies not only for the actors and plot, but also for the costumes.  Historical dramas, superhero movies, science fiction, high fantasy – each presents its own costuming delights and challenges for sewers looking for recreation inspiration.

                Here’s my take on the summer movies that presented the best costuming inspirations for beginning, intermediate and expert costumers.

1.       Prince Caspian

Lots of possibilities here, from the English schoolgirl uniforms to the medievaloid costumes the four children wear.  Susan and Lucy’s dresses would be good projects for intermediate sewers, although I thought Lucy’s final dress was a horror. If you want to tackle fake armor, try the boys’ fighting outfilts.

2.       Indiana  Jones  and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls

We’ve all done the whip and hat thing, but why not try to recreate the severe Germanic  look of the female villain played by Cate Blanchet? You’ve got to have the black, severe bob hairdo to pull it off;  look for cheap wigs around Halloween. Beware: this is a form-fitting look.


3.       Iron Man

OK, this one is tough, but how cool would it be to pull off?  Get to work immediately.

4.       The Mummy

I was kinda bored during this one, so I entertained myself by ogling the darling Chinese padded jackets worn by the female leads. Brendan Frasier’s adventurer outfit would be pretty easy to put together.

5.       Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Another instance of terrible movie, cool costumes.  A new character, Anakin’s apprentice Ahsoka Tano, wears a cute outfit that would look especially good on a petite or teenaged costumer. But Ahsoka headdress, consisting of three long, painted cones, present a nice challenge. Lay in a supply of buckram, wire and fabric paint.


6.       The Dark Knight

Every fanboy will be doing a Joker.  This is the kind of costume that’s easy to do badly, but if you nail it, you’ll really stand out. Get someone familiar with theater makeup to help.

7.       Mongol

This excellent movie, about the early life of Genghis Khan,  played ony in art houses. This movie would be a great reference for anyone interested in doing an early-period  Mongol/Asian character.  I have no idea if the costumes were historically accurate, but they looked interesting.

8.       Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog

Technically, this isn’t a summer movie,  but  I’ve heard that Dr. Horrible fans are already breaking out the rubber gloves and goggles. In case you missed it, Dr. Horrible is an Internet-only movie written and directed by Joss Whedon, and starring Nathan Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris. It was available for free viewing for three days in July, and will be out on DVD soon. The costumes are simple, requiring more shopping than sewing, but are highly distinctive. Unfortunately, the male costumes are the coolest and the female costume won’t make any impact unless she’s part of a group.


So, that’s my take on the summer movie scene. What did I leave off? What movie costumes did you think were drool-worthy? Time to dive into the fabric stash, blow the dust off the sewing machine and come up with something that will get applause at the next con.

Julie is co-director of Masquerade at Marcon Science Fiction and Fantasy convention in Columbus, Ohio.