10 Inaccurate Costume Details In Films You Probably Missed Too

By: Past Chronicles Staff Last updated: Aug 17, 2022

From writing and casting to filming to editing, an extraordinary amount of work goes into making movies. Critics can be harsh, and audiences will examine everything you put out as if under a microscope. While finding mistakes during productions (and fixing them) are included in several people’s job descriptions, we’re only human, and errors often get left in the final cut. 

It’s typically the costume designer’s job to research what the actors should be wearing in a scene, but often their opinion or work can be tossed to the wind at the whim of a disgruntled actor or director. So whether it was the continuity editor’s fault, wardrobe, makeup, hair, or the set designer’s fault, something in each of these movies is amiss.

Braveheart: But How Will They Know It’s Scotland?

Who doesn’t love Mel Gibson’s anti-English war epic, set in 13th century Scotland? There are a few things in this movie that don’t line up with the historical record (the age of Wallace’s love interest, for one), but there’s a glaring issue pretty much all the way through the movie.


Source: Vanity Fair

While the warpaint worn by Wallace and the other Bravehearts is accurate, kilts weren’t seen in Scotland until around 300 years later—why? Because they hadn’t been invented yet. Kilts first made an appearance at some point in the 16th century. Or maybe William Wallace was just before his time.

Dirty Dancing: The Cut-Off Point

Dirty Dancing was set in 1963, which was a little before cut-off shorts were accepted, even in youth fashion circles. Short shorts only started to become popular in the 1970s when rock n’ rollers like Debbie Harry and Patti Smith popularized them.


Source: Fangirlish

An onlooker who saw Frances Houseman dressed like this would be shocked and might assume that she’s wearing clothes much too small to fit her—possibly even clothes from her childhood years or baby years. Is this the true origin of Frances’ “Baby” nickname?

The Other Boleyn Girl: An Outrageous Faux Pas

It’s not the first time Natalie Portman has styled herself with an unusual hairstyle. However, this one needs a little context to explain. She can be seen here wearing the correct type of hood for a 16th-century woman in France, but it would normally come with a veil.


Source: YouTube/Movieclips

That’s because it was seen as scandalous for a high-society woman to reveal her hair in public, similar to how Victorians would not reveal an ankle or how most people today cannot stand a naked (female) nipple. It wouldn’t exactly get your head chopped off, but it probably wouldn’t fly.

The Last Samurai: Embodying Antiquity 

The Last Samurai is about an American man traveling to pre-industrial Japan in 1870, culturally appropriating all their fashion and embracing the samurai code by joining the privileged warrior class in their hissy fit against modernization.


Source: Pintrest

The movie, while entertaining, makes several historical mistakes. One you might not have noticed concerns the armor worn by Captain Nathan, played by Tom Cruise. The armor itself would have been ancient in that period—two centuries old, in fact. It’s like setting your movie in 1960 Paris and having all your characters clad in plate mail.

Glory: A Timepiece Out Of Time

If you look carefully at this still, you might notice that this watch doesn’t quite look right. For one, its face is oddly rectangular. The perceptive watch collectors amongst you might have realized that this model would be out of place for the time—it’s a sports watch

Source: YouTube/Movieclips

In fact, during the Civil War in 1863, nobody wore watches—they simply hadn’t been invented yet. To be fair, there’s a lot of standing around and doing nothing between shoots, and if you’re an extra, you might want to keep track of time. But if you’re an editor, this is pretty unforgivable.


Schindler’s List: Living On A Razor’s Edge

While it may be a masterpiece, Schindler’s List wasn’t completely without its flaws. You may not have clocked this as a man, but it’s probably something that would have occurred to any woman in the audience, especially if you happened to be paying attention to characters’ legs or armpits.

In the camps, a woman’s legs or armpits certainly wouldn’t have been smooth, given that they were denied razors of any description. It goes without saying that they wouldn’t exactly have had access to waxing kits, either. This one might have gone unspotted because men just assume women don’t grow armpit or leg hair.


Indiana Jeans: Raiders Of The Lost Jeans

This film is often cited as one of the best movies of all time. It’s nearly perfect, except for this one little problem. It’s so small, in fact, that every single person working on its production missed it. Can you see it on the left? There’s an unusually dressed man walking around.

Source: YouTube/Screen Rant

A shirt and jeans would have been a bizarre sight in Cairo back in the 1930s. There’s a lot going on at this point in the movie—Indie just lost the love of his life—so a casual viewer might be forgiven for missing this fashionable time traveler.


Back To The Future: Before Its Time

Everyone remembers—or at least knows—this iconic scene from the time-traveling classic,Back To The Future . While trapped in the 1950s, Marty McFly delivers a wild rendition of Johnny B Goode on his ES-345 Gibson guitar to a bewildered crowd.

Source: YouTube/Screen Rant

Time travel is, of course, impossible, but even more impossible would have been the appearance of the ES345 Gibson in 1955, as it was only invented three years later. Like Marty himself, it’s a guitar in the right place at the wrong time.


Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Navy Isn’t Reddy Yet

American audiences might better recognize the British navy from their red coats (hence, the redcoats). However, the British navy only went with red after 1747—a good few decades after the 1720s, which is when the Pirates Of The Caribbean

Source: YouTube/Screen Rant

Technically, the British navy did wear red, but of a much darker shade than was depicted in the film, although some officers and sergeants higher up the chain of command wore a shade of Scarlet.


Pirates Of The Caribbean: Pirates And Cowboys

If you look carefully at this still, you might notice there’s a cowboy on set. Given that there’s no time travel in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie , you might be forgiven for being confused. It looks like this guy forgot to get out of the way or change into his costume once the cameras started rolling.

Source: YouTube/Looper

He seems to be wearing sunglasses too, so it looks like the first theory might be the most accurate, unlike this inaccurate depiction of historical dress.