Wardrobe lust Wednesday*: Carey Mulligan

Allow me to share with you the craziest review of a movie I’ve ever heard. I was leaving the cinema after seeing Far from the Madding Crowd yesterday and two ladies behind me were debriefing. I had to bite my tongue when they said “Well it was a bit boring, wasn’t it? We’ll see something with a bit more action next time”. Had we been in the same movie!? How much more drama could you get than what comes as standard issue in a Thomas Hardy story, namely (without spoiling this particular plot too much) unnatural disasters, premature death (both real and fake), loss of virtue, grinding poverty and simmering romance, all set against stunning rural, pastoral and clifftop scenery? And even if all that failed to grab your attention, what about Carey Mulligan (as Bathsheba Everdene) and her wardrobe? (all photos from here)


This is a lady in a skin-skimming leather jacket and riding pants (not a skirt!), racing along the top of the cliffs – no sedate side-saddle stuff for her. I can’t ride a horse, but I wouldn’t say no to the jacket.

I make no secret that I’m a big fan of bonnet dramas, and I do admire the costumes in many of them. But not all historical films set my heart beating the way this one did (Matthias Schoenarts in his role as Gabriel Oak was only partially responsible for that! I promise it was mainly the costumes!).

I’m not sure how faithful the wardrobe department was to Hardy’s novel as I haven’t read it (it’s now high on my list of must-reads) – maybe Bathsheba’s dresses aren’t described in great detail and costume designer Janet Patterson had to use her imagination. Either way, the viewer is in for a visual treat and can take away styling tips that are still relevant today.


A lady in red – this outfit marks a change for the better in Bathsheba’s fortunes so it’s perhaps a bit of an obvious device to use a bright colour, but who cares?! I love the pleating and embroidery at the sleeves and the contrasting blue piping – and the red gloves (which are like the fingerless ones I am wearing in the post before this one!).


Even in widow’s weeds, there is a fabulous level of detail. The shirt buttoned up and with the sleeves rolled just so… the faded black of the skirt and the tight ruffles around the apron hem… and of course the waist-cinching leather belt and studded chatelaine (remember when guys used to clip their mobile phones to their belts? Somehow it never looked as good as this.).

Bathsheba isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and in many of the scenes she’s mucking in alongside the men she employs on her farm. A lot of her work outfits seem to be a variation on a shade of denim blue and she even wears a bandanna around her hair – again, I’m not sure if that would have been the done thing at the time but it shows she’s not to be messed with, even when she’s the one getting messy.

I’ve never seen this shade of blue used in a story set in this time (the 1870s) and especially not in an English drama. The denim colour kind of gives things a frontier feel. I’m sure the colour itself would have existed, perhaps achieved by using woad? Or maybe this was actually around about the time that indigo or even synthetic dyes made blue a lot more accessible to the mass market?


This blouse (or similar printed blue blouses) gets quite an airing – here Bathsheba seems to be wearing it with an apron over the top.


Another (or the same?) printed blue blouse with a super-fitted waist and a bit of a peplum – worn over a dramatic denim-look floor-length skirt which I am seriously considering adding to my sewing wish list!

Among all the photos (taken from here) I couldn’t find a good one of the most denim-y dress, but here’s a view from the back. It’s a totally unembellished dress apart from the buttons down the front and the little stand collar. But that blue! It’s far, far from boring!

*Yes, usually I do Wellness Wednesday. But after seeing this film, I just wanted to talk to someone about it! And you, lucky reader, are that someone. If I keep seeing films with fabulous costumes, I may even make Wardrobe Lust Wednesday a thing. On the other hand, if I keep seeing films with Matthias Schoenarts in them, I may have to make plain old Lust Wednesday a thing. Tee hee… That man has certainly got the strong, silent, extremely patient and outdoorsy type thing nailed (I saw him in A Little Chaos too, which I did not enjoy as a film, but he kind of made it bearable!). How about you – have you seen Far from the Madding Crowd? And are you lusting over the costumes (and male leads!) too?