I have become a big fan of period movies. From all the old musicals, to Barry Lyndon, Tom Jones, all the various versions of the Jane Austen novels, to of course Downton Abbey. I know that costume designers research the clothes from what dresses were worn at what time of day, to the dyes used on the threads from which the cloth is woven. But the clothes used in British films have always puzzled me. Knowing that the castles are difficult to heat–even today,and that England is not a particularly warm country, I don’t understand why so many of the evening and dinner gowns are (1)sleeveless and (2)made from very lightweight fabric! As I watch the ladies of Downton Abbey calmly eating dinner in these gowns–however beautiful–I am amazed the the cameras don’t catch their teeth chattering as they recite their lines. How do they hide the goose bumps? They occasionally have evening shawls, but they are used as decorations on their arms, not for warmth. Speaking from personal experience, you would freeze to death if the room isn’t well heated. The men are wearing long-sleeve shirts,with vests and jackets. With the exception of the Dowager none of the women have on anything nearly that warm.
As I watched Matthew’s romantic proposal in the snow to Mary, all could think was,”That poor girl! One of the greatest moments in her life and she can’t enjoy it because that smile on her face is a true frozen smile. She’s not just listening intently, she’s trying to figure out how to get her mouth open so she can say her lines.”