What are recycled movie costumes?
Recycled movie costumes are gowns that often appear in one production and then go on to be used in another. Many movies have very small costume budgets, which means that instead of making all of the costumes, the designer is forced to rent costumes from a costume house. Sometimes costumes are altered significantly to give it a new look, and sometimes the dress is used as it appeared the first time.
How can I submit a recycled movie costume?
Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
It is not mandatory, but it is extremely helpful if you include the best photo you can find of the costume in question, along with the name of the film, the year it was made, the actor wearing the costume, the role they were playing, as well as any other information or details you may happen to know about the particular costume in question.
Since the addition of a comment system on each page, if you spot another instance of a costume already up on the site, you are welcome to e-mail me about it, but you are also welcome to simply post a comment about it on that particular page. We've really gotten in the habit of posting images and information directly under the item that needs to be updated, and it's working out really well for us - plus it makes for engaging and fun conversation!
How did this site start?
I found a recycled costume a few years ago. After that, I started seeing them everywhere. I went online to see if anyone else saw them and discovered that. Costumer's Guide had a section devoted to documenting them, but it was only a portion of site was dedicated to them, yet there were so many contributions that it was impossible to keep up. At that point I asked if it would be possible for me to spin off that section of the website and dedicate an entire site to nothing but documenting recycled costumes - and here we are!
I think I've found a recycled costume, but I'm not sure. How can I tell for certain?
Sometimes it's very obvious that a gown you've seen is one from another production. Other times it's not so clear. Maybe because the gown has been heavily redone, maybe because the lighting makes it appear a different colour, or maybe because it only appears for a moment on screen. For whatever reason, sometimes we can't know for certain if a costume is the same - but there are some things we can do to help better determine if it is:
First, make a note of distinctive characteristics of the gown in question. Maybe a placement of beads or the pattern in the damask fabric will help you determine if it is indeed the same. Are the seam lines in the same place? Find something worth noting and see if it's in the same place on the other costume.
Secondly, have any other gowns from both films in question been spotted? If you see a gown in The Tudors that you think is from Shakespeare In Love, but you're not sure - you're probably right, because many gowns from Shakespeare In Love have been used in The Tudors.
Lastly, if the above methods have failed, ask yourself when and where the films were made. A film made in England isn't very likely to recycle costumes from a film made in Hollywood - so if your two films don't match up, then logically, it's probably not a real sighting - just a similar looking gown.
How else can I help the site?
There are many ways you can help contribute to this site. The first is with imagery. Often times, we will only get a quick glance of a costume, or the best image available is not much more than a blurry blob. Is there a costume in our gallery that you happen to have a better picture of? Send it in! I'm always looking to not only add to the site, but improve the resources that we do have. It may take me a while to update the image you send me - but rest assured your contributions are greatly appreciated.
Secondly, information is always appreciated. Do you know something interesting about a costume house that supplies to films? Do you happen to know some special tidbit about one of the costumes featured on this site? I love to add descriptions or interesting notes when I can, so if you have something to add, please do!
Thirdly, tell someone about us! The more readers we have, the more chances of having someone new to spot recycled costumes!
How does everyone spot all of these re-used costumes?
Funny, isn't it? The first time I saw a recycled costume, I was a bit worried about myself, but I soon discovered that there were many others out there who saw them too!
I think people typically tend to spot the kinds of recycled costumes that interest them the most. For example, I find Elizabethan and Georgian recycled costumes all the time, but overlook many reused gowns from the Regency era that are staring me straight in the face. If people see a gown they like, they tend to remember the shape of it, the colour and the pattern, making it much easier to spot again somewhere else.
I don't have any advice for spotting recycled costumes aside from the fact that once you do find your first one, you'll be able to find others much more easily. For example, if you find a gown from The Madness of King George that was used again in Marie Antoinette, then chances are, there are even more gowns from that same production used in Marie Antoinette, so keep an eye out!
Why is the reused costume I submitted not on the site?
There are several reasons why your costume sighting might not be up on the website. First and foremost is that I have literally hundreds of recycled costumes to document, and limited time to do it. At last count, I had 300 e-mails filled with contributions. I try to answer e-mails promptly, but may not get to update the information you have sent for quite some time. I promise I will get to it eventually!
The second reason is that if you didn't include a picture of the gown in question, I may not have been able to find one either. While I love contributions, an e-mail saying there is a pink dress in Marie Antoinette that appears in a scene about halfway through the film, but the e-mail doesn't provide an image, then chances of that update making the site are slim.. As much as I would like, I'm not going to have the time to sit through the film just to find what you are talking about. It may make its way onto the site eventually, but including an image and information assures you that your sighting gets on much faster.
The third an final note - did you check the undetermined section? If you sent me a costume that looks similar and might be a gown from another production, then I may have marked it undetermined.
I didn't get credit for the costume I submitted!
Many people have found the same costume, and I'm afraid the overlap has lead to much confusion. I'm pulling recyceled costumes from a number of sources (comments, message boards, e-mails, the original Costumers Guide recycled movie costumes section, etc) and sometimes the overlap, combined with the sheer volume of submissions I have causes me to accidentally overlook someone.
If I have not credited you for a specific sighting, please e-mail me or leave me a comment on the page of the costume in question and I will correct it immediately. Again - it doesn't happen often, but it does happen simply due to overwhelming volume.
A master list of names of people who have contributed are now listed on the Submit a Costume page. If you have submitted a costume but do not see your name on this list, please let me know and I will be sure to add you.
Where can I find more information about costume dramas?
There are tons of fantastic websites out there for the costume drama fanatic. You can find some excellent resources in the links section of this website.
I have a website, can I link to you?
Sure. You'll find banners under the links section of this website. Grab one and link to me!
Why are some styles of clothes listed in the incorrect historic section?
Simply because not every gown fits into one time period. A great example is Georgian gowns appearing in Regency films. The film may have mostly regency clothes - but in the case of one costume, I may have to place it in the Georgian section. There is a lot of overlap when it comes to style - the Romantic era and the Victorian era are very blurred, and often times both styles will pop up in a Dickens adaptation. Where I place each costume is essentially just wherever I think it will fit best - but if you have suggestions for changes, I'd always love to hear them and will probably implement them when time permits.
What is the difference between a "Costume" and a "Sighting"?
You've probably noticed our costume counter, which keeps track of how many costumes and sightings we have. Many costumes have more than just two sightings. Some even have eight or nine or even more! This system allows us to keep track of how many individual costumes we've found that have been reused, as well as document just how often these sightings pop up. 300 costumes means just that - 300 different dresses (and pages!) but 900 sightings means those 300 dresses account for 900 individual instances of usage (or, if you're so inclined, allows you to calculate that each dress would have been used an averag of 3 times each), which is really impressive when you think about it!
Why are some costumes credited to more than one person?
I give credit to the first person to spot each recycled costume. However, sometimes if a gown is used more than twice, there are more people spotting them. One person may get credit for finding a dress recycled in one film, but another person may have found it in an entirely different movie - therefore, more than one person is given credit. The more a costume has been spotted, the more likely several people will be credited.
Another reason is that it takes me a while to get all contributions up. Three or four people may write in about the same dress before I have a chance to even get the dress up on the site. I feel that in such cases that everyone should get credit!
Do you own any of the costumes on the site? Can I rent them from you?
I do not own ANY of the costumes listed on this site, and therefore you can not rent them from me. If you want the rent them, look in our link section at the links to the various costume houses where these costumes came from and give them a call. They will have much more information I do, and will be able to either help you or point you in the right direction.
Do you make costumes for a living? Can you make a costume for me?
I used to love to sew costumes for myself, but no longer have the time. I do not sew for a living, and as often as I get the request, I can not make a costume for you. I simply do not have the time. All of my spare time goes into updating and general upkeep of this website.
I have a great idea for the site, can I share it with you?
Please do! I'd love to hear it! I'm always open to ideas and suggestions. It may take me a while to get around to them, but I know there is always room for improvement, so if you have a thought, let me know!
When do you update the site?
I typically try to update every weekend if possible. Saturday if I can, Sunday if that falls through. However, my life is very busy, and I have almost no free time. I can not guarantee and update every weekend, and when I do update, I can not guarantee that it will be large. What I can promise you is that almost all of my free time goes into the maintaining and updating of this site. This site is a labor of love, and I appreciate every single contribution and piece of information submitted. I ask that you please have patience when waiting for your contribution to show up.
Where can I find past updates?
All past updates are listed in the archive section.
You haven't answered my e-mail!
I'm usually very prompt about responding to e-mail. Your contribution may not get up for quite some time, but I always at least respond to acknowledge your e-mail. If it's been a week and you have not been given a response, please consider resending your e-mail. Chances are it never made it to me.
Do you accept submissions for reused props?
We accept costume and costume accessory submissions, which would include hats, purses, jewelry, shoes - anything a person would logically wear on their person. In the rare instance where fabric from a gown is seen on a table cloth or curtain, then we might make an exception, but other than that - no, we do not accept props. There is a vast history of props being reused and recycled, and there are simply too many for me to be able to document here.