One of my favorite things about historical adaptations are the clothes and interior design. I have zero desire to cosplay the past, but I love an elaborate ball gown and a bold wallpaper print (I wallpapered my living room ceiling and never looked back). Bridgerton is not entirely grounded in reality, but it still has the detailed and lavish costume design (from John Glaser, John Norster, and Ellen Mirojnick) and production design (from Will Hughes-Jones, with set decoration by Gina Cromwell and Kimberley Fahey) we’ve come to expect from the most detailed of big-budget historical adaptations. I have done a thorough study of the textiles and prints of Bridgerton, and present to you now my extremely scientific findings of the best bits of design on the show, ranked from dashing to extravagant.
Benedict’s honeybee waistcoat
Bridgertons and bees don’t mix. And yet, season one of Bridgerton is positively crawling with bees (seriously, they’re everywhere, it’s the show’s best in-joke). But no bee made me gasp aloud like the bee on Benedict’s waistcoat. Benedict loves a patterned waistcoat, but this bee print is a direct attack on his family’s history. Who knew Benedict could be so perverse! For his sly sense of humor combining with flawless Regency style, Benedict is awarded “best vest” for season one.
Ranking: Dashingly conspicuous
The duchess’s chinoiserie wallpaper
Wilton House provides the exteriors for Simon’s London home, but I have not yet identified the interior location that includes the beautiful blue Chinoiserie bedroom belonging to the duchess. This room made me gasp, and I slightly resent the show for not spending more time in here, with bright light illuminating the details on the wallpaper. They shot an entire scene in this room in the dark. In the dark! Where you can’t see any details! Fortunately, we do get a few daytime looks into the room, with its calming blue hues and that amazing wallpaper, which is either a very good recreation or actual, hand-painted silk from the eighteenth century. My money is on the latter.
Ranking: Simply gorgeous
Bridgerton loves a wig! Queen Charlotte sports some show-stopping hair confections, which are great eye candy but also an interesting historical quirk, referencing her own youth during the Baroque period when big wigs were all the rage. (It’s also a sly nod to Charlotte’s continental roots, where Baroque styles were more elaborate than in Britain.) But the queen is not alone in her love for extensive hair ornamentation, as Cressida Cowper also sports some doozies on her head. Both of them interpret “hair bow” literally, and it made me laugh every time.
Ranking: Hilariously elaborate
Daphne’s court dress
Court dresses are the ultimate red carpet dress. For a young lady like Daphne Bridgerton, her court dress is the most important gown she will ever wear, even more important than her wedding dress (which in Daphne’s day, would probably not have been white, as white wedding dresses weren’t popularized until Queen Victoria wore one in 1840). Court dresses were strictly governed by a royal style guide that determined everything from the height of head feathers to the length of the train and the volume of the skirt. Daphne’s court dress is a showstopper to be sure, and as the first major frock of the season, it sets the tone for the Bridgerton costumes to come.
Ranking: Imperially opulent
Let’s be honest, sometimes bad taste is more fun than good taste. Like how many perfectly lovely Oscar dresses have we forgotten over the years? Thousands? But what do we remember? Bjork’s swan dress. I am not here to argue that the Featherington wardrobe is beautiful, but it IS memorable. The eye-searing colors! The dreadful ornamentation! Poor Penelope’s terribly unflattering lemon-yellow frock! The Featheringtons may not be stylish, but they are unforgettable. Once seen, you will never unsee their collection of horrendous dresses. Plus, the Featherington gowns are just plain fun. Oh sure, Daphne Bridgerton has no end of lovely, tasteful blue gowns, but does she have ANYTHING as screamingly, horribly perfect as the Featherington girls’ trio of floral-inspired gowns? I think not. Daphne’s not fun enough for florals that bold.
Ranking: Hideously extravagant