Long may teenage drama costume departments 'Reign'

I've expressed interest in royalty, anachronistic fashion and France, although you wouldn't know the latter by seeing how behind my Duolingo app says I am on my French lessons.

For the last few days, I've been loving The CW's Reign, a dark romantic drama about Mary, Queen of Scots that takes liberty with historical facts and fashion.

There's much to unpack about a show that uses a prophecy by Nostradamus as a major plot point, invents a bastard half-brother for the purposes of a love triangle and turns a sickly teenage runt from your AP European History books into a dashing playboy. Then there's the madwoman in the castle, the romantic entanglements of Queen Mary's ladies in waiting, and intricate and violent double- and triple-cross plots.

We could even use this as a springboard to talk about how batty our history is, with all these teenagers and their whims who controlled the world and ran around getting everyone who irritated them beheaded.

But the show. The show is ridiculous, and I love it. What I love most is the fashion.

Everyone on Reign is quite attractive
Rather than adhering to Renaissance authenticity, the show takes silhouettes and textures inspired-ish by the 16th century but modernized with contemporary pieces you could shop for right now. The girls wear designer gowns, brocade fabrics, crochet dresses, sheer capelets, bejeweled boleros and elegant headpieces. They wear custom corsets, but everything is flowy, with nothing more voluminous than a tulle skirt.

I don't pretend to know anything about 16th century European fashion, and apparently Reign makes insultingly inaccurate fashion choices for people who are versed in sartorial history. And I'm sorry. I'm really, truly sorry, but it's just all so pretty and fun. As a rule in my life, I love everything far too much immediately to worry whether it's poor quality and a sign I'm classless or intellectually slumming it. I hold myself to stupidly high standards, but I am so easy to please in my consumption of entertainment. So yes, give me Free People blouses and Alexander McQueen gowns and floral crowns straight outta Coachella. I will watch for hours.

Reign style inspiration

I adore the Reign look, inaccurate as it may be, because it's romantic, ornate and can be a source of inspiration in my wardrobe. Something like an embellished hairpiece or regal jacket can be added to what you already wear. And I'm definitely feeling that the look is a perfect way to incorporate the chain maille jewelry that I'm learning to make.

Some of my accessories, including my handmade chain maille earrings

This Tumblr has shopping information for outfits and accessories worn on the show, and this blog by one of the recappers for the A.V. Club is merciless and hilarious in its incision and derision.

Do you watch Reign? Does historical authenticity in costumes matter to you when you watch a period show?


  1. the only "historical" show i've watched is game of thrones and vikings. viking because well, vikings are hot and game of thrones because it has dragons! is reign anything like GoT?

    Vodka and Soda

  2. All I know about Game of Thrones is what South Park taught me, but I'd say GoT is way more intense and risqué and intellectual. Reign is a soap opera with frilly clothes.

  3. I haven't seen this show, but from your description of the style, I think I love it!! I watch Downton Abbey (like, seemingly, most of the world!) and I've learned so far that I have no love for 20s fashion. I'm a lover of defined waists!!

  4. As far as I'm concerned, TV is meant to be fun. If anyone wanted to watch a documentary, they could. The fashion looks so fun, and I for one, appreciate a show with good fashion.

  5. Right on. I was interested in it enough to do some research, so I'm sure even the show's inaccuracy is serving to get people interested in history and historical fashion. And I love that the costumer has decided to create her own interpretation. That's what anyone into style tries to do when they get dressed.

  6. I have yet to watch Downton Abbey even though I love the matriarchs of the show (Shirley MacLaine lives where I used to live, in Santa Fe, and I once saw her at Starbucks and freaked!). I'm right there with you on defined waists. So ladylike!

  7. I just started reading your blog and may or may not have stalked all night last night. I haven't watched Reign yet, but it sounds right up my alley. Fashion and history! I'll have to watch it alone though, because I have a tendency to point out all the historical inaccuracies to whoever is unlucky enough to be near me. I'm such a nerd.

  8. I'm hardly worth stalking but thank you for reading! The newest episode was out of control. So much scandal and plotting and revelation, none of it accurate, I'm sure! History nerds are amazing. Such a depth of information to have in one's brain. I can only point out the inaccuracies between books and the movie versions!