What exactly makes a historic dramas miniseries stand out from the rest? Depends on who you ask. For some, it's the appealing face and persona of a favorite actor or actress. For others, the exotic locations in alluring faraway countries. And still others favor the beautiful sets and excellent camerawork that transform a scene into something like a work of art.

While it's true that great acting, directing and scriptwriting can bring a program to life, it's often the detailed costuming that make the shows really pop. The experts in charge of wardrobe, hair and makeup have a job to do that seems like a cross between a lifestyle coach and a magician!

Let's look at a some examples of "gold standard" dramas who definitely got the wardrobe — and everything else — right!

The British miniseries Pride and Prejudice (1995) starred Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet and Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy. The story, written by Jane Austen, is set in 1811 and 1812, and follows the lives of the Bennet family—particularly the close sisters Elizabeth and Mary. Several productions have been made over the years, but many Austen fans have testified in blogs, tweets and online forums that this is their favorite Pride and Prejudice adaptation, largely because of the stunning period-accurate wardrobes.

Photo credit: www.IMDB.com


Photo credit: www.dailymail.co.uk

The thing is, when a dramatic production takes the time to get its wardrobe right, this is drama gold! Clothes the characters wear tell us about the era, the way people lived, what their values were, what kind of lifestyle they led. A well designed wardrobe might be one of the main deciding factors leading us to "buy" the characters and the story.


Another British production, Downton Abbey, achieved this with a very interesting (and impeccably dressed!) cast.


Photo credit: Sew Graceful / Copyright Camera Press, Mike Daines

Co-produced by Carnival Films and Masterpiece, Downton Abbey is about life in Edwardian England in an affluent castle-like household of the fictional Earl and Countess of Grantham. Leading ladies part of the large ensemble cast from Season 1 are (pictured above) Laura Carmichael, Michelle Dockery, and Jessica Brown-Findlay, playing Crawley sisters Lady Mary, Lady Edith and Lady Sybil.

It's one of the most popular and critically acclaimed period dramas ever produced. It has won a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries and seven Emmys including a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries.

“My face suits period dramas," Dockery told an interviewer, referring to her porcelain skin, dark hair and strong eyebrows. “No mascara is allowed at all on set. Historically, women wouldn’t have been introduced to those kind of products then, so we can’t use them.” These women have a natural beauty they bring to the screen - very few cosmetics are allowed. But don't their beautiful dresses and gloves make up for it?


Photo credit: Tumbler


The Bletchley Circle first premiered in 2012. Here are a string of key words to describe it: Mystery, thriller, crime, historical fiction, women's history, war history, drama. Susan, Millie, Lucy, Alice, and Jean play as WWII code-breaker heroines in the series. They are a few of several women who previously worked together at a secret code-breaking installation, Bletchley Park, during World War II. They are reunited, back on the trail of crimes that others overlook or disregard. They’re experts at pattern recognition, cryptography, and deduction—they fought the Nazis and won, after all—but to others they just look like friends going out shopping or for tea.


Photo credit: Pinterest

According to one reporter's interview with the costume designer, the intent in designing their costumes was first to be completely authentic to the clothing styles worn during that time, right down to under-garments, and second, to mirror the plot in the patterns of their outfits. Their outfits have no florals, but instead graphic prints, dots, lines and grids!


Photo credit: http://www.allmovie.com/movie/the-bletchley-circle-v577788">www.allmovie.com


Another colorful historical series - this one from Korea - has a completely different look and feel from historic dramas before and after wartime in Europe. The Princess’s Man (공주의남자) has used the promotional tagline "The Romeo and Juliet story of the Josean Dynasty."

Among all the eras of Korean history, the Joseon Dynasty has long been a historic favorite of Korean period dramas perhaps because its long history stretched from the 14th to the 19th century — this offers lots of time for events like territorial battles, family feuds and scandalous affairs to try and keep discreet.


Photo credit: Blog Korea

This drama is a well-loved historical romance starring Moon Chae Won (Shining Inheritance) and Park Shi Hoo (Iljimae) as the young couple who fall in love. The costumes are very beautiful; the set locations are also stunning.


Photo credit: Blog.Naver.com


Around the world right now, the entertainment media from many countries are asking... Has Spain just come up with its own Downton Abbey? The Time In Between, a 2014 co-production from Antena 3 and Boomerang TV, debuted in Spanish prime time, winning its slot and becoming the best local drama premiere of the last eight years, with a peak of 5.7 million viewers and a 25.5% share overall.


Photo credit: Pinterest

The 11-part miniseries is based on El Tiempo Entre Costuras, the bestseller by María Dueñas that has sold over 3 million copies. It stars Adriana Ugarte, Raúl Arévalo, and Hannah New.


Photo credit: Teleprograma.fotogramas.es

Set during the Spanish Civil War, it follows the story of a woman raised by a poor single mother who's taught to be a seamstress. When she falls in love with a good-looking young man, she moves with him to Morocco. For months they live well. But when the money runs out and she becomes pregnant, he disappears from her life. She ultimately builds a new life and becomes the most popular clothing designer for the wives of German Nazi officers. She also begins working as a secret agent for the British government.

Promotional video clips and still shots about this new drama are showing up everywhere on the internet. The imagery shows that it may have all of those elements that add up to a superior quality dramatic production — great acting, directing, cinematography, exciting plots, locales and amazing wardrobes. It seems to have everything a discerning drama lover could wish for!

This buzz is fueling excitement and anticipation for its upcoming release to international audiences. The Time in Between can be watched in its entirety right here on DramaFever. Watch for additional related articles to come, where we will explore in more detail the fashions appearing in the drama.

LilySuzuki is an American who lived in Japan for 6 years and considers Tokyo like a second home. She also worked in Bali, Indonesia for 2 years. A blogger on Asian cultures and trends, she’s an major fan of K-pop, J-pop, anime, and Korean dramas.

For more Asian fashion looks follow her on Polyvore: http://tokyotrekker.polyvore.com/

Check out Radiant Face Forward, a (mostly Asian) cosmetics/skincare blog: radiantfaceforward.blogspot.com