Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Murdoch Mysteries Costume Love

I don't usually delve that much into TV costumes anymore, with the exception of Outlander, but I feel like I need to give a little costume love to the clothes worn in Murdoch Mysteries. This Canadian TV series has been running forever (just started Season 11), and focuses on Detective William Murdoch and his sleuthing in turn-of-the-century Toronto. I love this series - the characters are charming, the storylines, while not groundbreaking, are enjoyable, and best of all, it has great costuming! Others have quietly poo-pooed on the costumes as being dull, and no, they aren't blockbuster budget types of clothes, but what they are is a great representation of the daily wardrobe of the everyday person. There are few duchesses or industrialists in the show, so the costuming is really about showing everyday people working everyday lives. There are added bonuses of the occasional sports or swimming costume!

Dr. Grace, about to smack down her croquet competition.
And not only do they do it well, but the clothes are really accurate for the period they portray. They even capture the subtle fashion changes that happen over the span of the show's time period. The first season is set in 1895, one of my favourite fashion years. Each season of the show is a year of time in-universe, and the costume department managed to capture the small details that changed, from the width of the skirts and the shapes of sleeves, to the size of hats. The costume designers for the show made sure to include little details that reflected the personalities of the characters, too. For Inspector Brackenreid, they focused on his waistcoats, making them double-breasted and slightly too small to convey his boisterous, larger-than-life character. For Dr. Ogden, they gave her small, simple hats to reflect her practicality. Dr. Grace wears a lot of practical suits and hats to reflect her modernity and interest in the politics of the time. Even the guest stars have personality in their wardrobe.

Look at that b/w printed dress! ~dies~ And yes, the undies on the model are weird, but they're supposed to be weird and new in this scene.
The show's costumers even revealed that they borrow extant pieces and take patterns from them, which they then use to create the shows costumes. That made me squeal a little with happiness. They also wanted to reuse older costumes, since the characters themselves are not fashion trendy and would have re-worn older outfits if they still fit and were in good shape.

Let's take a look at some of the looks from the show!

Dr. Grace, looking very practical and modern in her menswear-inspired outfit.

Dr. Ogden, season 7, set in 1901.

Detective Murdoch and Dr. Ogden's wedding, season 8. Some really nice pigeon-front looks for Dr. Grace and Dr. Ogden. Murdoch and Brackenreid's morning suits are great.

Season 9. Julia isn't a trend-follower, but her silhouette reflects the narrower looks that became fashionable post-1900. Murdoch always looks well put-together in his suits, which are the right shape and cut for turn-of-the-century menswear.
Dr.Ogden's show-stopping striped dress from Season 8. What you can't see in this photo is that the white parts are all lace! You can see it better in the photo below.

So, if you like historical murder mystery shows, or well-done turn of the century fashion, check out Murdoch Mysteries. It runs on Ovation channel as The Artful Detective in the States. It's also available to watch online on CBC tv.


  1. I love Murdoch Mysteries! I'm glad to see the costumes getting some appreciation, as I agree with you on all points. It's wonderful to see everyday things like historical sportswear, or those delightful workman's aprons with the point that buttons to the waistcoat.

    Murder mysteries are one of my very favorite things to watch, and it's so much more enjoyable when they're well costumed.

  2. Love the ladies fashion