Did you notice these film and TV costumes have been recycled?

From Doctor Who to Downton, Mad Men to Notting Hill, there's a long history of hand-me-downs...


Millions upon millions of dollars go into making films and TV programmes each year as big-budget productions attempt to entice us. But even the biggest, most ambitious projects have to make a few savings here and there.


Take costumes, for instance. Why spend your pennies designing and creating an entire new outfit when there’s a perfectly good one in existence. OK, it’s been used a few times before, but let’s just hope nobody notices. It makes good, thrifty sense, after all. 

This costume sharing would likely pass us by if not for the eagle-eyes of Recycled Movie Costumes. The tumblr account brings us examples of some of the best-known costumes in film and TV – and the times they’ve been recycled. 

Here’s Peggy Olsen (played by Elisabeth Moss) in Mad Men series two episode Three Sundays – and there’s the same dress worn by Anna Camp as Jolene French in 2011 film The Help

Period dramas are particularly savvy when it comes to recycling. Take Lady Mary’s dress, worn by Michelle Dockery in the first series of Downton Abbey. It’s already cropped up once again in Mr Selfridge, this time modelled by Frances O’Connor portraying Rose Selfridge as she breaks the news to husband Harry (Jeremy Piven) that her days are numbered. 

Lady Mary would never wear cast-offs, but perhaps she’s more lenient when it comes to handing down clothes. Her stylish eveningwear from a 2010 episode of Downton has been reinvented by Geraldine Somerville’s Countess of Manton in another Julian Fellowes project – this time ITV’s critically-panned 2012 miniseries Titanic. 

But Mary isn’t the only Downton Abbey character whose costumes crop up elsewhere. Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess has expensive taste in jewellery – although so does Charlotte Rampling’s Lady Spencer in 2008 film The Duchess… 

The Duchess’ costumes have remained popular. Did you know that Natalie Dormer’s fitted jacket in this month’s The Scandalous Lady W is actually a hand-me-down from Keira Knightley’s Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire?

Anne of Cleves’ appearance in TV series the Tudors and 1998 film Shakespeare in Love may have been set 50 years apart, but that didn’t prevent costume designers putting Joss Stone as Henry VIII’s fourth wife in the same dress Gwyneth Paltrow’s Viola de Lesseps wore to meet Queen Elizabeth I.

Billie Piper donned this plush purple gown to play Sally Lockhart in 2007 TV movie Ruby in the Smoke. Five years later, it was dusted off for Sarah Lancashire’s haughty department store manager Miss Audrey in BBC1’s The Paradise. 

Orlando Bloom was at his swashbuckling best playing Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003. But his statement hat had already made its mark elsewhere, on the head of Grey’s Anatomy actor Justin Chambers as D’Artagnan in 2001 film The Musketeer. 

Now we mention accessories, here’s a necklace with a long and illustrious history on screen. First worn by Kate Beckinsale in ITV’s Emma back in 1996, this distinctive pearl strand has since dressed the necks of Julia Roberts in Notting Hill, Jennifer Saunders in Let Them Eat Cake and, most recently, Elizabeth McGovern playing Lady Cora in – you guessed it – Downton Abbey. 

Finally, a Sherlock/Doctor Who crossover to get excited about. OK, so the crossing-over is done by a dress – not exactly the union we’ve all been hoping for – but it’s certainly a beautiful one. Janet Fielding’s companion Tegan wore this rather lovely number in 1983 Doctor Who episode Enlightenment before it was reused in 1984 by Gayle Hunnicutt playing Irene Adler in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: A Scandal in Bohemia. 

Tegan’s dress isn’t the only Who costume to appear elsewhere. Remember the distinctive yellow jacket worn by Nicola Bryant’s Peri Brown in 1985 Who episode The Mark of the Rani…

Well here it is once again, this time sported by actress Christina Cole playing Mrs Elton in 2009 mini-series Emma.

And finally, let’s observe Colin Firth in a rather fetching pink and purple get-up to play Lord Wessex in Shakespeare in Love. Doctor Who enthusiasts might recognise his brightly-coloured threads – they were recycled for 2010 episode Vampires in Venice, this time worn by Alex Price as Francesco.


Spotted any more costume crossovers? Get in touch with the Recycled Movie Costumes team by emailing submissions@recycledmoviecostumes.com.