The 'Bridgerton' Season 3 Costumes Tap Into Old Hollywood Glamour and the Marlboro Man

Warning: Spoilers for "Bridgerton" Season 3 below.

Most "Bridgerton" fans would agree that the costumes' period inaccuracies — the contemporary touches, the over-the-top embellishments and the distinct color stories — help make the show what it is. As Season 3's new Lead Costume Designer John Glaser sees it, "it's a fantasy, it's not a history lesson."

Having worked on the first season alongside Ellen Mirojnick, he's got a solid understanding of making the wardrobe believable, as well as imaginative. "We take great liberties in, what I like to say, expanding the Regency look, but we still respect the period," he says. (The beauty looks reflect a similar philosophy.)

Each season follows the love story of one of the Bridgerton children. The first was Daphne (Phoebe Dyvenor)'s steamy (to put it mildly) relationship with Duke of Hastings Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page); then came eldest brother Anthony (Jonathan Bailey)'s pining romance with Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley). Now, all eyes are on Colin (Luke Newton) and his friends-to-lovers arc with the Ton's ultimate wallflower, Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) — who also happens to be the anonymous mastermind behind high society's biggest gossip pamphlet, Lady Whistledown.

Over the years, the show's wardrobe team has established color palettes for the main families: The Featheringtons wear yellows, and the Bridgertons wear blues. With that foundation set, Glaser says, they're able to hone in and pull "[historic] research, fashion research and artwork" references — from abstract paintings to haute couture runways — to incorporate into and evolve each character's individual costumes.

Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton).<p>Photo: Courtesy of Netflix</p>
Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton).

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

Of all the sartorial transformations this season, Penelope's is undoubtedly the most paramount. In Episode 1, she appears in her usual baby pinks, intense yellows, bright greens and bold florals. But, as she (rather quickly) experiences an emotional shift — bothered by the women flirtatiously surrounding Colin and her sisters' endless quips about her being a spinster — she embarks on a makeover, telling modiste Genevieve Delacroix (Kathryn Drysdale), "I do not wish to see a citrus color ever again."

Penelope reveals her brand-new look at Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh)'s annual ball. She's darkened her color palette in a sultry emerald-green dress — a choice made from empowerment, but also "so that you wouldn't forget where she came from," Glaser says, given that green is a mix of yellow and blue.

However, not even a new dress can hide her awkwardness with potential suitors. Nor does it deter the cruelty of the Ton's queen bee Cressida Cowper (Jessica Masden). So, she undergoes a second style shift.

Penelope at Lady Danbury's annual ball.<p>Photo: Courtesy of Netflix</p>
Penelope at Lady Danbury's annual ball.

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

"We pulled back to neutralize her color, and we used layers of fabrics — [including] blue, green, lavender and pink — so that, when you look at her dress, you're not really sure what color it is," Glaser says. "We didn't want to give away Easter eggs like, 'This is towards the Bridgertons,' or, 'This is towards the Featheringtons.' We wanted her, not the clothes, to lead us on the journey."

More so than in previous seasons, there's a focus on "enhancing" Penelope's body rather than hiding it. Glaser did this by dialing the clock forward from 1813 to 1820 when it came to dress silhouettes, as well as tapping into 1950s old Hollywood glamour. He specifically calls out Marilyn Monroe as a historical figure who inspired Penelope's look: "When you look at old Hollywood remember their face and the incident, but, most of the time, you don't really remember what they wear. That's what we tried to achieve: We wanted [Penelope] to tell the story.”

There's then the other half of this season's love story, the travel-loving, good-natured member of the Bridgerton brood that the internet has dubbed a "sexy pirate" — which isn't too far off of Glaser's intended vision for Colin.

Colin at home.<p>Photo: Courtesy of Netflix</p>
Colin at home.

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

"The first time you see him, he's getting off a boat. He's been traveling for like six months," he says. "This is where we take a little bit of reality from the period — he would've been unbathed, dirty and unshaven…Our inspiration was the Marlboro Man."

Before, pastel yellows, pinks and blues informed Colin's wardrobe. Now that he's older and more mentally and physically mature, he wears darker blues, browns and shades of black. He's also loosened up when it comes to silhouette.

"We opened up the shirts, gave his coats some swing and swagger so that when he walks, there's a lot of movement," says Glaser. "His fabrics have more texture, and they've been aged so they don't look all brand new. His clothes have some history now, which gives you a little mystery into what he's been up to."

Francesca Bridgerton and Kate Sharma (or should we say Viscountess Bridgerton?) also undergo their own respective wardrobe transformations. Viewers are introduced to a recast Francesca (Hannah Dodds), who exudes mystery largely due to her quiet nature, but also through her wardrobe — "lots of textures to her so that you're not sure what she's wearing," Glaser says. "Is it a floral? Is it not a floral? You start to think, where did she get this? Where did this come from?" Katharine Hepburn circa the 1940's inspired her look.

Francesca Bridgerton (Hannah Dodds) in her presentation dress.<p>Photo: Courtesy of Netflix</p>
Francesca Bridgerton (Hannah Dodds) in her presentation dress.

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

Glaser emphasizes that the costume department "didn't want to try to imitate what the original actor wore" with Francesca. However, the first outfit she dons is one we've seen before: Daphne's presentation dress. No, the Bridgertons aren't having money troubles and re-wearing outfits out of need — rather, it symbolizes a "family heirloom that's been handed down," he says. "It was kind of like a uniform. We wanted it to look like you would hand down a strand of pearls or something. It's to show some tradition and some heritage."

Francesca's day-to-day wardrobe sways into the softer side, as depicted through "a lot of sheer fabrics, so as to not disguise the character, but also not reveal the character."

Then there's Kate, who comes into her own sartorially following her marriage to Anthony. She and her beau have just returned from their honeymoon in India, leaving the Viscountess's wardrobe with even more references to her homeland than in Season 2.

Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley).<p>Photo: Courtesy of Netflix</p>
Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley).

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

"As the season goes on, [the Indian references] become more obvious," Glaser says. "We veered away from unnatural colors for her and used all natural colors, like skin tone color and colors of water. We wanted her to look warm and like she's coming back from a warm climate. We also wanted to show that she had nothing to hide. She's coming back from home, she's married, she's a strong woman and she's not going to hide her heritage."

The fashion on "Bridgerton" commands just as much attention as the nail-biting storylines and lavish sets (if not more). But, ultimately, the actors' comfort and an authentic approach to storytelling take priority for Glaser.

"You can't force a costume on an actor," he says. "People talk about the fashion, but the show is fantasy. It does have a fashion influence, but our purpose is to help tell the story and to help the actor tell their story."

"Bridgerton" Season 3: Part 1 premieres May 16 on Netflix. Part 2 arrives June 13.

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