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Costume Spotlight: Tombstone (1993)

A Review of Women's Costumes

Tombstone: 1993, costume design by Joseph Porro

First, a discussion of what this article is not. It will not be a discussion of the historical or theatrical merits of Tombstone. This is an article about the quality, execution, and historical accuracy of the women’s costumes in this film. This is not an attempt to tell anyone not to like the film or costumes or not to copy its costumes. It is merely an offer of knowledge and opinion to show what this designer did historically right and historically wrong. Always remember that even if costumes in a film are not historically accurate (HA), the film may still offer ideas and inspiration.

Tombstone is set in 1879 (even though the fight at the OK Corral took place in 1881). This places the film smack dab in the middle of the Natural Form or Cuirass Body period - 1875 to 1882.

As quoted from Harper’s Bazar, October 23, 1875, “The ideal at present is the greatest possible flatness and straightness: a woman is a pencil covered with raiment.” The silhouette was flat, straight, and vertical with slenderizing continuing up to 1881. Additionally, asymmetry was introduced in draping and trim application. In fact, the bustle as worn in the mid-1870’s and again in the mid-1880s essentially disappears. There is a very small “bustle” pad that could be worn under skirts but a majority of the skirt back interest is done with elaborate draping and not an understructure. This is NOT a bustle era despite some very interesting designs on the derriere.