Welcome to FrockTalk, the web’s only costume-based movie review site. The goal of Frocktalk is to shed light on the magnificent artistry of costume design in motion pictures. Reviews on this site are written by working costume designers in the entertainment industry – people who know, better than anyone, what it takes to make it all happen. The focus of FrockTalk is not to comment on the big flashy costume dramas, but to call attention to the seemingly ordinary costume design work in film that silently and persuasively moves the audience toward understanding the characters. Costume design for motion pictures is an art form that deserves more recognition than it usually gets. Fancy, pretty costumes do not always equal effective, appropriate costumes. The art of the costume is in letting the audience know who the character is, before the actor even has a chance to open his mouth. Read on, and enjoy. ** CAUTION: ALL REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS! **

2012 Gift Guide for Costume Types

It’s that time of year, Frocktalkers! Whether you’re buying gifts for your crew, or sending this link to someone to drop a not-so-subtle hint, this is the gift list for you! Items on this list would be suitable for holiday gifts, wrap gifts, birthday gifts, or just something to say “Thanks for the hard work“. For additional ideas, you can always consult the Frocktalk gift lists of years gone by HERE, HERE and HERE. But stay with me – here is this year’s list!


All of us who work with costumes, fabric, clothing, thread, etc., need special scissors. And I mean, GOOD scissors. Fabric-only scissors. For many of us, there is only one name for good fabric scissors. That name is GINGHER. Gingher makes all kinds of scissors, but the most popular for our purposes are the 8” dressmaker shears. You can find them at any reputable fabric store, including Michael Levine, Yardage Town, International Silks and Woolens and Beverly’s. Embroidery scissors or thread snippers make a great gift, too, and cost a bit less. Aaaahhh, Scissors. You might want to also add THIS MUG to the gift, just for fun.

Solar iPhone charger

There are a lot of solar chargers out there, and it’s hard to cut through all the crap to figure out which one will be best. I’ve done some surveys among my friends, and done a fair amount of research, and have come up with two options. First, the lower-cost option, good for charging an iPhone – the Solio Bolt. For the bigger-budget version, where you can charge much more than just an iPhone (and this would come in VERY handy if you are working on a film out in the middle of nowhere), I give you the Goal Zero. Either option would be a huge hit. Most of us are on our phones all stinking day, and a battery only lasts so long before it needs a charge…

For Life Tea Steeper

Your costume-type is guaranteed to be either a coffee drinker or a tea drinker. There is no way to survive the kinds of schedules we have without a little brewed something-something. This company For Life makes the most beautiful implements for making and/or delivering hot brewed goodness. I received one of these mugs last year, and I use it daily. If your costume-type is into coffee, check THIS out. Beautiful design, and easy on the environment – no paper filters. Pretty fabulous. If you have a tea drinker in your life, let me clue you in to some of the best tea on earth: David’s Tea. Woah, and WOAH. They have everything – loose leaf, sachets – it’s incredible. This is like the Candyland of teas. Your tea-drinker will thank you!

Books about costume design

This is going to be on the list every year. I mean, most of us who do this kind of work have huge collections of books. We actually, yes, we actually read them and use them. There are so many good books out there (many were detailed in last year’s list), but here are some new books that will get your costume-type salivating: HOLLYWOOD SKETCHBOOK by the amazing Deborah Nadoolman Landis, the V & A HOLLYWOOD COSTUME book, also by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, and let’s just make it a Deborah Landis trifecta – the FILMCRAFT: COSTUME book!! Big thanks to Deborah Landis for all of her work with these books. They are a lasting testament to, and celebration of, our art form. Every costume-type should have these books. And also in a shameless self-promotional plug, I would recommend Costuming for Film and Going Hollywood for anyone interested in getting started in our end of the business. Hopefully these books will be able to answer some of the many questions that accompany a foray into our world.

Sewing Machine

Trying to buy someone a sewing machine is like trying to buy someone a mattress or a pair of skinny jeans. It’s tough – the user has to feel comfortable with the item. Well, in this case, you’d be crazy to pass up this offer. The store TUESDAY MORNING (yes, that’s the name of the store) has a Kenmore sewing machine for $59.99, and it has all you will ever need. I’ve written about sewing machines before HERE on Frocktalk, and I will reiterate – you do NOT need a computerized machine. It’s just one more thing that will break and need repair. Less is more. Simpler is better. I sew almost every day of my life, and I have never needed or owned a machine with computerized anything. You need forward, backward, zig-zag, button hole, blind hem, and if you’re feeling really adventurous, a stretch stitch. But that Kenmore for $59, THAT is a deal, friends. You’re not going to be able to find a better deal. If you’d like to get a beginner sewer a machine, this is the one.


Many of us have long, hellish commutes to and from work. Others of us like to listen to podcasts and books on tape while pulling for hours and hours on the costume house floor. Whatever reason, your costume-type is almost guaranteed to love audiobooks. Here are some good titles that would be worth looking into: This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, by Emma Straub, Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, Ancient Light by John Banville, The Elephant Keeper’s Children by Peter Hoeg, Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren. Your costume-type may enjoy podcasts, as well, and an iTunes gift certificate could come in handy!

Actual Books/Kindle Books

For the hardcore reader, the old-school hardliner, there are always actual, real books. For the new-school reader, there are Kindle books. Either one might enjoy the following titles on their nightstands: Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie, Lament in the Night by Nagahara Shosun, Life After Death by Damien Echols, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan, Fraternity by Diane Brady, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, and for a younger reader – The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green.

I hope your holidays are fun, Frocktalkers. It’s not really about the gifts, but gifts are a nice way to show people how much you appreciate them. Happy holidays to all of you and best wishes to you and your families!


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