On Christmas Day 2020 the world was treated to an extra special present when Netflix dropped Bridgerton season 1.
Based on the romantic novels of Julia Quinn and produced by Grey's Anatomy's Shonda Rhimes, the eight-part series followed the Bridgerton and Featherington families for the 1813 social season.
And what a season it was! Watched by over 82 million people, viewers fell in love with the heartbreak and heartthrobs of Grosvenor Square as Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Bassett, the Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page) went on a thrilling journey of love, longing and lust.
And while the story moved along at pace and the characters were completely absorbing, it also looked divine. With costumes more elaborate and extravagant than any other period drama, it took a costume team of 238 people five months to build over 7,500 pieces. Daphne Bridgerton alone had 104 dresses!
Designed by famed costume designer Ellen Mirojnick (The Greatest Showman), the look is fantastically distinct and stylized, embracing the style of the Regency period with a large dollop of modern magic and color.
In the video below, Ellen and the cast talk about creating the unique look and how they used a traditional 1813 silhouette, alongside thoroughly contemporary colors and mountains of fabulously over-the-top fabrics and embellishments.
The best Bridgerton dresses - our top ten dresses from the first season
While empire-line dresses, cap sleeves and corsets became the over-arching signature look of the series, each character also had their own individual style.
While everyone will have their own personal favorites, we thought what better time, as Bridgerton season 2 hits our screens, to take a look back at our favorite dresses from the first season.
10. A honey trap
As the eager Featherington's look on, in episode 6 Colin Bridgerton announces his engagement to Marina Thompson.
Dressed in a beautiful yellow dress with flower detailing, this is the perfect outfit for the moment as viewers all know that Marina has tricked Colin by forgetting to mention she's actually pregnant with another man's child.
Not that we are blaming Marina, the gender rules of the time were deeply unfair to women, but still, Colin was caught in Marina's honey trap, although not for long thanks to Lady Whistledown.
9. The blushing bride
Despite winning over the prince, Daphne and Simon just can't keep away from each other and are seen kissing in the garden. No biggie you may think, but being seen unchaperoned with a man is social suicide in Regency times, and the wedding between Simon and Daphne is a rushed affair to try and save the reputation of not just Daphne but the whole of the Bridgerton family.
Despite the hurry and the doubts about whether she is doing the right thing, Daphne still looked beautiful in this elegant white number with lace detailing and a cascading veil.
8. "Why settle for a duke when one can have a prince?”
After Simon calls off their arrangement in episode 3, Daphne goes all out to impress Prince Friedrich. While she's spent the previous episodes mocking the attempts of other ladies to win the prince over, she now pulls out every move she's ever been taught to attract his attention.
After making quite an entrance in this elegant dress the prince only has eyes for her as he gushes, "Miss Bridgerton, I simply must have your first dance.” Look on and weep ladies, that's how you bag a prince!
7. From different sides of the street
The friendship between Penelope and Eloise (Claudia Jessie) is a joy to watch, but the characters are dressed very differently. While Penelope is a true Featherington, dressed in full blinding brights, Eloise is a subtle and elegant Bridgerton.
Although, unlike her sister Daphne, Eloise isn't happy that her lot in life amounts to little more than looking pretty to find a husband and then having lots of babies – although how babies are actually made is a cause of great concern for the friends!
In an interview with Fashionista.com costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick, revealed the inspiration behind Eloise's look was more menswear than feminine flourishes and feathers.
"Eloise was absolutely rebellious. Capital letters rebellious. We wanted most definitely to give a bit of a masculine twist to her, as opposed to being sent out and decorated. Her shapes were very simple and she remained basically covered up."
6. When the cat is away…
One of the most-loved characters in the show is the poor put-upon Penelope, played by Derry Girls star Nicola Coughlan.
Dressed in a lot of sunny yellow to begin with, Penelope manages to escape her mother's lemon palette during a ball in episode 1. Distracted by Marina's pregnancy, Penelope is allowed to choose her own dress as her father, Lord Featherington (Ben Miller), acts as her chaperone, rather than her overbearing mother.
"I'm quite enjoying the fact that he is here," Penelope tells Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) about her father. "Mama would never let me wear a dress like this, not yellow enough I think."
Colin then sweeps the young Pen off her feet as he dances with her, making the young girls' night as she secretly adores the kind and sweet Bridgerton brother.
5. A beautiful butterfly with a secret to hide
At the beginning of the series Penelope is presented as very much the youngest Featherington sister who is reluctant to join the hunt for a husband. To reflect this her style is young and sweet with her hair in ringlets and freckles on her face.
But fans of season 1 know Penelope is hiding a big secret and certainly isn't as innocent as her sunshiny look initially suggested. Season 2 promises to show the maturing of Penelope as her real identity as Lady Whistledown is explored further.
4. Big wigs and little dogs make for a happy Queen Charlotte
The character with surely the most outrageous dresses is Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel). Without her husband King George III by her side, the Queen often presents herself as bored and desperate for some gossip or scandal to brighten up her day. But that also means she has lots of time and money to spend on the biggest and brashest dresses.
Every outfit was also accompanied by a huge wig, check out the one below that included birdcages and birds.
Although our favourite QC look has to be the one below, which Golda posted on her Instagram account to wish her fans a Happy New Year. The Queen rocked this amazing hairstyle in episode 3 as she introduced her nephew, Prince Friedrich of Prussia, to the eager ladies of the season.
Costume Designer Ellen also told Vogue that Queen Charlotte was her favourite to dress saying, "She looks like cotton candy in every conceivable flavour. For me, she embodies what Bridgerton is all about.”
Although, wearing a wig the size of a small mountain does present its difficulties, as the below Instagram post from Golda shows…
We can't move on from lovely Lottie without showing this outrageous outfit from episode 7. The purple and white number was worn by Queen Charlotte during a luncheon, where she shamelessly wanted to know when the recently married Daphne and Simon would be welcoming the pitter-patter of tiny feet.
The below Instagram post by Golda shows her standing in front of a portrait of the real Queen Charlotte, which perfectly demonstrates how the luxurious silhouette of their dresses may be the same but the color and detail of the costumes from this very modern period drama are strikingly different.
3. The fabulous Featherington females
The Featherington females are all about being seen. Their place in Regency society may not be as established or secure as the bonny Bridgerton's so they need to work what they've got to the max.
Suitors need their sunglasses as the sisters are consistently dressed in citrus hues, with tonnes of tangerine, fussy fuchsia pinks and of course yellow, yellow and more yellow for poor Penelope.
The fabrics are embellished, the colors blinding and the result fantastic. In the Instagram post below Nicola Coughlan, who plays the youngest Featherington sister, describes her onscreen family as the Kardashians of the Regency era, which we think is spot on! Their fabulous hues make them number three on our list of dresses.
Another great example of the Featherington festival of colour is during a promenade, or walk in the park, done in the hope that an eligible bachelor will be seduced by their grace and beauty. Or be so blinded by their dresses he can't run away fast enough…
The sisters were also a favorite of designer Ellen as she explains in the below Instagram post, where she reveals the terrific trio were one of her favorite season 1 looks.
2. Lady Danbury is the belle of the ball
Showing the younger girls how it's done is the sophisticated and stylish Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh). Often dressed in regal purple or a dark shade of red, at the season's opening ball in episode 1, held at her own gorgeous home of Danbury House, she is a vision in white and silver - bringing this gown in at number two on our chart.
As the Instagram post below shows, she's also the master of a jaunty hat. With the look of a male top hat, it tells the world this is not a woman to be messed with and she is perfectly capable of looking after herself, thank you very much!
A photo posted by on
1. Diamond of the first water…
And the winner is... Daphne Bridgerton, of course!
The series begins with Daphne Bridgerton and the three Featherington sisters being presented to Queen Charlotte, and the moment announces their arrival on the marriage market as they all compete to woo the most eligible bachelor.
The debutante who catches the Queen's eye is the angelic Daphne Bridgerton, who the Queen describes as 'flawless' as she glides into the room in a delicate cream dress with gold stitching - so of course, this has to be our number one dress from the series.
At the beginning of series 1, Daphne Bridgerton symbolizes innocence and dignity. In a post on her Instagram account costume designer Ellen picked out the classic Daphne look — a young woman of impeccable taste and decorum who is always dressed in a pastel palette, encompassing romantic blues, delicate creams and splashes of striking silver.
But while Daphne shone as she was presented to the Queen, the Featherington trio were less impressive, with poor Prudence (Bessie Carter) falling flat on her face, thanks to the tightness of her corset. We love the Instagram post by Nicola Coughlan, who plays Penelope, below.
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Joanne Lowles has been writing about TV since 2002. After graduating from Cardiff University with a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism, she worked for All About Soap magazine covering the ups and downs of life on the cobbles, the square and the Dales.
Next came nearly 10 years at TV Times magazine as a writer and then deputy features editor. Here she spent many happy days interviewing the biggest names in entertainment and visiting the sets of some of our most popular shows including Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife and Strictly Come Dancing.
With a love of nature and wildlife she’s also interviewed the leading experts in this area including David Attenborough, Chris Packham and Steve Backshall. She’s also travelled the world visiting Mongolia, Canada and South Africa to see how the best in the business make the most brilliant natural history documentaries.
Freelance since 2013, she is now is a digital writer and editor for What to Watch, previews the best on the box for TV Times mag each week and loves being constantly surprised, entertained and informed by the amazing TV that she is lucky enough to watch.