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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Did You Ever Notice... Bilbo's Birthday Outfit?

Arwen's daughter

May 1 2008, 5:08pm

Post #1 of 16 (4431 views)
Did You Ever Notice... Bilbo's Birthday Outfit? Can't Post

With so much excitement about The Hobbit around here, it was only natural to talk about an old friend's costume.

Here's what Ngila Dickson had to say about hobbit costumes in general:
"When you have little fellows running around in frock coats and short trousers, you have to work hard to make that believable," notes Dickson. "But Peter was quite clear that he wanted them to look as real as possible."

Dickson did so by highlighting their pastoral nature. She used very natural fabrics and strong weaves, influenced by ancient European cultures. They wear waistcoats in harvest colors - greens, yellows and browns -- with brass buttons. But she also reinforced the playfulness of their stature and way of life. "I added a lot of quirks, things to jar the eye," she points out. "Their trouser legs and sleeves are too short, their buttons are too big, and their collars are out of proportion. I even made their pockets higher than usual for example, so when they put their hands in their pockets it has a very distinctive, funny look to us."
- from NLC Press Release, Dec 2001

Here, she has included a lot of very rich fabrics and textures. Bilbo's coat is a burgundy velvet or velveteen (hard to say without seeing it in person/feeling it). It's lined with a quilted fabric with a scroll or vine pattern on it. And the red waistcoat has still another pattern in it. The charcoal grey pants and off-white shirt are the only "plain" fabrics used. It's all topped with this green paisley scarf and brass buttons (of course!).

There's even a button on the cuff of the pants! I love the little details.

As always, head over to AlleyCatScratch for more details. And just a note that they now have up a section on costumes as described in The Hobbit novel.

So, any thoughts on this costume?

Did You Ever Notice... is a running look at some of the details Ngila Dickson and her costumers have included in the clothing they created for LOTR. It's a roving discussion in that it never appears on any particular day and sometimes not even once a week (unlike our other discussions).

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The Shire

May 1 2008, 6:14pm

Post #2 of 16 (3341 views)
Amazing Detail [In reply to] Can't Post

One of the reasons I love watching all of the "extra stuff" on the DVDs is to watch the documentaries about how much care and detail and attention and love went into every aspect of making the films. Every department gave 200% to the project. No detail was too small. This is especially true in the clothing, the armor, the weapons, etc. Wonderful, wonderful work!


May 1 2008, 7:17pm

Post #3 of 16 (3297 views)
Another great post! [In reply to] Can't Post

Arwen's daughter, I always look forward to your costume posts! You always manage to dig up terrific pictures that showcase the tiniest and most amazing details!

I'd never noticed the cuff buttons on his pants before. And I'm also blown away by the embroidery inside his jacket lapels. I'd noticed the quilting before, but the embroidery is so subtle, I'd never seen it on screen. (Which is reason enough to buy a giant HDTV and a Blu-Ray edition of the trilogy, I suppose!) What color is the stitching? I can't tell if it's green or gold. Or is it one of those threads that appears to be two different colors depending on how the light catches it?

A paisley ascot? My word! That Mr. Baggins must have been quite the swinger in the 60's!

Have you heard through any of your costume-related grape-vines whether Ngila has any interest in returning for the new films? I always got the impression from the making-of videos that there seemed to be some bad blood there. Course I may just be making something out of nothing. I really do hope she returns. Her work was beyond outstanding on the trilogy.

"In Hollywood the screenplay is a fire hydrant. And there's a line of dogs around the block." -- Frank Miller


May 1 2008, 7:56pm

Post #4 of 16 (3289 views)
Thank you [In reply to] Can't Post

It was great to see Bilbo's birthday outfit in detail.
I can't wait to see him again in The Hobbit!

Arwen's daughter

May 1 2008, 8:31pm

Post #5 of 16 (3302 views)
I think it's green [In reply to] Can't Post

The embroidery looks green to me, though the thread is reflective enough to pick up camera flash. The green on green is really nice because it's so subtle. It adds that rich texture without drawing the eye away from the actor.

No news yet on who might be designing costumes for The Hobbit. I don't know that there was necessarily bad blood between Ngila and PJ. I think every costume designer would probably get frustrated when the director underuses (if you want to call it that) such fantastic detail. I haven't heard anything either way about whether she'd be willing to come back to Middle Earth. I would love to see Ngila come back, though. She added so many subtle details, like the oversize buttons here and the shortened sleeves, that I don't see how another designer could ever get it just right.

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May 2 2008, 1:01am

Post #6 of 16 (3287 views)
Very interesting! [In reply to] Can't Post

Great post!

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May 2 2008, 8:45am

Post #7 of 16 (3286 views)
Did you ever notice...? [In reply to] Can't Post

My answer to that question is nearly always, "No, I didn't."
Thank you, Arwen's daughter. It always look forward to your selections. It is wonderful to have a close look at the details of fabrics, and various accessories. I always see all sorts of things I never noticed before.
This time I particularly enjoyed the chance to look at the coat lining and the buttons.
An added bonus for me this time is lots of memories of my lovely Grandpa. Why? Because he always dressed well and liked to wear a cravat, often paisley.
He was a superb gardener with a terrific collection of toby jugs...sounds rather hobbity really.


May 2 2008, 3:58pm

Post #8 of 16 (3243 views)
LOL, the pants are similar to a pair I got from Ann Taylor Loft [In reply to] Can't Post

except that instead of one button, mine have kind of a panel with six small buttons on it. The color is called "mushroom"!

I've been thinking for a while that someone at Ann Taylor really likes the LOTR costumes. I got a very Frodo-ish shirt from them too.

I keep hoping they'll carry a Frodo-ish vest at some point, but I haven't seen one yet.

Thanks for the great post & photos!


May 2 2008, 5:40pm

Post #9 of 16 (3270 views)
While I've not commented to date... [In reply to] Can't Post

I just want to say I love the thought and preperation that goes into these costuming posts you make. Of course, being a very amateur costumer myself, this is perfect posting. Kudos.

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May 2 2008, 8:45pm

Post #10 of 16 (3236 views)
Just lovely [In reply to] Can't Post

Am I the only one who wishes that it was possible to wear hobbit- or elvish-style clothes and not get funny looks from people? Cool They look so comfortable! And dignified, especially the clothes of the elves.

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May 3 2008, 12:42am

Post #11 of 16 (3231 views)
I'd jump at the chance [In reply to] Can't Post

of wearing Elvish-styled dresses (with appropriately pinned-back sleeves, to keep the annoyance level low) of an evening. If only NZ designers had picked up on the LOTR pop-culture influence!

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

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May 3 2008, 12:47am

Post #12 of 16 (3226 views)
Isn't Bilbo gorgeous!? [In reply to] Can't Post

He's so elegant compared to the other hobbits who are all dressed in their finest, fersher. Bilbo's coat is almost like a smoking jacket. I've often thought that his outfit was made by the Elves, along with Frodo's equally lovely vest. What I also love, of course, are the brass buttons on a red vest... exactly what he wore when riddling around with Gollum. You wonder if he put in a special request for that as a private/secret joke for himself, or if the red vest/brass buttons were a Bilbo trademark.

This is awesome, Arwen's daughter! Thanks so much :D

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May 3 2008, 3:32am

Post #13 of 16 (3224 views)
Ditto! [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
I just want to say I love the thought and preperation that goes into these costuming posts you make.

Though I don't comment either, I love reading "Did you ever notice...?". Thanks a million Arwen's Daughter!

Círdan saw further and deeper than any other in Middle-earth, and he welcomed Mithrandir at the Grey Havens, knowing whence he came and whither he would return.
'Take this ring, master,' he said, 'for your labours will be heavy; but it will support you in the weariness you have taken upon yourself. For this is the Ring of Fire, and with it you may rekindle hearts in a world that grows chill.'


May 3 2008, 12:37pm

Post #14 of 16 (3223 views)
Hear! Hear! // [In reply to] Can't Post


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Trust him... The Hobbit is coming!

"Barney Snow was here." ~Hug like a hobbit!~ "In my heaven..."

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May 3 2008, 5:19pm

Post #15 of 16 (3221 views)
I loved paisley [In reply to] Can't Post

I often look around and wonder where it went.

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May 3 2008, 7:15pm

Post #16 of 16 (3247 views)
He's got style, for sure... [In reply to] Can't Post

A very well dressed hobbit indeed.

To me, the costumes in LOTR did more than just clothe the characters -- their outfits really did seem to be an extension, or representation, of their personalities.

Bilbo's outfit here, for example, looks like something Bilbo, if he were real, would actually pick out and buy for himself. Same goes for Aragorn's Ranger outfit, or Eowyn and Arwen's dresses. They fit the person inside of them, and tell us something about them. It doesn't look like someone dressed them up -- it looks like they dressed themselves that way, if that makes sense!

Glad you posted this one -- it's a gem.



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