The development of costume across the film mirrors the development of character. What are we as an audience able to decipher purely by the clothing and costumes used.
When first introduced to Orlando, the rich gold hue colours of his costume and multi textured velvets suggest that he is of an upper class social standing. The detailed gold trim and complex design are signs of wealth and prosperity. Yet as shorts and doublet are young mens clothing, we are able to see that he is still regarded as somewhat juvenile and immature by his peers.
The costume of Queen Elizabeth is incredibly intricate and detailed. The large ruff and abundance of jewellery show status and power. The Queen has the most elaborate clothing, as she is the most important. Despite her increasing age her elaborate headpiece fine dress give her a graceful and beautiful appearance.
The difference between the two characters is exemplified through costume. Orlando's costume is covered in pearls, a traditional sign of purity, as he has not been tainted yet by the 'treachery of women'. Sacha is the exotic foreigner, who's costume is abundant in misty dark colour and and thick primal furs.
Here we are able to see Orlando's transition deeper into the Turkish culture. He has shed all past English influence and now dresses similarly to the Khan. We can also see plenty of foreshadowing for his upcoming transition into a women as the costume is very androgynous and halfway between the Turkish men's clothing and what we see the women of Constantinople wearing.
Here we see Orlando taking on the clothes of a woman after transition. The heavily structured outfit incorporates a bodice and hoop to emphasise the curves of the new womanly body. The feminine details such as ribbons and ruffles also suggest the embracing of the female sex. As Orlando holds the mirror it suggest that she is still fascinated by her new found womanhood, and is still getting to grips with it.
The silhouette of Orlando's new feminine body is heavily emphasised in this dress. The corset and skirt emphasise the waist and hips (that will eventually be used to give birth), yet the fine fabric and ruffles still show wealth. It is interesting to compare the dress to the covered furniture in the background. They almost blend into one another suggesting the new woman Orlando is ready to be uncovered, just like the furniture. The dress is also white in colour the colour of virginity (perhaps for Orlando's uncorrupted body as a woman), and also the colour of a wedding dress foreshadowing her imminent proposal.
Here we see Orlando fully dressed and made up as a woman. From this costume we can clearly see she has retained her wealth and stature. The complicated and opulent design emphasis beauty and matches the sentiment that woman should be decorated. Yet The over the top wig and make up also seem to hint at an underlying pomposity and self consciousness when out in public compared to the simple costume when at home. The soft blue tones also suggest a slight melancholy, perhaps at her new diminished stature as a woman.
Here we see for the first time a far more sexualised image of Orlando. Although depicting the same time period as before, her costume is very different. She reveals a lot more flesh and it is almost 'saloon girl-esque' in appearance. This clearly down to her sexual encounter with Shelmerdine. The dress is extremely figure fitted and appears to be much more liberated then the demure dress from before. There is an abundance of colour, showing Orlando's sexual awakening, yet it is still distinctly feminine.
Here we see Orlando's final incarnation. She is not only dressed in a contemporary style of clothing now, but the androgynous look seems to suggest a new sense of power equal to that of a man. The publisher in the backgrounds costume is not so fundamentally different from Orlando's. She is not longer downplayed as a woman but rivals men. Her assumption of a more male style of clothing (shirt, boots etc) suggests she has reached a happy medium between both genders.