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Carey Mulligan

'Suffragette' costume designer says the film called for subtlety, not a fashion showcase

The early 20th century suffragettes were many things — determined, brave, committed. But they were also brilliant marketers with a highly particular visual look in their sashes, badges, hats and medals — even down to the colors for the women in the U.K. (purple, white and green) versus the American women (purple, white and gold). And, they were bold and aggressive, even by today's standards, let alone the turn of the 20th century.

"You're so right on that," says Jane Petrie, costume designer for "Suffragette," Focus Feature's October release about the movement to gain the vote for women, which is told from the viewpoint of working women. Written,...