Who has their calendars marked for September 20th? Who has already bought tickets? Who hasn’t a clue what we’re talking about?
Have no fear, we won’t leave you behind. We are talking about the hit TV show and upcoming movie, Downton Abbey. We are going to dissect the styles and fashion during that time and name the top 10 Downton Abbey fashion tips.
For those who don’t know, Downton Abbey is a British TV drama series that aired in the United States from 2011 to 2015 on PBS. It takes place in rural England at the turn of the 20th century and follows the lives of the noble Crawley family and their live-in servants.
The head of the household, Robert Crawley, is a high ranking British nobleman, a societal class immediately under royalty. He is married to an American woman and together they have 3 daughters. Their lives parallel the lives of their servants who live downstairs and a few of them have been working for the family since they were young, essentially growing up together but in opposite social classes.
Downton is the name of the village in which they live and while an abbey is typically a religious building, in this case it is describing the grand Edwardian-style mansion in which the family lives.
Pronunciation: Downton [doun – tuhn] Abbey [ab-ee]
Hopeless romantics and history buffs alike admire this series. In addition to the family affairs, the historical show also depicts the sinking of the Titanic, the start and end of WWI, the Irish War of Independence, the breakout of the Spanish influenza, among other historical events.
You know why we like it, don’t you? Starched collars, wool, tweed, hunting plaids…the vintage fashion!
Other posts you may be interested in:
Downton Abbey Fashion Tip #1 | Hats
The women of Downton Abbey frequently wore hats. From wide brimmed to cloche each with and without pinned flowers. This style is also seen in Titanic and iconic for the Edwardian era. Take a look are more 1900’s fashion trends here.
Vanity Fair spoke to the series costume designer, Anna Mary Scott Robbins and found out why the Crawley women didn’t take their hats off when they visited other homes.
Read that article here.
Downton Abbey Fashion Tip #2 | Headbands
Lady Rose, Edith, Mary and Sibyl adored their head-wear. If it wasn’t a hat, it was a headband. They often wore black or gold and a simple design. Sibyl did wear a bold wide headband during one episode. She was known for trying new styles though.
Downton Abbey Fashion Tip #3 | Silhouettes
The show aired for 5 years but spanned over 12 years of the character’s lives. As viewers, we watched the evolution of the fashion trends over the years, sharing the excitement over Lady Mary’s or Lady Rose’s “modern” style as they emerged.
The silhouettes, however, remained the same — straight.
The dresses and skirts were always long and had dropped-waistlines. Similar to a mermaid style but not the structured fit.
Downton Abbey Fashion Tip #4 | Jewelry
In one of the mini interviews that PBS conducted with the cast, Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) confesses that she will miss the jewelry the most when not filming the TV series.
The women upstairs (opposed to the servants’ quarters downstairs) always wore jewelry. Typically a long dainty necklace and small dangly earrings. They were understated, simple, and elegant.
During the holidays, you will see them wearing multiple necklaces and bracelets.
Downton Abbey Fashion Tip #5 | Lady Mary
Speaking of Lady Mary. Her fashion sense was ahead of her time. Her head-strong nature served her well when it came to fashion as she was always fashion forward.
When she decided to go hunting on horseback, she wore a black suit that which you would see a man wearing. Hers came with a large cape that draped over the sides and back of the horse.
She also cut her hair short in Season 5—gasp! It was meant to be (and was) a huge shock to her father and the staff downstairs.
On top of her cutting-edge fashion and haircut, she turned heads by becoming the working agent for her family’s property — a job that a man would typically have. She was the epitome of a woman working in a man’s world and her fashion showed it.
Downton Abbey Fashion Tip #6 | Lady Edith
In contrast to her sister, Lady Edith wore a lot of patterns and textures. She also wears more bold colors than Lady Mary.
She, too, is a working woman and a mother. She works away from the country home and travels to London, which molds her style.
Downton Abbey Fashion Tip #7 | Lady Rose
We saw Lady Rose in a lot of pastel colors. She was sort of a mix of her cousins Mary and Edith. She was cutting-edge like Mary but wore color like Edith! She also wore more elaborate dresses — beads and tassels were not out of her repertoire.
Downton Abbey Fashion Tip #8 | Gloves
Gloves are a Downton Abbey fashion staple. Elbow length, of course. Every one of the women wore them multiple times throughout the series. We even saw Mary’s lady’s maid, Anna, wearing them so we know it was not just the wealthy that wore them.
Downton Abbey Fashion Tip #9 | Men
We had to mention the men of the show as there are many and we think it’s important to highlight their fashion. From the butler and the footmen to Lord Grantham and Lady Mary’s first husband.
The difference in dress (in both men and women) between the downstairs and upstairs was obviously present. Especially interesting was the chauffeur turned in-law. When Tom Branson, the family’s chauffeur became the husband of Lady Sibyl, he crossed a huge social barrier.
He wasn’t born into a noble family and therefore had to humbly learn the fashion practices. He got the hang of it though. We love the tweed!
All of the male characters wore lovely fabrics — tweed, cashmere, and wool were all worn.
The color palette was a bit monochromatic. There were a lot of brown, grey and black.
Downton Abbey Fashion Tip #10 | Hygge [hoo-gah]
It’s a given that the fashion in Downton Abbey catches our eyes but the decor also intrigues us so we couldn’t write a blog post without mentioned it.
A fireplace in every room, the beautiful antique furniture, the warm light filling the room from the fireplace, candles and lamps—these are all things that give us that warm, cozy feeling.
Yes, hygge. We didn’t mistype that. It is pronounced [hyoo-guh] or [hoo-ga] and is a Nordic word that means cozy, comfortable, inviting, etc. It is the exact sentiment that we feel when watching Downton Abbey, whether it’s 8:00 in the morning and you’re drinking a cup of tea or 8:00 at night with a glass of wine. The costumes, the set and the chemistry among the actors is very hygge.
If you have not watched any of the series yet, do so before September 20 when the film debuts as it is a continuation of the story and you will need the background knowledge to fully appreciate the time and fashion.
Don’t fret it you can’t. You are already one step ahead now that you have read our fashion tips!