Winters Past

20th Century Fashion from Deco to Disco

Dressing Up Downton Style, Part 1

Downton Abbey, how we have loved you! We loved you for the endlessly cheerful Anna and her inexplicable love for the chronically grumpy Mr. Bates. We loved you for the sensible Mrs. Hughes and her late-life relationship with the snobby head servant Mr. Carson. We loved the Dowager Duchess and her endless stream of hilariously on-point bon mots. We forgive you for the more egregiously repetitive plot points (Mr Bates, arrested for murder twice! Mrs. Pattmore, almost diagnosed with some terrible disease three times!) And Mary, for the love of God, enough with the indecision about your love life!

More than the melodrama, what I have loved beyond measure about this show were the incredible clothes. The daily elegance, the tweed coats and the linen picnic dresses, each and every outfit perfectly  exquisite. And the evening gowns, which were worn every single night: long columns of silk, chiffon, beads and gems.

The first season, set in 1912, featured corseted dresses and a more Edwardian silhouette with an empire waist and long sleeves. Styles have evolved throughout the years, to the current season, which is set in 1922. The straight, drop-waist flapper silhouettes have emerged as the series ends.

Here are some of the style touchstones of the era:

Hats: cloche or small brim

Drop earrings

Long strings of pearls or black beads

T-strap shoes

Straight, loose fit, dropped waist dresses

Beaded detail

Chiffon gowns

Art Deco influences

Handkerchief (pointed) hems

Downton costumes

Clothing from one of the earlier seasons

downton abbey costumes

The emerging style of Lady Edith:

downton lady edith

Head wrap, beaded frock  and long necklace


Waistlines becoming less defined

downton abbey lady edith

Long pearls, worn in the back


Here are some of Lady Mary’s best looks. She rarely sports a a smile despite her great clothes:

Lady mary

Long gloves and that lovely necklace

Here is a full 1920’s flapper look: no waistline, gorgeous headband, chiffon and beads

Lady mary

Lace overlay, jet beads

Author: Winters Past

I am a vintage clothing shop owner living and working in rural north Florida. I believe in adding a little vinegar and molasses to my greens, having my coffee outside whenever possible, and mixing something vintage into every room and every outfit.

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