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
Long strings of pearls or black beads
Straight, loose fit, dropped waist dresses
Art Deco influences
Handkerchief (pointed) hems
The emerging style of Lady Edith:
Here are some of Lady Mary’s best looks. She rarely sports a a smile despite her great clothes: