My Favourite Downton Abbey Fashions

Warning: if you’ve never watched Downton Abbey this post contains spoilers

Downton Abbey Fashions

Lovers of Downton Abbey have very strong opinions. I’ve spent many an hour arguing over who is the best character, whether upstairs is better than downstairs, who really killed Mr Green and which man Lady Mary should marry next, but one thing everyone agrees on is that the costumes are just divine. I, of course, have my own personal favourite costumes so I thought I’d show you a few of them as the new and final series is about to commence (ITV, 9pm, Sunday 20th September) and you just know they’ll be plenty of other to-die-for outfits we’ll all want in our wardrobes.

Lady Sybil

Lady Sybil was always my favourite character and I was devastated when they killed her off. She was everything young women wanted to be at the time, intelligent, open minded and fun but she was also incredibly kind and understanding. You couldn’t help but be charmed by her, as Tom certainly was. The three outfits I have included say just about everything about her.

Sybil in a Poiret inspired outfit

Sybil’s Paul Poiret inspired harem pants dress from series 1 expressed this beautifully and I actually whooped at the TV when she walked in in this outfit. This style was the biggest turning point in women’s fashion as it stood for women’s freedom and equality. At this time women never, and I mean never, wore trousers. Imagine just how shocking it would’ve been for a woman to turn up in these to a grand event!

Lady Sybil WWI Nurse

When she volunteered as a nurse during the First World War no one was really surprised. This is exactly the sort of thing she would do. The First World War nurses uniforms were beautiful, none of this boring practicality of today’s uniforms. They stuck to the fashions of the time and women were proud to wear them.

Lady Sybil and Tom

This bohemian inspired very early 1920s dress again expresses her non-conformist side. It’s exactly the sort of thing women who were involved in the artistic circles of the time would’ve worn. You certainly wouldn’t see Lady Mary wearing something like this.

Lady Rose

Rose’s wardrobe consists of lots of pink, white and pastel colours which show her young, sweet and innocent side. I have to say, I’m not a fan of most of what she wears, mainly due to it not really being the sort of thing I’d wear myself but there are some real nuggets amongst her many, many outfits.

Rose pink dress, Downton Abbey

I do love this one-hour-dress style in pink, especially teamed with everything else in ivory. There’s nothing frou-frou about it, it’s very toned down and elegant, a much more grown up pink look. The beaded embroidery is absolutely stunning and shows the very Art Deco influence in its grid-like design.

Downton Abbey's Rose Wool Ensemble

But this has to be my favourite Rose outfit though. The colours are so striking and the full-on knitted set just looks so cosy. It’s the perfect 1920s daywear ensemble and I would wear all of it in a heartbeat.

Lady Edith

I could write a book about Edith’s wardrobe. I adore just about everything she wears and it was really hard to choose which outfits to feature here, hence why there’s loads!

Downton Abbey Series 1

Edith is my favourite character. I love how she’s grown from a quiet middle child scared of her own shadow to a head strong, opinionated and very modern woman. This photo from series 1 show the dynamic amongst the three sisters when we first meet them.

Mary is in an elegant, straight-laced, grown up dress that doesn’t feature too much detail and an oversize hat to show she’s the oldest and therefore has the biggest presence. Sybil is in a more relaxed dress and hat. The dress has an unusual pattern on it and features a bohemian belt. However, Edith’s outfit is sweet, girly and almost old-fashioned. There’s nothing that stands out on it meaning that she could disappear into the background and not be noticed.

Lady Edith on a bike

In series 2 Edith started to step out of her comfort zone and ended up working on a farm driving the tractor during the First World War. She even had a brief fling with the farmer. Scandal! I loved the outfit she wore whilst on the farm, consisting of a beige short coat with a skater style skirt, chocolate brown jodhpurs and knee high lace up boots. It’s simple, practical and stylish.

Lady Edith in a silk headscarf

Lady Edith, Downton Abbey

Lady Edith

Lady Edith green evening gown

Edith has always been unlucky in love. Personally I thought they were all unsuitable for her but when she met Michael Gregson I knew this was the man for her and boy did she shine. Edith really grew into herself with him and her wardrobe did not disappoint. A mixture of autumnal rust red and navy became her signature colours and both featured quite often over the next few series, however, when she walked in wearing that oh-so-daring green evening gown you knew she had arrived.

Lady Mary

I’m afraid I have to admit it, I don’t like Lady Mary at all. Whenever she’s on the screen I long for the other characters to walk in and take over. What’s even worse is that my future husband (I wish!) Matthew Goode is rumoured to be returning for series 6 as her possible suitor. Grrr, no Matthew, go with Edith!

Lady Mary burgundy ensemble

Anyway, back to Mary’s wardrobe. For me there aren’t that many stand out outfits for Mary as I find her clothing quite stayed and uneventful. However, she does seem to have a penchant for burgundy which is one of my most favourite colours so I had to feature at least one outfit in this shade. I love the black detailing on this early 1920s outfit and that neckline is just divine.

Lady Mary 1920s horse riding outfit

But this, out of all of her outfits was my favourite, the famous point-to-point outing where she competed alongside rival suitors Tony Gillingham and Charles Blake. I adore the whole androgynous look of the 1920s and 30s and this epitomises that look. What with her bobbed hair, Bowler hat, white shirt and tie, she looks like she could take on all the men in Yorkshire. At last Mary’s inner Flapper had been released!

Lady Mary 1920s dress

I’ve included this beautiful navy dress because of that stunning neckline, and we all know how much I love a good neckline! However, I do think it looks awful on her. All of the vertical lines, the heavy downward drape and the high neck just make her look emancipated, like she could really do with a huge kebab. I’m sure it would look so much better on me!

Cora, Countess of Grantham

Cora’s wardrobe has its ups and downs, sometimes she looks downright mumsy (the lavender high neck dress she wore in series 1) and other times she looks really quite modern, yet she always carries them off with an air of grace only a Countess could achieve.

Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham

This exquisite black and white coat, dress and hat always remind me of the horse race scene in My Fair Lady where all the ladies are dressed in monochrome. In Cora’s version you can see the absolute luxury and expense gone into such a simple, yet eye-catching ensemble. All three items are made in silk and the blouse and gloves are classic Edwardian delicate lace. I do love the fact that she’s not wearing shoes in this photo, something the Countess would never do for a portrait of her!

Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham

I chose this outfit because it’s the one she wore when out at an art gallery with constant flirt Simon Bricker and you can see that she was out to impress. At home she wears a lot of lavender, as well as shades of white and black, yet when she went out with Bricker she chose to wear a combination of sea green, bright orange and chocolate brown. Hmm, she certainly wanted to be noticed.

Other Downton Abbey Characters

And, of course, I couldn’t miss out some other notable outfits of other characters that work or visit the beautiful Downton Abbey. The three I have included made an impression on me when I first saw them and have stuck in my mind ever since.

Martha Levinson, Downton Abbey

Martha Levison, Cora’s mother, is a fantastic character. She’s larger than life, the epitome of a wealthy 1920s American lady, overly opinionated and utterly extravagant. In many ways she seems more modern than her daughter and I have to say her wardrobe is hell of a lot more fabulous. I adored the coat and hat she rocked up to Downton in, it was soooo 1920s decadence.

Madeleine Allsopp

Rose’s friend Madeleine Allsopp only appears in the series 4 Christmas special but her beautiful crisp white day dress made quite an impression on me. I love the simplicity of it and it just looks so fresh and summery. I’ve veered away from white since the dreaded white jeans of the late 80s but I’m really getting back into it again thanks to it being a very popular colour during the first half of the 20th Century and I’d love to make a dress like this for next summer.

Daisy at the beach

And lastly, Daisy’s lovely rose pink dress that she wore when the staff had a day out at the beach. This is probably the outfit that made one of the most lasting impressions on me. This dress is just gorgeous with its delicate embroidery around the neckline and down the front of the skirt and, if I remember rightly, it was on the back of the skirt too. The styling of the dress is simple but the embroidery makes it quite special, something someone like Daisy would save for a special day. It looks just perfect teamed with a large brimmed straw hat and is an outfit I would happily wear right now (well, if it wasn’t pouring with rain!).

So, that’s my selection, are there any outfits I have missed that you really love?

Cate

Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. Lover of all things old, lingerie obsessive, crafter and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.

7 Comments

    • Good Lord, that’s insane! And if I had £125K kicking around I wouldn’t spend it on a tiara (think of all the vintage clothes you could buy!). It is awfully pretty though.

  1. Oo you’ve picked some of my faves here too! I agree on the Lady Mary front, she had a couple of nice evening frocks in the early series or so but her wardrobe hasn’t been half as interesting generally as some of the others, I agree it’s a bit ‘safe’ a lot of the time.

    I actually went to Downtown Abbey (Highclere) last month, did you see my post on it?
    http://www.porcelinasworld.com/2015/08/downton-abbey.html

    xx

    • How did I miss that post?! I went there just after the first series aired, so it was quite quiet and we could go in so many rooms. I believe they’ve shut a few off now that we saw so I’m really glad we went when we did. I actually live fairly close to it and drive through the village they use for the village shots and the Dowager’s house exterior every day to go to and from work. I used to love seeing the side roads blocked off when they were filming and was always so tempted to turn up in full on 1920s and just wonder in as if I was meant to be there!

      By the way, your 1930s dress is stunning and actually so much prettier with your adjustments. It’s a shame it’s so delicate so you can’t get more wear out of it. I definitely think you should do a pattern from it and frame it afterwards. What a fabulous piece of wall art! xx

  2. I so enjoyed this, I am a huge fan of Downton. What pleased me most was all the pictures of Edith’s outfits, she is my favourite character, very interesting, and as she develops her clothing gets better and better. I also liked some of the outfits of the school teacher who had a fling with Tom whose name I can’t remember. Looking forward to all the fashion goodness in the new series!

    • Oh yes, Tom’s girlfriend had some really lovely outfits. I forgot about her! Did you see that cape Edith put on when she stormed out of the magazine office in last night’s episode? It was soooo gorgeous! x

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