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