Countdown to Downton: Dress Like Part of the Downton Abbey World

36 days until Downton Abbey season 3 premiers!

The guests for your dinner party arrive and as you all shuffle into the richly appointed dining hall, the entire crowd is a shifting mass of fine wool tuxedos and silk, velvet, and beaded lace dresses… Kiss, kiss… Oh! Pardon me. Did my diamond and feather hairpiece muss your created-by-a-personal-maid-in-2-and-a-half-hours chignon? Let me get you a crystal flute of champagne…

Oh, yeah. We’ve all had it. The “Downton Abbey Dinner Party Dream.” It’s like our own lives – except totally different. Who knew such pomp, tradition, and ceremony could occur in one single event? In fact, most of us Americans watching it don’t even perceive the complete extent of the ceremony involved. But, it is easy to perceive THE CLOTHING. The attire. The adornment. Somehow, I fear the English language lacks an appropriate adjective to properly convey the sumptuousness and splendor of the Downton Abbeycostumes. And, I also fear that it is nearly impossible for a woman to watch all of that delicious beauty and not feel slightly weak in the knees or at least a tickle in your heart.
Thankfully, clothiers have agreed to give us a smackerel of that loveliness…

What to wear, what to wear, what to wear?

The 1910s were an odd time for clothing. Tight corsets, ornate clothing that covered neck to floor, and generally “fluffiness” were on their way out (think the Dowager Countess). Instead, women’s clothing became less body conscious and more angular, livable, and trim – with a slightly exotic, artistic edge. Your skirt may have still covered your ankles, but it was not yet showing your knees (ok, or even your calves). Waists had not yet dropped to the low of the Flapper 1920s, but there certainly was a lot more draping and ease to the fit of a gown. However, some of the artistic element had crept into fashion brining with it a certain avant garde angularity (think Gustav Klimt, Henri Matisse). This left clothing that was easier to wear than high Victorian/Edwardian, but still had a lot of style and femininity. How modern! Obviously, we’re not the only ones who think that this styling is quite apropros for a modern woman. Take a look at some of the 1910s-Downton-inspired fashion that you can buy – right now. (BTW – Never, ever, ever strapless! So, mid-20th century!)

Black by Komarov V-Neck Tiered Gown
JS Boutique Draped Jersey Gown

 

J Kara Embellished Chiffon Gown
Velvet Gown from Talbots

Or if you have plenty of extra money, Ralph Lauren has a lovely lace blouse.

Lace Tabby Blouse

The lace blouse paired with a nude camisole and this long skirt would be heavenly.
Velvet Sharon Skirt

Hats, headwraps, and hair ornaments

Back in the day, a woman was not considered properly dressed unless her head was in some way covered/adorned/embellished. Downton seasons 1 and 2 take place 1914-1918. At that time women were no longer quite as obsessed with the big, fluffy Gibson girl Victorian updo but, they were not quite to the Flapper bob – yet. So, hair was often a compromise between the two. Up, but tighter, or low and contained, maybe a chignon. And hats were not the ornate bird, ribbon, netting, and flower festooned concoctions that the Victorians/Edwardians were so proud of. Instead, they progressed toward more streamlined, and sometimes functional, hats. Think boater, upturned-brim sunhat, and modified cloche. Oh! And, don’t forget my favorite, the feather hair ornament!

Given the fabulous – and fabulously affordable – series of cloches that Target featured this spring/summer (which are no longer available, but, see above), it’s no coincidence that some of their fall/winter offerings are equally fabulous.

The headwrap that Sybil wears with her risque harem pants! Must I say more…? At Nordstrom.
Cara Accessories ‘Beautifully Amazing’ Head Wrap

Feathers just seem luxurious. No wonder they make refined hair accessories. Also at Nordstrom.
Tasha ‘Poison Feather’ Hair Clip

Seriously? I live in the 21st century!

If dressing likethe Downton girls is just too much, but you just love it all too much not to take part in some way… This may be the solution. The collective genius at a catalog called Signals has the best collection of Abbey Addict t-shirts seen so far.

     

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