I like to think I’m ahead of the curve on certain trends. I liked vampires before they were cool, listened to Journey before Glee made them famous, and I’ve been rocking vintage clothing much longer than its been a “trend”. But Downton Abbey I came to a bit late. After hearing murmurings about the amazing stories and beautiful costumes, I decided to watch the first two series in their entirety a few months ago and – wow! The time period, the confusing era encompassing Titanic and WWI, is one of my favorites, and the amazing depth of the multi-status characters really pulled me in. I watched the whole thing in about a week, which is huge for me because I am a notoriously slow TV-watcher, and I was seriously bummed when it ended. Luckily, it is coming back for a third series in January (set in the roaring ‘20s!) – so this little fashion roundup will have to keep you satisfied until then!
Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville)
As the fair and good-natured head of the esteemed Crawley family, the Earl of Grantham’s position is a difficult one. Yet, he finds a balance between the old tradition and the modern advances, especially balancing 3 headstrong daughters, an American wife, and a mother quite stuck in her ways. Like his general demeanor, his look is one of reverence with a casual grace. Typically in black and white formalwear or a military uniform, his effortless likability is always on display.
Shop It: 1900’s Antique Black Waistcoat
Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern)
Much like her husband, Cora is stuck between the old and the new. She is much more aligned with the thoughts and ideals of her daughters, yet she believes in upholding tradition in the strictest sense. Likewise, her fashion choices bounce from upright and incredibly accessorized to sleek and fashion-forward. It remains to be seen which path she will really choose.
Shop It: Edwardian Silk Lace Top
Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery)
Probably the character that has changed the most since the beginning of the show, Mary is a complex and emotional character pulled in two distinctly different directions. As the oldest Crawley daughter she feels that her reputation is always on the line, yet she dares to live her life the way she chooses. Here’s hoping that the Series 2 finale finally settled her mind! Her fashions are the most glamorous, stylish and stunning on the show, with sequins, adorable adornments, and long elbow-gloves for every occasion!
Shop It: 1900’s Edwardian LBD
Edith Crawley (Laura Carmichael)
Poor, poor Edith. The middle Crawley sister and indisputably the most pathetic is both incredibly kind-hearted and incredibly vindictive. Jealous of and competitive with Mary, she will always live in the shadow of her siblings and her parents, often forgotten and patronized. Her fashions, dowdy and too old for her, reflect her awkwardness in society compared to Mary’s elegance and sophistication.
Shop It: 1900’s Edwardian Lawn Dress
Sybil Crawley (Jessica Brown Findlay)
The most progressive member of the Crawley family, Sybil is, from the beginning, a character that follows her own rules and has her own mind. This has led to a split and eventual reconciliation with her traditional father, but he no doubt respects her more for it. Her early foray into fashion was outrageous, with her picking voluminous bloomers as her first “society dress”. This rejection of traditional female apparel will be quite interesting as we move into the Twenties.
Shop It: 1920’s Black Sheer Palazzo Pants
Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith)
The doyenne of the Crawley clan and arguably the most popular character on the show, Violet is an old lady stuck in her opinions of the world, yet she has a surprising depth and intelligence behind her outlandish statements. She is unexpected in her affections and disapprovals, but one thing that never changes is her plumed style, full of concealing velvet and heavy draping. I don’t think the 1920’s will have any affect on her whatsoever.
Shop it: Edwardian Wide-Brimmed Straw Hat
Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens)
Initially unimpressed and out-of-place in the Crawley family, the heir to the estate has grown into a much more confident, and beloved, character. Stints in WWI and (spoiler!) in a wheelchair have left him humble and honest, but no less idealistic than when the show began. His clothing has always appeared shabbier than the rest of the Crawley’s, perhaps to hint at his middle-class upbringing or at his outsider status. Beginning next season, however, this status – and maybe his fashion choices – will definitely have changed!
Shop It: Men’s Edwardian Gabardine Coat
Anna Smith (Joanne Froggatt)
If you haven’t watched the show yet, I won’t ruin it except to say that Anna is the most moral character on the show – perhaps on any show. The Crawley housemaid will defend the ones she loves, both upstairs and down, and she is never one to give up on someone. While her fashion choices are frumpy and plain, it is her inner goodness that always makes her a shining character.
Shop It: Edwardian Embroidered Couture Hat
Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier)
And now we move on to the least moral character on the show. Thomas is lovely to look at but there is darkness in his heart that is not to be believed. My personal theory, which was fleshed out much more in Series 2, is that he is just a scared little boy playing with the rules to see how far he can go. Can’t wait to see where it ends! His look is much more dapper than a footman or manservant’s typically is, mostly because Thomas fancies himself above the position and his employers in general.
Shop It: 1900’s Tuxedo Vest
Daisy Robinson (Sophie McShera)
To prove that the romantic drama is not only for the Crawleys, Daisy has a fair share of her own in the kitchen. Stricken with guilt at being the love of someone’s life who she doesn’t fancy, Daisy is often complaining and/or whining about it to anyone who will listen. Much like Edith, her sense of style is neither fashionable nor modern, but she is a character with a lot of room for growth!
Shop It: Edwardian White Eyelet Camisole