I’m a little late to the Downton Abbey party, the Dowager Countess wouldn’t stand for my tardiness, but I am here nonetheless. I don’t know what took me so long to get into it; it might have had something to do with the hype. So many people loved it, which made me think that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. I finally capitulated when I received a letter from a male friend who confessed to it being his favorite show on TV. I had to watch it after that. If you are afraid of the hype as well, don’t be, in the past two weeks I’ve watched both seasons and the Christmas special.
Downton Abbey had been on my radar for some time. I recognized some of the characters from magazine articles, and I recognized the theme music from the most recent Ralph Lauren runway show that was inspired by the show. Downton is a portrait of a bygone age, and that is what makes it so captivating. It is close enough to the present that people can relate with the characters, rather than typical costume dramas that feel so far away from us. Unlike other historical shows, it pays as much attention to the servants as it does the aristocrats they work for. This enables it to cover a broad swath of society and makes it easy for anyone to relate to the show.
The women of Downton always look excessively elegant. Ladylike dressing is one of my favorite things, and Downton shows the rest of us how it’s really done. From evening dresses to mourning clothes the Crawley’s are always dressed perfectly for the occasion. Their hats match their coats, everything is custom made, and they are even allowed to be a bit avant-garde sometimes (like when Lady Sybil debuts her new evening dress that is actually the early 20th century version of a playsuit).
The best way to take inspiration from Downton is in eveningwear. Floor length gowns will stand out in the sea of mini dresses at this spring’s balls. The current trend for sequins and beading fits in perfectly with Downton inspired dresses. A long sleeved dress is also a good way to emulate the Crawley sisters as well as a great way to stay warm in the changeable Scottish climate. Pastels are big this season as well, and they fit nicely with the Downton theme.
If you don’t want to take the style too literally, you can just ask yourself what would Lady Mary do? Use Downton Abbey to inspire you to be more ladylike in style as well as behavior. Now, if we can only get more boys to watch the show and take some inspiration from Cousin Matthew.