Sunday, 28 September 2014

Vintage style inspiration: Downton Abbey

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you'll know that Downton Abbey is back on our screens. Each series I find myself questioning why I actually sit down to watch it week after week: the storylines are so predictable it's like I've written them myself, I don't feel any particular empathy for any of the characters, and my boyfriend laughs at me and leaves the room every time I switch over to STV on a Sunday evening.

But, aside from the Dowager Countess's snappy one-liners, the one thing that keeps me coming back every week is the costume department. My love for Downton Abbey's period style is second only to that of Mad Men (especially early-series Betty Draper, swoon!) and the costume designers must have the best job scouring archives and vintage shops for just the right pieces. Especially since the series started out in the Edwardian era, passing through the roaring 20s and now finding itself in the 30s, with the different social classes and economic statuses to portray.

I think Downton style can be pretty easily translated into a modern wardrobe, too. Now I'm not talking beaded evening dresses with opera-length silk gloves and elegant hairpieces - unless that's your thing, of course. But taking elements - a slim tweed jacket, set of pearls, or a silk blouse for example - and pairing them with more up-to-date pieces is a sure-fire win in my book. And the best thing? You can find the originals in any vintage shop; including, of course, Godiva!

This navy and white patterned dress, with its drop waist and sailor-style collar, is evocative of the easier-to-wear, more relaxed, almost sporty dresses that young women in the 1920s started to wear. Far more comfortable than those stiff Edwardian corsets! I can imagine Lady Edith wearing something like this on one of her trips to the village, paired with some lace-up ankle boots and a cosy wool coat.

I can see one of the Crawley sisters in this dress, too! The muted colour palette, delicate floral pattern and slightly sheer fabric are all details that you'd find in dresses from the period, and I think the sweet ruffles at the shoulder and handkerchief hem are nice little twists on the style.

All the ladies at Downton have an array of pretty silk blouses, much like this lovely pale pink one. The mandarin collar is nice and comfortable, and the embroidered bib adds plenty of visual interest. A string of pearls is all that's needed to finish it off!

I love this white blouse too, with its pretty lace trim down the front. But the real star of the show is this fabulous black and white embroidered tunic jacket - just amazing! I thought it looked familiar when I first spotted it, and then I remembered: it's very similar to this embroidered jacket worn by Cora! I reckon she'd be a fan of this one too.

Of course, no Downton wardrobe would be complete without some countryside attire! For brisk walks through the fields, working with the pigs or hunting and shooting expeditions, the Crawley family and friends are never seen without a trusty tweed jacket. We've had so many different colours and styles in already this autumn, but I love the classic browns in this jacket. A pretty silk scarf instantly makes it look more feminine.

And for those days where a tweed jacket won't suffice, opt for a long wool coat instead! This particular one has a lovely softness about it, especially when worn with these supple white leather gloves and another pretty silk scarf.

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