2016 Fashion Inspired by Downton Abbey, Part 1

From the moment Downton Abbey first aired, I have panted and swooned over the costumes. Some have accused me of watching the show just to see what the characters are going to wear! And they might be right.

But I ask you — look at that beautiful kimono jacket on Lady Cora and that gorgeous bead or embroidery work on Lady Edith’s top — and why wouldn’t you want to emulate that kind of style?

Downton Abbey, Lady Cora Grantham and Lady Edith in 1920s fashion.
Lady Cora and Lady Edith look so elegant in their 1920s refinery.

For starters, to wear an outfit so directly out of the 1920s, might make us look like we were playing dress-up in our great-grandmother’s clothes. Living in the time we do now, though, we have access to styles inspired by the age in which Downton Abbey is set, but we don’t have to be nearly 100 years old to make it work.

1920s flapper woman dressed in a columnar, drop-waist dress with cloche and gloves.
Hiding curves behind those 1920s lines!

Clara Berg, Collections Specialist for Costumes and Textiles at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, suggests the key to translating these styles to a more modern look is to consider the body shape created from the clothes worn during that period. “The ideal body of the 1920s wasn’t curvy,” says Ms. Berg. “…dresses were built to deemphasize the bust and hips and create straight, almost rectangular lines of the body.” The drop waist was apparent on almost every outfit, from tops to dresses, and it, along with seams, patterns, and lines, created the columnar look so coveted at the time.

Out of curiosity, I scoured my closet to see if I could find items I already own which create a more columnar form. It was a surprise to find several things that, when paired together, made me feel a little like Lady Cora herself!

What do you think?

1920s, Downton Abbey inspired outfit from Eileen Fisher, Salvatore Ferragamo shoes, and Vince Camuto purse.

Dress and pants: Eileen Fisher from eBay
(Similar: Women’s Eileen Fisher Ballet Neck Shift Dress and
Women’s Eileen Fisher Straight Leg Crop Merino Knit Pants)
Shoes: Salvatore Ferragamo from thredUP
(Similar: Franco Sarto Nolan – Women’s)
Purse: Vince Camuto Ilya Fabric Satchel Shoulder Bag, Amazon

1920s, Downton Abbey inspired outfit from Eileen Fisher, Salvatore Ferragamo shoes, and Vince Camuto purse.

1920s, Downton Abbey inspired outfit from Eileen Fisher, Salvatore Ferragamo shoes, and Goorin Bros. hat

Hat: Goorin Bros. shop in San Francisco
Similar: Women’s Nordstrom Wool Bow Cloche – Blue.

The scarf may be a bit much. It was a gift from my mother-in-law and is quite warm and beautiful, but for this outfit, it treads closely to turning the whole ensemble into a costume.

It strikes me that part of the reason I may be so drawn to the lines and shapes of the 1920s is the comfort. Any bumps or lumps I may be concerned about get hidden in clothes like these.

I later put on a pair of black boots from Aquatalia and took the dog for a walk! Here’s a similar pair available in size 6.5 at Thredup.com:

There’s more to come in the way of outfits inspired by Downton Abbey and the 1920s. Plus, I’ll have some tips for hair and makeup in upcoming articles as well! I hope you’ll subscribe to stay tuned with what’s to come. And, if you’re feeling fairly Downton-esque, head over to my Facebook page and share a photo of your outfit!

To purchase any of the items on this page, or for more ideas, head over to my shop!

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