As a fashionista, I tend to find inspiration for my own personal sense of style from a plethora of different sources (okay, mainly Tumblr these days), including the films and television shows that I love and madly obsess over. I'll admit that for me, a lot of the attraction of a film or series lies in the fashion. Yes, yes: A deep and intricate plot, richly written characters and impeccable acting are certainly all important factors, too. But they tend to take a backseat when I'm watching scenes that are sparkling with gorgeous and, admittedly, quite distracting ensembles. I become so appreciative of the hair, makeup, costuming and styling in general, that I sometimes find myself zoned-out completely in a fashion-fantasy world of my own making — rather than paying attention to the dialogue. I have to thank Netflix for letting me go back to re-watch so many scenes over and over again. Talk about binge-watching. And in this case, binge-watching doesn't mean I'm depressed. It means I'm obsessed.
So it's no surprise to hear that one of my favorite shows to binge-watch with my special love for its fashion is Downtown Abbey. This program has been sweeping in its popularity, catching and holding the hearts of its viewers and molding them into lifelong fans. And with the use of Highclere Castle and the gorgeous British countryside as a backdrop to the glorious costumes shown in every scene, it's no wonder Downtown Abbey has become a magical and iconic source for 1920s fashion inspiration today. Impossible to resist, one cannot help but "ooh" and "aah" at the decadent lives the people at Downton live. So why don't we all take a page from the Downton book, and have a look at 15 pieces of fashion advice it has to offer? (Warning: This show is set in the teens and 20s, so — you know — some of these might be questionable.)
1. DRESS TO DAZZLE
The ladies of Downton Abbey are always dressed in the most dazzling, gorgeous dresses and gowns that are embellished with pearls, jewels, sequins, beads, lace, and anything else that catches the eye and adds intricate detailing. A lady must always dazzle and impress — you are what you wear, after all.
2. WORK THAT UP-DO
The ladies of Downton all have long hair, but you very rarely see it, since their locks are almost always curled and pinned into demure, elegant up-dos. Hair like this could only be accomplished by having someone do it for you (i.e. the lucky lady's maid) and would honestly take hours to style. This 'do would suggest a woman's high status back in the day — you were truly a lady of high class if you could afford to have a servant do your hair for you like that every day.
3. EMBRACE THE POWER TIARA
For the ladies at Downtown, wearing a tiara is the most natural way to accessorize. The power tiara also signifies the high status of the Crawley gals. Tiaras are worn at dinner, to parties, and even at dressy social events. And why not? To live and feel like princess every day is to also dress like one.
4. EXPRESS YOURSELF
If we learned anything from Lady Sybil Crawley, it's to use fashion to express yourself. Remember that time Sybil came down to dinner in that amazing Princess Jasmine-inspired pantsuit? She used that outfit to make a statement about herself — her support of the sociopolitical issues they were facing at the time (women's rights and position in society, in this case). Her beliefs were daring, and so were her fashion choices. We use fashion to express our personalities and who we are, so never be afraid to be a little daring like Sybil.
5. CROSS DRESS TO IMPRESS
The women of Downtown are every bit as strong as the men, and at times, they even like to show it through their fashion. While the ladies are usually dressed in the typical feminine style, there are a few instances where one of the ladies takes on the role of a male (and uses fashion to help herself achieve it). When Mary Crawley meets her cousin, Matthew — the new heir to Downtown — for the first time, she arrives in her riding clothes wearing a man's top hat on her head. Her dress is inspired by that of a gentleman, as if to say, "I may be a woman by birth, but my will is that of a man." It certainly left a lasting impression on her cousin, whose respect she earned immediately.
6. ONE SHALL WEAR DINNER JACKETS TO DINNER
If you're not wearing the right jacket to dinner, you may just get mistaken for a commoner.
7. TRY NEW TRENDS
After the war, trends for women started becoming a little more darling and "boyish," which was very different from the ultra feminine fashions of the past. Wanting to shock and keep her suitors enthralled, Mary shorns off her long, luscious locks for the trendy "boyish" hairstyle that was made popular in Paris at the time. Trying new trends can help you feel like a new "you," which we all need from time to time to keep things, you know, fresh.
8. DRESS FOR THE WEATHER
Unless you're being proposed to. Then it's perfectly alright to stand outside, bare-armed in the snow, freezing your ass off.
9. ONE SHOULD ALWAYS WEAR BLACK WHEN IN MOURNING
Again, express yourself. Or in this case, express your grief, for one should always wear black when in grief or in mourning for someone. It just goes to show the great power and influence fashion has in the world when it is used to signify a great respect and sense of love and loss.
10. HATS ARE GLORIOUS
Going out? Make sure to wear a hat that is perfectly suited for the occasion. One would seem naked without one; they're that glorious and important. And British.
11. BACKS ARE THE NEW BLACK
With hair usually pinned and curled into a gorgeous up-do, it leaves the neck and back always exposed. At Downtown, necks and backs are accentuated with jewelry and dresses that are low-cut at the back. This ensures that you look as good walking away from someone as you do approaching them.
12. EMBRACE THE POWER CANE
The Dowager Countess brought it back, so it's not just for walking anymore: Oh no. The power cane can be used to tap on car windows to get one's driver's attention, held in hand when resting like a great wizard, or stomped on the floor to accentuate an (always witty) point.
13. ONE MUST NEVER GET DIRTY (UNLESS IT GETS YOU THE GUY)
Being dirty is never okay, unless it impresses that rich guy you may eventually fall in love with. Then by all means, be a dirty, dirty girl.
14. A CHARMING WIT IS THE PERFECT ACCESSORY
A lady is never fully dressed without her charm and wit to accompany her.
15. ONLY NEXT TO CONFIDENCE
Above all, a woman's confidence is the greatest, most glorious thing she can wear.
Images: PBS; Giphy