A decade ago on Jan. 9, 2011, the wildly popular period television series “Downton Abbey” debuted on American television as part of PBS’s “Masterpiece” programming. To mark the show’s 10th anniversary, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at some of the best fashion from the six-season “Downton Abbey” TV series as well as the 2019 movie that followed it. Let’s start with this beautiful blue fur-trimmed look on Michelle Dockery’s Lady Mary during season 5, which was set in 1924. Keep reading for more…
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We were drooling over these incredible hats, coats and dresses on the Earl of Grantham’s wife and daughters in 2019’s “Downton Abbey” film. Costumer designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins outdid herself while coming up with the wardrobe for Laura Carmichael’s Lady Edith, Elizabeth McGovern’s Lady Grantham and Michelle Dockery’s Lady Mary in the movie, which is set in 1927. “My challenge for the film was to make it more cinematic, so bigger and better [costumes] is a good way of describing it,” she told Tatler.
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When the “Downton Abbey” TV series wrapped with season 6, which was set in 1925, Laura Carmichael — seen here as Lady Edith in a glamorous and intricately beaded peachy-gold dress with an attached cape that year — said she would miss her costumes. “The clothes have been wonderful and having things made and designed with you in mind and for the storylines and for these occasions [has been] really, really special,” she told Front Row Features.
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Matthew Crawley looked handsome in his World War I military uniform as he walked with Lady Mary Crawley — wearing a blouse and skirt that evoked the Edwardian fashion influences still in force from the previous decade — on her family’s estate on season 2 of “Downton Abbey.”
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Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) wore an incredible cream-colored wedding dress covered in delicate rice pearls and Swarovski crystals when she wed Matthew Crawley on season 3 on “Downton Abbey.” “I wanted her wedding dress to have a bit of softness,” that season’s costume designer, Caroline McCall, told People magazine. “I wanted her to look really romantic, really elegant.” The aristocratic bride had the perfect accessories too: A $200,000 45-carat diamond tiara with a floral motif and an unfussy bouquet of calla lilies.
Maggie Smith’s Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham and Shirley MacLaine’s Martha Levinson — Cora Crawley’s American mother — went head to head with their wedding day fashion at Lady Mary’s nuptials during season 3 of “Downton Abbey” in 2012.
Here’s another wedding look we loved from TV’s “Downton Abbey”… It’s hard to believe, but the beautiful dress that Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) donned to marry Bertie Pelham, the Marquess of Hexham, on season 6 was a Frankenstein of a garment. “It started out as an original Brussels lace dress that I found,” costumer designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told PBS. “We merged it with Brussels lace that I found in vintage fairs, these two other lengths that had a different weight to it; one was much, much gauzier, which I used to create this transparent sheer drop-down to give it length. That’s what I created the sleeves and the neck out of. I wanted it to be much more delicate, so we cut away the slightly solid neckline on the other dress — I wanted it to have a soft transition, something almost light as air as it came up on Laura’s skin and neck.” Instead of a traditional tiara, Edith wore a gorgeous gold pearl headband with a dangling tassel detail.
Crawley cousin Lady Rose MacClare (played by Lily James) looked incredible in this beaded silk tulle gown that she wore to marry Atticus Aldridge on season 5 of “Downton Abbey.” “It was just a ghost of a dress, and I stumbled upon it,” costumer designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told PBS of the nearly century-old dress — a 1920s original. “A trader I’d made friends with has a little shop in London and he actually kept it in a box. It had never been worn, and we managed to give it this fairy-tale ending, this wedding dress that was a hundred years old and had never been worn.”
Michelle Dockery (as Lady Mary Talbot) wore a stunning silver and black beaded dress as she danced with handsome tuxedo-clad husband Henry Talbot (played by Matthew Goode) in the “Downton Abbey” movie. “It was an original French beaded dress, knee length with a completely different neckline. We re-beaded it down to the floor and added a train,” costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told Tatler.
Laura Carmichael, as Lady Edith, wore a striking blue, cream and metallic beaded halter-style dress with cream satin gloves on season 4 of “Downton Abbey.”
For a royal luncheon at Downton Abbey in the 2019 film, Lady Mary donned costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins’ version of a Fortuny Delphos gown. “I first worked with the legendary textile house Fortuny @fortunyvenezia on the final series of Downton Abbey and this led to a collaboration with them to create a bespoke pleated gown for Lady Mary,” Anna wrote on Instagram alongside a sketch of the look. “This unique dress is neither vintage nor a replica — it is a ‘new’ original, having unlocked the famous and secret pleating technique developed by Mariano Fortuny and his wife and muse, Henriette, and is entirely hand sewn. The silk was dyed to a brilliant, rich Prussian blue that becomes glossier and more luminous after pleating.”
In the film, Laura Carmichael’s Lady Edith, the new Marchioness of Hexham, looked like the cat who got the cream after marrying to Bertie Pelham, 7th Marquess of Hexham (played by Harry Hadden-Paton) — a move that meant she outranked all the women in her family (even her mother!). Her wardrobe — including this gorgeous peach-hued beaded dress and gold, pearl and diamond accessories — reflected her newfound joy following years of drama and heartbreak. “I tended to find original pieces that would usually fit Laura Carmichael like a dream,” costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told Fashionista. “The thing about Edith is that she’s always complicated and she blossomed in series six. Her fashion blossoms as much as her personal life. I wanted to take that on into the film, because she’s found herself.”
In the “Downton Abbey” movie, Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) returned to her childhood home with daughter Marigold and husband Bertie wearing a copper-colored silk grosgrain coat atop a silk blouse with navy blue wool embroidered detailing and a matching skirt. “I always just tried to make sure there was a real beautiful craft within the textiles that she wears,” costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told Fashionista of the character. “There’s always something with real flair.”
Here’s a flashback! These are the simpler looks worn by the Crawley sisters — Lady Mary (played by Michelle Dockery), Lady Edith (played by Laura Carmichael) and Lady Sybil (played by Jessica Brown Findlay) — when they were very young women back on season 1 of “Downton Abbey,” which kicks off right after the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Sybil, who eloped with chauffeur Tom Branson a few years later, tragically died during season 3 after delivering her first child.
Here’s how the cast of the PBS series “Downton Abbey” looked — and what they wore — when it all started. They’re seen here on the season 1 poster: (from left) Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Siobhan Finneran, Lesley Nicol, Sophie McShera, Rose Leslie, Thomas Howes, Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt, Rob James-Collier, Dan Stevens, Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Penelope Wilton, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael and Jessica Brown Findlay.
While Laura Carmichael (as Lady Edith), Maggie Smith (as the Dowager Lady Grantham) and Hugh Bonneville (as Lord Grantham) were certainly dressed to impress in this scene from the 2019 “Downton Abbey” movie, it was Elizabeth McGovern (as Lady Grantham) whose look really caught the eye. “I found this silk tulle scarf with the most amazing deco embroidery in metallic thread and normal silk thread,” costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told Fashionista. “The colors are gorgeous. She wears very intricate blouses, so I turned this scarf [into a top].”
Catherine Steadman (as Mabel Lane Fox), Julian Ovenden (as Charles Blake), Michelle Dockery (as Lady Mary) and Samantha Bond (as Mary’s aunt, Lady Rosamund Painswick) showed off some of the great style of 1924 in this season 5 “Downton Abbey” publicity photo. Mary is seen in the bold blue-and-white dress and cranberry cloche hat she wore to attend a fashion show on one episode that season. “With Lady Mary, she’s super-stylish, very cutting-edge, but classic,” costumer designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told PBS. “She’s pared down — I didn’t use over-the-top florals or very patterned fabrics. I tended to use a lot of colorblocking the way Lanvin or Chanel would.”
Michelle Dockery is seen here filming season 5 of “Downton Abbey” in Oxfordshire, England, in 2014 wearing a rich merlot suit with a matching hat, boots and gloves. “Her wardrobe is quite linear and androgynous. I studied lots of fashion plates and men’s tailoring from the period, which inspired some of the more structured outfits she wears when she’s running the estate,” costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told Vogue. “She’s a girl in a man’s world, but she’s doing it her way. Her color scheme tends to be quite bold — deep burgundies and navy blues that would never suit the other characters.”
“I designed a lot of clothes from scratch for Lady Mary because I could never find pieces that matched my vision of her,” costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told Vogue. Michelle Dockery, who played Lady Mary in the “Downton Abbey” franchise, is seen here filming a scene for the 2019 movie in Wiltshire, England, wearing a teal coat and a pale blue cloche hat with graphic details that evoke the pattern on her blouse.
Few can do justice to a net-veiled bowler hat and tailored menswear-inspired riding habit like Lady Mary on “Downton Abbey,” be it the black-and-tan ensemble polished off with a pinned cravat that she wore on season 6 (left), or the double-breasted hunter green plaid suit she donned on season 5 (right).
Speaking of riding habits… Michelle Dockery pulled of a major mounted fashion moment as Lady Mary during season 1 of PBS’s “Downton Abbey.”
Lady Edith (played by Laura Carmichael) is seen here on season 5 of “Downton Abbey” in a patterned orange and green-brown dress. “I think that [Edith] can be quite edgy and quite alternative and she wears interesting colors,” costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told PBS. “Laura’s got an incredible complexion and I can put peach and orange and greens on her, autumnal colors that look just wonderful. She can wear a soft palette and a strong palette equally as well so her wardrobe’s very varied.”
We love these season 6 dresses that Michelle Dockery (as Lady Mary) and Laura Carmichael (as Lady Edith) donned for a photoshoot to promote the show’s final run in 2016.
The icing on top of our favorite “Downton Abbey” looks? Aside from the jewels, it’s got to be the hats — like these worn by Michelle Dockery (as Lady Mary) and Laura Carmichael (as Lady Edith) on season 6 of “Downton Abbey.” “We use a combination of original hats and we make a lot of hats from scratch,” costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told Fashionista. “It might be with an original trim I find or from an illustration that has an amazing color combination that I want to try.”
While Elizabeth McGovern (the Countess of Grantham) and Laura Carmichael (the then-soon-to-be Marchioness of Hexham) looked amazing in these embroidered “Downton Abbey” season 6 costumes, the estate’s male servants — Rob James-Collier (as under-butler Thomas Barrow), Michael Fox (as footman Andy Parker) and Kevin Doyle (as footman Joseph Molesley) weren’t too shabby in their black-and-white livery. Get a closer look next…
While it’s clear the footmen’s uniforms are pressed and starched to perfection, the details are there too. Season 5 and 6 “Downton Abbey” costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins, who also worked on the movie, told Vogue that she made sure the buttons on the livery were stamped with the Grantham family coat of arms, delivering an extra dose of authenticity.
The men’s looks on “Downton Abbey” are period-perfect too. Here’s Allen Leech (as chauffeur-turned-Crawley son-in-law Tom Branson) and Rob James-Collier (as servant Thomas Barrow out of uniform) on the set of the show in 2014.
The Earl and Countess of Grantham — played by Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern — are seen here in their most glamorous 1927 looks on a promotional poster for 2019’s “Downton Abbey” film. The movie’s costume designer joked that she had to source more jewels than ever for the characters’ big-screen debut. “It was the tiara show,” she told Fashionista. “I had to cast my net a lot wider because I needed so many of them,” including the one worn by American heiress Cora Crawley seen here.
Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham (played by Elizabeth McGovern) wore clothing with an Edwardian-era influence back in 1913-1914 at a garden party she and her husband (played by Hugh Bonneville) hosted on grounds of their Downton Abbey estate during season 1 of the hit PBS drama.
Here’s a closer look at that epic hat Elizabeth McGovern’s Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham wore at the garden party on season 1 of “Downton Abbey.”
“As an American heiress, I always felt like Lady Grantham would be closer to the forefront of fashion than her British counterparts. Her taste is classic, but when waistlines dropped in the 1920s, that was reflected in her style. In other words, she follows trends, but she’s never been a slave to them,” costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told Vogue of Cora Crawley, seen here during season 5 with Richard E. Grant, who played art historian Simon Bricker — a man who tried and failed to woo the married aristocrat. “My favorite storyline is when Cora goes for dinner at the Ritz with Mr. Bricker and he tries to seduce her. It’s a different side of her, so I swapped her usual deep mauve and cornflower blue gowns for a pleated silk coat in terracotta.”
Here’s a close-up look at one of the hats and a gorgeous pleated coral day coat worn by Elizabeth McGovern (as Lady Cora) while filming the “Downton Abbey” series in Oxfordshire, England, in 2014.
Here’s a peek at more of the costumes worn by Laura Carmichael (as Lady Edith), Imelda Staunton (as Maud, Baroness Bagshaw — a Crawley cousin and lady-in-waiting to Queen Mary) and Maggie Smith (as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham) as they filmed the “Downton Abbey” movie in Wiltshire, England, in 2018. Fun fact: In real life, Imelda is married to Jim Carter, who plays retired butler Charles Carson in the franchise.
In the film, Maggie Smith (who plays the Dowager Countess of Grantham) wore a light blue gown topped with a magnificent antique foliate tiara set with 16.5 carats of old-brilliant-cut diamonds. “The dowager’s tiaras had a certain number of carats to give them the weight you would expect from the head of the household,” costumer designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told Tatler. Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) accessorized her Prussian blue gown seen here with an incredible yet very different diamond headpiece. “I try to match the tiaras with the color, delicacy or boldness of the material or the design of a dress,” the costume designer explained to Tatler. “Lady Mary’s tiaras were quite art-deco with slightly more angular-cut diamonds.”
Here’s a closer look at the detail on one of the hats and jackets that Maggie Smith (as the Dowager Countess of Grantham) wore while shooting “Downton Abbey” in 2013. Although costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins didn’t join the production until season 5, she still has some strong thoughts about the older aristocrat’s wardrobe. “Lady Violet will be corseted until the end of time,” she told Vogue. “She’s always going to have an Edwardian silhouette.”
A lot of work went into the military uniform worn by Simon Jones, who played Britain’s King George V in the 2019 “Downton Abbey” movie. “The king’s costume for the military parade had about 52 elements to it and they took months for us to tick off our to-do list,” costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told Tatler. “If we couldn’t find an original we had to have a model maker come in to create replicas. It was this ever-unfolding costume.
Geraldine James — seen here during filming in Wiltshire, England, in 2018 — played Britain’s Queen Mary (the current Queen Elizabeth II’s grandmother) in the “Downton Abbey” movie. The film’s costume designer told Entertainment Weekly that she worked with John Bright at London’s Cosprop, which specializes in the hire and making-to-hire of period costume for professional stage, TV and film productions, on the movie and that he really delivered when it came to the monarch’s wife. “John has some pieces of Queen Mary’s actual wardrobe in his archives that we were able to analyze to look at the construction and detail,” Anna Mary Scott Robbins told EW, adding that one of the dresses crafted for Geraldine was made with fabric once worn by the real royal.
After years of grief following the death of his wife, Lady Sybil, Tom Branson (played by Allen Leech) got a new love interest for a spell: Sarah Bunting (played by Daisy Lewis), a politically minded grammar school teacher with a working woman’s wardrobe. She’s seen here shooting with him for season 4.
For teacher Sarah Bunting’s wardrobe on season 5, costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins chose to change up the character’s color palette. “I read her as being very strong woman, very opinionated and she’s bold, and I wanted the palette to reflect that,” she told PBS. “I wanted to move away from the browns and greens and make a more positive impact with color, so I brought her much more into clustering around the primary colors with a lot of navy and red and burgundy.”
Downton Abbey’s cook, Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol, right), is seen here in uniform alongside kitchen maid-turned-assistant cook Daisy Mason (played by Sophie McShera) on a poster for the “Downton Abbey” film. “Leslie, Mrs. Patmore, has had the same cap for six years,” costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told Fashionista. “I offered to make her a new one [for the movie] and she said, ‘No, no, this is my cap. I need my cap.’ So there are certain things that are favorites and that’s the way it should be.”
Despite their devotion to the Crawleys, the downstairs servants do shed their uniforms once in a while! Here’s how Daisy Mason (played by Sophie McShera) looked off-duty while filming “Downton Abbey” in Oxfordshire, England, in 2014. “As soon as you get to dress [the servants] in civilian clothes, it’s a lovely challenge because you get to add that extra layer to their personality,” costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins told Fashionista. “You’re able to add detailing that gives them that extra dimension.”
Here’s Downton Abbey’s cook, Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol), in early 20th century street clothes while filming the PBS series in Oxfordshire, England, in 2014.
Retired butler Charles Carson might not be an aristocrat, but he never has a thread out of place no matter when or where he is. He’s seen here on a poster for the 2019 “Downton Abbey” movie.
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