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I'm a Jewish fashionista living in New York and I write this blog to try to deliver modest fashion to all women, everywhere. This blog is all about Less Is More. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @vinniecocoa and on instagram @the.oak! CONTACT & INQUIRIES:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How to Dress in Downton Abbey Style

Alright ladies! I know this is a blog about modest fashion, and who better to highlight modesty than the women of Downton Abbey. Downton Abbey is a show that take place during the 1910'2 and 20's in in the British countryside. It's about a British Aristocratic family living at a time when decorum and manners were not only expected, but upheld. Men stood for women when they came in a room, ladies dressed for a regular Tuesday night dinner like they would dress for any other fancy event or occasion, and most of all, men dressed like gentlemen, and women dressed like ladies.

In an effort to prove that these concepts (some of them, at least) are not completely dead, I decided to compile a few looks that remind me of this show and time period. If i got really serious, I would have done accessories too, but that's for another post. DISCLAIMER: The following looks are not normally what I would post because they are not totally tzniut, but this topic is so delicious and fun, and I just had to do a post about it! Some of these dresses are super duper expensive and way out of our price ranges (we can't all be British Aristocrats), but just so you're aware, the class of that era is not all gone.
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The Women of Downton Abbey
Some of these next few dresses are way out of your budget, unless you are ready to pay a pretty penny to be a 1910's darling (there is a more affordable section below).  Things to look for in the dresses of the day were attention to detail. Fabrics flowed long and effortlessly with great care given to adornments and styling. Beading and embroidery were top class, and soft, flowy silhouettes were the gowns of choice.

Lita Gown
This gown from BHLDN is highly reminiscent of a Downton Abbey gown. Sheer layers with lots of soft details were a trademark of the time.

Ophelia Dress
Tiers on a gown was one way you were able to add drama to the column silhouettes of the time (did you see the finale of season 2--Lady Mary in that wine colored dress). You didn't exactly have women walking around in enormous ballgowns all day, so to compensate for breadth, women adorned their dresses with as much detail and frills as possible. The tiered lace on this dress just screams Downton.

Fairy Song Gown
Yet another example of how the column silhouette was used, and the beading and detail on this dress, also from BHLDN, is highly reminiscent of a true early 20th century British lady.

This gown from Marchesa highlights the attention to detail that was given to gown making back in the day. Women embraced color at that time, especially before World War I. Once the war broke out, more conservative looks became the norm.

On the more casual side, this dress has all the markings of a casual outing dress, similar to the ones you see above. Empire waist-ed dresses were the style of the times, so whether you were getting dressed for a wedding, or dinner, or a game of cricket, this was more or less how you would dress. 

Now for some pieces that are slightly more accessible to the everyday lady's budget; while all of these are not gowns, they have the hints of charm and elegance that defined the early 20th century lady.

Ready For Glamour Sequined Top
There is no question that beading and bedazzling was a hallmark of the evening dresses in the days of the fictional Downton Abbey. Dresses were glamorous and stunning from top to bottom. What better way to start your outfit at the top than with this sequined stunner.

Sheer overlays were the way to be modest but show some skin back in the day (and if you have been reading any of my posts, you know that sheer sleeves are way back in). This loose dress with sheer cover-up is reminiscent of the older days, but with a modern twist.

While the print is way more modern (and far too large for a 1910's gown), the cut of the dress is very Downton chic. Pair this with a pair of satin gloves and a felt hat, and you are sure to impress at any dinner in true 1910's fashion.

This gown as all the hallmarks of the modest gowns of the time, with the hints of sexiness that were sure to impress any Lord or Lady.

This Adrianna Papell fown embraces a little bit of all the 1910's style. The sheer, detail adorned sleeve, the tiered skirt, and the vibrant color make this Lady Mary, Lady Edith, and Lady Cybil approved.

Flutter Me By Dress
This dress really captures the silhouette and attention to detail that was given to dresses in the early 20th century. While this one is a bit modern, there is a bit of the wistful, Downton Abbey feel  to it.

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  1. Hi Debbie, I stumbled upon your blog/website while searching downton abbey dresses. I LOVE the dresses you've pictured. And what fun to discover you are Jewish, because so am I! Donna Rosenbloom, southern Jewish fashionista from Virginia.

    And speaking of Jews and Downton Abbey - Shirley McClain's character is going to be named Martha Levinson. Makes me think Cora must have come from a wealthy Jewish family. Which (according to Jewish law) would make Mary Jewish. (Even though Cora seems to be a non-practicing Jew.) So sparks could fly next season due to this, if my reasoning is correct. How fun!!!

    And I wonder (since it is now 1920) if the "flapper" fashions will come about in the show. More fun dresses for you to post!

    1. So glad you found my blog! Keep reading! I am always loving the new and interesting readers that search my site!

      I am so obsessed with Downton Abbey and I CANNOT wait until the 1920's era. Flapper era is one of my favorites, and it's a period in fashion that I personally think has never really died. We are always trying to emulate and update the flapper look, so I am so thrilled to see where the show goes with that stylistically.

  2. Debbie: You might be interested in this article about an exhibit on Downton Abbey style clothes:

  3. What a wonderful find your website has been.. love the early 1900's through to the decades of the 50/60s.
    Downton Abbey has become an all time favourite of mine.
    Thank you for all the interesting information.

  4. Realy happy to have read your post. I am a big fan of Edwardian dresses; summer afternoon dresses captivate my attention as I am in the process of making my own renewal of wedding vows dress. It'll be a garden family gathering but with the same details and attentions as a wedding. I will be designing my dress, this is a great part of the immense pleasure I have to prepare this event. I picked the Edwardian period for this occasion since I love so much the details of pearls, embroidery and the accoutrement. As a matter of fact I am handcrafting every single decor detail and will be hand making the 2 flower girls' dresses as well. Thank you for your blog, I enjoyed reading about Downton Abbey's victorian fashion that was especially reproduced in the first seasons of the show. Dominique

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