Dress like Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary
All women imagine what it might be like to live during a time when femininity and elegance were fully embraced. This is one of the reasons behind the popularity of Downton Abbey, with Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary in particular. Viewers love living vicariously through the characters as they navigate their romantic and social lives while wearing finery.
For people who aren’t serious students of style, Downton Abbey fashion can be a bit hard to pin down. The early years of the show fall between the more easily defined Victorian and flapper eras, so the clothes show elements of both. The closest identifier is the Edwardian Gibson girl, with her hair piled on top of her head and her figure sculpted by dresses that could only be referred to as “upholstered.” This does not quite fit either, as the Downtown fashions are a touch looser than those structured looks. The movie Titanic is a good primer for this style, though the film necessarily depicts iconic versions of 1912’s fashion, not clothing that might be worn on a day-to-day basis.
Elements of Lady Mary’s style can be emulated without giving your outfit a noticeably old-fashioned feel. Choose a dress with an ethereal, flowing quality. It should be ankle-length and skim lightly over the figure. The silhouette should not accentuate the shape of the figure too much. The sleeves can be of any length, though cap or three-quarter sleeves tend to look the most romantic. If possible, the sleeves should be made of a different material than the rest of the dress. Short sleeves can be solid colors, though longer ones look better if they are transparent. This allows them to flow more.
There is a lot of freedom to play with necklines. You can wear something with a deep V-neck with a sheer underlay beneath it. Alternately, you could opt for a simple scoop or boat neck. Accent a lower neckline with a casually long string of pearls.
One of the more interesting aspects of this era of fashion is all of the menswear-inspired elements. Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary can often be seen in long, straight-line duster coats. Even as the show crossed over squarely into the age of the flappers, Mary would continue to set herself apart by cutting a severe figure in outfits that looked somewhat angular. She is a big fan of hats. Toward the beginning of the show, she wears wide-brimmed sun hats with details around the brim. In the later years, she wears snug cloche hats that play nicely off of her slimline coats and drop-waisted dresses.
Any of these little details would work well today. Small hats and fascinators are standard headpieces for weddings, especially outdoor ones. Flapper style has a lot in common with grunge fashion, which has been in vogue for the past few years. It is currently the height of fashion to wear figure-concealing frocks topped with long, layered necklaces and small, cutesy hair accessories. Adjust the fabrics and soften the colors, and you will easily end up with a close approximation of Lady Mary’s style.