Downton Abbey Dresses & Outfits: Elegant & Timeless Styles

Last Updated: November 7th, 2023 by Kerry Wisby (Teacher-BA English Literature, 1920s & Great Gatsby Expert)

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Is there anyone who hasn’t seen at least one or two episodes of Downton Abbey? Ok, maybe there are hermits somewhere, but most of us have watched every single season and loved them all!model wearing a Downton Abbey Tea Party Gown in pale blue by Nataya

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If you’re like me and you love, love, love the fashions from this era, this article is for you.

Whether you are looking for an Abbey-inspired dress for a formal event or planning a costume party or cosplay event, or if you might be interested in something for an upcoming wedding, you are going to find exactly what you’ve had in mind right here.

Grab a cup of your favorite whatever and have a seat. You will go crazy over these Downton Abbey-inspired dresses, I guarantee it!

What Was the Style of Clothing in Downton Abbey?

woman wearing a Long V-neck party dress in rose gold

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This series is based in the UK in the fictional Yorkshire Country Estates, and the period is 1912-1926, which is right up my alley!

Of course, Downton Abbey: The New Era starts in 1928, but for this article, I’m going to talk about the original series.

While we don’t think of England as part of the Roaring Twenties, most of the clothing styles were similar to the ones you would see in the US.

I really enjoy this series as you can watch the clothing styles change from floor-length dresses, corsets, and enormous hats in Season One,

woman in a floor-length rose-gold Dress with a wide V-Neckline and Multi-Layer Long Fringe

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to the more sensible and comfortable clothing styles of the 1920s.

a woman wearing a Blue Pioneer or Colonial Costume Dress and a wide-brimmed hat

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In the same way that the “garcon” look (slim hips and small boobs) took over America, the same was true in the UK.

model wearing a Downton Abbey Tea Party Gown in Quartz by Nataya

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You will notice a few transitional dresses, such as this style where the dress goes almost to the floor, but there is no corset worn and the neckline is much lower.model wearing a Downton Abbey Tea Party Gown in pale blue by Nataya

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Dropped waist dresses appear a bit later in the show, but there are plenty of them to be seen.

woman in a green 1920s short-sleeve flapper dress with sequin and fringe

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I love Downton Abbey dresses because they seem more feminine than the ones seen in, say, Peaky Blinders or The Great Gatsby.a woman wearing a smoky gray dress with see-through three-fourths sleeves and layered skirt

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I’m not sure if it’s the layers or the sheer covers, but Downton Abbey dresses rock the house!

model wearing a Downton Abbey Inspired long sleeved Dress in Pink and Beige by Nataya

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How Accurate Is the Fashion in Downton Abbey?

Downton Abbey is extremely accurate!

In fact, one of the things that this series is best known for is its extensive use of historically accurate fashion and scenery.Dafna Bridgerton Inspired Dress in Lapis Blue, with sheer long sleeves, embroidered patterns and layered skirt

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I know that the designers must be working overtime to create these gorgeous dresses that keep everyone glued to the set!model in a Downton Abbey Tea Party Gown in Antique Silver by Nataya

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The austerity of the clothing during the war was spot-on. There was no time, no money, and no thought to what we might think of as flapper dresses.lady wearing a Titanic Tea Party Dress in Ash-Chocolate by Nataya

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Of course, you’ll see Violet continue to wear those Edwardian-era gowns,

Victorian style Titanic Maxi Dress Tea Party Gown Antique Dress

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but you’ll even see some art deco decorations and jewelry adorn her bosom by Season 5.

Silver-Tone faux Mother-of-Pearl Beaded Lariat Necklace

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Let’s not forget that hats were a necessity in both England and across the pond in the 1920s. Whether it was a cloche hat,

woman wearing a tan Vintage Cloche hat

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or something a bit more fancy.

woman wearing a white Derby Hat with Rhinestone and satin accent

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Hats were like underwear- you wouldn’t dream of leaving home without one.

One thing this show is known for is authenticity!

Why Did They Change Clothes So Much on Downton Abbey?

This was a society thing that even many Americans followed.

It used to be required that you change clothing for lunch, dinner, and after-dinner. Sometimes you would even change from your dressing gown to clothing just to have breakfast then change again after breakfast!

It was common for women to change clothes FIVE times a day, something we cannot imagine in today’s society.

Where this changing of the clothes habit came from, I have no idea, but you will also find that this occurred in America, at least among the rich.

Let’s imagine that we change from our nightclothes into a dress for the morning.

model in a Downton Abbey Tea Party Gown in Ruby by Nataya

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Before lunch, we would change once again so that we were “properly dressed’ for the meal.

woman in a peach Dafna Bridgerton Inspired Dress with long sleeves and sheer skirt cover

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Of course, according to tradition, you can’t wear that same old dress to dinner, so before you sit at the table, you would change once again,model in a purple 1920s Titanic Style Dress with see-through sleeves and layered skirt

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but since you aren’t planning on going out, you might change one more time into something a bit more casual for your evening attire.

model in a black-and-beige 1920s Titanic Style Dress with lacy accents

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Now if you had plans to go out for the evening, you might choose something a bit more formal such as this

1920s Style Dress 40825 in Ivory by Nataya

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or this.

woman in a green 1920s Vintage Peacock Sequined flapper Dress and a matching fascinator

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Later you would change back into your nightgown for bed.

I’m actually tired just thinking abut changing clothes this often!

Who Did the Wardrobe for Downton Abbey?

The genius with the enviable job of finding or creating these gorgeous dresses is Anna Mary Scott Robbins, along with her helpers Susannah Buxton, Rosalind Ebbutt, and Caroline McCall.

Anna Robbins is a stickler for detail. She told Vogue magazine that she fussed over the buttons on the jackets of the livery stablemen to ensure that the Grantham crest was clear, but then she realized that you couldn’t even see the crest on film.

Robbins made sure that the Crawley sisters embraced whatever the latest fashion was,

model in a Vintage Style Party Gown in Sand and wide-brimmed hat

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while sticking to more Victorian clothing for the older ladies.

woman wearing a long black Victorian dress with a white lacey collar and cuffs

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I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall, or one of Anna Robbins’ assistants when they were creating these Downton Abbey costumes. How much fun would that have been!

What Is the Style of Fashion on Downton Abbey?

The fashion style in this series changes as the years progress, which is how fashion actually happens in the real world.

WWI caused women to wear the same few outfits over and over because there was no money and no factories making new styles.

The costume designers researched extensively to ensure that the costumes were as accurate as possible. They visited museums, studied fashion plates, and even consulted with fashion historians.

The costumes on Downton Abbey were not only accurate but also beautiful. The ladies of Downton Abbey wore elaborate gowns, fur coats, and hats. The gentlemen wore suits, waistcoats, and top hats. The costumes were a feast for the eyes and helped transport viewers back to the Edwardian era.

As the series progresses through time, we see lots of changes, but most of them are gradual. I love Lady Edith who always seemed to be wearing fashion ahead of her time. She wore skirts right at the knee at a time when they were still worn mid-calf.

a lady in a black 3-Piece Jacket/Skirt/Pant Suit Skirt Set

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If you are looking for an actual style name, I’m not sure there is one other than 1920s vintage or perhaps 1920s Downton Abbey chic!

Before You Go ……

While you never really see any of the ladies dressed as the wild flappers that we see in The Great Gatsby, you still get an eyeful of the beautiful clothes they wore, even at the speakeasy!

The women’s dresses on Downton Abbey were a feast for the eyes, and they reflected the changing fashions of the early 20th century. From the elaborate gowns of the Edwardian era to the more streamlined styles of the 1920s, the dresses on Downton Abbey were always beautifully made and perfectly tailored.

The actresses who wore them brought the dresses to life and helped make Downton Abbey one of the most visually stunning shows on television.

In addition to being beautiful, the dresses seen in this series also served as a way to tell the story of the characters.

The dresses of the older generation, for example, reflected their traditional values and their place in the British social hierarchy. The dresses of the younger generation, on the other hand, reflected their more modern ideas and their desire for change.

The dresses that the women wore in this popular series (and movie) were more than just beautiful clothes. They were also a way to tell the story of the characters and the changing times, making Downton Abbey one of the most visually stunning and historically accurate shows on television.

Downton Abbey Dresses & Outfits: Elegant & Timeless Styles
Downton Abbey Dresses & Outfits: Elegant & Timeless Styles
Are you a fan of Downton Abbey? Who isn’t?! Want to find the perfect dress that will remind you of Edith or Lady Mary? You will find the perfect dress right here.
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