Dressing Downton: Season 4, Episode 8

uktv-downton-abbey-s04-e08-14Well, here it is, we’ve come (nearly) to the end of another season. It’s not terribly surprising that, in a season pretty much dominated by two colours, blue and purple, the final episode should be awash in those two hues. Check it out:

 

 

Upstairs

Crawley sisters in blue…

normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0002Violet and Isobel in blue…normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0034Tom and Isobel in blue…normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0101 normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0102Almost every single woman in the Crawley family in blue (except for Rosamond, and we’ll get to her in a second).normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0585 normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0596

I think these instances all represent harmony, to some extent. Not perfect harmony, in all cases, but more harmony than we’re used to in this family. Edith and Mary and Violet and Isobel have had difficult relationships in the past, to say the least, but both sets of ladies have been getting along much better of late. Even their colours are starting to harmonise. Tom and Isobel, who have always gotten on, are almost perfectly matching in their grey-blue wool suits above. And later, when they go into town together, the blue accents on her outfit pick up his blue tie: normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0302But let’s not forget that blue has also been associated with conflict this season. The Crawley ladies in their kick-line above may look and seem (and feel) like they’re getting along, but there’s a lot of unease simmering under the surface. Edith, as we know, is conflicted about what to do with her child, Mary’s not sure how to handle all these suitors and the Anna situation, Rose is looking to shake her family up as much as possible, and Cora’s dealing with all the stress of the bazaar (which seems petty compared to everyone else’s issues, but it’s a pretty typical thing for a woman of her position to be juggling).

In scenes that deal with Edith’s situation, blue pops up quite a lot: normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0391 normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0851…on Rosamond and on Edith herself. Both the same, rather somber navy shade, which befits the seriousness of the situation. Poor Edith thought she had it all (very, very poorly) figured out, only to have her family basically steamroll her. Though even she later admitted going abroad was probably the best thing. Hence the reason she picks up Rosamond’s navy colour later. But lots of conflict here, though both Rosamond and Violet are being incredibly (and rather surprisingly) supportive.

And in other conflicting relationships: normal_DowntonAbbey-408_1088There’s quite a bit of blue in the bouquet that Mary’s unhappily married godfather sent Isobel, no?

And then there’s Rose, who, as I said, is looking to create as much conflict as she possibly can with her mother. So, unsurprisingly, she’s in blue a lot, quite notably to announce her engagement to Mary:

normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0527normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0523 Though interestingly, she doesn’t wear blue, as she typically does, when she has her tea with Jack: normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0286She’s wearing that rosy pink colour that’s been associated with love quite a bit this season. What’s interesting about this digression is the fact that it’s one of the only times she’s been in a scene with Jack and not worn the blue that draws them together. She doesn’t realise it, but they’re already moving apart. But when Mary meets with him, and they share a connection (in that she admits she wishes she could support the relationship), she does wear blue: normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0895A very pale blue, which really makes her stand out in such a dark space. In a very light space, however, she blends right in:

normal_DowntonAbbey-408_1039 normal_DowntonAbbey-408_1056I don’t know where that is, but I would love to have tea there. Wearing that dress and hat.

And here’s Mary, completely out of mourning, and looking quite bright and lovely in her floaty gown to have tea with Gill and find out he’s not marrying his fiancee after all. Conflict! But so, so pretty.

Then there’s purple. Mary, Edith, and Violet switch off their blues for purple throughout the episode. Mary wears that horrible ‘hands off’ dress for one last tea before Blake leaves, and also shows up in that rich plum top in a scene with Edith, which seems to primarily serve to contrast the two sisters: normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0258 normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0260Mary, whom Edith rather enviously calls ‘a businesswoman’ is really standing out, whereas Edith, who really should be the businesswoman (Michael did essentially leave her in charge, right?) is forced to deal with her difficult domestic matters while her sister gets the glory for saving Downton. So, Edith is in black (sad colour, naturally) and a slightly drabber purple. That lavender is a shade Edith will wear again later at the bazaar. Mary also wears a dark purple and black combo in her scenes with Anna, in which they discuss Anna’s attack: normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0368 normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0972Her dresses tie the two scenes together, and the black in them ties her to Anna, who’s always in a black uniform. Violet’s always rather favoured purple, and this episode was no exception–you can see her wearing it in several of the pictures above. One scene I found particularly striking was this one: normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0621 normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0645Rosamond in red, Edith in blue, and Violet (in violet, heh) in the middle, drawing the two together through colour. Edith and Rosamond have been fighting it out a bit (mildly), with Edith still reluctant to go along with Rosamond’s plan to give the baby up for adoption abroad. And here’s Violet, putting her two cents in, bringing everyone together so we can later have this moment: normal_DowntonAbbey-408_1018…in which she wears a dress that brings in both Violet’s purple and the gold that Rosamond’s wearing. These three are a team now.

Let’s wrap up the upstairs folk with a quick look at their garden party fashions, shall we? Pretty pastels on a cold day! normal_DowntonAbbey-408_1128 normal_DowntonAbbey-408_1129 normal_DowntonAbbey-408_1172normal_DowntonAbbey-408_1254

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normal_DowntonAbbey-408_1296

normal_DowntonAbbey-408_1340Couple of things here. One: these characters definitely have a uniform for garden parties. Think back to the party that ended season 1. The girls were all in lovely pastels, Robert was wearing a white suit with a green cravat,  pinned in the middle, and a white panama hat:

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Violet was wearing a white coat with embroidered collar:

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Some things (and people) will never change.

Two, you can tell which of Mary’s suitors she’s most likely to end up with just based on the way they’re dressed. Check out their pictures again. Gill’s wearing a red tie, with a swirling paisley pattern and a brown suit. None of that goes with the diaphanous (almost bridal) pale blue she’s wearing. The bluish cast to Blake’s suit, not to mention that very blue tie, goes with her outfit much better. Not that we should be surprised that Blake’s the frontrunner, after this moment, earlier in the episode:

normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0137

What a cute family.

Downstairs

Was anyone surprised to see the woman from the political rally pop back up again? And wasn’t she the sassy one? We found out this week that she’s a teacher, and her wardrobe reflects the limited budget that a country schoolteacher would have to work with, while still being very nice and respectable. The first time we see her, she’s rewearing the same outfit Branson first saw her in:

normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0323 …which helps him (and us!) remember who she is. But later on, she adopts a new colour scheme: green.

normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0784 normal_DowntonAbbey-408_1021

I noted in the Borgias costume posts that light green like this is often associated with fresh, new beginnings, which this relationship could very well represent for Branson (it’s certainly better than whatever he had going on with Edna). In the bazaar set-up scene, which is when the second picture was taken, Branson’s also wearing a blue-green tie, which helps tie the two of them together, visually.

normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0008 normal_DowntonAbbey-408_0011

And here’s a quick look at our friend, Farmer Drew, who’s now so well settled into his job that he matches the farm buildings and the pigs he’s looking after.

We even got a rare look at Daisy in civvies:

normal_DowntonAbbey-408_1215 normal_DowntonAbbey-408_1222I’m pretty sure she’s been wearing that exact same outfit to visit Mr Mason since the war. Which makes sense because, like Ivy, Daisy isn’t going to have a lot of time or extra money to go shopping for the latest thing. And I’m not even sure Daisy has the inclination–she’s never shown much interest in fashion at all. Anyway, she’s not here to impress anyone anyhow. It’s Mr Mason. He’s like her stand-in dad. And as always, he has some great advice for her, which leads her to a ‘let’s be friends’ place with Alfred, and ultimately a really touching scene with Patmore:

normal_DowntonAbbey-408_1398Remember what I said about new beginnings? Patmore’s dress is light green. Fitting, for this moment. And Daisy’s skirt is blue. Fitting as well, since she was clearly at least a tiny bit conflicted about letting Alfred go.

Well, that’s all for now, folks. I’ll be back with more obsessive costume dissection after the Christmas special!



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