Dressing Downton: Series 5 Episode 7

EMBARGOED_UNTIL_27TH_OCTOBER_DOWNTON_EP7_30.JPGOh, good, I can start liking these people again. We’re coming to the end of the series for this year, so things are coming to a head, which means someone finally steps up for Edith, there’s yet another Disastrous Downton Dinner, Mary manages to jettison Gill, and there are now two marriages in the future (maybe). On the fashion front, we had some interesting connections, some wardrobe upgrades, a whole lot of love-pink, and a flowery motif.

Upstairs

The family (well, some members, anyway) have gone into crisis mode over Edith’s flight, and Rosamond is hastily called north for…no reason at all, really. If they knew Edith was in London, wouldn’t it make more sense to have Rosamond down there, making inquiries? Eh, whatever. Right off the bat, her clothes tie her to Cora. These two women will be the most active participants in the search for Edith and the effort to bring her back to Downton.

Downton57-2 Downton57-3 Downton57-14 Downton57-16Her coat apes Cora’s dress, and the green jewellry at dinner picks up Cora’s gown perfectly.

Green was a really prevalent colour at that particular meal: three of the ladies were wearing it prominently.

Cora:

Downton57-22Rosamond, and Mabel:

Downton57-25There’s a thread running through these three women, which we’ll get to, but the green could also tie them to the people they’re primarily interacting with during the meal. Cora is paired with Lord Sinderby, Atticus’s father who’s trying to make his way into the British aristocracy, despite being ‘new money’ and Jewish. Cora, too, has faced these obstacles, and green (especially that ‘dollar bill’ green that she’s wearing) was also rather tied with money in the past, especially when her mother wore it. Rosamond chats companionably with Tom, and her green could be a shout-out to his Irish heritage. Mabel is wearing a nice spring green, a colour I tend to associate with hope and new beginnings, as she talks about her future with Tony.

There’s also the fact that these three ladies are, at this point in the episode, the primary movers in the drama (along with Rose). Most of the storylines we’re actually meant to care about revolve around them at the moment, and the green is tying them all together. Now Rose, the other character with a prominent storyline, is not in green, but that’s because she’s really working the love pink.

Downton57-19 Downton57-20 Downton57-24 Downton57-79 Downton57-88In that first picture, the more subdued colours on Mary and Lady S make Rose stand out even more. She looks glorious. No wonder Atticus is enchanted. The only time she changes out of that colour throughout the whole episode is when she discusses her relationship with Atticus with Robert and he warns her that there could be trouble ahead from both families. Then, she’s appropriately attired in conflict blue:

Downton57-45That coat, by the way, is a marvel. It’s got all this beautiful, intricate pleating in the back. I’m coveting it so hard.

Speaking of blue, Mary wears blue and black exclusively throughout the episode:

Downton57-6 Downton57-28 Downton57-32 Downton57-57 Downton57-75 Downton57-86I’m not sure what to make of that, other than the fact that these are not particularly happy colours. Cute that she and Georgie match, though. And the beadwork on her dinner dresses is stunning.

Note Mabel wearing love pink in the first picture.

Also sporting blue: Isobel, to announce her engagement.

Downton57-26Yeeeeah, I think we all knew that relationship was going to run into some trouble. Especially after we were reminded of what a douchebag at least one of Merton’s sons was.

Meanwhile, down south, it looks like Edith had some time to get a little shopping done, because I don’t think we’ve ever seen this outfit before:

Downton57-41The blouse looks familiar, but the rest of it doesn’t. She’s taking this ‘career woman’ situation seriously, going to the office to get work done, staying in England to run things, and dressing the part. More and more women were entering the workforce in the post-war years, and though we tend to immediately think of tasselled and beaded flapper gowns as the hallmark of the era, the less fussy, more businesslike clothing women could go out and buy were an important fashion moment as well. We saw it at the fashion show, with that menswear-inspired outfit Mary so admired:

Downton54-24Of course, the irony here is that this outfit almost certainly would have been worn by a woman who didn’t work.

But, as much as I would have loved to see Edith blaze her own trail in London, as soon as Downton beckoned, she went running back again, for some reason. Family ties can be hard to break. Witness:

Downton57-51 Downton57-52The outfits are tying these three women together. The neutral colour in Edith’s dress is picked up by both Cora’s and Mary’s coats, while Edith’s bright blue coat matches Mary’s blouse. All three are wearing similar-colour hats (that’s a new hat on Edith, right? I really like it on her. Another London purchase, I’m guessing.) These three may rub each other the wrong way and struggle to get along much of the time, but in the end, they’re all family.

And Edith returns to one of her ‘maternal’ dresses to basically beg her family for permission to keep her kid:

Downton57-80She’s worn that dress before–in the scene where she asked to be a sort of ‘godmother’ to Marigold while she was living with the Drewes, so its reappearance here is quite appropriate.

We had a new motif emerge fully this episode: roses. I’ve noticed roses turning up on Rose’s outfits a few times this season, which, along with the rose-pink, is a cute nod to her name, and she definitely wore them this episode, but so did a few other characters. In the opening scenes, Rose was wearing a rose-patterned dress, and so was Cora:

Downton57-7Downton57-3Rose is in the full bloom of love, so she’s in a nice, bright colour. Cora’s in crisis, concerned about her younger daughter, so her dress is much more subdued. But she’s about to experience blossoming love as well, though in her case, it’s maternal (and grandmotherly, once she meets little Marigold), so the roses are appropriate.

At the engagement dinner that goes so horribly, predictably wrong, Isobel wears roses, but they’re practically hidden by the dark colour of her dress:

Downton57-87Rose, for whom that same evening goes quite splendidly, wears a giant rose in her hair:

Here’s something we don’t get to talk about all that much: menswear! Tom, it seems, is a bit ahead of things, wearing some of the baggier styles that would come into fashion in the second half of the 1920s:

Downton57-33 Downton57-35 Downton57-36

Note the turned-up cuffs on his trousers, also a 1920s fashion innovation, and how high up the jacket buttons. The high-buttoned jackets were apparently inspired by WWI army uniforms, which, of course, most young men of the era would have worn at some point.

The lack of a sharp front pleat on Tom’s trousers is, I believe, a fashion no-no.

I found it sweet that, in a rather warm scene between Robert and Tom, their clothes match. Tom’s tie goes with Robert’s brown suit, and Robert’s wearing a blue-grey tie that matches Tom’s suit.

Downstairs

Back to the Mason farm! And for this visit, Daisy’s upped her fashion game!

Downton57-59 Downton57-65Ok, it’s not a great look. If we’re being honest, that hat kind of makes her look like one of those mushroom guys from the Super Mario games, but at least it reads as a 1920s dress, unlike the stuff she used to wear during her get-togethers with her father-in-law. And she has a really nice trench coat to go with it as well. She obviously did some serious shopping while she was in London last year. That bright, vibrant, sunshine-y colour is nice on her, especially as her future starts to brighten up, in a sense.

Mr Mason, Molesley, and Baxter are all a bit more subdued, but still looking quite nice themselves.

Downton57-61 Downton57-62 Downton57-64

Mr Mason’s a prosperous farmer, and it shows. This is a very nice suit. Nicer than we’ve seen on Molesley’s father, for instance. Baxter is sporting knitwear, which I mentioned last season was becoming quite popular in the 1920s. Her jumper looks hand-knit. It wouldn’t be surprising if she made it herself–ladies’ maids at the time were supposed to be handy with all sorts of needles, and most women brought up in her era would have been taught to knit from an early age. All three of the older adults are in dark blue, which makes Daisy, the young ‘un, stand out even more (Daisy’s outfit also matches the bright sunflowers on the curtains).

Downton57-67As with most of the other downstairs folk on the show, the outerwear is sturdy and respectable. Baxter’s coat is better fitted and nicer looking than the one Hughes sported last week, which makes a bit of sense. A lady’s maid was expected to look nice. She was kind of a walking billboard for her own services–nobody wants to be dressed by a frumpy maid (this is a lesson Anna has yet to learn). At the same time, a maid couldn’t be too flashy. So, you get a good-quality coat in a plain colour. In Hughes’s case, it doesn’t much matter what she wears. Nobody cares if the housekeeper is frumpy or not.

Looks like Molesley has traded in his valet’s bowler hat for a rather childish flat cap, which is kind of sad.

And a quick look at the receptionist at Edith’s magazine:

Downton57-39There’s not a great deal to say here other than to note that the clear-bead necklace she’s wearing is quite similar to one we’ve seen on Cora and the other Downton ladies before.

Downton57-29Now, the woman in the office’s necklace was probably some cheap resin material whereas Cora’s could very well be made of real crystal (and probably is), but it shows how fashion tends to trickle down from the upper classes to the lower over time. In the 20s, with the influence of the cinema and its stars, that was happening faster than ever.



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