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Downton Abbey – What 1920s fashions to look out for
Hairstyles and makeup take a decided 1920s turn with short crops and bobs – finger waves or ‘Marcel waves’ as they were known in the 20’s thanks to their creator French hair designer Francois Marcel. Scott Fitzgerald, wrote a short story called Bernice bobs her hair – which told the story of a girls transformation into flapper mode. In Paris Coco Chanel had her hair cropped, and with Hollywood stars such as Louise Brooks soon making them popular worldwide,women were soon getting the Shingle bob, the Coconut Bob, the Eton Crop, the Charleston Cut and so on and on !
The ladies of Downton Abbey are now rakishly exposing their pale shoulders and backs in low cut evening gowns – as was typical of the early 1920s .
Fringed and beaded dresses that swish at the knee [ one explanation for the term “flapper” ] and some rollicking jazz foxtrots echoing through the halls of Downton Abbey ? What will Violet Crawley make of all that ? Art deco designed polo shirts,tunics and blouses worn with a cute pleated skirt and sporty cloche hat completes the look of 1920s fashion for a girl who might “fancy a bit of tennis”
French designer guru Jean Patou was famous for his sporty tennis outfits as seen here on Wimbledon tennis star Suzanne Lenglen.
We can expect to see in future episodes, lashings of long beaded necklaces, drooping diamante ear-rings and gold cigarette cases with compartments to hold the new popular push up lipstick tubes. Also cigarette holders. Incidentally the term cigarette was coined as a cigar alternative for the feminine among us – i.e ette !!
Wrap over coats were all the rage, so one should expect to see them in Downton Abbey in exterior winter scenes. Coat lining were often designed to match the dress fabric.
Shoe styles take on a distinctly low heeled look in the early 1920s [ for easy movement in the dance clubs ! ] , with t-strap and multi-strap patent shoes and sandals for evenings and zip up to the knee galoshes – which a girl could pull on right over her heels for those rainy days in the city or out in the motor car in the country.
The 1920s dress – Coco Chanel and Madeleine Vionnet.
Two beacons of the early French fashion scene in the 1920s. Vionnet, a genius seamstress who built her dresses from the ground up so to speak, by cutting fabric on the bias, directly on her models. The final look was a unique feminine drape which heralded a new look that emphasized freedom of movement and femininity. Even with the popular garcon look [ flat chested and tubular ] the Vionnet dress was unmistakably feminine.
A Vionnet dress defied imitation. To figure out her pattern, as many other designers tried to do, involved disassembling the entire costume.A good resource for understanding her designs is – Vionnet by Betty Kirke. Coco Chanel likewise showed an early disregard for the strict foundation wear of the Edwardian era and worked to create clothes which were for ordinary women.
The pullover dress, cut from a single piece of fabric was an early sign of the 1920s Flapper look. A typical day outfit of Chanel’s as early as 1918 consisted of a knitted jersey pullover and pleated skirt. Her dresses epitomized the Parisian economy with style which was fast replacing the more exotic looks of the likes of Poiret.