The season four finale of Downton Abbey is almost upon us! A close friend of mine is planning an extravagant dinner party to mark the occasion, and I if I don’t blow everyone away with my outfit, then I’m just not doing my job.
In reality, the costumes are 80% of the reason why I watch Downton Abbey. Don’t get me wrong, I love the show to pieces, but there’s just something about all that silk and beadwork that makes me swoon. The same sentiment applies for Boardwalk Empire, although their costumes are slightly less upper crust and a little more…gritty.
If you’re planning on attending a Downton (or 20s) themed party, I’ve put together a little guide for pulling off the perfect ensemble.
Much to the relief of all women, the 20’s brought an end to the corset. Tubular (shift) dresses that flattened the bust line – rather than accentuating it – became all the rage. Low-waisted dresses were also popular, as the fullness at the hemline allowed women to dance freely, without getting tripped up in yards of fabric.
Attire was also worn according to the time of day and activities. According to the academic publication Pop Culture Universe: Icons, Idols, Ideas:
“Afternoon or ‘tea gowns’ were less form-fitting than evening gowns, featured long, flowing sleeves, and were adorned with sashes, bows, or artificial flowers at the waist. Evening gowns were typically slightly longer than tea gowns, in satin or velvet, and embellished with beads, rhinestones, or fringe”
If you’re looking to go for the more elegant Downton Abbey fare, consider an evening gown like “The Princess and the Beads” from Modcloth – or, if you’re really crafty, you could sew your own!
However, as Lady Rose showed us last season, Downton Abbey isn’t all about straight laced styles. If you don’t want to drop a wad of cash on an evening gown, a fringed flapper dress is a cheaper option, but certainly no less fun.
The bob was huge in America, with many women chopping their locks in an effort to give a more boyish look to their feminine figure. It was a different story overseas, where Queen Mary preferred that ladies wear their hair long. If they did happen to break with tradition, she required they conceal their bobs at court functions or royal ceremonies.
No matter what length your hair is, you can find a tutorial to give it the perfect 20s flair.
If you have long hair and want to do a faux bob, this fabulous tutorial from Toni & Guy will show you how.
If you want to rock some awesome finger waves (like Lady Edith) but don’t have the experience to pull of the retro style, check out Hayley’s tutorial for an easy alternative.
And for you ladies with longer hair, this wonderful tutorial from Candice at Birchbox illustrates how to perfect a Lady Mary inspired updo.
Of course no Downton Abbey hairstyle would be complete without a fabulous decorative comb or headpiece. Unfortunately these custom-made headpieces can cost an absolute fortune, and seeing as I blew most of my budget on the dress, it’s DIY to the rescue.
Ren, from Shine Trim Blog has a simple tutorial for creating a stunning headpiece on the cheap. Check it out here.
Your Downton Abbey inspired get up doesn’t have to be perfectly period correct, just elegant and fun. Remember, as the Dowager Countess herself said:
“The truth is neither here nor there. It’s the look of the thing that matters.”
If you have any tips, tutorials, or fabulous photos, share them with me in the comments below!