Michelle Dockery and Laura Carmichael at the Downton Abbey Photo Call

Posted on December 11, 2013

Lady Mary, you best step up your game, because Lady Edith is bringing it.

Michelle Dockery and Laura Carmichael attend the Downton Abbey Photo Call at the Millennium Hotel in New York City.

Michelle Dockery in Miu Miu

Laura Carmichael in Richard Nicoll

Although truthfully, we like Michelle’s outfit much more than Laura’s. We can’t with sheer hems. We never could. Still, the hair and makeup look fantastic. And the color looks great on her. Michelle’s is a bit more stylish and sassy, although in her case, we’re not loving the color. Who wants a skin-colored dress?

PBS gave us screeners of the season, in preparation for our live Downton tweetfests, and we’ve been watching an episode a day. It’s soapy. And that’s all we’ll say about that. Those who’ve seen it, try not to spoil it for those who haven’t yet.





[Photo Credit: Roger Wong/INFphoto.com]

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  • 3boysful

    Agree on all counts. Plus, Lady Edith’s shoes look downright orthopedic with that va-va-voom dress.

  • SewingSiren

    Both lovely, but Michelle’s is a bit too short and Laura’s is a bit too long.

    • bitchybitchybitchy

      If that silly sheer layer were cut off that dress would be much improved. I”dl like Michelle’s more if it were just a few inches longer.

    • melisaurus

      Am I wrong in thinking that the waist on Michelle’s dress is too short?

  • decormaven

    Lady Mary would disappear into the background except for her dark hair and lips. I was on board with Lady Edith’s look until I got to the hem- chop that sheer stuff off, and that dress would rock.

  • NBG

    Bare legs in NYC in December? I’m cold on her behalf.

    • Robin Murray

      My thought exactly. Also, I am afraid I am turning into my mother.

    • fursa_saida

      Being almost as pale as she is (in winter), I know what my skin looks like when I start getting cold, so I am not joking when I say I can literally see her freezing.

  • Sarah

    Cut the sheer off and end with the sparkles, dammit! And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I like the skin tone dress. It looks elegant and somehow makes the porcelain quality of her skin more apparent.

  • MilaXX

    I’ve been avoiding Downton eps because I want to watch in US time. I like Michelle’s dress even thought I wish the colors were reversed. Rip that sheer bit off Laura’s and she’s a go as well.

    • Jessica Freeman

      What you said.

    • Constant Reader

      Yes! I think I’d like that shade of pink much more as an accent color than as the main color. Lady Edith’s dress would look so much cuter and more youthful if it stopped right at the end of the beading.

  • marlie

    Lady Mary’s dress is a little too close to her skin tone for my liking, and Lady Edith needs to have the sheer hem of her dress removed. I like Mary’s bold lip, and Edith’s makeup overall is very pretty. OK looks for both ladies, but no home runs, either.

  • Michelle Dockery needs hosiery if she wants to wear that colour.

  • teensmom99

    Lady Mary’s dress would be killer if it were just beyond the knee. I know the uncles usually don’t like that length but I think that would make the proportions right and give it the appropriate Mildred Pierce kind of feel.

    • GillianHolroyd

      yup, looks like this one was made with utility coupons and they didn’t have enough to finish the skirt.

  • gabbilevy

    The season is soapy, but I liked it more than I thought I would. Looking forward to the Christmas special

    • Tina Kramer

      ITA. I was pretty meh on most episodes but found I actually really enjoyed the season as a whole.

      As for Michelle and Laura, I’ve never liked sheer too much, so I do prefer Michelle’s outfit, but I think they both look great.

    • GillianHolroyd

      Really? I thought this was the best season since the first one. Loved it and it ended too soon.

      • majorbedhead

        I agree with you there. I liked this season a lot more than the last one, which was totally a downer.

  • jen_vasm

    “Who wants a skin-colored dress?”

    Plus, it’s somebody else’s color skin. Yick!
    Lady Edith’s dress could’ve been so gangster with just the sparkle hem, or maybe just an inch of the sheer, if it had to be there. As it is, it’s scrolldown meh.

    • Kathy

      To me, Lady Mary’s dress makes her face and neck look yellow, and the less said about the mottled pink legs the better.

  • Ragnarockette

    Love Michelle’s look, until you scroll down to find my prom shoes from 2004.

    Lop off that sheer hem and Laura’s would be nearly perfect.

  • Michelle

    Would anyone here know the best way to describe Michelle Dockery’s hair color? Cool/Warm/Chocolate/Expresso…?

    • demidaemon

      I say Dark Chocolate, personally.

  • Trickytrisha

    Love Michelle’s dress, face, hair. I don’t share the “skin colored” distaste since I find pale to be interesting.Those chilly, mottled legs need covering though, Wonder how black tights would have looked? Why the heck did hosiery go away?

    Laura’s look is a smidge less interesting, but she’s holding her own despite the sheer knee bib.

    • demidaemon

      I think her dark hair helps to balance everything out. If she were blond, I think we would be having a different reaction.

    • Hetha Innis

      I think black tights and knee-high boots would be worth a try with that dress. I love the dress, but the legs needed coverage badly.

  • theblondette

    I won’t spoiler the show for my transatlantic chums, but I will say that Lady Edith gets to look more sassy on the show as well as here in real life. Thank God! I have a big soft spot for Edith, even if she is a pain in the arse, and so it’s nice to see her getting to not be the ugly duckling. Even if once again her storylines are…problematic.

    • Introspective

      Totally agree on the edith storyline point! Illegal streamer of season 4 in nyc here. And yes uncles TLo this season was soapy as all hell but I was all in from start to finish! Costuming was divine!! i was so excited for the full on flapper chic edith especially was rocking this season. She totally came into her own but damn i wish her luck would change cause her part of the plot once again is more sucky than not…

      As for these outfits: i will echo my fellow bks here: definitely need a warmer blush tone to lady mary’s dress plus 2 inches and a better shoe. Lady edith definitely needs the sheer bit gone.

  • Call me Bee

    Wouldn’t Laura’s dress be awesome if the chiffon were just a thin strip, say an inch or two, rather than hanging down to her calves? And wouldn’t Michelle’s dress be awesome if it were a tad longer and a different color. Make that happen, Ladies.

    (I am a newcomer to the DA cult–just beginning to catch up on Season 3. I. Am. Obsessed.)

    • Qitkat

      I agree, especially for Laura’s dress. She does look amazing here, nevertheless.

    • Jackie4g

      Welcome! I hope you will enjoy the show and not get aggravated at some of the writing, because however stylish the settings and elegant the accents may be, it is still a soap opera and that’s exactly how it has been written. Still. the series is solid entertainment. Julian Fellows was interviewed when the series was brand new, and he said that between 1890 and 1940, England became a modern country. Apply that philosophy and it all works out well.

      • Aurumgirl

        Please don’t take this personally (as it’s not meant to be pointed at you) but I’m a bit disturbed by the idea that these cable series “serials” are being dismissed as “soap operas”. Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Wire, Treme, and on and on are all, by genre, serials–and that means they are all soap operas! Serials are only successful if they keep you waiting for the next instalment, and they can only do that by creating an interest in the individual characters and the way they relate to each other. That’s always what makes the plot work: nothing else. What I find, lately, is that any one of these shows that focuses on female characters as (the way Downton Abbey turns on Mary and her beaux and has from the very beginning, or The Good Wife, which features really well written female characters) gets dismissed as “Soap Opera” while the Breaking Bads are lauded for their “incredible script writing, exploration of relationships, and great dialogue”. They’re all soaps, people. Otherwise they’d be one episode long and we’d all have moved on long ago.

        • Jackie4g

          I have to laugh. I wrote a lengthy reply and my computer decided to update and I lost the whole thing. What I basically said was, I agree with you as far as your assessment of women oriented stories and how they are dismissed, but I would never compare Downton Abbey to Breaking Bad or The Wire. Different sort of entertainment completely. No, my complaint was with Season Three’s writing where a crisis is introduced and neatly resolved, often within the same episode. It’s done again and again all through Season Three. Now, Julian Fellows says it was because they had contracts expire and not be renewed for two major characters, which would throw a curve ball into any story arc, so I am hoping Season Four comes up with some more credible ups and downs.

          • Aurumgirl

            Oh, I only put them side by side because they’re both soaps. But for some reason, people think calling The Wire a soap is putting it down. It’s a soap opera in the Coronation Street template, but it’s a soap all the same. It’s also a very well written soap opera that is leagues ahead of Downton Abbey, but it’s the genre we’re dealing with here, not the quality, in classification.

            And I do agree that the writing on DA is hindered by the formula it’s been bent to take, whether that’s because of contract limitations for its actors and actresses or whether it happens to be the writers’ whims.

          • oat327

            I think what separates these shows from being soaps is that there’s an overarching, almost literary theme. “Breaking Bad” isn’t a show about drugs and sex–it’s ultimately a show about one man’s corruption, his thirst for power and control. “Mad Men” isn’t a show about booze and adultery, either–it’s the story about the decline of traditionalism and patriarchy in the 1960s. The situations are sometimes soapy, but they don’t define what the core of the show is, and what themes the shows use those situations to build.

            “Downton Abbey,” meanwhile, isn’t about any larger theme. It’s not a show merely featuring people who scheme, backstab, sleep with each other, die, lose money, gain money, etc. as means to a literary end–it’s a show ABOUT that for the sake of being about that. Which is fine, but why you can call it soapy. And, in my opinion, why it will always be a cut below “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” in terms of prestige.

          • Corsetmaker

            Interesting you mention Coronation Street, because I would say that was a key to the difference. Soaps should be domestic drama, the old kitchen sink drama. Of which Coronation Street is the prime example. Now that may have moved to glossier settings (and US soaps have always tended to less traditionally domestic settings) but the dramatic points are based around a ‘family’ dynamic, even if that family is stretched in definition to a workplace etc. In that context Downton is a soap. It may a bit more luxurious than the pub or Hilda Ogden’s front room but the domestic context is still there. Whereas other serialised dramas may keep a through story in that vein but will also bring in external stories.

        • We can’t speak for other people who use the term, but we use “soap opera” to describe Downton Abbey not because it’s a serialized drama, but because it’s a serialized drama that centers around stories of romance, inheritances, babies, adultery and sexual assault, all of which are narrative mainstays of the classic soap opera. Breaking Bad simply can’t be saddled with that classification – although Mad Men can, for the most part.

          • Aurumgirl

            I understand what you’re saying, but actually, Breaking Bad features most of those topics. For example, the rape thing is just presented differently, but if it isn’t shown outright it is implied in a marital relationship. Same applies to The Sopranos, Treme, The Wire….all of them cover those topics at some point in the narrative in distinct ways that pertain to the story line, just as they do in “classic” soaps that I admit were originally geared towards women. They’re all soaps. Some are just better than others. The classification just shouldn’t be used dismissively.

          • “I understand what you’re saying, but actually, Breaking Bad features most of those topics. ”

            But it isn’t a show ABOUT those topics. Sorry, but we can’t agree with you that they’re all soaps. “Soap opera” is a term that actually means something and serialized drama is only part of that definition. There are elements of soap operas that are distinct to the genre. The placement of romance, sex, and family in the center of the story is key to that. Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White. Downton Abbey, like all soap operas, is not one person’s story and in fact, as demonstrated handily this season, can be altered easily when major cast members decide to leave. They just pull the usual soap opera trick of inserting new versions of essentially the same characters into the story. You can’t do that with Breaking Bad. If Bryan Cranston decided to leave the show before its planned end, then the show would have come to an early end because of it.

          • Aurumgirl

            Well, you could make an argument–Walter White is the protagonist, but ultimately, all the necessary soap opera elements are in his story–it just focuses on him as the main character, just as Downton Abbey focuses on the goings on in that manor house and to a certain extent the village around it and the larger world around it. It is nowhere near as engrossing a story, but that’s where other elements (conflicts between characters that drive the drama are more violent, let’s say) make the stories different. You can’t switch out Walter White and tell the story, but there have definitely been characters in that show that are killed off only to be replaced by another character with a different name carrying out the same plot and driven by the same motives. And yes, all the elements that drive the story forward are the same–romance, sex, family…they’re all there. They just circle around a main protagonist. In Downton Abbey the main protagonist is all that Downton Abbey symbolizes–the class structure, changes that affect all the characters and how they’re all affected differently, etc. Of course they are neither stories that resemble the soap operas TV loves to be dismissive about–the Days of our Lives, the General Hospitals, or even the night-time soaps like Dallas and or L A Law and the like. But that’s the point about writing different stories.

            I’m not trying to be argumentative here, but I just think the distinction is minimal and I do think that the same elements the drive soaps and make them so addictive have to be used in all serials, as well. And it’s something I wouldn’t put past Vince Gilligan! He’s just using it far more subtly, as are the writers of Mad Men, the Sopranos, The Wire, et al. I just don’t think Julian Fellowes is as skilled a writer as some of the others I’ve mentioned above–or his writing is restricted and it results in scripts that can’t quite develop as deeply in terms of characterization and relevance. Anyway, I’ll stop with this so the thread can go back to what Michelle and Laura wore–but I do appreciate that people can veer slightly off topic this way and still find a good conversation as a result.

  • Imasewsure

    Both of these looks are great from the knees up…

  • sweetlilvoice

    Seeing these two together makes me really want Lady Sybil to return….even thought that’s impossible. Will be interested to see season 4….

  • Scimommy

    Agree about the hair/makeup. From these photos I wouldn’t know who the “plain” sister is supposed to be. Sadly, also agree about the dresses. Come on, Lady Edith, you can do better!

  • Cadence Woodland

    This Brit-side Bitter Kitten concurs. Soapy.

  • Wellworn

    It was always soapy to me. Like Dynasty with period clothing instead of shoulder pads. Is it more soapy now? Wait, don’t spoil me. I have been so itching to look up episode synopsis online and so far have been able to control myself. Anyway, I agree that Michelle has the better dress, but it always shocks me to see contemporary Laura. It’s amazing what hair style and makeup, or lack of it can do to a face. Actually I could say the same about many of the other Downton women, both upstairs and downstairs.

  • jonnyf8

    Branson and Thomas were on Andy Cohen (with Lady Edith and the cook) last night and I have no complaints about either of those guys!

  • kimmeister

    The fit in the bodice of Michelle’s dress is off. Her boobs have a sad.

    I’m loving the fact that Laura wore Mary Janes.

  • flamingoNW

    Lady Mary’s pink dress is too short. Not so much….

  • Angela_the_Librarian

    I think I would give Lady Edith the win here. The color and cut of Lady Mary’s dress just does not look flattering. I think if it was green, blue, or another jewel tone and had a different style skirt it would be a winner.

  • StillGary

    Ha ha Sister Dear, in 2013 I’m blonde, so suck it!

  • Jaye Tyler

    Starring Laura Carmichael as… that girl in high school who was too quiet to hang with the cool kids but too pretty to hang with the nerds and subsequently spent homecoming leaning against the bleachers with a cup of punch and a bad case of bitchy-resting-face! A star turn!

  • nannypoo

    I’m just gonna say it – Lady Mary is too pale. She needs to get outside more and wear more blusher. In this example her face is yellow and her legs are pink, but both colors are too pale for a healthy person. Lady Edith looks a little bowlegged here but I think she is gorgeous.

    • Corsetmaker

      That’s her skintone. How can anyone be too pale if that’s their natural colouring? I never understand these comments about paleness as nobody would ever (rightly of course) consider saying someone was too much of any other skintone!

      • nannypoo

        I reread my comment and yeah, you’re right. I guess I’m reacting to the fact that the color she’s wearing is so unflattering on her. I really think she’s quite beautiful.

        • Corsetmaker

          Yeah, definitely agree it’s not the best colour for her 🙂

    • Yeah… please don’t do that. That’s her skin color. It’s not “wrong” somehow.

      • nannypoo

        Thanks for the reality check.

  • Tatiana Luján

    I would like Lady Mary’s outfit a lot more if she were wearing black tights and shoes.

    • Lilak

      There ya go … that’ll do it! Till that happens, that dress color is stuck at whatever Pantone calls “cold knees.”

  • housefulofboys

    My mother would have called Lady Mary’s dress color “ashes of roses.” Pretty much says it all…dead roses.

  • Kelly

    Leave off the sheer skirt, and Laura is a WERQ. Michelle, on the other hand, looks bland, washed-out, and awfully awkward in that skirt. She just never looks good or comfortable in things that short. And it’s in one of the ugliest colors known to humankind.

  • Zaftiguana

    The skin colory-ness isn’t even a huge problem for me next to her face and neck, but when you get down to her legs it’s an issue. I wonder how black tights with different shoes would have worked.

    And go ahead, Lady Edith! That’s a girl who looks ready to upgrade from married farmer to married newspaperman!

  • ThesisMonkey

    love the Miu Miu, but it really does disappear on her. Lady Edith’s top half is perfection!

  • fauxkaren

    If Michelle’s dress were in a different color, it could have been great. Ah well.

    I’m so excited for series 4 to be airing in the US because honestly, I loved series 4 a ton and Michelle acts her socks off.

  • Dockery: Girl, That’s Not Your Color. I wish it were an ice blue or a cool lavender.
    Carmichael: That eye makeup has you looking like Petey from The Little Rascals in half of your photos. Hate the sheer hem, but you look generally pretty all the same.

  • cocohall

    T and Lo – how are you limiting yourself to one episode a day!?!?! Truly impressive. I’d TELL myself just one, but end up calling in sick and watching the whole damn season. A sizable number of the cast were on The View this week, drumming up excitement. Have to say I love the fact it will air in January to get me over the post-holiday doldrums. Laura Carmichael was almost unrecognizable – in a good way. She is clearly making every effort to delineate herself from her character. Good on her.

  • Lilithcat

    I did not know that Miu Miu made ice skating costumes.

  • webslice33

    wow..i always thot lady edith was the ugly sister..but she is very pretty here..

  • snarkykitten

    Wow they look absolutely *thrilled* to be standing next to each other!

  • Ghjklo

    I agree about both, love Michelle’s outfit but not sure about the colour.
    And I didn’t like season 4 at all, that’s all I will say.

  • Corsetmaker

    I like Michelle’s dress, but the colour isn’t great on her. I have more problem with the fit of Laura’s bodice than the sheer hem.
    Looking forward to the Christmas day episode here 🙂 I enjoyed that last series. It is what it is, doesn’t pretend to be great drama. But it has it’s moments.

  • gefeylich

    Soapy, but an improvement over last year.

    And yeah, I love these women, but Michelle’s dress is too short and that sheer stuff on Laura’s is tacky. Still, they are both so pretty and charming I don’t even care.