The Costumes of Downton Abbey – Part 1

Posted on May 27, 2014

You should know that we’re the types of queens who go to see all the First Ladies’ inauguration dresses at the Smithsonian on our honeymoon. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that for Memorial Day weekend, we weren’t attending barbecues, heading to the beach or mountains, or generally relaxing in the sun, but instead peering closely at Downton Abbey Costumes.


Downton-Abbey-Costumes-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (1)If any of you are within reasonable distance of Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, Delaware, and you’re fans of Downton Abbey, then you can consider their “Costumes of Downton Abbey” exhibit to be T Lo -Approved. BIG time. We enjoyed it immensely, so much so that we immediately walked into the exhibit, surveyed the large number of iconic or immediately recognizable costumes, turned to each other and said excitedly, “Oh we are SO doing a post on this tomorrow.”

It’s the detailing that really stands out for us.


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Downton-Abbey-Costumes-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (6)We’ve never noticed this delicately pretty print on Gwen’s day uniform, for instance.


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Downton-Abbey-Costumes-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (10)Or the buttons on Thomas’ coat.



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Downton-Abbey-Costumes-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (13B)

Downton-Abbey-Costumes-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (13)Or just how many design elements and embellishments can be found on Mrs. Hughes’ deceptively simple uniform. You think of it as such a workman-like outfit,  but it’s got enough beading and lace to make a modern-day cocktail dress.

But as fascinating as the downstairs costumes are, let’s face it:

Downton-Abbey-Costumes-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (14)

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Downton-Abbey-Costumes-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (16)

Downton-Abbey-Costumes-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (17)It’s the “upstairs” wardrobe that provides the maximum number of opportunities to ooh and ahh. No picture can convey how rich and intricately designed a lot of these pieces are. Just look at all the elements in the hat alone. Look at how detailed those buttons are.


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Downton-Abbey-Costumes-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (23)

Downton-Abbey-Costumes-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (24)Amazing to see all the lace and embroidery up close. We’d estimate only about 40% of this stuff even registers onscreen.

Very wisely, they grouped certain costumes by the most-remembered scenes in the series, like the garden party when World War I broke out:

Downton-Abbey-Costumes-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (25)

Downton-Abbey-Costumes-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (26)

Downton-Abbey-Costumes-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (27)Honestly, we’re a little embarrassed to find out that the housemaids’ formal uniforms have different aprons, depending on who’s wearing them. We should have noticed that before now.


Downton-Abbey-Costumes-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (28)Look at how pretty the lace collars are, which is another detail that barely registered for us.


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Downton-Abbey-Costumes-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO (32B)It’s interesting – and entirely appropriate, given the character – how modern the print looks on Sybil’s dress.  Again, it barely registered on camera.


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It’s probably not surprising that this dress was one of the most popular ones in the exhibit, given the constant crowd surrounding it. This in an exhibit heavy with furs and beading and formal gowns. But this dress is iconically important to the show and strikingly pretty in wearable and modern kind of way. We think it may be one of the more aspirational (in the sense of “I need to find a dress like that”) costumes in the show’s run. Given the rest of the exhibit, it’s easily one of the simplest thing’s Mary’s ever worn on the show outside of her sleepwear.

Much more to come in parts 2 and 3.





[Photo Credit:, PBS]

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  • Democracy Diva

    Amazing! Also, one of my favorite things about living in D.C. is easy access to the First Ladies exhibit. It’s one of my favorite places on earth.

    • Lori

      Easy access to the American History Museum is one of the things I miss most since leaving DC. I love the First Ladies exhibit.

    • tallgirl1204

      I didn’t even know how much I loved costume and textile until I visited the First Ladies exhibit. I thought I was just a home sewer as a result of necessity (36″ inseams and 34″ sleeves on a body too curvy for men’s clothes). But the sumptuous details of the older gowns… it was all a path that led me to TLo.

      • formerlyAnon

        I always say that I’m not really that into fashion, I like fabric and textile art.

        • I think that describes me too!

  • shirab

    I am so glad to know that you liked the exhibit! I live in the area and have been planning to organize a group of like-minded individuals to get down there to see it. I think it will be around for a while, luckily.

    • marlie

      Bitter kitten field trip!!

    • Monabel

      ‘Til the end of the year, I understand.

    • MoHub

      Still hobbling after major back surgery, but I’m hoping to get myself downtown before the exhibit closes.

      • decormaven

        Get well wishes to you. Back surgery is a PITA.

        • MoHub

          Yep. And some of the aftereffects have left me feeling worse than I was pre-surgery. Still, I’m too stubborn to let it take over my lif.

          • decormaven

            Hang on- it will settle out. I had outpatient surgery on herniated disc last year. It took almost a full year for the nerves to cool out. Slow and steady; the ice bag is your friend.

          • MoHub

            I had the whole lumbar spine—1-5—attacked: discectomy, laminectomy, and decompression. I’m thinking I’m in for a long ride.

            The surgery was March 28, and my biggest goal right now is to get off the narcotics and manage things with non-narcotic and OTC meds. I’ve managed to cut the Percocet dosage and frequency way down, and Aleve seems to be doing a pretty good job. My biggest help has been Thermacare wraps, which are a gift from the gods.

          • decormaven

            That was some serious work. Are you doing post op PT? That should help. It’s very transitory how the nerves will be buzzy, tingly, etc. But it eventually evens out. Kudos to you for undergoing the procedure.

          • MoHub

            I had in-home PT for a few weeks and have a whole exercise regimen to get through every morning. I’ve been going to the PT arm of my orthopedic practice for electrostimulus to try to get the nerves jumping, but so far, I’m not noticing much difference when I’m not actually hooked up to the machine.

            At least I managed to “graduate” from a walker to a cane and can walk very short distances without mechanical aids.

          • decormaven

            That’s progress. It comes very incrementally. Stick with your regimen – the electrostimulus sounds like a good thing to get the nerves to sync up. They were compressed for so long. It truly is like electrical wiring. I tell people I have a deep appreciation for my wiring now because I became so intimately acquainted with it last year. Congrats on easing off the pain Rx and moving to OTC NSAID- that’s a huge accomplishment.

      • formerlyAnon

        Hope you’ll experience a smooth recovery – though with back surgery sometimes full recovery seems to take a much longer time than surgeons think. First there’s recovery from the surgery, then there’s stretching/strengthening process of the muscles and connecting tissue.

        • MoHub

          Biggest issue is the nerve damage. Got drop foot and no sense of my right leg. I was originally told 6 to 8 weeks’ recovery, and after a nerve study, it’s more like 6 months to a year.

          At least I’m able to work form home, so I don’t have to do disability.

          • formerlyAnon

            Well that’s got to be a bummer – nerve damage is just scary, even when they promise it is going to heal. And anything that impairs easy mobility is just enormously frustrating. Good luck. Take good care of yourself.

          • decormaven

            It takes the nerves a long time to cool off after they have been impinged. I had buzzy/tingling feelings for a long time post surgery. Just know that it does get better- you’re just passing through this time. Hugs to you.

  • Kate Andrews

    OOOOOH! That’s beautiful, and I may have to go up the coast to see the exhibit.

  • decormaven

    Thank you for the close-up photography on the details of the costumes. I love looking at antique lace and buttons. A question: the first costume (Gwen’s dress) shown appears to be machine stitched on the cuffs. While I know machines were used by then, it stills seems a bit odd to see machine stitching in a maid’s day uniform. So glad you got to take in this exhibit in person. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • Jackie4g

      Machine stitching was found to be durable, so it became more and more common.

      • Isabel

        How often were the maid’s uniforms washed? How many did they own?

        • Jackie4g

          2 for day and at least one black for evening and formal occasions.

    • jenno1013

      Also remember these are costumes, made in the present day. Some of the upstairs costumes contain elements of period clothing, but very few items are entirely antique. Sybil’s print dress above IS one that is almost entirely antique, but the downstairs uniforms are all newly made.

      • unbornfawn

        Yes! Most antiques would be too small for today’s actors, and fragile for film use. And may I add, that part of the art of costume design is to create the illusion of another time and place, within the limits of time, budget, skill level and materials available, or as a favorite costumer friend likes to say, “We not a museum, we are doing theater.” The work here is marvelous.

        • decormaven

          Thanks to all responders on this question! I bet it is a dilemma for costume designers- wanting to stay as true to period as possible, but recognizing the constraints of time and budget. No production would have the money to pay for handstitched outfits, I’m sure. I’m amazed at the level of quality work that is presented here.

          • Have you read the interview over on Gofugyourself with the costume designer for Sleepy Hollow? SO interesting on the process and the lengths she will go to on the period costumes.

          • decormaven

            Thanks! I will check that out. I do appreciate the efforts of costumer designers- it’s a true craft.

  • LipstickForPigs

    Oh THANK YOU for featuring these! I’ve always been curious about the costumes on this show. Looking forward to the next installment!

  • d4divine

    Thanks for this post TLo!

  • Skippymom1

    Thank you! I didn’t know this existed, but definitely a reason to visit Delaware. I wonder how the museum ended up with the costumes, in DE?

    • Jackie4g

      It’s formerly the estate of the E.I. Dupont de Nemours family – you know, DuPont chemicals?

      • SayWTH

        Here is my small claim to fame: In between my freshman and sophomore years of college I was one of the private cooks (I was studying Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales in Providence, RI) for one of the DuPont daughters and her husband at their summer cottage on Cape Cod.

        • Skippymom1

          That’s fascinating. I have read a few books on the various du Ponts – and it amazing how far and wide the tree goes. I know they had their homes on Cape Cod. I hope they were nice.

          • SayWTH

            Well, for my interview they did fly me from MA to their horse farm in VA for the day. 🙂 The couple I worked for were an older couple, their daughter is married to Jamie Wyeth, the painter. The part of the Cape that the Mills’ had their cottage on was Oyster Harbor and it was a gated compound. It was a pretty neat job.

          • Skippymom1

            Again, thank you so much for sharing. What a neat insight into the “other world” and it’s nice to know you enjoyed it. I really love your comment. 🙂

      • Skippymom1

        Thank you so much. That is a great bit of trivia to know. I appreciate it 🙂

    • jenno1013

      Basically the Chairman of the Board of the museum is a Downton fan, and he thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if….” and yadda yadda yadda, a couple textile preservationists from Winterthur were dispatched to Cosprop with a wish list of costumes to borrow. They brought them back in climate-controlled containers and then hand-carved mannequins for each one. One of the subtly brilliant aspects of the exhibit is how they designed the tableaux, added appropriate props from the museum’s collection or from eBay (yes), so you don’t just have rows of outfits with no context.

      • formerlyAnon

        Bless you for providing background!

      • decormaven

        Oooh, I love that type of detail. So thankful funding came through so people here can tour the exhibit. I don’t collect vintage textiles per se, but I like trolling EBay to see what bobs up. Textiles are so fragile as they age- I bet that is tricky-plus to conserve them.

      • smayper

        I love that textile preservationist is a real job.

  • alyce1213

    Costume Heaven. This will be today’s preoccupation. Thank you.

  • Jennifer Bober

    Oh wow!!!! I see a road trip in my near future with some historical costuming friends.

    Just seeing the detail with the French hand sewing and entredeux is amazing. It’s one of the eras I’ve never done before, but this makes me want to get sewing.

  • carnush

    So cool! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • siriuslover

    I never realized there were different shapes for the aprons either. Thank you for sharing!

    • kimmeister

      Shapes, lengths, and collars are all different! I will be on the lookout now.

  • Judy_J

    You would expect the upper class clothing to be impeccably designed and constructed, but even the servants uniforms are elaborately appointed! How lovely it must be to put these costumes on and be able to send yourself back in time. Thank you for this beautiful post!

    • marlie

      It’s amazing that even the servants’ clothes were well-made. A *vast* difference from most of the uniforms that we see people in the service industry wearing now. No quality fabrics, careful attention to detail, or pretty embellishments like these.

      • Qitkat

        Right, I think I’m even more impressed with the servants’ clothing, because we already knew there were beautiful details on the upstairs’ characters. It makes me wonder if something like a pretty uniform would make people feel just a tiny bit prouder of their so-often tiresome, repetitive jobs. Probably not, in the long run.

        • Ginger

          I always thought that servants in well-made and pretty uniforms would be another strong indicator of one’s wealth. Sure, people may scrape together their last bit of money to dress themselves well, but dressing your servants in impeccable uniforms means that you can definitely afford the extravagant lifestyle/facade that one puts forth. Am I rambling again?

          • decormaven

            Not rambling- just observant. It was all part of the tableau.

          • formerlyAnon

            I’ve read that one of the points of pride of working for a wealthy establishment was the (above stairs) uniform.

        • marlie

          I think you have a point. It’s a status symbol to show that one’s servants are well-dressed (relatively speaking), but I think that maybe it IS a point of pride to work in a house where the servants are either provided with – or paid well enough – that they can dress a little more nicely. Maybe it feeds into that idea that sometimes you work better/harder/whatever when you feel good about what you’re wearing.

    • Well, they are often uncomfortable and smelly (because parts of them are often old and not easy to wash if they are even allowed to wash them at all), so you kind of get sent back in time, but it’s not necessarily a nice feeling.

  • Constant Reader

    Thanks for covering this for those of us who won’t get to see it in person. I love the close-up photos of the details that are easy to miss when the garments are in motion on the TV screen.

  • estella_nyc

    Parts 2 and 3?!! TLo, you just made my day!

  • Chris

    One of the things I find so interesting about the Downton costumes (and a lot of other TV/movie ones too) is how often they are used in other shows and movies and never get noticed. Many of Lady Mary and her sisters’ dresses (in particular) were used in lots of other productions I watched but they didn’t register as much. Find the right actress with the right body and look, put her in the right scene and the same dress becomes iconic. One thing about Michelle Dockery is she can really sell a look. She improves every costume when they put one on her. These photos are detailed and gorgeous, thank you!

  • Jacqueline Wessel

    Wow, what a spectacular exhibit. I particularly love the checkerboard effect created by the textures on Mrs. Hughes dress, and that fabulous black and gold coat with the hugh fur collar and cuffs. Thanks for the pix.

    • Isabel

      Were the upstairs clothes hand washed or was dry cleaning available by then? After how many uses were they considered dirty? They must have smelled because of the smoking going on?

      • formerlyAnon

        Hand washed and if sturdy enough, spot cleaned with solvents. Dry cleaning was invented in the late? 1800s, but not widely used until maybe the 1930s? The early solvents were unstable and dry cleaning establishments had a lot of fires.

        A lot of things couldn’t really be cleaned. There were underarm shields, and in some periods people wore a lot of underclothing, but . . .

        In some periods, the bottom tier/ruffle on a dress was literally a dust ruffle, and might be removed for cleaning (as were collars and cuffs.) All very labor intensive, though.

      • FibonacciSequins

        Clothes weren’t washed frequently because washing was so labor-intensive. For example, men’s shirts had removable collars and cuffs for frequent washing, but the shirts themselves were worn for weeks before being washed. Clothes were brushed, sponged and spot cleaned after wearing. Ladies’ maids and valets were expected to know an array of recipes for cleaning clothes and polishing shoes. An episode of DA touches on this when a jealous Thomas tells a recently-promoted valet to use the wrong solution to spot clean Matthew’s coat, which burns a hole in the coat, and is a factor (IIRC) in the valet being demoted back to footman.

    • kimmeister

      I’m ashamed that I never noticed the intricately beaded V on Mrs. Hughes’s dress, nor the elaborate details inside of the V.

    • jenno1013

      The sign by Mrs. Hughes’s dress mentions that in reality, a housekeeper probably wouldn’t have worn a fabric like that, but an authentic flat black fabric would not show up well on camera — she’d look like a black blob moving around, whereas the weave of that fabric gives the lighting something to catch.

      • Jacqueline Wessel

        Very interesting. Well they solved the problem of filming black garments in such a beautiful and interesting way.

  • Jackie4g

    Winterthur (pronounced Win ter ter) has one of the finest collections of American furniture outside of Ima Hogg’s in TX or any of the East Coast museums. I mean Rhode Island (with the seashells) and Massachusetts and Philadelphia, with their own distinct carvings, and Duncan Phyfe from NYC and the beginnings of Regency, or in the USA, what is called Federal style. The estate has grounds and gardens TDF besides this wonderful exhibit. If you can go there, GO THERE!

    • Qitkat

      I have been, a long time ago, with a group of friends, all of whom were interested in the quilts. Our group got a lovely, behind-the-scenes tour. But as you say, the entire place is so magnificent. If I were anywhere near the area now, this exhibit would draw me back there. All you lucky kittens that are close by, this sounds like something not to be missed. Thanks for the feature, TLo. It’s a treat to admire the exquisite sewing and details in the close-ups.

    • Snailstsichr

      I went there for an embroidery conference and had two behind-the-scenes tours with conservators! This exhibit sounds delightful; I wish I lived closer, but I am very thankful for the T-Lo view.

    • Beardslee

      I’ve wanted to go for years and don’t live too far away, but first the kids were too small to go someplace with breakable things, and then all they wanted to visit were science museums. But they’re old now, and reasonably civilized, and we can just go. When they get museum fatigue before I do, they can occupy themselves with cell phones and sulking.

      • formerlyAnon

        they can occupy themselves with cell phones and sulking

        I recognize this scene. 😉

    • decormaven

      I would die happy looking at the furniture at that place. I love period furniture- I wouldn’t want to live with it, but I appreciate the craftsmanship behind it.

  • JR Labrador

    What a civilized Memorial Day. (I spent mine trying to roust drunken relatives out of my backyard). Such sumptuous detailing and some of these are far more interesting than anything that, say, Dior has put out lately.

  • Funkykatt

    My favorite posts of yours are the ones that being with ‘Part 1″ and end with ‘Part 2’ or ‘Part 3’ on the way. Thank you so much!

  • gayle

    I love the Winterthur Museum! Being a born and raised Delaware kid just about every year we did a school field trip there and my brother had his wedding in one of the courtyards. It is a fantastic place to visit.

  • Miss Disco has a lot of coverage on where most of these costumes have previously been used. along with many other shows, which i think is interesting (particularly where some of the dresses convey completely different impressions about the characters)

    • NBG

      I love that page and the related Tumblr. Great info!

    • Malve Lyborg

      I just visited the side you recommended and it’s AMAZING, thank you! I never knew that there was a costume two of my most beloved film heroes shared: Anne Shirley and Lucy Honeychurch. Those puffy sleeves!

    • decormaven

      Love that site. Takes some sharp eyes to spot the recycled costumes. I’m impressed.

  • Kimmu

    How did I not know this existed? I live 20 minutes from Winterthur!

  • jenno1013

    The coat above with the elaborate embroidered flower trim, worn in the show by Elizabeth McGovern, was made by the show’s costumers out of…a tablecloth. They do marvelous repurposing of old textiles.

    • decormaven

      That’s what I love- taking a remnant or other-purposed textile and reworking it. Some of those types of fabric are no longer in production. It would be like handling the finest of metals or jewels.

  • Alanna

    Thanks so much for the close-ups of the costumes, Tom and Lorenzo! One thing that really strikes me about Mrs. Hughes’ dress is how much it looks hand-sewn, especially along the waist and necklines. Although many of the servants’ uniforms would’ve been ordered from a catalogue, she probably would’ve made her own dress — and I love that she’s a bit sloppy with the beading and seams. (I know the feeling. I’m a near-expert knitter, but even my machine-sewing looks like crap!)

    • tallgirl1204

      Wow– you have higher standards that I do! Mrs. Hughes’ sewing skills look pretty good to me! Although I do remember this dress, and I thought that the white-ish trim on the neckline was a necklace rather than trim. So nice to see it close up– the black fabric of the main part of the dress (it’s not jacquard, but what is it?) is so lovely.

      • Qitkat

        It is elegant, isn’t it? And that V-shaped inset, embroidered beading on top of netting and lace.

  • marlie

    This is so awesome! I actually work near there, ad I’ve been dying to go… This is the top of my most-see list (along with the Charles James exhibit at the Met, which got scuttled 2 weekends ago b/c I was sick) on one of my boyfriend-free weekends.

    • MilaXX

      Trying to coordinate win friends to see the Charles James exhibit. There’s also a fashion exhibit here in Philly I want to get to as well.

    • Carleenml

      I was there (the Met) two weeks ago – it’s a lovely exhibit and also nice to see are the Bergdorf windows decorated in homage to James – Posen won that battle, too–best dressed window/lol. Apropos of this thread — I always thought the Met could make beaucoup bucks doing a Downton-themed exhibit of costumes (how much fun would that gala be??). I thought it was great that Delaware went a step further and got the real deals.

  • KendraMR

    Absolutely stunning. Oh, how I wish I were near Delaware.

  • MilaXX

    I think I’m going to hop down & see this!

  • YousmelllikeAnnaWintour

    LOVE IT!!! 🙂

  • msdamselfly

    Thanks so much. This is lovely.

  • I am disgusted to realize that when I was watching that silly X-Men movie (a bit of good-wifery I indulged in for the sake of my geek spouse), I missed seeing TLo at Winterthur!!! (And the DA costumes, of course…)

  • Angela_the_Librarian

    Oh how I wish I could see this in person. Maybe it will travel my way at some point. Thanks for posting the pictures!

  • SewingSiren

    Fascinating. I wonder do they give detailed descriptions such as of the names of the types of fabric and lace that were used in the costumes. Because those things interest me very much. Also jewels and hair ornaments.

  • Aidan B

    My grandmother works at Winterthur and says the place has been an absolute madhouse since this exhibition started; they were completely unprepared for this kind of traffic. Can’t wait to get in there and see it myself!!

  • AzSportsGirl

    I wonder if they have an exhibit catalogue for sale… checking online. If not, they should certainly pay T and Lo to write it!

    • marlie

      That’s one that I’d definitely buy.

  • kimmeister

    I’ve only seen the first two seasons of DA, now I can’t wait to see when Shirley MacLaine is in the picture.

  • Cammie

    Wow, just wow! I love Mrs. Hughes’ keychain, and this is the first time I get to see it close up. : )

  • Cyprienne Zed

    What a well-put-together exhibit — love the script superimposed on the wall behind Mary’s garden party dress!

  • Mrs. Julien

    I welcome any excuse to ogle an Edwardian hat.

  • formerlyAnon

    Ohh. Thank-you for all the detailed photos.

  • NMMagpie

    Totally awesome! I love to see that there is real artistry like this.

  • LeelaST

    So interesting to see how the costumes differ in person (TLo’s photos) from how they look on camera – colors, textures & details are fabulous. I saw an exhibit of Star Wars costumes (eps I-III) that were overflowing with intricate detail but practically none of which showed on screen. But I also saw an Oscar costume exhibit at the Motion Picture Academy here in LA that included the stunning black & white Valentino Julia Roberts wore when she won the Oscar for Erin Brockovich. It looked cheaply made and had zero oomph. Costuming & Makeup are special effects unto themselves. Thanks for the MadStyle posts, TLo, and for sharing this with us.

  • FibonacciSequins

    Sigh. Total fashion porn. Sounds like a perfect way to spend a holiday weekend.

  • ChelseaNH

    The contrast between the screen caps and the museum shots — lighting makes SUCH a difference.

  • Kaytee

    So glad you liked it. A friend and I are going to see it complete with the Downton Tea in 2 weeks. I love living this close to Winterthur. Also 2 hours from DC.

  • queeniethebold

    Wait, wait! Why did Lady Mary’s hat change? She’s wearing one in the picture of her with Edith and Sybill, and another one in the picture directly beneath it! And the first hat isn’t discussed at all. What am i missing?

    • Qitkat

      It’s probably just the same dress worn on different occasions. We’ve seen all the characters on DA repeating clothing, especially Lady Mary.

      • queeniethebold

        D’oh! What a dope i yam. (The necklace looks the same to me, as do the gloves. i wasn’t even thinking in terms of different episodes/occasions.)

        • Qitkat

          M’dear, we’ve all had our dopey moments 😉 Let’s go sit in the shade and have a nice mint julep together, and watch for the men to return all aromatic and sweaty and laughing from their hunting party.

          • queeniethebold

            Oh, my, that sounds like absolute perfection! Thank you!

  • judybrowni

    Talk about attention to detail: the housemaid’s aprons may be different, because maybe housemaid’s were then required to make their own aprons?
    Or a local dressmaker ran them up at different times?
    Or the costume designers were having fun, or give us less boring range of uniforms?

  • MoHub

    I have something very similar to Maggie Smith’s crocheted coat that was part of my grandmother’s trousseau, which was around the same period as Downtown Abbey.

    • formerlyAnon

      Very cool.

      • MoHub

        I’ll have to look it up, but I think she was married in 1912.

  • frannyprof

    I can’t imagine a more perfect way to begin the workweek. Thank you!

  • smayper

    I once had the privilege of attending a presentation by the costume staff at the Royal Shakespeare Company. They showed us things like a hat used in one production…lined with a contrasting fabric, never seen by anyone but the actress…just to help her feel the character. I loved it! They also have an entire shop devoted to leatherwork — all the footwear worn in their productions is made in-house. They have trouble keeping the actors from walking off (ugh, pun not intended) with it.

  • kimmeister

    That dress form on which Sybil’s dress is placed isn’t doing it any justice.

  • Call me Bee

    Would that this BK could be gazing at all the details along with you. Also, its not necessarily true that the details are overlooked while watching. I intently peer at the TV to catch every collar, hat or neckline that I can. (If you ever see the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon again, do the same thing. The detail of the Chinese silk tunics-the knots and collar embroidery–it is to die for….)

    Thanks, Dear Uncles, for posting these wonderful photos so the rest of us can see the details….

  • Man Dala

    This is incredible. “All my orgasms have come at once” — Selina Meyer in “Veep”.

  • How did I not know that Ygritte was in Downton? Not that I’d be more inclined to watch it…

    • Edie Rose

      She was better as Gwen than as Ygritte imo

  • Danielle

    I am 110% on board with viewing anything that once touched Queen Maggie Smith.

  • GorgeousThings

    OMG I have GOT to see this! Is there a catalogue that goes with the exhibition?

    • jenno1013

      Sadly no…. I get the feeling Winterthur wasn’t expecting this to be what it’s become. If they’d done one, they’d have sold every copy plus more.

  • HATS /dead
    (But seriously, LOVE. Need to get out to that exhibit sometime, but I fear I might turn cat burglar. And I do love that purple striped dress so – sigh.)

  • cmb92191

    And I have something in common with TLo. I too went to Washington, D.C. On my honeymoon to look at First Ladies gowns!

  • DagnyReardon

    I have tickets for this. It’s a great museum on it’s own, but this should be fun. Another exhibit my T+L lovelies may like is Doris Duke’s wardrobe at her estate, Rough Point in Newport, R.I. I went a few summers ago and it was fabulous. They are doing another take on her clothing this year and it looks to be another winner.

  • majorbedhead

    Oh, I believe a trip to Delaware is in my near future. Good thing it’s only a 5 hour train ride.

  • Jennifer McGuire

    We went to see this. It was friggin’ fantastic.

  • Natalie Walker

    Thanks Tom , for posting these wonderful close- ups , as an embroidery designer I am in heaven . I have to admit when I watch this show , I am always zooming in on the detail ! The Housemaids uniforms feature darning , or pulled work and can only be done with natural fibers a very intricate process. The photo with Shirley Mclaine and Dame Maggie Smith, Maggie’s dress is featuring three thread work or Corde a form of Bonnaz Embroidery which was created using The Cornely machine. The is a hand operated embroidery machine originally produced in France . by Sum Cornely , invented by Antoine Bonnaz…. I especially love the battenburg lace collars which are also done by hand. I have recreated and used a lot of these techniques in my work ! Hand Embroidery is truly a dying art , It is very nice to see so many wonderful comments !

    • This is so interesting. Thank you for the additional info, Natalie! Also, glad you enjoyed these posts : )

  • Rebecca Egolf

    Drove down from Philadelphia today to see this exhibit. What a fantastic day. The costumes were fascinating. In the context of touring the DuPont estate and gardens it was a day of beauty and grandeur. Thanks for your recommendation.