Watching Downton Abbey I can’t help but fall in love with the clothes. So elegant, so refined, so other worldly. While we can’t exactly go back in time to wear vintage clothes in their prime condition we can wear new vintage inspired clothes that are a perfect combination of past and present. Downton Abbey style clothes come in very formal evening dresses that the sisters wore to dinner and the simple day wear of the working class. The 6 seasons on Downton Abbey span 1912 to 1925. For this article I’ll focus just on the last few season set in the 1920s.
Whether you want reproduction 1920s clothing or a more modern take on ’20s style there is something here for you. Read about how to spot 1920s Downton Abbey style in clothing today and then follow the links to the shop pages where I show you hundreds of 1920s style clothing to buy online.
Downton Abbey Style Clothing
1920s Beaded Dresses
Breathtaking, beautiful, fully beaded evening gowns are back in fashion thanks to Downton Abbey. Long, sleeveless dresses with all over beads and sequins bring formal dresses back to the elegant early to mid 1920s. Hemlines rose from ankle to below the knee during this time period. The above the knee bead or sequin dresses very popular right now are inspired by the 1960s when a flapper fashion revival was happening.
Intricate beading is making its way onto tops and blouses too for day wear. Add a long pleated skirt to complete your ’20s day look. Wearing any beaded dress or top will certainly get you started on the road to a 1920s Downton Abbey style.
Shop Downton Abbey style dresses with plenty of beaded elegance.
Tiered Tea Length Dresses
Beading is very expensive to make both back in the ’20s as well as today. The ever popular cotton, silk, or chiffon tea dress was what most woman wore to afternoon parties. These dresses were “tea” length meaning they came to mid shin in soft pastel colors or white for special summer time events. They often had a few wide tiers of fabric on the skirt. The drop wait (just below the hip) was what set the 1920s style dresses apart from other eras. Today drop waist tiered tea dresses are everywhere in both formal and day wear looks. The fluttering layers give them that “flapper” look without the cheap fringe. Perfect for summer, many long tiered dresses, make great winter party dresses as well.
1920s Style Cloche Hats
The classic tight fitting, short brimmed hat of the 1920s is the cloche. They have been back in fashion for a few years now so they are very easy to find. Wool cloche hats for winter and straw hats for summer. Decorations range from the simple side bow to more elaborate Art Deco ribbon designs, peacock feathers, and beaded applique. The cloche hats in Downton Abbey feature wide brims and short crowns until the last season set in 1925 when brims became very narrow.
Shop new 1920s inspired cloche hats.
Instead of hats for evening wear, the ladies of Downton preferred the latest ’20s craze- headbands! Not just any headbands these were full of beads, gems, rhinestones, and sprigs of feathers. The different styles ranged from a decorative hair comb on one side, a beaded headband, a full cover head piece, or a sparkling tiara.
You can read more about the different headband styles here. At Downton Abbey headbands were usually worn just at dinner since hats were generally not encouraged indoors. Later in the series we see young ladies wearing a simple ribbon headband during the day.
The prettiest bands are sold as wedding accessories. Many styles, materials, and price ranges can be found. Shop 1920s Style Headbands and hairclips.
Silk Shawls and Scarf Coats
Silk shawls, scarf coats (above) and evening wraps, often beaded were stunning accessories worn with formal wear. Lady Granthom wore many beautiful evening shawls with her dinner wear in Downton Abbey. Even the Dowager accessorizes her looks with silk shawls that were in style with the previous teens decade. In winter fur wraps, muffs, and hats kept the ladies warm as well as exceedingly fashionable. Today faux fur timed accessories are in style as well as beaded and fringed evening shawls also called Kimono coats. Throw one on over almost any dress for instant ’20s glamour.
For day wear a long thin silk scarf was tied in a knot around the neck. We will be seeing a lot of this look in season 6 with the more sporty day wear clothing.
1920s Style Shoes
Since dresses were becoming shorter shoes in the 1920s had to become prettier. Boots were out of fashion for evening wear and slowly going out of fashion for day wear too. Instead ladies preferred dancing shoes with T-straps, Mary Jane single straps, and higher heel pumps. Heel heights were only to 2.5 to 3 inches and were very chunky heels (no skinny heels yet.) Most shoes were black or brown leather or white fabric in summer. Very formal shoes were hand painting to match the dresses and some were covered with beads or featured rhinestone shoe clips to add some sparkle.
Today T-straps, Mary’s Jane’s, and lace up oxford shoes (day wear) are coming back in fashion. Reasonable height chunky heels make them even more vintage looking.
1920s Art Deco Style Jewelry
With the exception of long pearl necklaces, 1920s style jewelry has almost been forgotten. The Art Deco movement with its geometric shapes, distinct color palate, and global influences is slowly coming back into fashion. Most of the ’20s style jewelry feels more 1970s Art Deco revival and that’s ok. 1970s fashion jewelry is very in style today. From leather headbands, to over sized gold geometric necklaces, and long beaded necklaces the 20’s style is still very much an influence. In Downton Abbey we see the more traditional long bead and gem necklaces worn by the ladies. Learn about 1920s jewelry styles.
You can shop for these and many more 1920s style jewelry here.
Downton Abbe Costume Guide for Women (for men click here)
If you need help finding Downton Abbey style clothes not listed here or on the shop pages please feel free to contact me and let me know what you are looking for.