Dinner at Downton – What to Wear?

Ladies at Longchamp 1908
Ladies at Longchamp 1908

Imagine you’ve been invited to dinner at Downton Abbey.

It’s the first season covering the period around 1912-1914.

The decade leading up to our dinner at Downton saw the rise of Haute Couture; French for “high fashion” with its exclusive tailored clothing.

Paris was the fashion capital of the world and designers outfitted models with their finest clothes, sending them to Longchamp Races to show off the latest styles.

A new female silhouette had emerged from design houses Callot Soeurs and Paul Poiret. The new form-fitting gowns featured narrow skirts and raised waistlines and required a “straight line” corset, also known as the S-bend or health corset. It had a very rigid, straight busk, forcing the torso forward.

During Season One of Downton Abbey, a narrow-hipped and narrow skirted silhouette was all the rage.

Listed below are actual evening dresses from the period, donated by various wealthy families to the collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

An Edwardian lady in full dress was a wonder to behold, and her preparations for viewing were awesome.
—William Manchester.

What will you wear for dinner at Downton? Vote for your favorites.

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David James

David James

I'm an Englishman in Boston. History is a joy—it binds us, it connects us, it guides us. I'm interested in making history more accessible and more fun. Join me on this fantastic voyage through time.