For me, period dramas are as much about the storyline as the costumes; and a reportedly 6 million pound period drama such as Downton Abbey can ensure that all costumes are in keeping with the class of the characters and the time in which the story is set.
Maybe it’s just me, but by watching Downton Abbey I can revel in the finery of the outfits that it was the etiquette to wear at the time even just for pottering around the house and not leaving the surroundings of only your family for the entire day. I would love to have the chance to be transported back to a time when you would change clothes up to six times a day; dressing for breakfast, perhaps going for a ride, changing again for lunch, a different outfit to walk into the village, returning and changing yet again for afternoon tea and finally, the grand finale of dinner – possibly with guests. Nowadays people only change if they are going out on the town or on the other hand if they are going out hiking or similar. You wouldn’t wear a different set of clothes just to eat a meal. Some people would see all of this as a frivolous waste of time and money, a luxury that only the rich and privileged could enjoy. They are right in the respect of the latter, but as to the former, why not?
If you had the money then you were expected to keep up appearences and that is exactly what they were doing in 1912. The fictional Lord and Ladies of Downton Abbey wouldn’t have known life any other way. Yes, they were the lucky ones who had the means to wear beautiful clothes and for that we all may feel a secret pang of jealousy when we sit down to enjoy said programme at 9 pm on a Sunday night. But really, and I speak only for myself here, if I had the money then I would enjoy the luxury of wearing a different outfit every night. You may call it selfish but that is the way I am inclined. I gravitate towards beautifully designed and crafted clothes, and the suits and dresses featured in Downton Abbey have all been subjected to the most intricate of detailing; these clothes are real occasion wear. The upper-class characters of Downton are all sophisticated in their dress; the gentlemen dignified and stately, the ladies elegant and graceful. All fashionable, all grand and superior. Let’s face it, if they weren’t – if they wore average clothes and the same outfits three days on the run- then none of us would watch it. We can’t have it both ways!
Downton Abbey is aired on ITV1 at 9 pm on Sundays. I think it is a great period drama – enjoyable and easy to watch.
All images copyrighted to sky.com.