Costumes of Downton Abbey

Fellow author Terri Gillespie and I at the Costumes of Downton Abbey at Winterthur

Fellow author Terri Gillespie and I at the Costumes of Downton Abbey at Winterthur

Hi Friends,

Last week I visited Winterthur Museum near Wilmington, DE, where they are hosting a wonderful exhibit featuring 40 historically inspired costumes from the hit British TV series, Downton Abbey.

Downton-Edith-Wedding

The exhibit includes Lady Sybil’s controversial harem pants, Mathew Crawley’s cricket whites, and Lady Edith’s ill-fated wedding gown. The downstairs staff is well represented with uniforms for almost all the primary characters, including Mr. Carson, Mrs. Patmore and Thomas Barrow. Not surprisingly, their clothes pale in comparison to the glamor of the ensembles from the upstairs Crawley Family.

Downton Staff Costumes

You’ll see many of Lady Grantham’s and Lady Mary’s beaded gowns, as well as velvet eveningwear from the Dowager Countess and Martha Levinson. The upstairs men are represented with dapper sporting and hunting attire and eveningwear.

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But the exhibit isn’t just made up of mannequins decked out in period clothing. The curators tell the story behind the costumes in many ways. For Mathew’s dramatic proposal to Mary, her burgundy gown and his tuxedo are displayed in front of the film clip of their engagement.

Downton Costumes

Nearby on the wall is an enlargement of the corresponding dialogue from the script. There is also an explanation from the costume designer about why the show chose to keep her dress from being too ornate (they didn’t want to distract from the scene’s action), while special lighting creates the romantic effect of snow falling all around you.

Downton Costumes

More footage, photos and scripts segments can be found posted throughout the exhibit. You’ll also find interesting explanations about how some of the costumes were made, which ones are actually vintage or incorporate vintage fabrics.

Downton Abbey CostumesThe exhibit also includes descriptions that explain the clothing’s historical context. If you wondered why Lady Mary wore so much lavender this season, the exhibit explains that during the Downton era, it was considered the appropriate color for mourning dress—which is why it was also worn by the Crawley women at Baby Sybil’s christening.

 

Downton Costume ExhibitWinterthur visitors are allowed to take photos of the Downton exhibit garments, which is rare at any museum, and a real treat for fans who want photos of themselves standing near their favorite costumes. Barring a trip to Highclere Castle in England, where the series is filmed, photographing oneself at this elaborately detailed exhibit is probably as close as fans can get to actually entering the world of Downton.

Downton CostumesCostumes of Downton Abbey will be at The Winterthur Museum until January 4th, 2015. Tickets are timed and should be bought in advance, as the show is already selling out on some days. Admission: $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $5 for children 2 to 11. Visit winterthur.org or call 302-888-4600. Would you like to take a video tour?

Top of bookmarkIf you’re a Downton Abbey fan, I think you’d enjoy The Governess of Highland Hall.

“With its engaging cast of characters, a setting reminiscent of “Downton Abbey” and a storyline that celebrates faith, family and friendship, The Governess of Highland Hall is more than an historical romance.  It’s a book that’s sure to delight Carrie Turansky’s current fans and bring her many more.”

~Amanda Cabot, bestselling author of Christmas Roses and With Autumn’s Return

For more information about The Governess of Highland Hall or any of my books please visit my website.

Which is your favorite Downton costume?

Missing Downton Abbey?

Keep Calm British Flag

Downton Abbey Season Four has come to an end, and those of us who enjoy that series will miss seeing our favorite characters on Sunday night. Here are some fun ideas to help fans get their Downton fix until next season:

1. Watch Downton Abbey again on DVD or Amazon Instant video. It’s free for Amazon Prime members. PBS also has a few episodes available online that you can watch at any time.

2. Watch other programs and movies set durring the Gilded Age, Edwardian Age, or simply set in England: Berkley Square, Ann of Green Gables, A Little Princess, Manor House, The Lost Prince, The Secrets of Highclere Castle, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Little Dorrit.

Pamela Foster3. Visit Downton Abbey Cooks Website and prepare some Edwardian enspired recipes. Pamela Foster, a cullinary historian, has a fun blog and cookbook with recipes to try. Maybe you’d like to invite your friends over for tea and scones while you watch Downton Abbey again.

4. Visit Pinterest and search for boards about Downton Abbey. I have two boards dedicated to Downton Abbey and Highclere Castle.

Highclere Castle

5. Enter contests that will take you to England. Masterpiece Theater is offering one, and actress Laura Carmichael who plays Lady Edith is also sponsoring a fundraiser for health care in Haiti.

Downton Style Earrings6. Shop online for Downton books, gifts, calendars, puzzles, etc.  There is also a new line of Downton linens, lace, and housewares. Macey’s carries Downton themed jewelry, and it’s also available at the PBS online giftshop.

Downton Costumes

 

7. Visit The Downton Costume Exhibit at Winterthur Museum in Delaware. I’m headed there on March 21, and I’ll be sure to take photos if they are allowed and report back to you!

8. Read books that are similar to Downton Abbey. Ah, now here’s a great idea!

The Governess of Highland HallThe Governess of Highland Hall is set in 1911- 1912, the same year as the first season of Downton Abbey. It takes place on a beautiful English country estate similar to Downton Abbey/Highclere Castle, and features both upstairs and below stairs characters.

It’s availabe at Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmarts, Costco, and wherever books are sold. Here are links to purchas a copy online: Happy reading to all my friends and fellow Downton Abbey Fans!

Debutant’s Court Presentation

Debutante Dressed for her Presentation at courtHi Friends,

I’m working hard on Book 2 in the Edwardian Brides Series, The Daughter of Highland Hall. It continues the story of the Ramsey family as they travel to London in 1912 for the season. One of the first events for the heroine, Kate,  is her presentation at court. This rite of passage opened the door for an upper-class young lady to take part in society and hopefully meet her future husband.

Court gown adPreparing for her presentation and first season took months. She had to learn court protocol, how to curtsy, how to dance, and how to carry on a conversation. Some young women traveled to Paris to choose a wardrobe including their presentation gown, while others, like Kate, visited dressmakers in London.

Presentation GownThere were very specific rules for court dress. The presentation gown had to be white, low-cut, and have a long train. They had to wear an ostrich feathered headdress and veil. Three feathers signaled she was a married woman, and two feathers were worn by single woman. Most debutantes also carried a bouquet of flowers. She looked very much like a bride, and some young women refashioned their presentation gowns and wore them on their wedding day.

After all that practice and expense, the young woman only spent a few minutes in the throne room. But being presented signified she was ready to take part in the season and become a member of London society.

Lady CoraDowton Abbey fans will learn more about  court presentations next month in the final episode of season four when Lady Rose is presented to King George. Each girl needed a sponsor, so Lady Cora takes on the roll for Rose. That episode is set ten years after The Daughter of Highland Hall, so it’s a bit more relaxed, but still very similar and fun to watch!

Lady Rose

 

 

 

I’ve really enjoyed researching court presentations, and I especially love the beautiful gowns!

Would you like to see more photos of presentation gowns and the characters in The Daughter of Highland Hall? Take a look at my Pinterest board:

http://www.pinterest.com/carrieturansky/daughter-of-highland-hall/

Have you entered the Downton Abbey Finale Viewing Party Giveaway? You can see the prizes and enter by following this link:

http://carrieturansky.com/index.php/viewingparty/

What do you think? Would you like to wear a gown like the ones pictured here?