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What Should I Wear to the Downton Abbey Premiere?

Thu, 12/19/2013 - 3:32pm -- Ami Kim

Here’s some fashion sense from Nancy Lowden, Manager of Historical Programs at Maymont Mansion.

What should I wear?

We hope you plan to join us on January 2nd at the Byrd Theatre for the Season 4 premiere of Downton Abbey! If you’re planning to attend, and you’d like to dress up for the occasion, you may be wondering what to wear. Nancy Lowden, Manager of Historical Programs at Maymont Mansion, has the following tips: Whether your style is fashion-forward Lady Mary c. 1922, or more traditional Edwardian like the Dowager you can join in the fashion fun on January 2 without too much effort or expense! A few key pieces of clothing and accessories will transport your outfit to the Downton era.

Want to make an impressive period appropriate entrance to the Byrd Theatre on a cold winter evening? Wear fur (faux fur works great!). Mink, raccoon, fox were popularly used or capes, long coats, collars, stoles, muffs & hats. Hats complete any ensemble with flair – cloth or felt bell-shaped cloches for women in the 1920s or a larger brimmed hat for the 1910s. Add an oversized silk flower, colorful feathers or an art nouveau brooch and your plain hat becomes stylish.

Don’t forget your gloves. Fitted kid leather or cloth gloves can have buttons at the wrist, decorative stitching on top or cuffs of fur. Hand bags were small, cloth or mesh or leather and decorated with beads or fringe.

Ladies, pull out your t-straped shoes and add a buckle that sparkles, a showy button or a silk bow. Lace-up or button boots with pointed toes are good; natty wing tips are perfect for men and women; spats are good, too. Ladies can wear the iconic just-below-the-knee beaded and fringed sheath of the 1920s, but loosely cut knitted blouse and skirt outfits were also popular – and warmer! The high-collared white blouse, long dark skirt and duster were the “uniform” of the suffragist and working girls in the early 20th century. And don’t forget your hat. Ropes of long pearls are good, as well as art nouveau and art deco brooches and earrings, and who doesn’t have a piece of rhinestone jewelry hidden in their dresser?

Men could wear wool or tweedy overcoats (the Chesterfield has a sporty velvet collar) and a loosely cut suit – cuffs on your trousers will put you in the era. Felt fedoras, tweed caps, derbys or top hats for men are a must.

Browse the local vintage clothing shops for inspiration and advice: Bygones, Halcyon & Luxor have a great selection.

Victorian Trading Co. and J. Peterman on-line clothiers have some great items, too.

Most important: Have Fun. Mix your eras – who cares?! See you on January 2nd.

Let us know if you plan to attend here.


Costume Contest: Win Dinner for Two

Between the two preview showings of Downton Abbey at the Byrd Theatre on January 2nd, have a seat and enjoy a meal or a drink at Can Can. If you happen to be wearing period dress - and if you make a donation to WCVE PBS - you will be entered into a costume contest. The winner will be chosen by a panel of 3 judges with a prize of dinner-for-two at Can Can, located at 3120 West Cary Street, Richmond, Virginia.

Cocktail Dresses, Chanel, 1920sActress Carmel Myers Vilma Banks