“Downton Abbey” is enjoyable to watch because of the intriguing storylines and wonderful acting. But let us not forget how much of a feast for the eyes the show is, both in terms of setting and costumes.
In the show’s companion book, “The World of Downton Abbey,” costume designer Susannah Buxton dishes the dirt on the all the chic ensembles seen on the show and the actors provide excellent anecdotes as well. The women particularly lament their corsets.
“There was one scene where I had a corset visible, so it was made for me,” says Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary. “After we had filmed, we removed all the details – flowers and ribbons – to make it a plain corset and then I could that, as it was a perfect fit. I’m taller than most actresses, so most corsets tend to be too short in the body.”
“I know it doesn’t look as if I’ve got a corset on, but I have!,” says Lesley Nicol, who plays cook Mrs. Patmore. “It is a challenge to wear. At the end of the day, you’ll see a lot of the female actresses bent over the kitchen table. It’s the traditional method to relieve the corset – you lie face down with your body flat on the table and it takes the strain off the back. As well as the corset, I wear an underskirt, petticoat, blouse, skirt, apron and the all-important little hat. I love that little hat.”
One would think that the women, with their corsets and underthings, would be the most uncomfortable, but Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley, says the men don’t get off so easily.
“The formal wear is really uncomfortable with razor-sharp collars. You are forced to sit very straight because the shirts are so starched,” says Stevens. “Subtle things are different, such as the way you put in cufflinks – the modern way is to pinch the cuffs, but that only began in the 1920s. Before that, you would push them through the middle.”
For more “Downton” fashion information, check out our photo gallery!
“The World of Downton Abbey” is a must-have for fans – it chronicles so many wonderful details about the show. The “Downton Abbey” Season 2 finale airs Sunday, Feb. 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on PBS