Throughout the love triangles, family drama, and political and social upheavals, Downton Abbey has made one thing clear: the outfits are indeed the stars of the show. Much like Game Of Thrones made the fantasy genre accessible to mainstream audiences, Downton Abbey revitalized the period drama. It proved that dragons and white walkers aren't the only things that appeal to a broad audience -- sometimes all we want is a cozy period piece with a happy ending and beautiful clothes.
Because the glamorous evening gowns already receive so much attention, this writer tried to focus on the overlooked and casual looks that are easier to incorporate into the average wardrobe. That said, here are the ten best outfits of Downton Abbey.
10 Mrs. Hughes' wedding coat
For her wedding to Mr. Carson, Elsie Hughes borrowed a coat from Cora, an embroidered mauve velvet affair that was a departure from her usual black uniform as Head Housekeeper. She wore the coat over a day dress and accessorized with a hat and bouquet. The look was elegant yet entirely appropriate for "a solid meal served at proper tables," followed by "a bit of hooley," as Mrs. Hughes confessed to Cora when asked how she wanted to get married.
Who wants to stand around like posh people with "nibbly bits between their teeth" when there are other options? When in doubt, throw on a coat and call it a day.
9 Anna's green dress
Like Mrs. Hughes and the rest of the downstairs characters, Anna spends most of the series in her housemaid and lady's maid uniform and rarely appears in a color other than dull, dreary black. This changes when Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes organize a day out for the Downton staff at the seashore.
Anna wears a striped green dress with yellow embroidery at the front and a practical, cloche hat that was perfectly on-trend for the day. It was refreshing to see Mrs. Bates smiling for a change, and in a color that is so cheerful and flattering to boot.
8 Cora's orange coat
As the emotional core of the Crawley family, Cora frequently wears soothing cool colors, such as purple and blue. This is perhaps why, during her dalliance with art historian Simon Bricker, she wore a bright orange coat that drapes gracefully over her frame. It's a bright color that is relatively unusual for Cora, whose forays into bolder colors usually limit themselves to deep reds.
Underneath the coat, she wore a pale green dress with cream embroidery that peeks out over the orange. She completes the look with a black hat and leather clutch bag that offers a nice textural contrast to the rest of the outfit.
7 Rose and Mary's wedding suits
For some girls, the dream wedding is a full-on princess affair. For others, a small and private ceremony will do. Ladies Rose and Mary show us the upper-class take on the latter with the low-key but glamorous suits they wore on their respective wedding days.
Rose's suit emerged from an original piece of piping and hand-painted flowers that became the collar of her something blue. Mary's suit featured much less frivolity, with a simple chevron pattern at the front set off by a classic string of pearls. The outfits show off Rose's fun and flirty personality and Mary's high fashion tastes.
6 Lavinia's art nouveau dress
Lavinia Swire made her first entrance to Downton Abbey in a green art nouveau-inspired dress that was miles ahead of what the Crawley sisters were wearing. The dress was an original vintage piece from the 1920s, about a decade after the events of Season 2. Not only was it shorter than the Crawley sisters' gowns, but the beautiful embroidery and opulent headpiece signaled to them that she was on par with the family in wealth, if not in social rank.
A London girl, Lavinia would have adopted more cutting edge fashions than the country-based Crawleys, something Lady Edith would take on in later seasons of the show.
5 Mary's beaded evening dress
The Crawley's outfits were more pared down in Season 2 compared to the rest of the show, because Season 2 took place during the austerity of World War I. This beaded gown of Mary's is one of the exceptions.
The pattern radiating from the front of the dress resembles a flower, or even the wings of a phoenix, and Mary pairs it with long white evening gloves and a gilded headband. She keeps her jewelry simple with drop earrings and a plain gold strand. The overall look is very 1920s with a little more softness and femininity to it than her evening gowns later in the show's run.
4 Mary's red dress with sheer sleeves
Another beautiful outfit from Season 2, Mary's red dress with sheer sleeves and a beaded front panel resembled Lavinia's green dress above in that the skirt ended a few inches above the ankle. However, instead of the floral designs on Lavinia's dress, Mary's features a more abstract pattern with a direct and geometric vibe.
The sheer sleeves are also somewhat flirtatious as they barely conceal the long, black evening gloves Mary wears with the red dress. Instead of a bandeau headband, Mary wears her hair unadorned in the wavy updo she keeps until her haircut in Season 5.
3 Every blouse and skirt from Season 1
The Crawley sisters wore so many stunning blouse and skirt combinations in Season 1 that it's impossible to choose just one. Their outfits, when the Duke of Crowborough arrives in the very first episode, is a prime example of this. Mary is wearing a pink cardigan and the ever-classic strand of pearls with an A-line skirt. Sybil is in a purple dress with a wide collar that is closer to Mary's color palette.
Edith, the awkward child, stands out in a black blouse with flowers and an A-line skirt. All of these outfits could be adapted for the modern day to suit all tastes and personalities.
2 Edith's London look
Edith takes on a more bohemian style when she is in London, wearing prints and patterns that are far too busy for the staid rooms of Downton Abbey. Her suits are professional but feature a splash of color or embroidery that draws the eyes to an otherwise standard work outfit.
For one look, she wore a capelet along with a purple cloche hat with yellow trim to add a bit of flair. For another, her robin's egg blue vest, skirt, and hat contrasted with a tan overcoat. Both outfits featured a pussy-bow, a key component of Edith's costumes towards the end of the show's run.
1 Rose's robe de style (flared skirts)
Rose wore a series of very on-trend robe de style gowns inspired by the house of Lanvin, including one at her debutante ball in 1923. This particular style of dress featured panniers, or hip pads, to add extra horizontal volume to the skirt.
The full skirts served as an alternative to the straight cut sheath dresses that were also popular in the 1920s. Particularly when paired with Rose's signature color palette of icy pinks, bright reds, and pastel blues, it's the perfect example of Rose's penchant for fresh and youthful looks that her older cousins would never dare to try.