Drop waists, flowing silhouettes, lace, velvet and lots of glamorous accessories such as long strands of beads, feathers, and, of course, hats of all kinds. These are the looks that defined female fashion in the late teens and early 1920s, otherwise known at the Downton Era thanks to the popular television show, “Downton Abbey.” As the series turns the corner into the Jazz Age, Downton fans can anticipate some great new looks on the sophisticated soap opera’s stars, and, as with many fashion trends, contemporary versions of these looks are bound to follow suit given the popularity of the retro soap opera.
The styles popularized in the post-World War I and flapper eras are already found cropping up in popular fashion. And, luckily for Islanders, these looks have the comfort and slightly bohemian edge that fit in easily with Vineyard style. Find plenty of jazzy looks and fun accessories at local stores, so, if your obsession with the PBS series goes beyond a once-a-week commitment, here are some great finds to help you transform yourself into your favorite “Downton” characters.
Many of the loose-fitting styles from the period benefited from flowing lines and unique shapes. Pieces from the Bryn Walker collection feature a retro look print and that drapey casual feel befitting the lady of leisure lifestyle (even if you’re hardly a lady of leisure). Try pairing the look with an asymmetrical necklace.
No Crawley lady look would be complete without a fabulous hat. A charming floral cloche hat would look great with fake fur or can add chic to your otherwise overstuffed outerwear wardrobe. For the less severe winter days, the floppy brimmed number (pictured with the floral hat) shows off the black-and-white trend so popular in the silent movie era. And, of course, velvet is de rigeur for Edwardian or roaring 20s looks. The luscious scarf also pictured comes in a multitude of colors to suit those numerous costume changes necessary for any lady of society.
And speaking of accessories, as the name implies, Timeless in Vineyard Haven has loads of era-defining glam pieces to give that extra decadent oomph to period looks. Fur collars and scarves would be perfect for bundling up for a Scottish highlands hike (or a walk on a windy beach). The store carries retro sparklers galore and lots of period-look elegant shoes (a dress-up alternative to high heels that won’t cripple you after an evening out). And the adorable faux leopard bag or polka dot adorned cloche will just make you happy whenever you wear it — even if you’re on the verge of losing the family fortune.
Midnight Farm in Vineyard Haven has an arsenal of great 20s and 30s style shoes that combine femininity with sturdiness. You can stroll stylishly through your estate’s rose garden — or the streets of Edgartown — without facing the peril of getting sunk by treacherously spiked heels.
The Green Room, also in Vineyard Haven, has a line up of looks for every occasion. Pictured are: a sheer embroidered blouse top (in a variety of colors) would be perfect for lounging in the mansion library (or lunching at a local restaurant); a sparkly gold deco dress might just inspire you to open up the ballroom (or roll up the dining room rugs) for a jazz age party. The chubby faux fur would look great over a Chanel beaded silk gown — or, if you haven’t got one in your closet — a great pair of skinny jeans. This feminine twist on the dinner jacket is a nod to the menswear-inspired trend of the 20s and is very similar to the top worn by Elizabeth McGovern’s Cora in the official 2014 cast photo.
Eye-catching statement coats were a signature of the style-conscious 1920s. This timeless hand-embroidered jacket by Stina Sayre featuring silk, velvet, and copper exemplifies the art-as-fashion aesthetic of the 1920s.
Decorative prints and combinations of various textures and patterns is a 20s trend that is also relevant today. The retro bohemian look can be found in abundance at, not surprisingly, the home of funky fashion, b tru on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs. Stroll the store for a tailored brocade jacket, gypsy inspired blouse or — to really shock the family —a pair of flowing trousers. Pair the latter with a sequined swingy tank for a luxe look perfect for a swing and gin-soaked night on the town. B tru also has two versions of a classic cloche — one that is more traditionally sturdy, and a floppy pleated cloche that you can fold into your suitcase for a grand tour of Europe (or the Cape).
Laughing Bear in Oak Bluffs is party frock headquarters (and a great place to play dress up!). Pictured: Try on this embroidered pink and black flapper dress with a fun feather headband or this fanciful flounced Edwardian gown with an era-appropriate floppy hat. This deco inspired dress is sheer elegance while this ornately embroidered long jacket has all the romantic appeal of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Pair any of these with a London bobby style cloche seen above the outfits, a long string of crystal beads, or feathered hair accessories and live out your expat-in-Paris fantasy.
Okay, we’ve got those Grantham ladies covered, but what about their equally chic and appealing counterparts, the castle staff? Bananas — home of comfortable, wearable high style — has some great waif looks that are as timeless as they are absolutely charming. Pictured: The store’s linen pieces have just enough subtle frills and flounce to make them feminine but not enough to overwhelm. Slouchy silhouettes with some softness to give them drape and movement that exemplify the trend from corseted to comfortable at the turn of the century. A darling plaid jacket makes a great car coat or the perfect look for travelling by rail (or ferry). The oversized “carpet bag” purse has lots of room for carrying all your supplies — and documents — for a visit to your imprisoned fiancé or a quick trip to a mainland mall. A dash of color is all these neutrals need to brighten up your winter look. Try one of these soft felt toppers bursting with a hint of the spring blooms of an English garden.