Downton Abbey Wedding Dress & Morning Coats

Downton Abbey Suits & Morning Dress

Just the other day, the 3rd season of the excellent British period drama Downton Abbey kicked off in the UK , and once again, there were a number of interesting men’s outfits, suits & morning coats on display (being abroad, I was lucky enough to get a preview) that I would like to discuss today.

Bowler Hats & Caps in 1920

Bowler Hats & Caps in 1920

The show is now set in Britain of the 1920’s, which were very different in terms of clothing than the 1930’s and 1940’s and even different from the clothes worn in the US at the time. For example, trousers were cut narrowly with little seam width. The coat’s shoulder fit rather narrowly and wear tailored using almost no padding in the shoulder. Very little if any drape  can be seen in the chest or over the shoulder blades. Hats were obligatory and men still wore three piece lounge suits, as well as morning and evening wear. We are very eager to see how the clothing changes as the decade progresses, but it is evident that the younger generation is moving into more modern attire.

Branson in Muted Olive Green - Khaki Suit, Shirt Tie Combination

Branson in Muted Olive Green – Khaki Suit, Shirt Tie Combination

In this episode, Lady Grantham’s American mother visits the Crawley family because of the upcoming wedding between the eldest daughter of the family with the future heir. For the same reason, Sibyl returns from Ireland with her husband – former Downton chauffeur and now journalist – Branson.

The Staff Welcomes Cora's Mother From The US

The Staff Welcomes Cora’s Mother From The US

Suits

As seen before, Lord Grantham pulled out his Astrakhan collar overcoat when he goes to town. For him, it seems like little has changed ever since the shows premier season, which was set in 1912. However, Lord Grantham is a still an excellent example of the differences in dress between town and country, unlike his unfortunate son-in-law Branson, who owns only one suit.

Lord Grantham with Homburg Hat, Three Piece Suit & Curly Lamb Astrakhan Collar

Lord Grantham with Homburg Hat, Three Piece Suit & Curly Lamb Astrakhan Collar

I was glad to see Matthew Crawley wear a Lord’s hat and a Covert Coat with a chest pocket flap. These details are rarely seen anymore because it is mostly reserved for custom garments.

Homburg Hat, Collar Pin & Covert Coat with Chest Pocket Flap

Lord’s Hat, Collar Pin & Covert Coat with Chest Pocket Flap

The new footman Alfred, wears simple clothes: wool suit, detachable club collar and wool tie:

Detachable Club Collar with Wool Suit & Tie

Detachable Club Collar with Wool Suit & Tie

Since Downton Abbey takes places in the country for the most part, we see different suit combinations. Here we have what seems to be a three piece tweed suit with a winchester shirt.

Brown 3 Piece Suit with Winchester Shirt

Brown 3 Piece Suit with Winchester Shirt

Morning Dress in Downton Abbey

Of course, a black silk top hat was the only form of headwear appropriate for the morning coat ensemble and, of course, he would wear gloves, but also note the livery. Today, these special garments for servants have become extinct for the most part. This is perfectly illustrated by the fact that Savile Row tailor Henry Poole once employed 60 livery tailors but today there is just one left!

The Bride with Her Father & The Livery

The Bride with Her Father & Thomas in Livery

Both the groom and his best men wore dove grey single breasted morning vests without lapels and watchchains and both left their bottom button unbuttoned.

Single Breasted Morning Waistcoats Without Lapels & Unbuttoned Button

Single Breasted Morning Waistcoats Without Lapels & Unbuttoned Button

The father of the bride and butler Carson both wear morning coats in this picture. While Lord Grantham opted for the more celebratory Ascot cravat and a slip, Carson put on a tie. Both wear an Albert watch chain and cashmere trousers. In contrast to the younger men, both do not unbutton their waistcoat button with this garment since it is more formal than a lounge suit.

Full Morning Dress with Wing Collar, Cashmere Trousers & Albert Chain

Full Morning Dress with Wing Collar, Cashmere Trousers & Albert Chain

Ascot - Cravat & Vest Slip by Lord Grantham

Ascot – Cravat & Vest Slip by Lord Grantham

A beautiful collar and a stick pin adds a decorative element.

Cravat with Stiff Collar and Stick Pin

Cravat with Stiff Collar and Stick Pin

Evening Wear at Downton Abbey

Traditionally, white tie shirts featured a heavily starched bib. For the show, it seems to me like modern day shirts were used that did not have the old school details to attache the shirt to the evening waistcoat. Hence, the shirt front bunches up on occasion as you can see in the picture below.

White Tie Ensemble with Stiff Shirt Front & the Visual Problem Associated with it

White Tie Ensemble with Stiff Shirt Front & modern bunching issues

Here we can see the shirt without the vest and the evening suspenders used.

Evening Suspenders & Modern White Tie Shirt

Evening Suspenders & Modern White Tie Shirt

Back then, shirt fronts had one or two visible studs and I enjoyed the fact the costume designers paid attention to such little details. Also, the collars are detachable and not wing collars, but straight stiff collars, which you won’t really see a lot anymore. However, in this case I think it is too big – can you see the huge gap between his collar and neck?

Stiff Fronted White Tie Shirt with 1 Pearl Stud & a Collar that is too big

Stiff Fronted White Tie Shirt with 1 Pearl Stud & a Collar that is too big

If you look closely you notice the white bow ties are all similar yet different in their shape…

Detachable Collar & Stiff Front Evening Shirt

Detachable Collar & Stiff Front Evening Shirt

Bat Wing Marcella Bow Tie with Detachable Collar

Bat Wing Marcella Bow Tie with Detachable Collar

In case you would like to learn more about the show, you may want to check out Wikipedia, ITV and if you are in the US -where it will air on January 6, 2013 – PBS.

And finally, the Season 3 trailer:

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