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11 Best Costumes of "Downton Abbey" Season 6

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Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6.

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6.

Best Costumes of Season 6 of Downton Abbey

By season six, it was very well established that the costumes of Downton Abbey were part of the show’s overall success and massive appeal. Throughout the show’s run, the costume designers have reused and repurposed original vintage pieces to add a bit of authenticity to the costumes. Not all the costumes use original pieces from the era, but those that didn't had so much love and attention put into their design that they looked like they could have come from that era.

Costume designer Anna Robbins was the lead designer for season six as well as season five. She further developed the characters' fashion sensibilities and pushed new aspects of their styles to exciting levels. Each of the characters has a unique look that is specific to them and their fashion evolution throughout the show’s run.

This article is a ranking of the top 11 costumes worn by the ladies of Downton Abbey in the sixth and final season. They were ranked by memorability, aesthetics, and how they reflect the characters and the scenes. By their very nature, rankings are subjective, so your opinion may be different than the rankings. Keep in mind that there will be spoilers here.

Poll #1

Phyllis Logan as Elsie Hughes, Downton Abbey, Season 6

Phyllis Logan as Elsie Hughes, Downton Abbey, Season 6

11. Mrs Hughes’ Wedding Outfit

From the final scene of the season four finale to the proposal in season five, Carson and Mrs. Hughes’ romance was a source of much joy. There is more made of their wedding planning than any other wedding so far in the show. From where the reception will be to Mrs. Hughes wedding clothes.

At first she was going to wear a brown day dress, but it seemed too somber for the occasion, so Mrs. Patmore ordered a dress from a catalogue. However, it still wasn’t right for the joyous occasion. After a misunderstanding, Cora gifts Mrs. Hughes an evening coat to wear so that the bride can have something nice to wear on her wedding day.

Her wedding look is composed of multiple shades of purple. The simplicity of the lavender dress makes the velvet evening coat shine. The color is a muted, slightly warm purple. The coat has white heavy embroidery at the cuffs and the lower portion. The embroidery has beading and there is some beading down the lapel of the coat.

Originally, the coat had fur trim along the cuffs and the opening. There was also a wider, broader trim at the hemline. These elements were removed to make the coat more in keeping with Mrs. Hughes and her sensibilities.

The look is finished with a purple straw hat with a matching ribbon. There is also a belt on her dress with white buckle. The buckle could be made from a shell.

Mrs. Hughes looks very refined and elegant for her day, but she is still very much like herself without trying to copy the posh fashion.

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

10. Mary’s Wedding Outfit

For Mary’s second wedding, she opts to forgo the large society affair. Her and her dashing autophile fiancé go for a quick, less fuss affair that is planned within a few days.

Her wedding attire is lovely yet simple, but it is very on trend. The trim is original to the era. The fabric is silk mixed with bamboo fiber, which means it’s both crisp and lightweight. The diagonal lines draw the line down to the drop waistline, which is an iconic 1920s look.

The hat has real butterflies on the vintage netting. Anna Robbin said that the butterflies reflect Mary’s transformation and a new chapter in her life with a new husband.

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While this look is not opulent or grand, it’s very much a signature look for Lady Mary Crawley, now Lady Mary Talbot. It’s very chic and has a mix of softness with just the right amount of angularity.

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

9. Mary's Black Sequin Gown

In the aftermath of a racing tragedy, Mary puts up a wall with Henry to avoid heartbreak. Henry then pays Mary a visit to Downton, which she vehemently opposes as it unnerves her resolve for a clean break.

Mary dons this evening gown which perfectly embodies her mood. It’s a very sharp gown with its pointed elements. The sequins are like armor designed to protect Mary’s vulnerable heart that she pretends not to possess. The black color is meant to look imposing and powerful even though her emotions are out of control.

This look is not all black though. The slip underneath is a dark teal, which was done to give the black more depth. Her gloves are also dark teal.

Mary pairs this look with black beaded accessories, including a black netted headpiece.

Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley, The Countess of Grantham Downton Abbey Season 6

Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley, The Countess of Grantham Downton Abbey Season 6

8. Cora's Dusty Purple Gown

Cora’s sense of style is more fluid than her daughter. She has more of Edith’s fondness for softer looks, but she is more ornate in terms of overall details with more draped elements. The effect is one of elegance with just a hint of the cutting edge of the 1920s fashions.

This gown of Cora is both opulent and somewhat casual for an evening gown. The color is a dusty muted purple made from silk. The bodice has little embellishments. There is a row of rhinestones along the boat neckline. Boat necklines were very on trend as well as rhinestones.

The mid-section, just above the waist, has an arced pattern, which is reminiscent of patterns seen in the Japonisme aesthetic. This pattern continues down to the hemline in a column shape. At the waistline is the rhinestone element. At the back of the gown are some of the draped elements that Cora’s gowns are known for having at the back of the shoulders.

Cora styles this gown with a diamond circular pendant, which gives the bodice some interest without being too much.

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

7. Edith's Gold Gowns

Edith and Mary are locked into a lifelong rivalry with each other. A rivalry that neither understands or questions. As Mary puts a hard barrier with regard to her romance, Edith stands happy in the glow of impending warmth and happiness as she is nearly engaged to Bertie, the new marquis of Hexham. Their gowns reflect their contrasting attitudes as Mary is hard and unyielding while Edith’s gown is soft and inviting.

Edith wears many gowns that are gold as it’s one of her signature colors. The color is a soft pale gold, much like champagne. The neckline is a simple v-neck. The slightly darker gold embroidery are flowers. The concentration of the embroidery gets heavier towards the bottom portion of the gown.

This gown is very similar to the one Edith wears in the seventh episode, in terms of cut, silhouette, and color. That one appears to be a slightly darker gold. There are also a lot of beading details all over the garment. This gown is what she is wearing when Bertie pops the question.

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

6. Edith's Teal Gown

This gown is very quintessentially Edith. It has the halter neckline that she fancies with soft gold beading, and the color is a bright teal green.

The halter and shoulder elements appear to be made from a metallic trim. The metallic embroidery looks like feathers and circle designs. The silhouette is straight without a waistline at all. By 1925, the shift dress emerged, so no waistline, even a drop waist, was very on trend. At the knee length hem, there is a knitted-like detail in a scalloped pattern.

Edith pairs this gown with gold shoes to pick up on the other gold elements along with a long beaded neckline and dazzling headband across her forehead.

Poll #2

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

5. Edith's Rose Gold Gown

Throughout the course of Edith’s fashion journey, we have seen her in halter gowns and gold evening gowns. She never had the two elements in a single gown till now. In the season opener, Edith wears this gold halter gown for a typical Downton dinner with her family. It's formal by modern standards, but Robert is in black tie and not white, so it’s less formal than if they were hosting company.

The halter neckline has gold beading while the bodice is left unadorned. Off the halter at the back of the gown, there are draped elements with a beaded fringed trim. The skirt has a lovely gold lace overlay with a slit.

This gown is peak Edith. She looks very glamorous in a more relaxed manner. This gown is an original find from the era that Anna Robbins had to rework as the production could not restore the garment. This was done by applying it to a stronger fabric and adding the halter neckline, which was made from a vintage trim found in London.

The color is not quite gold. It has more of pinkish rose gold, which is ideal for Edith’s signature color palette.

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

4. Mary's Brooklands' Ensemble

Mary has a lot of anxiety when it comes to Henry’s racing career. She decides to go to a race at Brooklands in order to help get over the fear. Unfortunately the outcome has the opposite effect and nearly ruins her relationship with Henry.

While the race did not go well, Mary’s ensemble is super chic and on point for the setting.

Anna Robbins wanted Mary to be both bright and pale in this costume while also standing out from the crowd. To achieve this, she paired a bright red dress with a soft beige coat. The dress has pining details that are made from a slightly darker shade of red. This piping makes up the neck detail.

The coat is made from a combination of silks. One of the silks has a slight shimmer while the other is matte. The more shimmery one is used in panels that mirror the shapes in the red dress. The shimmer gives the coat dimension. Also giving the coat dimension are the deep inverted box pleats. The pleats have a darker fabric inserted at the bottom of the coat. The effect is that the coat appears darker towards the hem of the coat.

The beige and black trim on the coat is used on the hat to create a cohesive look. The hat is also adorned with a feather, which helps create a nice visual shape as Mary turns her head as she watches the race unfold.

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

3. Mary's Gold Gown

Lady Mary may be wearing one of Edith's signature colors, but this gown embodies Mary’s cool angular modern sense of style.

The gold is not quite gold, it is something more akin to an antique warm silver, which is more typical for Mary.

The bodice is heavily embellished with sequins that come into points at the waistline. There is a fluidity and movement to the skirt, which also has sequins that cascade down to the hemline which hits at the knees. The sequin overlay has a scalloped hem.

The sequin portion of the gown is an original piece. Robbins made a silk slip in matching color and added some beading to match the scallop hem.

The idea of this look was that it’s Mary at her softest. The color, which is somewhere between gold and silver, reflects this attitude.

Lady Mary looks very glamorous and ready to be romanced but on her terms.

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

2. Edith's Wedding Gown

Edith’s love life has been a roller coaster throughout the entire run of Downton Abbey. It never panned out for her until she met Herbert “Bertie” Pelham, who turned out to be the 7th Marquess of Hexham. Marquess are above an Earl but below a Duke, so in English society, Bertie and Edith outrank Robert and Cora.

Edith’s wedding gown is a departure from her previous wedding gown in season three. While that gown was lovely, her gown in the finale is a dream of airy lace.

Anna Robbins found an original Brussels lace dress. From there she added two vintage Brussel laces of different length and weights to the gown. The gauzier and lighter weight lace was used to add length to the gown, extending the hem to just above the ankles.

The other lace was used to create the neckline and the ¾ length sleeves. Robbins cut away the neckline on the original gown to achieve the desired look for Edith’s wedding gown as she wanted the look to be delicate, light, and airy with a soft transition between the neckline and the bodice.

A lace train was also added. Edith’s long veil is a Juliet cap, which is a cloche style veil that was popular amongst brides in the 20s.

Edith forgoes the Crawley family laurel headpiece for her nuptials. For her wedding ceremony, she wears a lovely gold forehead piece that looks like it is pinned to her hair. It has a soft curved design which compliments the lace of her gown. She wears a very simple pearl necklace.

For her New Year’s Eve reception, she wears a headband. It comes into a point, giving a more Art Deco look, though it is still soft as it looks like it’s made from pearl beads. The tassel is also made from pearl beads of various sizes.

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Downton Abbey, Season 6

1. Mary's Criterion Gown

The Crawley sisters certainly know what to wear when dining at the Criterion. Both of their gowns are absolutely stunning. While both of their gowns are the same color, they both showcase each sisters’ unique sense of style.

Lady Mary downplays this gown by referring to it as “this old thing” and “medium smart.” This is most likely due to Mary’s preference for a cool attitude because this gown makes a statement and showcases her desire for romance with Henry.

The gown is a halter that exposes her shoulders. The halter component consists of a metallic lace with a rose pattern. There is a sleekness to the gown that is classic Mary, especially given the long length and the bias cut that creates angles. The romance of it comes in the color and the lace. There is also a godet in the back which gives the gown movement.

Mary styles this gown with a gold lamé ribbon with a rose at the side. Her long dangly earrings are green tear drops. She wears gold gloves to compliment the ribbon and the lace.

It’s a very dynamic look for Mary. It's both strong and confident, and yet there is a softness with an air of romance.

Season 6 quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What is the name of the maid who tries to blackmail Mary in episode 1?
    • Maggie Hale
    • Rita Bevan
    • Madge Fitzwilliams
    • Edna Braithwaite
  2. What did Robert name his new puppy?
    • Nefertari
    • Cleo
    • Bastet
    • Teo
  3. What day did Edith and Bertie get married?
    • December 2nd 1925
    • December 24th 1925
    • December 31st 1925
    • February 14th 1926
  4. Where do Mrs.Hughes and Carson hold their wedding reception?
    • The Servent's Hall
    • Downton Abbey's Great Hall
    • The School House
    • The Netherby
  5. Which historical figure visited Downton for dinner in season 6?
    • Neville Chamberlain
    • Stanley Baldwin
    • Winston Churchill
    • Pola Negri
  6. At Brooklands, what was Henry's car number?
    • 14
    • 15
    • 16
    • 17
  7. Which former servant returns to Downton for luncheon?
    • Ethel
    • Gwen
    • Ivy
    • O'Brian

Answer Key

  1. Rita Bevan
  2. Teo
  3. December 31st 1925
  4. The School House
  5. Neville Chamberlain
  6. 14
  7. Gwen

Poll #3

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