'Downton Abbey': A Look Back at Lady Edith's Most Memorable Costumes

Updated on March 30, 2020
kimbergoes profile image

Kaycee loves period dramas and historical fiction. She writes for Screen Rant, where she talks about fashion and costume design.

Introduction

Lady Edith Crawley had the worst luck on Downton Abbey. She lived in her older sister Mary's shadow, was jilted at the altar, and nearly resigned herself to a future of forever alone -- who wouldn't after every man one took an interest in turned out to be unavailable?

It seemed like Edith could never catch a break, but as the world changed and new opportunities arose for women, she began to find her footing outside Downton. By the end of the show, she was living an exciting life in London, more than held her own against her sister, and had won the love of an extremely eligible bachelor. And she did it all in amazing Edwardian and Jazz Age style.

Here are some of Edith's best costumes from the show that encapsulate her journey from overlooked middle sister to enviable career woman who has it all.

The Garden Party Dress

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.
The Crawley sisters. Jessica Brown Findlay as Lady Sybil Crawley, Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, and Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.
The Crawley sisters. Jessica Brown Findlay as Lady Sybil Crawley, Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, and Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.

Edith wore a white dress with a long pointed collar to the garden party at the end of Season 1, where Lord Grantham announced the outbreak of war. Like her sisters' outfits, the dress had a classically Edwardian shape with a high waist and narrow skirt. It was a little plain compared to Mary's bold stripes and Sybil's modern print, which spoke to her status as the black sheep of the family.

The costume design also reflected the power dynamic among the sisters, which came into play this episode when Mary sabotaged Edith's chances of a marriage proposal from Sir Anthony Strallan. Like most of the costumes from Seasons 1 and 2, this summer dress was designed by Suasnnah Buxton.

A Jacket And Boots On The Farm

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.

Season 2 of Downton Abbey took place during World War I, and the clothes became simpler out of necessity. The Crawleys rolled up their sleeves to assist with the war effort. To help out a local family that was short on farmhands, Edith wore a very practical outfit of jodhpurs and knee-high boots. She threw on a hat and one of her tailored jackets from last season for extra warmth.

The Crawleys' shock at seeing Sybil in the famous harem pants gave viewers some idea of how unacceptable it was at the time for women to wear pants. It also showed how forward-thinking the two younger Crawley sisters were, as pants did not become widely accepted attire for women until decades later.

The Coral Evening Dress

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.

Edith began to take more sartorial risks in Season 3. She wore a Grecian-inspired coral evening dress with beaded trim on the night she got engaged to Anthony Strallan. The looser fit of the dress was popular during the early Jazz Age, when waistlines began to drop ever so slightly while hems inched higher. According to The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, the dress is shot chiffon over silk and is worn without a corset. As a finishing touch, Edith wore a braided rope belt with more beading and loose chiffon at the waist.

Wedding Dress #1

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.

At first glance, Edith's wedding dress may look similar to Mary's from earlier in Season 3. Simple and elegant, they both feature a dropped waist and straight silhouette. Like many aristocratic women, the sisters also wore their veil attached with the family tiara.

Edith's dress has several details that set it apart, however. It is based off a vintage silk train adorned with flowers and crystals, and the fabric of the dress (satin, in contrast to Mary's lace gown) is gathered at the hip with more embroidered flower accents. Her bouquet is also different, a cluster of pink and white flowers instead of the calla lilies Mary held.

The Criterion Dress

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.

Season 3 turned out to be a real turning point for the long-suffering Crawley sister. After Sir Anthony called off their wedding, Edith found herself in need of something to do. She wrote a letter to the editor advocating for women's suffrage, which got the attention of Michael Gregson, publisher of The Sketch. Not only that—he invited Edith to London and offered her a column in his magazine!

Nothing best captured Edith's newfound confidence than this brilliant green gown that she wore to meet Gregson at the Criterion Restaurant in London. The dress was backless with a diamante neckline and beaded bodice. It was much sexier and trendier than any of her previous outfits and marked a new beginning for Edith as a fashion maven.

This iconic dress was designed by Caroline McCall, who made it from a piece of original beading.

Headscarves

Lady Edith in a pink headscarf.
Lady Edith in a pink headscarf.
Lady Edith in an orange headscarf.
Lady Edith in an orange headscarf.

Edith continued to develop her sense of style in Season 4. Now in a relationship with Michael Gregson, she was spending time with the famous writers of the Bloomsbury set, whose bohemian sensibility influenced her fashion choices. She continued to wear the corals and pinks that had been her wardrobe staples since Season 1 but now added unexpected details like a headscarf to freshen up the look. She also put more effort into her hair, asking her lady's maid Madge to style it in finger waves.

Autumnal Hues

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley
Lily James, Michelle Dockery, and Laura Carmichael as Rose MacClare, Mary Crawley, and Edith Crawley.
Lily James, Michelle Dockery, and Laura Carmichael as Rose MacClare, Mary Crawley, and Edith Crawley.

Season 5 was a struggle for Edith. She received confirmation of Gregson's death and had to fight for custody of their only daughter. The rest of the Crawleys seemed indifferent to her emotional turmoil; Mary tried out a new hairstyle, and her family planned a picnic for the next day.

Edith had neither the time nor the energy to experiment with fashion this season and wore mostly subdued autumnal colors like orange and brown. Two costumes stand out in particular: the wheat-colored dress with a floral trim that appeared in the now-famous water bottle promotional photo, and the beaded plum-colored dress with an unexpected olive trim.

The Work Edit

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley with Samantha Bond as Lady Rosamund Painswick.
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley with Samantha Bond as Lady Rosamund Painswick.
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley

As a single mother and editor-in-chief at a fashion-forward magazine environment, Edith added more patterns and prints into her wardrobe as well as feminine touches such as a necktie on an otherwise basic blouse, or a busy floral jacket with a clashing orange skirt. Her work wardrobe was noticeably different from Mary's, who had more classical, menswear-inspired pieces in her closet.

All The Gold Dresses

Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley.

Edith wore so many gorgeous dresses in the final season of the show that it's impossible to choose among them. Season 6 costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins shifted the predominant colors of Edith's clothing to a springtime palette as her personal and professional life blossomed. She incorporated green and gold into her wardrobe, with the occasional splash of a brighter red or blue.

Edith was particularly fond of matching her dress to her hair, wearing gold on several important occasions— when she announced that she may be making a permanent move to London and when Bertie Pelham asked for her hand.

Wedding Dress #2

The newlyweds. Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley and Harry Haddon-Paton as Bertie Pelham.
The newlyweds. Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley and Harry Haddon-Paton as Bertie Pelham.
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley and Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham.
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley and Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham.

Lady Edith looked absolutely beautiful in her short sleeved wedding gown made from Brussels lace. The dress was an original garment merged with two other lace pieces, including one with a lighter weight that became an underskirt to add length as well as the sheer sleeves and delicate neckline. The overall effect was one of softness. This time, Edith wore her veil with a beaded headpiece instead of the family tiara.

When she and Bertie tied the knot in a fairytale wedding, she became the Marchioness of Hexham, married to someone she loved and outranking everyone in her family. Finally, she got her happy ending!

© 2019 Kaycee Go

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)