We spent an afternoon with our old friends the Crawley Family of Downton Abbey. That is to say, we visited the Dressing Downton exhibit during its final days. Our earlier plans kept getting thwarted, so I’m delighted we managed a visit before they turned out the lights.

The Lightner Museum of St. Augustine hosted Dressing Downton, Changing Fashions for Changing Times. The museum spent two years curating their stored pieces to create period vignettes highlighting 36 costumes from the Downton Abbey series.

Museum staff did a fabulous job creating eras that spanned pre-WWI to the Roaring 20s. My phone photos don’t do justice to the elegant displays.

Cora Crawley, Lady Grantham

American by birth — and stylish — Cora donned this stylish Edwardian silk day dress, complete with black frogging in Season 1. Her broadbrim hat delicately froths with ribbon, netting and flowers. Lord Grantham, meanwhile, sports a white linen suit appropriate for warm weather.
Dressing DowntownMoving into the 1920s, Cora remains chic despite her conservative apparel. The  seamstresses of the television series built this silk evening dress around the front panel laden with beads and jewels. The pannier sides deliberately exaggerate the hips. What woman doesn’t want that?
Dressing Downton

Astonishingly, the jacket below was originally sewn from an embroidered tablecloth dating from the 1920s. Lady Grantham wore the outfit to Edith’s wedding.
Dressing Downtown

Violet, The Dowager Countess

Violet’s two-piece day dress reflects Edwardian fashion. She would have worn an S-bend corset to accentuate her chest and push out her bottom. The purple color signals she’s emerging from black mourning clothes following the death of relations on the Titanic.
Dressing Downton

Lady Mary Crawley

Lady Mary modeled sensational outfits throughout the series. Obviously, I didn’t take this photo of her in the dramatic red silk evening dress that conveys Mary’s confidence. My photo doesn’t do the dress justice. She wore this gown in Season One (1913), at dinner with the Turkish diplomat.

Lady Mary evening dress

Mary, dressed in this riding habit, arrived on her steed when she first met Matthew at Crawley House. Way to intimidate!

Lady Mary riding habits

Another frock from Season 1, when Lady Mary wore this green silk evening dress with black net overlay and black and silver starbursts. She chose it for Matthew’s first dinner with the family. In the background, center, stands maid Anna’s functional black cotton dress with white lace trim, covered by a white cotton apron.

Lady Mary evening dress

World War I ushered in utilitarian fashion for the ladies and military uniforms for the gentlemen. Lady Mary’s outfit below includes a crepe skirt and satin scoop-neck blouse. The blouse’s front panel and cuffs incorporate original floral chiffon fabric.
Lady Mary WWI

Yet even during wartime, Lady Mary proved resourceful. She wore this dusty-pink silk evening dress with black net overlay for Sir Richard Carlisle’s first dinner at Downton Abbey. It drips with beads and sensuality.

Lady Mary evening dress 2

Lady Sybil Crawley

Lady Sybil’s velvet maternity dress appeared  in a nursery setting. The neutral velvet, at times grayish green, is enhanced by gold embroidered borders.
Sybil maternity dressI learned that this formal cradle would be used to present baby to guests in the parlor rooms. I expect the nanny would hover and whisk baby away when the viewing ended.

Lightner Museum bassinet

Dressing Downton No More

Dressing Downton at the Lightner Museum has closed. In fact, St. Augustine marked the final leg of its American travels. Enthusiasts shouldn’t despair because the new Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, now in New York City, will travel to other cities. Have a look:

Thanks for stopping by.

Ann Marie & David


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3 Comments on Dressing Downton at the Lightner Museum

  1. Brenda Young
    February 19, 2018 at 6:27 pm (4 years ago)

    What a gorgeous exhibit! That era red dress and riding outfit… and the stunning cradle just beautiful! Thanks for sharing your tour!

    • irisabbey
      February 26, 2018 at 4:09 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Roseann Hampton, this is my first visit to The Blogger’s Pit Stop.


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