Friday, December 12, 2014

A Downton Abbey Masquerade

When our local public radio/tv station announced they were showing the Season 5 premiere of Downton Abbey at the historic theater in town--for free, with costumes and antique cars--I went looking for girlfriends to go with. I have to confess that before the big night, I had watched exactly one episode of this big BBC hit. But I have many friends who adore the show, and besides, I know from historical costumes.

On the big night I pulled out of my closet a pink satin and black sparkly chiffon number that could pass for a c. 1920 party dress. I added elbow-length black velour gloves and a black fringed mesh shawl. I don't own a pair of vintage silk stockings, and with temperatures as low as they were, I wasn't about to be all authentic and draw a seam line up the back of my legs with an eyebrow pencil; I just wore black stockings and my black tango shoes.

The internet brought me a picture tutorial on a period-appropriate quick up-do for long hair (a Gibson-girl holdover from the pre-WWI era). I got it right on the second try with just one elastic hair tie, two big hair pins, and a bobbypin, plus one black rhinestone brooch re-appropriated as a hair accessory.

You can't really tell from this picture, but I wore the garnet jewelry I've been gifted or bequeathed from my grandmother and aunt: earrings, necklace, bracelet, ring. Mother-of-pearl opera glasses from the other side of the family. And a pocket watch around my waist, after watching a short video about the actresses' favorite Downton Abbey costumes.

Alas and alack, the costume contest was full and/or closed by the time we got there, but I certainly had fun dolling myself up. (Hello, grown-up dress-up!) Watching the episode in a crowded theater was also a blast. I can tell that the writers and actors have really settled into the characters, as there was plenty of the drama, humor, and sass we love British serials for so much.

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