With a rising popularity in period-drama shows like Downton Abbey, Mr Selfridge and Reign it’s not really surprising that period-fashion has slowly crept its way in to designer collections and high street stores. Who really knows what the mass appeal is in these types of programmes? It could be that the audiences adore the chaste (sort of) conduct between the male and female characters, it could be the perfected speech and overly fancy colloquialisms or perhaps it’s that most of us just can’t seem to get enough of the elaborate set designs and lavish costumes. It’s escapism at its finest, I suppose.
Downton Abbey begins in the early 1910s and showcases the roaring 20s right through to the less spectacular 30s. Similarly, Mr Selfridge also deals with the early 1910s and 1920s. Shows like Reign and The Tudors date a little further back in history with even more lavish and spectacular costumes.
How does this type of fashion differ from modern fashion trends? Well, if you didn’t already know, back in the old days women weren’t really allowed to flash their flesh and a lot of their outfits were designed and created with the idea to ‘cover up’ as it were. It wasn’t really until after the WWI when women were allowed to wear dresses that reached above the ankle and start baring their shoulders. Luckily, times have changed and now we can wear strapless dresses and mini skirts without getting branded with the ‘harlot’ label. Yet, despite having more freedom with our fashion choices now, it’s difficult not to reminisce and feel a sense of nostalgia towards the past fashion trends that have become so romanticised in recent popular culture.
Still not convinced you can make this trend work for you? Then, take a look at how Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs and Karl Lagerfeld have embraced the trend for some inspiration.
If you’re looking to incorporate this trend yourself I’d recommend starting off with something simple and elegant like a blouse or shirt. Tuck it in to something you regularly wear, like a skirt or some jeans and if you like the way it looks then add a set of pearls or a vintage inspired jacket. The great thing about this trend is that the more you embrace it the more elegant and ladylike you’ll look. However, if you start to feel more like the Dowager Countess of Grantham as opposed to Lady Mary, you can always play it down a little and add something a bit more contemporary to the mix.
I know the likelihood that we’re all going to start wearing full length gowns with tight bodices and bonnets to our lectures is, well, slim to none. Yet, there are still plenty of ways you could add a little period-inspired elegance into your wardrobe without looking like an extra on the film set of an Austen adaptation. See below for my top picks from the UK’s high street.
Top to bottom then left to right: Hat: Accessorize – £14.50, Blouse: H&M – £19.99, Shirt: Limited Edition at Topshop – £95, Shoes: Miss Selfridge – £46, Top: H&M – 19.99, Necklace: Zara – £29.99, Dress: H&M – £29.99, Skirt: Mango – £59.99, Bralet: Topshop – £22, Underwear: Topshop – £12, Necklace: Zara – £39.99, Blouse: H&M – £14.99, Heels: Zara – £29.99, Hat: Topshop – £25, Coat: Mango – £79.99 and Hair Clip: Accessorize – £12.