The award-winning period drama Downton Abbey excelled in great romances and dramatic storylines, but it was the exquisite fashion that really set the show apart. From corseted Edwardian gowns to the glitz and glamour of the 1920s, fans were in awe of the beautiful clothes that danced across their screens.
Perhaps no character experienced as much of a glow-up as Edith Pelham — excuse us, Lady Hexham — whose wardrobe evolved from frumpy to glam over six seasons. The second Crawley sister was inspired by the London literary scene and favored detailed embroidery and beautiful prints. Below are ten of her best outfits that show why she is the queen of Jazz Age fashion.
10The Embroidered Blouse
To start, we have this colorful blouse that Edith paired with an ivory pleated skirt. According to costume designer Anna Robbins, every character on Downton Abbey had a unique approach to fashion that made it easy to tell whether a piece was meant for Mary, Edith, or Cora. The intricate design on this blouse, delicately cross-stitched on blue fabric, is a dead giveaway that this was an Edith piece. The colorful embroidery looked out of place at Downton, showing us that she fit in better among the London creatives than in the staid countryside.
9The Yellow Brocade Coat
The Crawley sisters struck an uneasy truce at Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes’s wedding. Sitting next to each other in the pews, the difference in their fashion ethos was like night and day. Edith looked more approachable in a yellow brocade coat over a pale green dress. She wore the brightest colors out of all the guests, and the surface texture of her coat made her stand out even more. She completed the look with beige accessories, so as not to overdo it.
8The Criterion Dress
Edith arrived at the Criterion for a date with Michael Gregson in this stunner of a dress. It was a watershed moment for Edith, who was unlucky in love and facing a lifetime of forever alone. The backless dress with a green chiffon skirt and diamante neckline showed off her newfound confidence as an independent woman navigating city life.
Unlike the other outfits on this list, this dress was designed by Caroline McCall, who also worked on His Dark Materials. McCall thought that Edith had been dressing dowdily to impress a much older man, and now that she had a new love interest, her style changed to reflect that. It was a thrill to see her looking so different.
7The Beaded Floral Dress
Edith wore this stunner to celebrate Anna’s exoneration. The dress is Parisian — according to Anna Robbins, Parisian dresses were beaded on cotton rather than silk.
We imagine Edith had the dress custom made during one of her many visits to London. Note the rose design, which represented her blossoming in Season 6. After years of living in Mary’s shadow, Edith was finally coming into her own. She had her daughter, her magazine job, her independent life in London, and the attention of a handsome new suitor.
6The Sequined Floral Dress
Edith loved to match her outfit to her hair, and she did so many times in Season 6. On this occasion, she wore an exquisite shift dress from the house of Molyneux decorated with sequins and beads as small as a grain of sand. It was important to Anna Robbins that Edith looked romantic and gorgeous because this was the scene where Bertie Pelham asked for her hand. Her happiness pitched her directly against Mary, who was dressed in a sequined black dress to reflect her stormy mood.
5The Rose Gold Dress
Robbins described the color of this dress as “almost a rose gold.” It’s another Parisian dress with organic patterns along the skirt and neckline. In this scene, Edith was contemplating a permanent move to London. Again, she was pitched against Mary, whose jealousy was apparent when she looked up from her game of solitaire in a grey dress.
The overall femininity and prettiness of Edith’s outfit was a new fashion direction for her character after a season of subdued autumnal tones. She completed the look with a simple circlet and arm bracelet.
4The Red And Gold Dress
A modern woman, Edith made the unorthodox choice of asking Bertie to stop by her apartment for a drink. This was, of course, the apartment she inherited from her ex-lover Gregson, who introduced her to the literary scene. She met Virginia Woolf in that apartment.
For their evening out, Edith wore this gorgeous red and gold dress with the circlet that accompanied many of her outfits in Season 6. Bertie helped her slip into a lavish fur-trimmed coat before heading out to dinner.
3The Lace Wedding Dress
Edith finally got her happy ending when she married Bertie and became the Marchioness of Hexham. As Marchioness, she outranked her entire family — including Mary.
Her wedding dress was made from intricate bobbin lace and featured elbow-length sleeves, a gauzy drop-down for length, and a soft neckline that revealed a pearl necklace. Her veil was cathedral-length and attached to an ornate headpiece. This beautiful ensemble was the height of 1920s fashion, while being modern enough to inspire 21st-century brides.
2The Starburst Dress
The design process for the Downton Abbey movie was similar to that of the television show but on a much grander scale. No wonder it seemed like all the Crawley women leveled up their wardrobes between 1925 and 1927.
The sage green dress that Edith wore to luncheon featured a cluster of flowers in silver thread, and a tiered skirt that ended just below her knees. It was a beautiful piece made all the more elegant by a circlet featuring an array of starbursts across her forehead.
1The Gold Velvet Dress
Now a Marchioness, Edith went on a ballgown buying spree in anticipation of the king and queen’s visit. Anna Robbins had to make two versions of Edith’s dress for the big finale, because her story involved a mixup with sizing. Fortunately, Anna the lady’s maid was there to save the day.
When the dress finally fit, Edith was practically glowing. She looked soft, warm, and golden in a panne velvet evening dress with a metallic print. The finishing touch was a real deal diamond tiara from the Victorian era positioned on her forehead. The final result was so gorgeous, it’s no wonder this outfit had its own storyline.