Woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone. No man will admire her the more, no woman will like her the better for it. Neatness and fashion are enough for the former, and a something of shabbiness or impropriety will be most endearing to the latter.”  ― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey 
Like a lot of folks, I’ve been hooked on Downton Abbey. The intrigue, the politics, Maggie Smith, the costumes! Oh, the costumes. Downton Abbey is a dream come true for anyone who has ever loved the costumes in historic movies. When I was a little girl, I’d beg my mother to put on “the movie with the pretty dresses.” What I meant was the black and white version of Pride and Prejudice with Lawrence Olivier and Greer Garson. It wasn’t terribly true to the novel, but it did feature some seriously swishy ball gowns and fabulous Napoleonic hairdos.
This was pre-Disney princess culture, when little girls could appreciate a dress with hoops and yards and yards of fabric without it being about weird royalty fetishism or gender stereotyping or creepy Toddlers in Tiaras steez. I just wanted to see these grown up ladies dance in these incredibly beautiful gowns. I love these old movies because they show a different kind of femininity, a different kind of sexy. I love them because these clothes didn’t used to be costumes, they didn’t used to seem so exotic or unusual. Wearing these clothes makes me think of all the women who came before me, and their real every day lives.
A hundred years ago, this what what women wore, anyways or otherwise. This was their self expression, their day to day, the clothing that defined their femininity and the way they saw themselves. It’s fun to put on these clothes sometimes and try to hear what they have to say, to see how they change my ideas about being a lady. After all, when I was growing up and watching all those old movies, I didn’t realize that all grown ups didn’t sometimes dress this way. I thought that this was just part of being a woman.
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Get down with Downton, glam with great grandma, twerk with the twenties, and fabulous with an older form of femininity.When a girl feels that she’s perfectly groomed and dressed she can forget that part of her. That’s charm”  ― F. Scott Fitzgerald