After months of successfully avoiding the UK's coverage of the fifth season of "Downton Abbey," it was with fresh eyes full of wonderment that I watched the season premiere. And as expected (at least from a fashion perspective), it was full of flapper dresses, lots of cloche hats and artful finger waves. Unexpectedly, however, there was a delightful sub-plot involving Mr. Molesley's attempt to Grecian-formula his hair as well as tons of interesting outerwear to ogle.
Since it's a new season, there are quite a lot of new dresses and outfits to discuss. If this season is anything like the last few, though, there will be a fair amount of outfit repetition in upcoming episodes. With this in mind, let's discuss absolutely everything, so that we can quickly spot when someone "Middletons" in the future.
Yup, It Sure Is 1924
You don't need to be a fashion historian to figure out that it's the 1920s. Sleeveless, shapeless and sheer rule dinnerwear at the Abbey.
The Downton girls -- both the illegitimate (left) and legitimate (right) one -- are growing up quickly. And they're both growing bobs and bangs. As befits a girl who lives in the big house, Sybby has a sleek sophisticated version, while Marigold, the farm girl, skews more towards Kate Moss at Glastonbury.
Molesley's Mid-Life Crisis
Some mean things people said to poor Molesley after he dyed his hair with a gooey black substance:
"Have you got a rash?"--Baxter
"You look Latin all of a sudden. Do you have Italian blood?"--Lord Grantham
"I do not know why you have treated your hair with a special substance, but the effect on your appearance is not what you would have it. Take steps, Mr. Molesley, take steps." -- Carson. Obviously.
Lady Mary's Outerwear
It must be chilly in the countryside, because as I mentioned earlier, the outerwear takes a starring role in this episode. Lady Mary wore a slightly dowdy plum coat on one occasion, but totally redeemed herself in the tidy windowpane check number on the right when she went out shooting with the boys.
Lady Edith's Outerwear
Despite all the moping (rightfully so) and almost burning down her room (that was a tad dramatic) Lady Edith does in this episode, she wins for best outerwear. I would wear that smart grey wool coat tomorrow if someone handed it to me, and ditto the cape. No, seriously. I love that cape.
Lady Rose's Outerwear
Lady Rose is either maturing a bit or she's just really, really cold. Her coats -- and indeed, her outfits -- have been much more staid than usual. However, points for the matching scarf.
Sassy Sarah Bunting
Ooh, Tom's commoner potential love interest is much more interesting than he ever was. Her outfits obviously aren't as exquisite as the ladies' are, but here's hoping she gets invited to more parties. At least we know she'll wear the pants, metaphorically if not literally. It's about time someone did around there.
I sometimes like the bedtime outfits better than I do the daytime ones, and this is one of those cases. Edith's boho wrap, Lady Mary's regal robe (which she wore while agreeing to a week-long booty call with Lord Gillingham) and Cora's soft floral robe are all perfect.
Did the fire fighters of this era really wear that Roman Empire-esque helmet? I did a bit of research, and the answer is, yes. The helmets were modeled after the French army and made of brass or nickel, but they fell out of vogue as electricity became available, because metal conducts electricity. Ouch. Also, it looks heavy.
Rose's Nifty Knitwear
Rose popped up on screen in the beginning of the episode for mere seconds wearing this ensemble, but I kept rewinding it. I'm fascinated by this loosely knit sweater with the -- angora? feather? something else? -- fuzzy collar.
It's about time someone bedded Hot James, and I'm happy it was the vivacious Lady Anstruther. You can tell she's saucy because her arms are always visible. Scandalous for a lady of that age, no?
Mary Still Needs Help in the Bedroom
...getting undressed, that is. She made a pronouncement early in the show that "I'm going upstairs to take off my hat" and I swear she looked annoyed that no one jumped up to help her.
Beautiful from the Back
The view from the back is better than from the front, thanks to the hair, which really is a work of art.
Whew. Did I miss anything notable? Discuss.