The Gilded Age (2022) – Recap Episode 2

49

Julian Fellowes has written an American version of Downton Abbey for HBO, so we’re recapping this first season of The Gilded Age! Starting in 1882, the story promises to be a juicy soap opera of new money vs. old with lots of bustle gowns. Check here on Tuesdays for our recap of the previous week’s episode.

 

Alrighty! Now that the first episode set the scene for The Gilded Age (2022-) — and freaked some of you right the fuck out, costume-wise — let’s settle in for the next 8 episodes and see where that takes us. This one was about a lot of piddling little plot points that were amusing at best, forgettable at worst. As I’ve said, I’m not really recapping The Gilded Age story, so if you want that, head over to Tom & Lorenzo or somesuch. Over here, we’re getting into the costumes and historical relevance thereof. It’s what we do.

I plan to get into the overall look and research after the series has aired, but one thing in TLo’s interview with costume designer Kasia Walicka-Maimone stood out:

“The ladies from the old guard were also buying those gowns, but they were keeping them in their closets for about two, three years until the newness of the style calmed down a bit. That’s what we found in some of the research parts, because you know, it’s also like as you scroll through those fashions from that period, when you go to 1875, then you move to 1882, when you move quickly to 1889, fashion moves fast. The shape moves fast. The silhouette changes. I mean the basic small waist exists, but the bustle also changes. That’s what we try to represent on Agnes, because we think she probably wears clothes from the beloved height of her fashion sense, probably 15 years older than contemporary. And at the same time, the bustle was moving to a very natural bustle. That’s why on Bertha, Marion and Gladys we’re using much smaller bustles. Those ladies existed exactly at the same period and if we did everybody exactly the same, I thought it would be wrong because I would be not acknowledging reality. People wore things that were older and newer at that period. And that’s what I tried to do with this, show that Agnes wears things that are older and Bertha probably the wear newest of fashions.”

There’s an element of truth in what she’s saying and it’s something I’ve written many times — a frock flick shouldn’t show ALL the characters in fashion from one exact year. That’d be silly! Not everyone at any time wore the exact same fashions. Some people keep older clothes, some people are at the hight of fashion, it depends on the character.

BUT, she has her timeline about bustle sizes wrong. Agnes is not 15 years out of date. That’d be 1867, which is hoop skirts, not bustles. If she’s trying to say Agnes is wearing 1870s ‘first bustle’ fashions, well, I’m not seeing it clearly. The problem is that The Gilded Age‘s costumes skip over late 1870s-early 1880s ‘natural form’ slim bustle gown styles, which really would give some distinction to who’s wearing what, if that was the designer’s intent. What it looks like is that she’s moved Bertha, Marian, and Gladys’ fashion to 1889, leaving Agnes, et. al. around 1883-6.

1880s - bustles - timeline - Met Museum

1880s bustle timeline from My Modern Met

Which is fine, if the show is set in 1889, but there’s that damn title card stating “1882.” See? That’s why I notice this stuff, and it bugs me!

OK, on with episode 2 … The story of the Van Rijn house’s cook, Mrs. Bauer, getting roughed up over a gambling debt yields nothing of costume interest to me, so I’m not dwelling upon it. I do have to say though that I hope this show doesn’t pull a Downton and have a lot of interaction between the upstairs and downstairs. That was just so silly and super-duper soap-opera, even too much for me. The original Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-75) did it better by keeping the two tracks separate, different, and highly contrasted, with tiny little overlaps.

Next, Marian is at the dressmaker getting fitted for pale blue dress, and there are two more outfits on dress forms around her. Will we see those ones on her in a later date? I’ll be watching. Peggy has accompanied Marian because “secretary” isn’t enough of a job, “lady’s companion” has now been added (although that’s not a bad occupation, all things considered). Plus, Peggy has a sharp, new gown in black and silver.

The Gilded Age (2022)

We love a sewing scene. I don’t have to love yet another lackluster outfit on Marian.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Someone must have seen my “is that a zipper?” tag on last week’s recap because I saw several clear shots the proved there’s hooks & eyes. Thank you!

The Gilded Age (2022)

Great promo pic of Peggy’s latest outfit via @GildedAgeHBO on Instagram.

Back at home, Marian learns that her Pennsylvania lawyer, Mr. Raikes, still has a crush on her and is coming to New York. Aunt Agnes says she has to invite the guy to tea so she won’t be indebted to him, since the lawyer waived his fee. So, uh, in this world, tea is equal to a lawyer’s fee? Cool.

The Gilded Age (2022)

It’s busy & not at all to my taste, but it’s could be out of an 1880s fashion plate.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Another simple look in bright colors for Ada.

Over at the Russell house, George wants Bertha to invite Mr. and Mrs. Morris over for dinner so the fellas can do some dirty business deals.

The Gilded Age (2022)

The cut of her gown, once again, looks more like evening wear (& modern evening) than daywear. The fabric of her gown looks like modern Versace or Dolce & Gabbana, & I’m sure that’s the intent — designer, expensive, a little tacky, just like Bertha. Also the gown coordinates with her room.

The Gilded Age (2022)

The portrait of Bertha Russell in her parlor shows her wearing a dress kind of like the ice blue one from her very first scene of the series.

Anne Morris doesn’t want to dirty herself by going to that new-money house, but her hubby convinces her.

The Gilded Age (2022)

GREAT fabric. Mrs. Morris seems to wear a lot of stripes.

The agony aunts debate plans for their niece.

The Gilded Age (2022)

I thought this was a repeat from ep 1, but then I lightened the image & see it has black trim. But it’s her standard style.

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

This definitely is a repeated outfit from ep 1, but not in as dark of a room. Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO.

And I found it’s a repro of this gown! The auction house lists it as 1870s but I’m not convinced because the size of the bustle is relatively small. Check out the auction page for tons of pix and judge for yourself.

1870s - bustle from Augusta Auction

1870s – bustle from Augusta Auctions

The coven of old-money ladies plan their charity bazaar. They’re intent on excluding the money of the new-money ladies, even if said money would help genuine poor people. Marian attempts playing social justice warrior to no avail.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Mrs. Fane in the center in aqua (same gown style as she wore in ep 1). Mrs. Morris to the left in brown stripe. No idea who the rest of the exclusive bitches are.

The Gilded Age (2022)

Marian’s wearing her thrift-store blue jacket again, but I love the hat on Mrs. Side-Eye.

It’s tea time as payment for Mr. Raikes, where he says he’s actually moving to New York City. From crush to stalker?

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Another velvet gown, this time in green with some lace. Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Oscar Van Rijn pops in for tea and brings his pal Larry Russell, which Agnes is none too pleased about. I’m LIVING for Oscar and his mother’s bickering, please gimmie more of that!

The Morrises go to dinner at the Russells, and Anne Morris is wearing this STUN-NING black and white stripe gown that’s a repro of one held by the National Trust of Australia. Anne may be snooty AF, but she has the fashion sense.

The Gilded Age (2022)

GORGEOUS.

The Gilded Age (2022)

CRAZY FEATHERS! RUCHING ON THE BODICE!

The Gilded Age (2022)

THE DIAGONAL STRIPE PLACEMENT! I’M DYING!

That’s just a simplified version of this beauty:

Bertha is wearing another gown I suspect may be controversial. Yes, it’s rather modern. I don’t hate it, in fact, the more I look at it, the more it grows on me. Doesn’t hurt that it’s personally to my taste in color and design. Also, it doesn’t veer too far from historical styles, like so much of her wardrobe does.

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

In comments, a reader complained that Bertha’s wearing a back-lacing gown. Now, folks, I know we’ve primed you to think this is an unmitigated sin of historical costuming. But it isn’t! That’s not what we said. Kendra has written and complained about back-lacing 18th-century gowns because that’s not usually how gowns were closed — and she even notes the exceptions in that period. The real gist is that you don’t have two openings on a historical gown, so if there is a stomacher pinning up the front or buttons up the front, there would not ALSO be lacing up the back.

Related, I’ve gone off on metal grommets in historical clothing. They aren’t period for lacing garments closed until the mid 19th century. Clicky the linkies to read more.

The Gilded Age (2022)

I lightened the image & the color went weird, sorry.

Evening gowns in the 1880s could and did lace up in the back. Here’s a couple examples:

1880s - back-lacing evening gowns - Met

Harder to see the lacing on the black beaded gown, c. 1885 by Hoschedé Rebours at the Met. But it’s there! More obvious is the lacing in this 1888 House of Worth gown at the Met.

On last week’s recap, a reader asked about the menswear, specifically Mr. Russell’s beard. Check him out there with his wife for reference. Since he’s modeled on the late 19th-c. robber barons, let’s compare with a couple of them guys:

1870s-1880s - robber barons

1878 photo of Andrew Carnegie; 1881 portrait of Leland Stanford by Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier.

The clean-shaven look was popular at the start of the century a la Beau Brummell and Jane Austen’s heroes, but by the mid-19th century, a variety of facial hair — beards, mustaches, sideburns — was worn by men of all ranks.

The next day, Marian and Peggy meet the lawyer at the Bethesda Fountain because Peggy has a mysterious need of a Pennsylvania lawyer.

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Perky red & white plaid! I don’t love the black lace scarf, but I’m glad it’s just a scarf & not a permanent applique (she takes it off when she gets home). Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz <— My reaction to Marian’s latest costume. Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Gawd that looks like a zipper. I’m going to trust that it’s not, now that I’ve seen evidence. Also, I hate that droopy little bustle. Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

While she’s waiting around, Marian runs into Gladys Russell who is finally wearing something NOT 18th century!

The Gilded Age (2022)

Only get a glimpse of Gladys’ full-length outfit. Maybe it’s kinda natural-form, I guess?

The Gilded Age (2022)

I do like that, if they’re going to keep dressing her in all these soft pastels, she gets a pop of color with her ribbons.

In the last recap, folks said the parasols looked too small, but as some of us pointed out, tiny decorative parasols were fashionable. Useless pretty accessories have always been around and still are!

1870 - parasol, V&A Museum

This 1870 parasol at the V&A Museum has a 19 inch diameter. Pretty small!

As Marian is going to bed, Ada comes in for a chat. She’s heard about the whole Mrs. Bauer debt thing and she’ll pay it. They have a sweet moment.

The Gilded Age (2022)

The scene is almost completely dark & hides this amazing gown! It better show up in the light in a future ep!

Bertha Russell finds out the charity bazaar has totally snubbed her and she is PISSED. But I’m not screencapping bedclothes, so let’s go straight to the bazaar itself, because that is full of eye candy!!! Let’s start with the background folks…

The Gilded Age (2022)

I know this is based on an extant gown or a fashion plate, quick someone find it!

The Gilded Age (2022)

This one feels like an 1880s fashion plate I’ve seen.

The Gilded Age (2022)

I just like the hot pink & all the hats.

The Gilded Age (2022)

And I like purple. Hey, it’s my blog, I do what I like :)

Mrs. Fane presents Mrs. Astor to “open” the bazaar, and it’s all very fawning and bull-shitty.

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

If Mrs. Fane’s outfit was on Project Runway, it’d get critiques for being “over-designed.” While Marian would get told “you need to show us more of who you are.” Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

That’s Mrs. Astor in the center & I find her outfit be a waste of perfectly good yellow damask. The pagoda sleeves are almost 2 decades out of date. Mrs. Morris is to the right in burgundy with giant lapels in green stripe. Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Mrs. Chamberlain is elegant AF in black & silver. Hurry up & get to whatever juicy story she’s supposed to have! Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

The Gilded Age (2022) - Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Ada has a bright green military ensemble, & I wonder if Agnes is wearing the burgundy outfit from earlier this episode with a matching capelet. Or does she have three different gowns in a very similar burgundy damask or figured velvet? Photograph by Alison Rosa/HBO

Then the Russells arrive, and George goes to each booth and buys out all the merchandise, tells them to pack it up and send it to his house. He basically buys up the entire contents of the charity bazaar at once, closing it down, in front of everyone.

The Gilded Age (2022)

There it is. This episode’s trip to crazytown.

The Gilded Age (2022)

But at least it doesn’t have a zipper! (Again, I’m so glad they assuaged my fears.)

The Gilded Age (2022)

The family that fucks shit up together, stays together?

The Gilded Age (2022)

Gladys in legit 1880s fashion this episode!

I don’t love the fabric, it reads modern, but so does some of the fabrics used on Marian, and I’m guessing that’s a conscious choice to make the young girls look “modern” and give a “fresh” take on period clothes. eyeroll

The Gilded Age (2022)

The bustle draping is lovely, too bad it’s only seen briefly as they leave.

Mrs. Astor goes home and tells Carrie not to bother going to the bazaar. The Russells have made their mark.

The Gilded Age (2022)

If you want to get mad about ugly dresses, join me in anger about this.

I usually love ball fringe, but the blue shit on this gown looks like a disease. And the pale peachy color is so washed out on her, it looks like her skin, so she looks like she has a blue bumpy skin disease. There’s too many ruffles at weird angles on the front, back, and skirt. And the blue skin disease is about to choke her. GAG.

 

 

What did you love or hate in this episode’s costumes?

Tags

About the author

Trystan L. Bass

Twitter Facebook Website

A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

49 Responses

  1. Bronwyn

    I saw Bertha’s burgundy and gold dress compared to Sargent’s painting of Mrs. Hugh Hammersley and I love it.

    Reply
  2. Roxana

    Peggy is a sharp dressed woman but she doesn’t belong in this series. Give her her own!
    What is overprotected Gladys doing wandering around alone?
    Well played, Mr. Russell! Nobody casts shade on his Bertha!
    Totally agree on that blue ball fringe.

    Reply
  3. Nico

    What do you think of Bertha’s hairstyle? Are they appropriate for the period or should she look like Ada and Agnes’? Thanks for these great reviews :-)

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      It’s kind of bland, actually. Like she’s spent all this effort on her wild dresses & then gave up on her hair. Not historically inaccurate, necessarily. Also, really hard to see bec. the camera doesn’t focus on it & having dark hair, details don’t show up as easily as on the lighter-haired Ada & Agnes.

      Reply
  4. Roxana

    Fellows doesn’t seem to understand how powerful American women were. The Home and Society were recognized as their spheres and American men tamely obeyed their dictates in these departments. In Real Life Mrs. Morris would have told her husband to go alone if he wanted to dine with the Russell’s, and he would have done so.

    Reply
  5. valarielynn

    I recognized the red evening dress Mrs. Russell was wearing right away. It was the 1892 painting of Mrs. Hammersley by John Singer Sargent. I have that in my Make Me file. ~~Val

    Reply
  6. Marie McGowan-Irving

    Something I did notice and wonder if it was relevant – Mrs Chamberlain’s dress, the lace is a stylised peacock feather motif. And then Mrs Russell shows up wearing a gown with peacock feathers. I know there is complicated imagery tied up with peacock feathers and mourning in England but it seems odd that a costume department would link two woman with this motif, which is loaded with symbolism, without there being some connection? Foreshadowing?

    I agree entirely about the dating on the costumes. Things before a date are fine, things too far forward of a date are jarring.

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      I could see the peacock feathers being used on both new money women intentionally as they’re ‘peacocks’ who ‘stand out.’ But prob. not anything more complicated since the mainstream audience wouldn’t get it — & this is definitely a mainstream show!

      Reply
  7. Anne Foster

    Staying with a style 15 years out of date is absolutely a late 20th century concept. When status was as big a deal as in the 19th century, ESPECIALLY for these upper class women, you kept as up date as you could afford. AND, you or your dressmaker had the skills to modify, as needed. You might choose the more conservative styling, but the silhouette would be as darn close as possible-unless you’re going for locked in an attic “eccentric “.

    Reply
  8. Lynne Connolly

    Wouldn’t it have been fun if the new money people had better taste than the old money ones? Or if they went with something completely different, like Rational Dress? The cliche of new money having no taste is a bit meh.

    Reply
    • Gray

      Last week I mused “they could put Bertha in, like, Aesthetic Dress, but that’s not her character.” I love the idea of her being more fashionable and better looking than the old guard. They could add jealousy to their distain. But, alas, they decided she’s from tacky-ville… on Mars.

      Reply
    • Roxana

      In fact New Money usually was better dressed than Old. They were absolute devotees of Charles Worth and got all their clothes in Paris. It was Old Money who dated to be dowdy.

      Reply
  9. Emma

    Apparently Bertha’s portrait IS supposed to be a Boldini, as per Carrie Coon’s twitter – I thought so initially from how the skirt was done, but this again places her well ahead of her contemporaries, as I’m sure Boldini’s popularity as a society portraitist came later than this.

    Reply
  10. Amber

    Hello! long-time lurker here, but a big fan! Now, I don’t have much to add costume-wise, but I do have my own historical niche appreciation about this series so far, and its the characters’ table manners! I realize its not something most viewers care much about, but it irks me that show creators often do not seem to care either so its nice to see that Mr. Fellows, or his staff, made the effort to show historically accurate dining etiquette of the American tradition.

    But on to my point, while sadly there is a lack of crazy ornate, highly specific utensils a la grape scissors and lemon forks– in fact, I’ve hardly seen any serving utensils at all– they do at least show the characters using correct zig-zag/switch method for handling silverware at dinner. Also, there are some very subtle faux pas on the part of Mrs. Russel and I have an inkling its intentional (keep an eye out for errant flatware, and outward-facing blades in episode 3). Surprisingly, the only character i’ve seen who incorrectly keeps their fork in their left hand (with the tell-tell sign of tines facing down) is Mrs. Morris who is supposedly old money; however, im betting that was the actor’s mistake because she was trying to seem fancier.

    See, for some reason europeans and brits have brainwashed themselves, and americans who try to emulate them, into believing the so-called “european style” of keeping forks in the left hand only is older and more formal than the American style, when in fact the opposite is true! The History Channel’s show Turn: Washingtons Spies gets it so wrong its sad! A british officer (the delicious JJ Field) makes a big deal of gently instructing his new slave on the “proper” “european” method– though he’s actually describing what we now call the American style- and thats AFTER she demonstrated “how her former mistress cuts and eats her meat” using the 2-step method like a modern brit (screams in No One Cares, Amber).

    Candace Smith does a great job of summarizing the known history here: https://www.candacesmithetiquette.com/americans-eat.html#:~:text=In%20the%201800's%2C%20use%20of,style%20became%20fashionable%20after%201850.

    In short, from around the latter half of the 18th century, anyone in the colonies/america or europe who were rich enough to own flatware sets would’ve used the 4-step/zig-zag dining method, except those who were against the trend of using forks (boomer voice: all these whippersnappers with their fancy devil sticks). The 1850s is about the time when the modern european/continental style emerged in western european countries (though france was slower to change) as a pruned-down, simplified dining style. So while there is a slim possibility that Anne Morris wanted to imitate what was fashionable among brits, americans of the time–particularly rich old-money types–were staunchly against sacrificing their formalities.

    Other than some extremely nit-picky issues, like teacup handles facing the wrong way and no one tearing/buttering/eating bread correctly, everyone else does an impeccable job with following the endless rules of etiquette! They take small bites, never speak with food in their mouths, and never clink their spoons in their teacups.

    In comparison to a show like Bridgerton its marvelously done; I could rant about that one for days, as they didnt seem to make the smallest effort toward historically accurate Georgian dining other than having service à la française; besides not using the zig-zag method, the men ate like farmhands coming in from baling hay (puke), the ladies gestured wildly with their silverware (cringe), and all the while they were hosting a DUKE whom most of the family had just met (eye-roll). Even at the most casual family dinner, their behavior would never be acceptable, especially considering that the children of a viscount would have been rigourously drilled in etiquette starting from toddler-hood.

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      Given that this is from the Downton Abbey creator & at least one Downton producer is on-board, it’s not surprising the show is trying to get the table manners correct for the period. That was such a huge part of the other show.

      Reply
      • Roxana

        Fellows seems to focus on getting small details right. Which would be admirable if he didn’t gleefully ignore the big picture authenticity.

        Reply
  11. Susan Pola Staples

    I haven’t seen any of it bc I’m only subscribing to Amazon at present. I want to but it’s not financially feasible for me at present. I’m hoping Peggy becomes a millionaire and Gladys becomes a Suffragette and thumbs her nose at a mother who infantiles her daughter. And if we have a closeted guy character, where’s the female equivalent?

    Reply
    • Jamie J LaMoreaux

      According to Queen Victoria Lesbians did not exist. because no lady would EVER do such a thing. which is why is was illegal to be a homosexual but legal to be a lesbian. ah the Victorians.
      I can’t wait to see if they include Mrs. Astor’s social gate keeper Ward McAllister. “fighting off social climbing interlopers one at a time!”

      also, I’ve read in multiple sources that the NYC 400 went to Europe for their dresses, came home and put them in a trunk for 4-5 years so’s not to be “showy” and Ostentatious.

      Reply
      • Lynne Connolly

        Actually, the crime wasn’t homosexuality, a word that didn’t exist until the 20th century, but sodomy. And the crime didn’t include artificial aids (to put it mildly). So it couldn’t be done by woman on woman, and that was what Victoria was said to be alluding to. She knew perfectly well that women could get it on, just that they couldn’t do that.
        it wasn’t illegal to be a lesbian because they didn’t have penises.

        Reply
  12. Gray

    I’ve never seen a bustle day dress that opened down the CB. Evening gowns that laced CB yes. But even gowns where the open front with blouse or something underneath look is faked, there will be a boned underbodice that closes CF with hooks and eyes and a panel made to look like something underneath that lays over the opening and hooks and eyes on the side.
    And Mrs Astor’s yellow damask thing was their attempt at a dolman… just cut wrong in the sleeve area… and ridiculously the same fabric as the gown underneath. Match-y match-y.

    Bertha still looks like she’s from another show.

    As far as Mr Fellows and a plot or idea goes… can you guess which character is the smart aleck snobby Maggie Smith clone?

    Reply
      • Kim

        In the grand tradition of Having It Good (a knowledgable person creating content that I care about with a unique point of view) I rudely ask for more. Please forgive me for giving in to this impulse.

        When it comes to the silhouette of the bustle and other structural forms and flourishes…are you looking at American fashion as reference? New York fashion ideally, but anything helps. Photos help, those with a date and place, even when the subject and their background isn’t known. We’re lucky to have some of that in this time! Well, I’ve found it exciting at least. ( The Met and The Museum of the City of New York have great images of the well-to-do. Others I can’t vet, but have years labeled on the photos. I’m sure I’m already offending you. You either know all of this, or shouldn’t be expected to know everything.)

        American fashion was not quite the same as in England, and skewed away more as the newly rich in America smashed together Parisian and other cosmopolitan fashions into the status quo. To me (someone completely unschooled in fashion and only an armchair fan) it makes sense that someone like Bertha would ask for a dress to be made that is something you’d never see on a fashion plate, might be accidentally avante garde, but equally likely to be tacky to both people of the time and now.

        In an case, when it comes to Bertha, she’ll lap up your negative attention along with the positive, as long as she has the power over you that attention provides.

        Well, I doubt anyone in the world will read through this all.

        If you do, and you are Trystan L. Bass, understand that I only write this because you’ve engaged me in a topic enjoy and I’m using this space talk about my thoughts as if in conversation with you. Thank you, from a voice in the void.

        Reply
        • Trystan L. Bass

          You have an accurate read on Bertha as a character & what the costume designer seems to be doing with her costumes! I think a lot of our audience doesn’t get that or simply doesn’t like it (heck, I don’t like a lot of it ;-) — because her costumes aren’t strictly historically accurate. But the outfits she wears do take many elements from the historical time & place & then create something new that fits her brash personality.

          Reply
    • C4

      And please correct me if I’m wrong, but in terms of historical construction methods, I’ve never seen the boning on either side of a hook and eye closure stitched into a casing/channel incorporating the face fabric! That top-stitching is what makes it look so horribly obvious and zipper-like.

      Reply
      • Trystan L. Bass

        Yeah, it’s a common modern / theatrical sewing method for durability & fast changes, but it looks so clunky compared to 19th-c. methods. Which were still durable but had no need to stand up to the wear of taking on / off quickly.

        Reply
  13. Badalice

    I’m assuming that the derpy Bo Peep looks on Gladys are in service of some future episode where she comes out, puts her straggly hair up, shows a little cleavage and is Magically Transformed. Otherwise there is no excuse.

    Reply
    • Nico

      And when she does, her arrivist mother will sell her off to an English duke (see consuelo vanderbilt), and I feel a potential cliffhanger there at the end of season 1!

      Reply
    • Jamie J LaMoreaux

      until they are “out” girls dressed as girls. Then BAM! out come the adult clothing, jewelry, hairstyles and outings.

      Reply
  14. SarahV

    Mrs. Chamberlain’s silver and black dress is STUN-NING and goth as f***. I love the spray of unexpected orange feathers in her hat.

    Reply
  15. Bel

    Peggy’s costumes are by far my favorite and I have to say, I think that actress is a good bit better in her part than Meryl Streep’s daughter as the lead (though maybe she’s just not the best fit for a period ingenue role and would do better in something more modern?). I’d love a series that more thoroughly explored the lives of the Black educated middle class in New York or Pennsylvania of this period rather than the little glimpses we get here (probably directed by someone other than Fellowes, though)!

    Reply
    • Susan Pola Staples

      There’s a historical novel entitled The Personal Librarian. It’s about Belle daCosta Greene, but it’s set in the 1900s. It’s spellbinding.

      Reply
  16. Mspinelli

    I don’t find the bustle to be too small for the 1870s honestly. There were still a variety of bustle shapes being made in the 1870s, and a variety of fashionable shapes. I think they tended to be especially on the smaller size when they had that more sloped dropped style of bustle (which appears to be vaguely the case in that dress). I almost see it as like hinting at the trend towards the princess line silhouette if that makes sense?

    Reply
  17. A

    Possibly in New York or US in general women hung on to dresses for a couple of years before wearing them – I have no idea. My research for Europe does not show that – in fact, they were advised to order new outfits about 4 times a year, for each season, but only a few, to stay current and not spend too much. And if they had limited budget, they could remake older dresses to make the silhouette and the trim current.

    Btw, those rows of tons of buttons down the front that Ada has – very 1870s.

    Marian’s bodices and jackets seem to be moving to the 1890s a bit. With this speed, she might be in a full-on flapper outfit by episode 10. :)

    That gown on Mrs. Chamberlain, while definitely gorgeous, is also more 1890s, with some strong Art Nouveau vibes. As is Bertha’s peacock dress (or at least the dress it’s pretending to be).

    Reply
  18. Melponeme_k

    I’m watching this but I’m ambivalent about it.

    The clothing on everyone looks modern. The project sort of has whiffs of Lurhmann’s The Great Gatsby about it.

    They are playing really fast and loose with the social behavior of the period. It can’t decide between going full soap opera and historically correct.

    People at the time would have rather been dragged over hot coals than say even a word of what the characters say in this series. Granted, if accurate it would have made a very staid and boring watch. But Scorsese managed to do both very well in “The Age of Innocence”.
    But this series varies so wildly it has me cringing most times.

    Real Life example of how close mouthed people were at the time. My victorian Great Grandmother told my mother that she didn’t have to tell me I was adopted. Which was funny because I’m Native American and look it, my mother did not look even remotely like me. But my Great Grandmother couldn’t see the disconnect at all between reality and being private. LOL.

    Reply
  19. Lmaris

    I am pretty sure I had that lace turtleneck Marian wears in about half the scenes. It would have been brilliant on Mad Men, but it just makes me laugh here.

    Anyone notice that the old-money sisters have just 5 members of staff: Butler, cook, footman, maid, and housekeeper. That is less than a skeleton crew for such a large home. A single maid to clean the massive home and dress all three women is absurd.

    Reply
  20. Christina

    Thank you so much for your commentary and analysis. I started watching this series mainly for the costumes and they have puzzled and confused me from the start. Your explanations and comparisons are very helpful.

    Reply

Feel the love

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.