Top 5 styling tips for a Twenties wedding from Downton Abbey’s costume designer

Caroline McCall, costume designer for our favourite period drama, talks Twenties styling and her inspiration behind those wedding dresses…

Here comes the bride! Lady Mary in her wedding dress. Image courtesy of ITV

We don’t know about you, but after series three of Downton Abbey came to an end on Sunday evening, we’re in despair that we can no longer look forward to the ups and downs (and we’re not just talking about the stairs) of the Crawley family and their servants. The dramas. The scandal. The weddings. It’s been emotional. But rather than live a life of sorrow, we’re putting a spring back in our step with a few first-hand Twenties styling tips from the show’s very own costume designer, Caroline McCall. Read on for her five golden rules…


Let there be lace

“When I was designing Lady Mary’s wedding dress (worn by Michelle Dockery, see left), I took inspiration from the aristocratic weddings and fashion magazines of the time. Michelle tried lots of different shapes and styles, but we knew pretty early on that lace would take centre stage in the design.”

Think about shape

“The silhouette of women’s dresses changed significantly after the war. In the Twenties, it was all about a longer line and less definition to the waist – bust flattening had begun and there was generally a looser feel.”

It’s all about headwear

“Looking at magazines at the time, it was very fashionable to have a veil worn quite low on the hairline (think Lily Allen-style for a modern take). A word of caution though: there were some quite bizarre head wear in the Twenties, some of which maybe shouldn’t make its way back into fashion! Always pick something that flatters your natural face shape.”

Work a wave

“Women of this era would never wear their hair down – it was either cut short or styled into a chic up-do. But short doesn’t have to mean not-so-glamorous. Marcell waves will add a little drama to your look.”

Stay true to you

“Always consider your body shape and what suits you. Don’t be dazzled by what’s on the hanger. I always say, no dress should wear you – you wear the dress.”

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Downton Abbey: Series Three is available now on Blu-Ray and DVD, courtesy of Universal Pictures (UK).