Sorry Miniskirts, But Downton Abbey’s Clothing Line Will Replace You

Downton Abbey (PBS) Season 1, 2010 - Laura Carmichael, Michelle Dockery, Jessica Brown Findlay

Hark! Alert! Call the London Tribune if that’s a thing! Downton Abbey is going to be releasing a line of merchandise later this year, including clothing, makeup and housewares.

How long have we drooled over Lady Mary’s ankle-length dresses and conservative necklines. How oft (like that old timey word I used right there?) have we said “I’d love a dress like that” as we watched Lady Edith make strides in the women’s movement? How did our tears fall when Lady Sybil died because we wouldn’t be able to see her in a hat anymore?

Well, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Because pretty soon we’re going to be able to buy those dresses. (Just don’t expect it to make Dan Stevens come crawling back.)

I could see this going one of two ways.

First, the good way for Downton Abbey. This is a huge hit. Society is already enamored with all things olden times. The Downton Abbey merch could be the hipster of the hipster. Goodbye modern conveniences like the electric can opener. Hello rustic kitchen bowls.

In this world, Saturday night looks a lot different. Instead of the girls in the club putting on their favorite micro mini skirt, they will be painstakingly buttoning each of the silk-covered buttons that run the length of their floor-length gown from nape of the neck to Achilles tendon.

And with the conservative clothing will come the conservative social behavior. Are you going to take a stranger home and trust him to take out your pin curls? I doubt it, sister! You’ll make him court you and wait until you’re sure he’s a suitable match (i.e., owns an estate or at least plays Cricket) before you allow him to see your collar bone.

In this reality, teenage pregnancy goes way down because boys and girls are never allowed in the same room together before they are married and we’ll just ignore all that stuff about inequality for women and the lack of a Civil Rights Movement for the sake of this light-hearted article.

Then there’s the other way this could go. Downton Abbey could really hurt its brand here. It could become the equivalent of the Sofia Vergara Spring 2013 Collection for K-Mart. When I watch Modern Family, I have to push out of my mind that Sofia Vergara is also trying to sell me cheap leopard print push-up bras and wrinkled blazers. This is hard to do.

We could end up seeing the Downton Abbey flapper dresses pushed together on a rack at Loehmann’s next to the “Premium Designers” and the “BCBG” racks. Moms across America will pull the one satin item out of the tangled mess saying “Honey, what about this for Homecoming?” And daughters across America will be like, “Mom! No! I told you I’m not wearing a dress that doesn’t show my boobs! Put that down!”

So the call is yours, America. It’s up to you to decide how this will turn out. It either reinforces our love of nostalgia or winds up making us rue the day Lady Mary ever walked into our lives.

I’ll be waiting for your answer. In the meantime I need to figure out how they do those close-to-the-head curls because that really confuses me. Like, is there Scotch tape involved? There has to be Scotch tape involved, right?


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