With the finale of the second season of Downton Abbey just hours away, TIME has published an interview with Downton costume designer Susannah Buxton. Buxton discusses how fashion changed during the war period and how the characters’ costumes reflected this. Skirts began to relax, becoming less constrictive and more practical. Colors were more somber for the most part. The ladies still would have dressed in their finery in the evenings, because, as Buxton states, “they would have lasted. They would have two or three and repeat in real life.” Thus the reason you see the Crawley sisters with just a few different evening gowns during the second season .
Buxton discusses some of the costumes from the first series as well, including Lady Sybil’s infamous harem dress. The bodice was made from original fabric of the period, and Buxton describes how delicate it was. “She came down for the first scene and after the third take the whole panel started to split at the back. Fortunately we did have another piece of it, but watching a dress part from itself in front of your eyes on camera is pretty scary.”
Also interesting is the information she reveals about the staff costumes. The pink striped dress that we often see Daisy in is an Edwardian original, one that had never been worn before.