Tag Archives: costumes

I’m baaaack!

Happy Halloween everyone!  I apologize for the rather long hiatus.  But I’m back and ready to dive into writing/blogging again.

Today’s Halloween.  Where the heck did summer go?  And if Halloween came so fast, that means Thanksgiving and Christmas are lurking just around the corner.  The “holidays” are upon us, my friends.

Trick-or-treating in the neighborhood where I grew up was an event.  The streets teemed with children on Halloween night, going from door to door, their high-pitched voices squeaking out “Trick-or-treat!” as adults opened their doors.  I was a shy kid, and the idea of having to interact with that many grown-ups at one time was just a bit intimidating.  Fortunately I always had my cousin with me, which made going up the porch steps and ringing the doorbell a little easier.  Except for the year of the cat pins.

They were my aunt’s idea.  Plastic black cat pins with green eyes that lit up when their noses were pressed.  And then there was the tune, a whining two or three notes that alternated for what seemed like an eternity before it finally shut off.  Our aunt fastened them to our costumes (I think I went as a witch that year, so it coordinated), and then we were given instructions.  We had to press that button at every single house we went to, after the adult came to the door.  And we had to wait until the cat’s “song” played out in its entirety, thus prolonging my agony.  What my aunt thought would be cute was pure torture for me, but being the shy kid, I didn’t express it, so she didn’t know.  We tried to get around the rule at a few houses, to see if we could “forget” to push the little cat noses, but my aunt was never far behind, and would call out “Press the button!  Press the button!”  We had no choice.  The whining tune would crank up, the green eyes would flicker.  And so it went, from house to house, all night.  Relief finally came towards the end of our route when the batteries mercifully died.

That cat pin still exists today.  My mom brings it out every Halloween for my little nephews.  They love to press the nose and listen to the cat screech away, its eyes flashing.  It always makes me cringe.  I’m haunted by a piece of black plastic molded in the form of a cat.


Filed under General

Downton Abbey Costumes

Admit it, one of the reasons we love Downton Abbey is the eye candy (and I’m not just talking about Dan Stevens, aka Matthew Crawley).

Sorry Matthew, I couldn't resist.

The gowns worn by the three sisters of Downton are not only gorgeous, but they help set the tone of the times and tell a story themselves.

Susannah Buxton is the costumer of Downton Abbey.  In an interview (which you can read here) she discusses how the costumes convey the personalities of the characters she is dressing.  Mary’s a no-nonsense sort of girl, and her wardrobe reflects this with very few lacy frills.  Edith’s dresses seem overly elaborate for her character, and after reading this interview I understand why.  She lacks the confidence of her older sister, so one would think she’d wear something that helped her blend in to the scenery.  But Buxton purposefully avoided this in order to prevent Edith’s character from becoming too cliche.  She would have had access to the same wealth as her older sister, so of course she would wear the latest fashions as well.

Sybil, Mary, and Edith

That leads us to Sybil, my favorite of the Crawley sisters.  She’s the youngest, and we see her grow up a great deal in the first series.  Buxton dresses her in a lot of floral prints to show her youth.  But Sybil’s progressive thinking and interest in women’s equality begins to shine through.  One of my favorite scenes in the first series is when Sybil enters the room, dressed for the evening meal in this:

Everyone’s jaw drops as she shows off her (gasp!) legs AND ankles.  In Buxton’s interview she explains that her inspiration for costumes came from Paul Poiret, a Parisian designer who took his inspiration from the Russian ballet company Ballet Russes.  Poiret introduced “harem” pants in 1911, a design highlighting American and European fascination with Turkish dress.  Here is a 1910 photo of a Ballet Russes costume designed by Leon Bakst:

I love how Sybil even strikes a similar pose when she shows off her new look to her family.

I have no doubt that costumes will play a major role in telling the story of the second series of Downton Abbey.  And I can’t wait to write about it!

Until then, I'll just have to wait...


Filed under Downton Abbey, Period Pieces