How Downton gets dressed

Ever wonder how a TV show manages to cram so many intricate costumes into each episode? In the case of Downton Abbey, it turns out that the wardrobe magic happens with a little help from the archives.

Many of the dresses worn by Michelle Dockery, Jessica Brown Findlay and Maggie Smith in filming the hit ITV show were recycled from past period dramas, the Daily Mail reported.

As Lady Mary, Dockery has worn a blouse first seen on screen in 1992, when Emma Thompson wore it in Howard’s End, before Catherine Zeta Jones wore it in 2007’s Death Defying Acts. That film also yielded another of Dockery’s costumes, a red evening gown.

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Dockery also wears a green gown first seen in Finding Neverland in 2004, and a black jet chocker Monica Belluci wore in a film.

Tim Angel, the chairman of Angels Costumiers, estimated that around two-thirds of the costumes seen in Downton have been used in the past.

‘There’s nothing wrong with that,’ he told the paper. ‘You can’t supply originals to everyone because it would make an already expensive programme simply unaffordable.’

The show’s second series just premiered in the US, cuing an outburst of mass anglophilia. ‘Even the most devastating wounds are bound up and set aside in time to dress for dinner,’ said the New York Times. And why not, with dresses like these from which to choose?

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