Fashionable Mourning; Downton Style

I have had a few persistent requests for fashion posts on Downton Abbey style from topics ranging from appropriate mourning attire to how choose the right cream for cricket. So, I have decided I will do a series of postings on Downton Abbey style. It seems appropriate to cover the topic of fashionable mourning first, since season 3 was hell-bent on sucking us dry of tears and leaving us in utter shock and ruin.

Just a fun little tid-bit - the season finale aired in England on Christmas Day. I mean, I had a random day in March ruined for me, but Christmas?! It's unthinkable.

There is a lot to cover on mourning and to begin we should review what the "rules" of mourning entail.

For a widow: one year of heavy mourning, followed by six months of half mourning, and six months of light mourning, for a total of two years. If a young widow meets someone whom she considers could be a proper suitor after the first year, she is not required to remain in mourning.

For a widower: one year of heavy mourning, six months of light, for a total of 18 months

For the death of parents and children: six months of heavy mourning, six months of half, three months of light, for a total of 15 months.

For the death of grandparents and siblings: four months of heavy mourning, four months of light: for a total of 8 months

For the death of aunts and uncles, or nieces and nephews: one month of full mourning, one month of light, for a total of two months.

Mourning garb can consist of:

Heavy or deep mourning: an all-black costume and no jewelry with colored stones. All white is also full mourning and may be worn at necessary social functions or in the country.

Half mourning: clothing is black with white touches, or white with black touches.

Light or second mourning: Clothing characterized by black and white mixtures, grey, mauve, violet, lavender, and similar colors, including patterned fabric


Given these rules we can expect to see a lot of black, white, grey, and subdued violet hues in the season 4. Here's a little teaser that I found of Lady Mary from season 4:

Some other looks we may see on a very solemn, yet always fashionable, Lady Mary this season may look something like this:

Some of the more mature ladies of Downton, such as Lady Cora, Cousin Violet, and Cousin Isobel may wear some of these more traditional frocks:

And of course, we cannot forget the accessories - as any fashionable woman knows, accessories are vitally important to a woman in mourning. Such accessories may include

Veils and Parasols:

The always fashionable handkerchief (because patterns are always appropriate for mourners, in small doses):

Because nothing says "in mourning" quite like polka dots

And of course jewelry:
Mourning ring inscribed with the name and age of person who died.

Another blogger,  Pink Julep, put together some lovely mood boards on other potential mourning attire for our Downtonites which I will share with you:

Finally, since beloved characters are constantly being killed off, (like these actors have something better to do, honestly) let's revisit some previous mourning looks from our Downton ladies:

In Remembrance:
Lady Sybil - Of course it made sense to kill off the most kind-hearted, loving, interesting Crowley sister with arguably the best love story:

And Matthew - Your character just experienced too much luck and good fortune - Happens to be the only male heir to Downton, almost killed in the war - Saved!, can't walk or have children - Cured!, Nearly loses the love of life - twice, gets the girl!, Downton is going belly-up - Inherits another fortune, Can't conceive - Has a baby (who happens to be a boy so you have an heir)! Your luck (and contract apparently) ran out and we haven't really had time to process or believe that you are actually gone:

May these dearly departed fiction characters rest in peace and here's to hoping that we can keep all of our cast alive for season 5!