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Suffragette City Part One January 10, 2012

Like millions of viewers around the globe, I seem to be in thrall to something kind of unexpected. Even though I consider myself to be a stone cold Citizen of the 21st, I am mesmerized by the tale of an upper-crust family, their army of servants, but most of all their Lifestyle.

And, it didn’t occur to me, until I was watching the premiere episode of Downton Abbey Season 2 this last Sunday, that all of this mighty foo fa rah actually takes place almost One Hundred years ago.

The Crawleys, et all, are languishing in the complications of high and low culture in 1916.

AND yet.

Into the mix comes the Modern.

For me, that’s the ultimate fascination.

Along with the estate (overwhelmingly HUGE), the sets (impeccably drawn), and all the details of life above and below stairs, something interesting bubbles right below the surface of it all.

The Fashion.

And here, in an intriguing and subtle way, we see the most important sub-plot of all: that while women were claiming their right to vote, the female wardrobe finally evolved into something mobile and wearable and yes, arrestable.

Even though it’s a slow trickle down into the older generations, the Crawley Sisters go dashing onto the Runway! From shorter, simpler dresses (at least in the daytime!) to pantaloons, it’s full-speed ahead.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear:

VOILA! Enter 20th Century Knitwear. Worn by Sybil Crawley. At the chilly breakfast table.

And suddenly, it’s good-bye Shawls; hello Sweaters!

Seeing this made me remember something and I went running – I possessed (from my wild and crazy flea-marketing days) some very, very old craft magazines, from right around this time.

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Now this, although it’s titled an “Embroidery Book” is really much much more.

Just like Ethel Parks, Housemaid, who often enjoys a magazine or two in her free time, this is a multi-function tome for the masses.

We have:

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which could be one of the 1st mass-distributed reality-shows-as pitch platform, where everything from wardrobe to relationships is dished with the product solving Everything!

Dear Diary:
I decided to wear my organdie to the dance. I do hope that none of the girls remember it from last year. That new sash may help. Do men ever remember dresses, Diary? Jimmy will be there with Edith Williams. Always Edith Williams. Oh, if I only had some becoming clothes!

And maybe, Ethel daydreamed a little while she was making the Mistresses’ bed:

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Of course, the Mistress embroidered all the “Lovelies” and Ethel just put them in their place, but one can’t help wondering if maybe Ethel and maybe her friends, styled themselves as well:

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But what about that sweater? Looks almost like it could be from Top Shop, no?!

Stay tuned for more masterpiece ahead

…all in the series:
– Suffragette City Part 1
– Suffragette City Part 2
– Suffragette City Part 3
– Suffragette City Part 4
– Suffragette City Part 5
– Suffragette City Part 6

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14 responses to “Suffragette City Part One January 10, 2012”

  1. Katecrafts says:

    My father who is 79 rarely talks about his family but when I told him I was starting to knit a shawl he was reminded of a story about his grandmother. As teenagers my father and his brothers chipped in one Christmas (circa 1950) to buy granny a new coat. She always wore a shawl and had never had a ‘modern’ coat. A week after Christmas they saw her wearing a lovely new shawl and asked her “where’s your new coat Granny?” She replied that she had swapped with a friend for the lovely new shawl, she just couldn’t get used to the coat sleeves. Dad thinks my great granny would approve of my new shawl project.

  2. Rose says:

    I absolutely love that show!! So much so, that I’m even watching last year’s again on my iPad!! Great post!!

  3. meg says:

    Love the show, love those fabulous books! I’ve got a few from my Grammie, too. <3 Sweet little Gram.

  4. meg says:

    The illustrations are pure art.

  5. Bonne Marie says:


    And the mags themselves – I forgot to show scale! It measures 10″ x 14″ – so lovely and large…

    Next time I post, I’ll put a “nowdays” craft mag on top of it to show the diff.

  6. Bonne Marie says:

    ditto <3 Sweet Little Gram

  7. gilda says:

    Great reading material. ;)
    And that show…I HAVE to check it out!
    Loved this post, can’t wait for more masterpiece (hehe)

  8. rita nancy says:

    Did you notice that the top button was missing on her sweater?

  9. Bonne Marie says:

    Heh! But of course, a Lady would not Know How to Sew on a Button – ;p

    Lady Sybil could barely fill the tea pot with water when she was in the kitchen!

  10. Great catch Bonne! I too have been loving the fashion. Particularly the millinery! The garden party scene (S1E4) was to die for.

  11. Lynn says:

    In the last photo, at first glance, I thought she was looking at an iPhone.

  12. Jessica says:

    On my yes, I love that sweater. I couldn’t find any better picture though! Its soooo cozy looking. Reminded me of a less patterned Miss BB. I wear mine ALL THE TIME.

  13. z says:

    I really liked the way women dressed in the 40’s and 50’s.

    Very classic lines, but still very feminine.

    And the hair, so cute.

  14. Jennifer says:

    Pleeeease design a pattern for that sweater!!!! I hunted through Rav looking for a match to no avail…must. have.

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