Created on: November 29, 2012 Last Updated: November 30, 2012
You are glued to the television screen with a fascination that is almost painful in its focus and its longing. A wistful sigh escapes your lips. Those truly must have been the good old days; the courtesy, the gentle yet passionate romance, the tiny waists encased in corsets and handmade lace. You are filled with an insatiable longing for a handsome man just like Matthew to accompany you on a sedate but oh-so-romantic walk among the spring flowers adjoining the perfectly manicured lawns of the estate. Like other millions of others in the world, you have inevitably and irrevocably succumbed to the charms of early 20th century Downton Abbey.
The period drama and soap-opera daily events that take place in the television lives of the Crawleys are greeted with excitement and anticipation. However, in an unexpected spin-off, the show has also created huge global interest in women's clothing, from lace dresses and low cut bodices, to fanciful cloche and other hats. Most women have not actually taken to wearing the period style, lavish dresses; for reasons of practicality, and often affordability, they just don't seem to go with present day comfortable clothes. But never underestimate the resourcefulness and fashion wiles of the modern woman. Even though vintage gowns and dresses may be unattainable for most, accessories like chokers and especially glorious hand made hats straight from the pages of history allow the majority to have their own small taste of Downton Abbey elegance. Hats seem to lend charm and unique qualities to their female wearers, even adding a certain classiness to the ubiquitous blue jeans and sometimes somewhat run of the mill tops of everyday life.
Designer opportunities have arisen for very small boutique milliners, and even smaller home-based hat makers, to enjoy a sudden demand for their Downton Abbey inspired hats. A visit to a site like Etsy reveals just some of the new interest in 1920's style cintage cloches and hats.
Debenhams reports that hats and accessories inspired by Downton Abbey continue to fly off their shelves, especially since the third season started. In tandem with the trend, they have launched a campaign to make fascinators part of the dress code at Ascot. Fashion guru Ralph Lauren actually sponsored the PBS Masterpiece series after realising the effect of Downton Abbey costumes on his trade, and designed particular hats to go with his period collection. The Lauren Fall 2012 collection opened with the theme music from Downton Abbey, and provided huge exposure for accessories, including lovely cloche and other styles of designer hats. Under the designer abilities for creativity, the dresses maintain their period integrity, but are shorter, and of course easier care. The more outfits sold, the more hats are required to complete the Downton Abbey look.
It appears that men too have been affected by the explosion of vintage clothing. Sales of cravats are up by 28% according to Debenhams. It doesn't seem too difficult to get men into waistcoats either. Those sales are up by 21%. However men's hats don't have quite the same impact on sales. Debenhams don't seem to consider their sales on those worthy of a mention.
People love a feeling of luxury, even in a down-turn economy, and even just a tiny glimpse of designer style can fit the bill. In this case it seems to be that hats inspired by Downton Abbey fill a need for women to enjoy a romantic vision. So hats off for Downton abbey, hats on for women, and know that hats are truly in!
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How Downton Abbey has affected hat sales