Black Dress

How to Wear a Black Dress and Look Amazing, Courtesy of Lady Mary on Downton Abbey

But with that whole widow thing going on, Lady Mary starts out season four deeply immersed in a sartorial mourning state. It’s been six months since Matthew’s untimely demise, but she’s still despondent and wearing zero color. But just because she’s moping about in somber all-black, that doesn’t mean she can’t look stunning, per usual. So let’s take some lessons from Lady Mary on how to make black not the least bit basic and eventually introduce color back into the wardrobe, just in time for the end of the episode (hallelujah!).



For a daytime all-black look, Mary went for extra detail—intricate brocade detail on her collared, drop-waist shirtdress. Her accessories of choice: a book of sad poetry (presumably) and a morose demeanor.



But she still has to eat, and as Downton Abbey and early-20th-century-history buffs know, this class of people gets dressed for dinner. Every evening. So Mary’s jazzing up her black shift gown with a lush velvet texture, black beads, and over-the-elbow silk gloves. The end effect: chic with a little attitude, especially to tell off a well-meaning Carson.



Lady Mary has to hit rock bottom at some point, and a talk with the fortune-squandering, just-can’t-help-himself chauvinist Lord Grantham (otherwise known as Dad) is just what she needed to send her there. Mary finally sees the light and goes to apologize to poor Carson, all well looking pretty damn amazing in an shimmery beaded flapper dress. And those gloves—let’s bring them back!



First order of business after seeing the light, reintroduce some color—and why not with a soft and lovely shade of lilac? Lady Mary’s pleated and embroidered-collar day dress is perfect to charm all those tenant farmers at the Friday luncheon. No wonder Branson gave her his seat.



For a reinvigorated dinner look, Mary mixed a deep wine hue into her signature black-beaded dress. The ethereal sheer cap sleeves add a soft, feminine touch to the look too. And just in time to find out that Matthew did indeed make out a will—well, sort of.



This purple palette is really working for a transitional mourning wardrobe! For a visit to Granny Dowager Countess Grantham, Lady Mary went for an aristocratic aubergine long-sleeve dress and upped her accessories game with a matching cloche and long necklace.



By the end of the season premiere, Lady Mary was back in full force, both sartorially and mentally—closing out with a drop-dead-gorgeous beaded magenta frock and a zinger for crusty old Lord Grantham. Snap! Can’t wait for the rest of the season.


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