Lady Mary: One Well-Dressed Bitch

Minor spoiler from the second-to-last episode of Downton Abbey: Mary Crawley is a bitch.

Okay, that’s less a spoiler and more a fact that we’ve all known since – I don’t know, probably since she helped conceal the corpse of a certain Turkish diplomat.

But in the penultimate episode, Edith finally (FINALLY!) called Mary out on it, and damn, it felt good.

Lady Mary isn’t without her better qualities, though. She’s shown real personal growth after losing her sister Sybil and Matthew, her cousin who she was also married to. She takes good care of little George, or employs people who are good at taking care of him anyway. Lady Mary has an open mind toward all religions, and really nice eyebrows besides. Yet above all, Edith was right: Lady Mary is kind of a bitch – but such a well dressed one!

 

Shortly after we meet Mary, she establishes herself as the fashionable one with this crisp menswear-inspired riding outfit. Around this time, she also disposes of the body of a man that she slept with after the cousin she was supposed to marry dies on the Titanic.

Still very much in that pre-war, 1910s fashion, Mary wears a beautifully beaded gown that is just starting to show the more streamlined Art Deco look. She also complains that Cousin Matthew, who didn’t ask for any of this, can’t hold a knife.

Mary, in a very Rose Dewitt Bukater- appropriate evening dress, waits to accept Matthew’s proposal until she finds out whether her mother’s having a boy, in which case Matthew wouldn’t have access to that sweet Crawley money.

Moving on to season two (series two if you’re nasty), the world is at war and Mary shows her respect for that situation with these demure separates that are starting to almost look like modern clothes. She also shows her respect for that situation by getting engaged to a newspaper man who will cover up the Pamuk cover-up.

Wearing her signature color (the blood of angry men), Mary breaks into the postwar period with a full, layered skirt, unlike the closer fitting gowns we usually see her in. The perfect dress for getting engaged to your cousin after you’re pretty happy that his fiancee died.

A few important developments: Mary and Matthew finally tie the knot; Downton Abbey is in peril because Lord Grantham spent all his money on yellow labs named after figures in Egyptian mythology; the 1920s finally arrive and with it, the drop waisted dress. Mary’s Art Nouveau hairpiece is so perfectly early ’20s. The whole wedding was beautifully nostalgic, and Mary’s dress reminds me of my great-grandparents’ wedding pictures from the 1910s and ’20s. (Like the Abbey itself, or an item that Lady Mary should have carried on her wedding day, I AM SOMETHING OLD.)

Lady Mary really made you like her in season 3. Not only does she help save Downton from ruin by encouraging Matthew to accept his inheritance from Reggie Swire – AND suffer the loss of Sybil, the noblest of all the Crawleys – she also acts reasonably supportive of Edith when she finally gets her chance at the altar. To celebrate the occasion, Mary wore her springlike best: a wide-brimmed hat, a light cyan lace dress with chiffon sleeves, drop pearl earrings, and an oh-so-20s layered pearl necklace. Then Edith got jilted. GOD. Not the topic of this post, but Poor Edith, right?

 

All of that work getting us to feel for Lady Mary was leading up to Matthew’s death. Thanks, Downton. The first half of the season is just a lot of black mourning dresses, a custom I’d ALMOST like to see brought back. It was a bit too rigid and sometimes you want to wear a color, but it’s a nice visual reminder that someone’s going through something so maybe you should go a bit easier on them.

That’s why it’s such a big moment when Mary busts out the partial mourning dresses and shows up to lunch in a lilac frock. You really feel for Mary – she doesn’t want to be a hard or cold person, she feels like that’s just how she IS. Of course, that calculating, chilly demeanor can really help you out in business, and Mary proves herself savvy in handling Matthew’s estate.

 

In the early ’20s, like today, the faux bob was popular with people who weren’t quite ready for the big chop. Mary’s ALMOST got the Jazz Age look down (meanwhile poor Anna is still being forced to dress like she’s from a Beatrix Potter picture book)… but just wait…tumblr_ndlvl2pzb21r3losno1_500

SHE’S GONE AND BOBBED HER HAIR. Well, I’ll be. And it looks great! It’s an open-minded hairstyle for an open-minded Mary, who has no problem cavorting with Lord Gillingham then dumping him when she realizes he’s too stupid for her. I mean, she does also tell Tom to stop rolling with that newfangled hussy Sarah Bunting, so in some ways she’s still the old Mary.

 

The bitch is back: Mary, pictured here in a phenomenal red hat, thinks Edith should stop hanging out with Marigold. Although admittedly, the whole Marigold thing would seem a bit weird if you didn’t know the back-story.

I cannot get enough of this fur-trimmed coat and especially that phenomenal hat! It all looks so warm. Almost warm enough to melt Mary’s chilly heart, but who are we kidding, it’s a coat not a miracle.

By the final season, Mary is dating a driver – and with that come driving accessories! Check out the duster coat, the cloche that even looks expensive, and the buttery leather gloves. THIS is an outfit that says “character development”: but don’t worry, Mary is still quite contrary.

I NEED THIS GOWN. No, really. I need this gown. I have a 1920s-themed wedding to go to this year and nothing to wear. Also, this is the perfect picture to comment on another aspect of Mary’s personality: she’s not exactly a girls’ girl – except arguably her semi-purchased friendship with Anna.

Faults aside, I still really loved Mary’s character and wanted her to find happiness. Here she is at her second wedding, all Art Deco lines and accordian pleats. As one final bitchy act, she informs Edith’s love interest that – gasp! – Edith is only weirdly obsessed with the little girl who lives with her because the little girl who lives with her is her daughter.

By the end of the series, everything is patched up with the Crawley sisters, Mary and Edith are both happily wed, and the Downton Home For Half-Orphaned Children will be in the family for years to come. In a final ground-breaking 1920s fashion move, Mary is the first person on the show to wear sunglasses – though with the amount of shade she throws, it’s amazing that she needs them.

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Pop Culture Moments That Make Me Cry

Some pop culture moments are engineered to make you cry. Any time they show you an old man who is alone, or a beloved dog bravely facing his mortality, you know they’re trying to make you bawl.

Others aren’t supposed to be sad, but for some reason they grab onto your feelings and twist them until your eyes water. For instance: any time a child sings and it’s very beautiful.

Then there are those moments that were meant to be sad, but came out hilarious instead. I present for your approval:

This is the rare tearjerker scene that makes us weep – because we’re laughing so hard. So with Dawson Leery as our patron saint of pop culture crying, we’re listing those moments in entertainment that brought us to tears. Our scale stretches from one Crying Dawson (your eyes are lightly watering, but there’s no real tearstorm) to five Crying Dawsons (or as we like to call it, a Full Leery). And disclaimer: there will be spoilers ahead. Consider yourself warned.

One Crying Dawson1 crying dawson

  • The final, heartrending scenes of The Notebook. And I’m only putting it here because zero crying Dawsons wasn’t an option. I’m a monster, I know.
  • The end of Bridesmaids where Maya gives one last glance back at Kristen before she gets in the limo with her new husband. There’s an unspoken understanding between two best friends that just gets me.
  • Any time an actor/actress that is announcing Emmy/Oscar/Golden Globe nominations at the asscrack of dawn, only to announce their own name as one of the nominees.
  • Cyrus realizing he was the reason his hubs got killed on Scandal. You brought it on yourself dude.
  • When Little Michael Scott wants to grow up and have 100 kids so he can have 100 friends and no one can say no to being his friend.
  • The end of City Lights (taking it way back to the 1930s here!), when the blind girl sees the tramp for the first time.
  • When Mary is sort of mean to Martha in A Secret Garden but it’s because she doesn’t know how to play or love and her parents are dead and she lives in a creepy house in the middle of nowhere.
  • The “Love Is A Dream” sketch with Phil Hartman and Jan Hooks, serving the one-two punch of old people thinking about their youth, and people who died before their time.
  • When the now-elderly Peaches take a team picture and sing their song one last time in A League Of Their Own.
  • In The Great Gatsby, both the book and film adaptations, when Daisy delivers the “beautiful fool” line. Gut punch.

Two Crying Dawsons2 crying dawsons

  • When Papouli taught us about Greek dance, the love of family, and brief character arcs on Full House.
  • The look on Louis’ face when his daughter plays the violin duet with the neighbor on Louie.
  • The episode of The Simpsons where Homer gets the crayon lodged in his brain removed and suddenly becomes smart. At the end Lisa reads a letter he wrote her from before he got dumb again and it was the first time anyone in her family understood her.
  • Also, after Maggie is born and Homer goes back to work at the plant, he covers the mean plaque from Burns “Don’t Forget, You’re Here Forever” with her pictures so that it now reads “Do it for her.”
  • When Brian Williams reported on the NBC Nightly News that his daughter Allison Williams had been cast in the live version of Peter Pan. No matter what you think about the casting decision itself, you have no soul if you don’t get emotional watching him be so proud of his daughter.
  • Mr. Feeny dismissing class one final time.
  • Jen Lindley’s final conversation with Jack. And TBH, I might have cried more when Jack and Dougie declared their commitment to each other on the beach.
  • When Will believes his father isn’t going to leave him again on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air but Pops lets him down again, and Will breaks down in the arms of Uncle Phil asking why his dad doesn’t want him.
  • The voiceover at the end of The Time Travelers episode of How I Met Your Mother, when Future Ted says that he wants 45 extra days with The Mother… probably because at that point I had a pretty good idea of what that darn show was going to do to us.
  • Leslie saying goodbye to Ann on Parks and Rec. Uteruses before duderuses.
  • When Mel Gibson is getting ready to leave in The Patriot, and his mute daughter runs after him screaming “I’ll say anything!” Doubly so now that she’s passed away.

Three Crying Dawsons

3 crying dawsons

  • The final moments of that old dog in Homeward Bound.
  • The Muppets (2012), just in general. It made both of us cry and neither of us knows why.
  • Jessie singing When Somebody Loved Me in Toy Story 2.
  • The little girl singing Desperado in In America.
  • I was in a hotel a few months ago and came across a documentary on like the Travel Channel or something that was about the new Diagon Alley attraction in Harry Potter World at Universal Studios Orlando, and the planning, construction and attention to detail that went into it before they opened the doors. Before opening it to the public, a select group of young HP fans were let into the park as a sneak peak and the look of awe was astounding. I can’t imagine being a kid, being obsessed with the books & movies and finally being in Diagon Alley for real.
  •  In what is one of my favorite dances over all the seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, golden child Travis Wall choreographed an emotional contemporary (and Emmy nominated) piece to Coldplay’s Fix You, a dance based on his own experience of helping his mom through her bout with cancer. While Fix You is always a tearjerker, add on the brilliant dancing by Robert Roldan and Allison Holker and you have a piece of pure art that will leave you breathless.
  • Speaking of SYTYCD, season 11’s Ricky Ubeda was one of those winners who actually deserved the victory, thanks to his combination of talent and personality. But during Hollywood week, it was his solo that made me (and a lot of other viewers) single him out from the crowd, thanks to vulnerability and emotion he brought to the dance.
  • Lily telling Marshall his dad died on How I Met Your Mother.
  • The final scene in Friends when they all walk out of Monica & Chandler’s to go to Central Perk and there’s one final sweep of the empty apartment with swelling music in the background.

Four Crying Dawsons

4 Crying Dawsons

  • Carrie Underwood singing. Pretty much singing anything. Especially if it’s live. I’ve seen her in concert three times and every single time I was brought to tears. She sings with such passion and conviction. And if she’s singing any kind of religious song, you know she’s channeling the big JC, making her voice even more powerful for some reason.
  • The scene in both the book and movie version of The Fault in our Stars where Hazel is giving the ‘eulogy’ for Gus in the church.
  • The Normal Heart. All of it.
  • Friday Night Lights – pretty much the entire show. However, I’ll pinpoint one that stands out, which is when Coach throws Matt Saracen into the shower, but QB1 breaks down, insisting that his loved ones always abandon him. And to continue this Zach Gilford lovefest, the entire episode of The Son is heartwrenching, but I won’t ruin it for you if you haven’t seen it.
  • Call it the Jason Katims effect because Parenthood also makes me cry during every episode, no matter what. Again, it’s hard to pick just one, so the scene where Kristina tells the family that she has cancer – a scene so powerful with no words at all. This current season hasn’t been lucky for Zeek, and because of personal reasons, I’ve found his storyline extremely upsetting. Also Mae Whitman crying. Legit the best crier in the biz.
  • The series finale of Gilmore Girls in which Rory assures Lorelai that she’s “already given her everything she needs” before she goes on the road following Senator Barack Obama. In fact the final like 20 minutes of that show including Rory’s speech under the tent make me cry so hard that I’ve only watched the finale approx thrice, as opposed to like the 30 times for all the other episodes.
  • The finale of I ❤ Nick Carter where he and Lauren get married. Legit stayed up til 4am watching it and it was totally worth it. His family sucks but good thing they have the rest of BSB and other friends and family – that’s what got me.
  •  Jim Halpert learning he and Pam are having a baby after she injures herself at the company picnic. The whole office singing Seasons of Love to Michael on his last episode. The ‘Forever’ flash mob at Jim & Pam’s wedding and them getting married on the Maid of the Mist and Jim cutting off his tie. The entire series finale. I had a hard time saying goodbye to The Office.
  • The first 5-ish minutes of Up.
  • When Mary and Edith realize that they’re the only ones left after Sybil dies.
  • I was never big into Buffy, but that scene where Buffy tells Dawn that their mom has died, and you’re watching it through the window of her classroom? Nope.
  • DOBBY. RIP.

Five Crying Dawsons

5 crying dawsons

  • The Quarterback episode of Glee where Finn (Cory Monteith) dies. I literally went through almost an entire box of tissues during that and I’m not even a huge Glee fan. The pain on everyone’s face was real, and watching Lea Michele sing – forget it.
  • The end of The Best Man Holiday – what in the fuck was that all about?! I paid $15 to see Taye Diggs and his fellow HBM co-stars possibly take their clothes off and it turned out that I needed extra sleeves because my tears and snot were all over the shirt I went in with.
  • Right before Leslie and Ben get married, when she’s talking with Ron in the hallway. I’m a wedding crier anyway, but jeez.
  • In Little Women, when Jo is going through the trunk in the attic after Beth has died (note: Beth’s death gets knocked down to 4 Crying Dawsons because of the weird brogue Claire Danes starts speaking in).
  • Everything that happens after Sara Crewe goes to live in the attic in A Little Princess. This is the second Frances Hodgson Burnett appearance on this list so I hope wherever she is, she’s proud of her vast legacy of children’s tears.
  • The funeral scene in Philadelphia, when they show the home movies of Beckett as a kid with his mom.
  • Good Will Hunting: 4 words – “It’s not your fault.”
  • My Girl: 6 words – “He can’t see without his glasses!”
  • Dead Poets Society: 4 words – “O Captain! My Captain!”

23 Skidoo! Downton-Era Slang For Every Vocabulary

Downton Abbey came back for its fourth season last night (for our more law-abiding North American readers anyway), and that talkie is the cat’s. I’m not just beating my gums here — the ’20s were the start of our modern pop-culture age, and the slang was the bee’s knees.

Incorporate some of these phrases and you’ll sound like your favorite sheik or sheba in no time!

23 skidoo! – leave quickly

  • Example: The coppers are busting the gin mill. 23 skidoo!

And how! – I agree with you SO HARD.

  • Example:

Herman: Those flappers sure are showing a lot of ankle!

Hattie (showing a lot of ankle): And how!

Bank’s Closed: stop making out

  • Example: It’s a speakeasy, not a hootenanny. Bank’s closed, Sam and Ida!

Beat one’s gums – to talk a lot of nonsense

  • Example: Lula says the stock market’s going to tank, but I think she’s just beating her gums.

Beef – a complaint. Actually, just like how we use it now. Thanks, ’20s!

  • Example:

Myrtle: What’s your beef?

Maude: You borrowed my stockings and got rouge all over the knees!

bee’s knees – really, really awesome

  • Example: Boy, Josephine, these movies that you have to read sure are the bee’s knees!

bimbo – a macho, overly manly man

  • Example: Reginald’s always lifting barbells on the boardwalk. What a bimbo!

blind date – a date with a stranger. Actually, just like how we use it now. No thanks, ’20s!

  • Example: George missed his blind date with Thelma because he was stuck on top of a flagpole.

blotto – drunk

  • Example: Mabel is completely blotto off that moonshine!

bubs – boobs, but way more fun to say

  • Example: Now Mabel’s showing her bubs! Geraldine, get her home!

cancelled stamp – a shy, wallflower-y girl who’s not very fun.

  • Example: Say what you will about Mabel, at least she’s not a cancelled stamp like old Gertie!

cat’s pajamas – particularly great. Often abbreviated to just “the cat’s.”

  • Example: Ida and Roger think dance marathons are the cat’s pajamas!

dead soldier – empty beer bottle

  • Example: Clean the dead soldiers off the field, boys! A football game’s starting and they could scratch our leather helmets!

drugstore cowboy – a guy who hangs out in public trying to look good and pick up ladies. See: the text of No Scrubs.

  • Example: Bernice bobs her hair, and next thing you know she’s taken off with some drugstore cowboy!

Dumb Dora – an unintelligent lady

  • Example: Maxine’s such a Dumb Dora – you can get better conversation out of a silent film!

gasper – cigarette

  • Example: Harold says that gaspers can make you sick, but I think he’s just beating his gums.

giggle water – booze

  • Example: Slow your roll, Mabel. Enough of that giggle water.

half-seas over – drunk

  • Example: Mabel is completely half-seas over off that moonshine!

handcuff – engagement ring

  • Example: George has the handcuff on ol’ Thelma and he’s never at the speakeasy anymore.

icy mitt – to coldly blow off a person who’s trying to get with you

  • Example: Now that Ruth’s a coed, she’s giving all of the townies the icy mitt.

Let George do it – something that you’d say to get out of work.

  • Example: I don’t want to work on my financial planning for 1929. Ah, let George do it!

Moll – a gangster’s lady-friend

  • Example:

Moll: No, Irene, this is just the name my parents gave me. I’m not affiliated with the mafia. But I hope my great-granddaughter will be named after me, because what are the chances that the name Molly would be associated with a seedy subculture again in 100 years?

ossified – drunk.

  • Example: Mabel is completely ossified off that moonshine!

quilt – an alcoholic beverage that keeps you warm

  • Example:

Mabel: I sure am cold after that sledding party! Somebody get me a quilt.

Ethel: Oh, you’ve had quite enough, Mabel.

Mabel: I meant a literal quilt, though.

petting pantry – a movie theater. Still relevant for anyone who’s gone to the movies only to realize that it was apparently the couple’s show.

  • Example: Let’s go to the petting pantry! There’s a new Louise Brooks flick. And I want to make out.

So’s your old man – a response to somebody who said something that irritated you. Sort of a “your mama” for the 1920s crowd.

  • Example:

Phyllis: I saw your beau Jimbo at the petting party with Olive. He’s courting a hussy!

Gladys: So’s your old man!

sheba – girlfriend (or a good-looking lady). For millenials, that usually translates to “this girl I’m kind of hanging out with, I don’t know.”

  • Example: Arthur’s sheba is Lucille.

sheik – boyfriend (or a good-looking man). Millenials: “that guy I’ve been seeing or whatever, not really sure what we are.”

  • Example: Lucille’s sheik is Roy. Don’t tell Arthur.

spifflicated –  drunk

  • Example: Mabel is completely splifficated off that moonshine!

struggle buggy – a car’s backseat

  • Example: Wow, it sure is easier to neck in a struggle buggy than it was in a regular buggy! I always felt like the horses were watching.

Tell it to Sweeney! – I don’t believe you. Tell it to someone who does.

  • Example: Sick from gaspers, Harold?! Tell it to Sweeney!

zozzled –  drunk

  • Example: Mabel is completely zozzled off that moonshine! I think she might have a problem.

Old trends don’t die as soon as a new one starts. Case in point: 40-something women who still dress like they did in the class of ’87. So, some of the early ’20s Downtoners were still using their World War I and Edwardian-era slang. It’s not too late to start using these words, too:

balmy on the crumpet –  crazy

  • Example: Henrietta is wearing bloomers! She’s gone balmy on the crumpet.sybil

blue devils – feeling down in the dumps

  • Example: Aminta has the blue devils because her best corset just broke.

beaver – a man’s beard

  • Example:

Jonesy: Why the long face, Jamesy?

Jamesy (whose face is hairless):  I can’t give Clorinda what she wants. I’m a baby-faced boy, but she likes the beaver.

Jonesy: Perhaps she can find a beard elsewhere.

boner – a mistake

  • Example:

Ronald: I made a real boner while I was courting Flossie in her parents’ parlor. I think I really ruined my chances.

Donald: A boner while courting in her parents’ parlor? What was it?

Ronald: A boner while courting in her parents’ parlor.

cheese it! – stop it!

  • Example: Cheese it, Edmund! You have to take your cod-liver oil!

clergyman’s daughter – a whore

  • Example: Bridget’s a clergyman’s daughter, and mark my words, in ten years her little Mabel will be just as bad.

cootie – crabs

  • Example: Bridget has cooties.

curtains – the end

  • Example: So… I guess that means it’s curtains for you and Bridget, then?

fittums – a great fit

  • Example: Constance, your new hobble skirt is just fittums!

jumping jesus – a fanatic

  • Example: I mean, I’m as excited about the coronation as anyone, but Nigel is a bit of a jumping jesus about the whole thing.

off his chump – crazy

  • Example: Now Henrietta wants to vote, as well? She’s off her chump.

pad the hoof – walking

  • Example: Ready to pad the hoof to the magic lantern show? It’s really the best entertainment option at this point in history.

pipe off – lose interest (in a romantic relationship)

  • Example:

Edwardine: Why did you pipe off Simon?

Thomasine: He spent more time with his hair tonic than I did on my pompadour!

Razzle-dazzle – to go out there, stir up some trouble, and get some ladies!

  • Example:

Bert: Shall we go razzle-dazzle, Simon?

Simon: I’m actually less interested in razzle-dazzling than you might think.

Teagie – tea gown

  • Example: You know, calling it a teagie makes it seem like it would be pretty casual, but it takes like three handmaids to change into this thing.

What priced head have you? – How bad’s the hangover?

  • Example: You really hit the music-hall hard, Basil. What priced head have you?

yeah – yes

  • Example

Charles: In 100 years’ time, will old people still get mad when you say “yeah” instead of “yes?”

Charlotte: Yeah.

Downton Abbey Actors: Unrecognizable in Modern Clothes

It’s Downton Abbey season again! Well, it is if you’re in the UK, anyway.  All of the pre-Downton chatter has me thinking about the actors in real life. Some of them look the same in modern dress – Lord Grantham and Bates, for instance. When I see some of the other actors on a 21st century red carpet, I think they’re from some show I don’t watch. It’s like taking your great-grandma whom you’ve only seen in old photo albums and dressing her in skinny jeans. Honestly, though, some of them are secretly seriously attractive under that ‘20s garb. To wit:

Laura Carmichael – Edith Crawley

While Mary and Sybil carry the title of “Lady”, Edith’s title is “Poor.” As in, “Poor Edith always gets jilted” or “Poor Edith always tries to marry married men” or “Everyone Poor Edith knows dies tragically.” Yes, her sisters dealt  with worse tragedies than her, but you have to admit that there’s a hangdog, unfortunate vibe surrounding Edith. The “Poor Edith” thing isn’t helped by Downton’s stylists. Compared to Mary and Sybil, Edith is certainly the dowdy sister. That’s all TV magic, though. When Laura Carmichael is out in modern-day clothes, she’s every bit as pretty as her on-screen sibs.

Rob James-Collier – Thomas

What a difference a buzz cut makes. While I do think Thomas isn’t half bad looking, you can’t deny that he’s a total dirtbag. Once Rob James-Collier has the layer of Thomas slime scrubbed off, he looks like such a nice guy.

Sophie McShera – Daisy

She’s playing a scullery maid, so this isn’t necessarily fair. Still, the fact remains that Daisy looks pretty plain on-screen. Casting directors must have seen some rough in the diamond, because is actually super-pretty.

Thomas Howes – William

Proof that everyone looks dopier with slicked-down hair.

Siobhan Finneran – Mrs O’Brien

I KNOW, right? Between the weird sausage curl bangs, Victorian spinster dress, and dour attitude, O’Brien is unappealing to say the least. It’s a huge shock that in 2013, Siobhan Finneran looks like she’d play a pretty teacher or nice young mom.

Dan Stevens – Matthew Crawley

Brown hair? Good. Facial hair? Good. A beard that looks like it’s been blasted with spray snow? Not so good. If Dan Stevens would trim up that frizzy beard and hit it with some Just For Men, I’d call his 21st century self a major upgrade.

Lesley Nicol – Mrs. Patmore

The biggest difference is definitely in the downstairs folk, and you have to admit that this is pretty remarkable.At least at first, Mrs. Patmore is that scary boss everyone’s had at least once.  She isn’t even married, but they call her Mrs. anyway, just to show that she’s wed to the kitchen. She’s kind of grumpy and frumpy, but  I can’t snark on Patmore’s hair because it’s exactly what mine looks like with no product or if I’m late for work. Yep, I’m definite downstairs material. Lesley Nicol in her 21st century gear reminds me that sometimes a little hair straightener goes a long way.

American Girl Outfits I’d Wear Today: Samantha & Molly

My generation gets a lot of flack for being overly nostalgic before we’ve really earned the right to be. But first of all, as a kid in the 90s, I remember all of the gen-Xers were into 1970s childhood nostalgia. This is hardly new. Additionally, we were pretty much doomed to be nostalgic. I blame the American Girls Collection. It made all of us long for the past before we had even been in the present for more than 7 years. We never had a chance.

Here is our final installment of the American Girl Outfits I’d Wear Today series – Samantha and Molly. If you missed it, check out our coverage of  Felicity and Josefina and Kirsten and Addy.

Samantha Parkington

Samantha was really the it girl of the American Girl world. If you had at least one American Girl doll, it was probably Samantha. I mean, I didn’t , but that was because my teacher’s daughter had Samantha, and their dog ate it, so she passed the outfits on to me. My Molly doll was the same thing as Samantha, but with grey eyes, so once I had the outfits I was seriously all set.

I’ve read several articles and fashion blogs discussing the influence of Downton Abbey on today’s fashion, and the general consensus is “who would have thought that Edwardian style would ever be the thing?” Um, how about all of us who grew up in the 1990s and idolized Samantha Parkington’s well-tailored outfits, sleek furniture, and bangin’ Victorian mansion? Sidebar, since I was about five years old, with the exception of  high school and a few stabs at bobbed hair, I’ve had Samantha’s hair ‘do. Forget Zooey Deschanel. Samantha Parkington’s are the bangs that defined a generation.

Samantha’s Middy Outfit
This outfit just kills me. Usually when I wear nautical-themed outfits it’s more on the lines of navy stripes and a jaunty scarf, maybe with some kelly green pants or Nantucket reds. But this dress is a great reminder to try out the sailor look – keep the collar smallish so you don’t look costumey. I had a red sailor coat when I was little, and I practically cried when I outgrew it, because it reminded me of Sam’s summer dress. I mean, I probably did cry.

Samantha’s Plaid Cape and Gaiters
Thus began my lifelong love affair with Black Watch plaid. So classic and gorgeous! I think Susan has a coat like this in the ’90s Miracle on 34th Street. I was so annoyed with my school uniform, which was almost black watch, but with stupid red and yellow lines in it (which clashed with our baby-blue Peter Pan collar blouses). The real beauty of this is in the adorable gaiters she has. Anyone know where I can get a pair? Also, did anyone else carry a muff as a kid because of this, or was that just me? I never realized what a vintage-obsessed child I was, but I toted around my aunt’s 1950s fur hand-warmer like it was going out of style (which it probably was).

Molly McIntire

Molly McIntire always had a place in my heart, primarily because we are both named Molly and are both sort of awkward, yet also driven and optimistic. She was like a nine-year-old, wartime Leslie Knope that way. She made me really want wire-framed glasses, although my eyesight wouldn’t deteriorate enough for that until my mid-20s. Molly had a tomboyish yet preppy style, and if you were born in the ‘80s, your mom probably liked her because the outfits reminded her of her childhood in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Molly’s Camp Gowanagan Outfit
High waisted red shorts, sassy scarf, and crisp white button-up? Yes, please. Molls looks like such a 2010s hipster here. Like, I can practically tell which Brooklyn neighborhood she lives in. As I mentioned before, thanks to Molly, I dragged my mom to about five stores in third grade, searching for saddle shoes (I found them, and they were everything I’d ever dreamed of. And I’m pretty proud that I was thinking for myself, fashion-wise, at such a young age, because I’m pretty sure they weren’t in style. And I’m pretty sure that I want another pair right NOW.)

Molly’s Slicker And Rain Hat
Yes. Yep. This is it. This is how you dress in the rain. I’ve actually not gone with a serious vinyl raincoat since I was probably in the single-digits, age-wise, but I would definitely wear this. Also, how amazingly practical is it to have a rain hat? When did we, as a people, stop doing that? You’d still carry an umbrella, probably, but think of the hair damage you could avoid! This is also a nice reminder that while novelty wellies are adorable, the classic reds and yellows will never fail you. An aside: I taught one of my nephews to call his boots like these his “galoshes” because it is adorable.

Molly’s Pajamas

A lot of the time, my pajamas are fleece pajama pants or pajama shorts, and then some sort of t-shirt that I got for free. But when I wear legit pajama sets, I always feel way more put together and cute. It’s somehow less embarrassing to answer my door in p.j.s when my pajamas are also an outfit. Miss MacIntire understood this. While any kind of pajama set will do, these red stripes are so cheerful yet dignified, I think they’re really the ultimate in classy yet comfy, child (or adult) appropriate nightwear.

Molly’s After-School Outfit
Plaid shirt, high waisted cords? So, this is pretty much how we’re all already dressing, right?

Molly’s Regular Outfit
The argyle sweater is pretty cute, and the preppy knee-length wool skirt is great. The rickrack trim around her Peter Pan collar is killing me, in a good way.

What do you think – did we miss any great outfits? Did you try to dress like these characters as a kid (or adult)? Did your parents buy you the kid-sized outfits? We’d love to know!