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Here's The Reason They Dress Like They Do On Downton Abbey

Joyce Yexley, author of 'A Century of Fashion,' explains what it means to be a fashion historian and talks about the inspiration behind the fashion trends of the period in which the hit series 'Downton Abbey' is set.

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"Back then, fashion was followed by royalty and it was Queen Victoria, who was of course the queen."

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Pascal Le Segretain Chris Jackson Ethan Miller Oli Scarff Sion Touhig Hulton Archive Mike Coppola
TRANSCRIPT This transcript was generated by AudioBurst technologies

What is a fashion historian? Does that mean what's in my closet twenty years ago is going to come back and you'd track that for us? - Well, it can mean three different things. One, you could be a scholar and teach about it. You could be a collector, or you can be a someone who loves to wear the old vintage wear, which is starting to be pretty popular, especially by the young and the college kids. So I do a little bit of both. I mostly like to share the stories behind the fashion trends. - So, you must go crazy watching Downton Abbey, huh? - Oh, I do. Yes, yes, that's my magic hour, no one can bug me. - Oh my gosh, I mean, so I want to talk about you know, what you do when you're writing and your book. But, like can you just briefly share with us, what are the stories behind those costumes, I mean those clothes. They're just amazing. Like, were there reasons why women looked like that at that time? - Well, back then, fashion was followed by royalty and it was Queen Victoria, who was of course the queen. And everyone followed her. And so they emulated what she was doing and wearing, and of course she came out with that hour silhouette and the corsets, so that ran a long time. Four or five decades of wearing corsets, pretty restrictive, baffles and big hoop skirts. - And were they comfortable to wear? Or were they painful to wear? - Very painful. You know, the ideal waist back then was eighteen inches. - Oh my gosh. - Can you imagine? And that's why a lot of ladies fainted and that's why they called them fainting sofas.