Look to the 1920s for fashion inspiration this season, whether its chic daywear or dressed-up sparkle for evenings. Drop-waisted silhouettes and low-hanging pearls have been in vogue before, but autumn 2012 is the key time to release your inner flapper girl - thanks to the forthcoming release of Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby and the dawn of the roaring 20s in ITV's Downton Abbey.
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No item of clothing defines the 1920s more than an elegant drop-waisted dress. The simple lines are the perfect canvas for elaborate embellishment such as beading, sequins or embroidery. This beaded dress wouldn't look out of place at one of Gatsby's cocktail parties but will work just as well in the 21st century for dancing the night away.
Beaded dress, £175, Topshop
Accessories were key in the ‘20s and none more so than the cloche hat. Women were so taken with this smart addition to their daily wardrobes that they cut their hair into chic bobs to show them off. We’re not suggesting you go that far - just throw on this hat with a pair of jeans, boots and a fitted blazer for a nod to the trend without going too retro.
Ribbon bow cloche, £55, Helene Berman
And if you’d like to take your cloche hat to tea, where better than Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea at London’s Grosvenor Hotel on Park Lane. Treat taste buds to delicious delicacies including Matthew Crawley’s Loch Fyne smoked salmon pin wheels, Lady Mary’s Madeleines, Carson’s bread pudding bites, Bates’ baked bread buns and scones with Mrs Patmore’s lemon curd. All washed down with Dowager Countess of Gratham’s speciality teas, while a pianist tinkles in the background and you enjoy views over Hyde Park from the beautiful drawing room. Honestly, even Maggie Smith couldn’t find fault.
Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea at The Grosvenor Hotel, £34.50;
The Crawley women from Downton Abbey were a massive influence on designers this season and, as a result, English heritage fabrics such as tweeds and tartans can be found in a multitude of guises on the high street. This wool skirt is a great example of smart daywear the Downtown way.
Wool skirt, £69, Phase Eight
This sophisticated silk blouse will smarten up a pair of jeans as well as working wonders with a midi skirt or a pair of tailored trousers. Button up the collar and wear with a string of pearls or a long pendant for a touch of ’20ss elegance.
Silk blouse, £89, Jigsaw
An elegant evening outfit calls for a clutch bag: the Art Deco shape and scalloped trim of this Dune bag fits perfectly with the 1920s trend.
Clutch bag, £55, Dune
Checks are the quintessential inclusion for any take on classic English country charm. Make like the Downton Abbey ladies and try this nipped in riding jacket over a fine knit and long skirt for a chic yet cosy autumn look.
Jacket, £49, Dorothy Perkins
We love the deep wine colour of these smart shoes from Clarks. The hidden platform gives added height without the discomfort of a towering heel and the vintage 1920s style works equally well with thick tights and a skirt or a pair of great trousers.
Shoes, £59.99, Clarks
Experience Downton refinement first hand at Highclere Castle where the series is filmed. The home of Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, the 1000-acre estate has been in the family since 1679. Open to the public on selected dates throughout the year, the next open days are Saturday and Sunday December 1 and 2, with a Christmas fair at the Castle on December 5 and 6.
Book in advance at www.highclerecastle.co.uk
With the release later in the year of Baz Luhrmann's film adaptation of ‘The Great Gatsby’, why not curl up with F Scot Fitzgerald's classic novel. Merging the decadent Jazz Age with a tragic love story, it’s the perfect time to revisit this classic story – or pick it up for a first read.
The Great Gatsby, £7.99, www.allaboutyoubookshop.co.uk
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