Dress Code: The Decorum of Dress in the Downtown Era

Instructor: Debra Mancoff

In times of extraordinary change, society looks to traditions for stability. But social change also stimulates creativity. Never was this more true than in Great Britain during the years 1900 to 1925, when more than ever before, men and women used dress to express their aspirations rather than signify their station. New styles, silhouettes and style lines proclaimed new ideas and identities, and the frisson between conventional rules and daring dress made for an exciting era in fashion. This seminar charts the bold, surprising, and often humorous, attacks upon the dress code during the era portrayed in the popular series Downton Abbey, when matters of dress were in constant flux and a man or woman’s choice of apparel could make or break their destiny.

Dr. Debra N. Mancoff specializes in the intersections of art with fashion and culture. She is currently a Scholar-in-Residence at the Newberry Library in Chicago.