I think one of the main pleasures for me, and I suspect a great number of other fans of costume dramas like Downton, is the time travelling element in which we get to see exact and very accurate representations of a lost time and place. In this film, the period detail is wonderful to behold with beautiful clothes and jewels (especially the diamond tiaras and earrings), elaborate hairstyles and wonderful hats. I particularly loved the cloche hat that Lady Mary wore over her fashionably bobbed hair for the afternoon parade in the local town and a truly stunning silver and black gown she wore for the final ball at Harewood which was a work of art.

However the people that interest me just as much as the ‘toffs’ are those living below stairs.

If there had been a ‘great house’ like Downton near the place my grandparents (on both sides) were born in rural Norfolk, then they would have been just the sort of people to have ended up ‘in service’ to any local aristocratic family. So, when I watch a film like Downton Abbey, I think of my unmarried Great Aunt Ada who lost her fiance in the Great War, and her batchelor brother Charlie, both of whom may have been attracted to the security and sense of belonging that a large estate like Downton Abbey offered to working class people like them.

Along with the nostalgia for a lost way of life, a film like Downton Abbey also allows me to reflect on just how lucky I am (we all are) to be growing older in 2019 rather than 1929. You only have to look at the two photographs above of Mrs Hughes, the housekeeper of Downton and Phyliis Logan who plays that character, to see how dramatically different women in their 60s looked a hundred years ago. We also have to remember that life expectancy by 1930 was around 60 - so Mrs.Hughes would have thought of herself as an old lady, whereas I am sure that Phyllis Logan feels as vital and vibrant as she looks.

Then and Now - How Far We Have Come

Hair style

Phyllis has wonderful hair, but then so does Elsie Hughes. What makes Phyllis's hair appear fresh and modern is that her shoulder length bob looks free flowing and a bit messy. The hairdresser has cut and styled it so that it doesn't look formal or 'set'. Elsie Hughes probably contrived her own hairstyle by pinning her long hair up into a bun so that she looks appropriately neat and tidy. The hairstyle alone ages her about 20 years!

Skin tone

Phyllis is wearing some unifying foundation which has warmed up her skin and made it look more glowing and even in tone. For women like Mrs Hughes and my Aunt Ada, makeup as we know it was not widely available. She might have applied a dab of powder to her nose. Unfortunately powder is far too insubstantial to do anything other than reduce the shine. How lucky we are to have modern formulations like our Continuous Cover Foundation and Perfect Finish Translucent Pressed Powder which give a beautiful and even finish to the face without looking overly matte and mask-like.


Above stairs Lady Mary probably has a few pots of paint including some 'rouge' on her dressing table to use on her cheeks and some lipstick for her lips. Below stairs the only time Mrs Hughes has colour in her cheeks is after a sneaky glass of port with Carson in the butler's pantry! In contrast Phyllis is wearing a very pretty blusher like our Real Radiance Blush in Peach Cream which works perfectly with her warm toned colouring. It adds a healthy glow in exactly the right way to light up her whole face.


Phyllis has quite full eyebrows but they have been groomed and enhanced with some colour to make them a better shape. I doubt tweezers were available to Mrs. Hughes so her eyebrows are untouched so they aren't framing either her eyes or her face very effectively. Bringing definition back to ageing eyebrows is one of the quickest ways to improve the appearance of an older face and our Bring Back Brow Shape does this effortlessly.


Rudimentary eye makeup in the form of shadows and mascara became available in the 1910's. Some women used vaseline and ash to make their lashes look thicker (!) But I can't imagine Mrs. Hughes bothering with such a messy process which she’d probably condemn as vain and self indulgent. Fortunately modern eye makeup is not only safe to use, it’s also very easy to apply and blend. Phyllis is wearing eye shadow and mascara which makes her lovely brown eyes look bigger and even more beautiful.


Mrs Hughes has good full lips but without lipstick they lack colour and shape. The lipstick that Phyllis is wearing is similar to our warm toned Lustrous Colour Lipstick shades True Coral and Foxy Lady. Her lips perfectly complement her hair, cheek and eye makeup and this completes the impression of a beautiful, vivacious and fun person.

The luck that I feel for having been born in 1947 rather than fifty years earlier extends far beyond makeup.

Downton Abbey shows a world in which women whether rich or poor had few choices and little autonomy. Had I lived in that era I would most likely have had a limited education and may have ended up ‘in trade’ like my Great Aunt Ada who earned her living as a skilled seamstress and who lived above the cobbler’s shop owned and run by her unmarried brother Charlie. Ada never married, never had children and never left the small Norfolk town in which she was born. In contrast with her limited experience, I have had a rich and varied life and have been able to earn my own income and make my own choices. So I hope you enjoy the film Downton Abbey as much as I did, and if you are watching it wearing some lovely LFF makeup, that you also reflect on how fortunate we are to look more like the vibrant and attractive actress Phyllis Logan and much less like the dowdy and colourless character, Elsie Hughes.

P.S. Due to popular demand we are re-opening our Wimbledon pop-up on Tuesday 1st October 2019. We'll be holding a VIP event, 5pm - 7pm, where you and one guest can meet me and some of our brand ambassadors. For a chance to win a pair of tickets, email marketing@lookfabulousforever.com but hurry there are only 10 places! We'll let you know if you're one of the winners by Wednesday 25th September 2019.

Image Source:

Elsie Hughes : Good Housekeeping https://bit.ly/2m09Zde

Lady Mary: Digital Spy https://bit.ly/2mnKoeF

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