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Your Random Style Icon: Lady Sybil of Downton Abbey

April 2, 2012

L-A: While Lady Mary is still my bitchypants homegirl, it has been brought to my attention that I need to pay attention to the youngest Crawley sibling. Because Lady Sybil is totes a style icon. So, without further adieu, another installment of FPQT hearts Downton Abbey (or at least one half of us hearts it. I’m not sure Ally is into the series).


For the handful of you who haven’t jumped on the Downton bandwagon, here’s the lowdown on Lady Sybil:

She’s the adorable and headstrong youngest of the three Crawley sisters who spend their days chilling at Downton Abbey. Her prettiness and natural ability to make everyone love her was probably a total kick in the pants to poor Lady Edith, who doesn’t have the style, looks or either the bitchface of her eldest sister or the niceness of her youngest. Girlfriend got the short end of the wealthy young lady stick. But enough about Edith, let’s get back to Sybil (story of Edith’s life). Kiddo isn’t just cute, she’s headstrong and has a conscience. She isn’t content to share Lady Mary’s career path of riding ponies, hosting parties and possibly day drinking as she gets older. Sybil wants to do good in the world. She’s also not down with things like the whole class system. Which is probably why starts thinking of the driver as something more than just a driver.

It's like Driving Miss Daisy. Except with an irish radical at the wheel and there's a chance of sexytimes.

Kiddo isn’t just making waves with her upstart ideas and her falling for the driver, no, she’s all fashion forward too. So let’s break it down.


How to snag an early 20th century rabble rouser

and do it with mad style


1.Look really bored at dinner. But wear a great dress.

You, Sybil, are kind of the Angela Chase of your class system. You are young and your family just doesn’t get you. They’re talking about releasing the hounds at the hunting party or whether to serve fish and you are thinking really deep thoughts. That bored look shows him you know there has to be more to life than the second of six courses on a Tuesday night. (And unlike Angela, that you want a guy who does more than lean).

If you were a Lady Sybil today, I’d occasionally take  a page from the Lady Mary playbook and choose some Temperley London. But unlike Mary, be a little more daring. So the Dowager Countess still approves of your gown, but you maintain some street cred with the other cool kids and show a little shoulder when you’re passing by the garage.


It’s the off the shoulder and the belt that give it some great detail.


2. Make your evening wear interesting.

It’s all in the details with Lady Sybil.

She may go for the demure hair and wear evening gloves, but the skirt and the straps on the dress tell you she’s not going to wear just any evening dress. No, hers needs to be a bolder choice. Like this Jonathan Saunders number:

Great baroque inspired print! Bold colour! Peplum detail on a gown! Super classy, but this ain’t your sister’s dress – and isn’t that the point?


3. Know when is the right time to break out the romper.

It takes chutzpah to be a fashion trendsetter. Which is why the formal romper in a flowy material isn’t for the feint of heart.

You want the reaction of the room to be shock and awe. And shocking and awing your fancy and more conservatively minded family will impress your rabble rousing Irishman. You may still be able to shock the family with this YSL romper, although I don’t know if the young radicals today would get your $1400 statement.

The key is to have your grandmother make this face when you break out the formal, satin romper for dinner.


4. A simple blouse is the way to do casual wear.

Still looking lovely and within your station, especially with the adorbs peplum detail, but you still want everyone to know that you’re not too fancypants to roll up your sleeves and bake a cake with the help. Which means, make sure you can roll up your sleeves and you’ve got the dry cleaner on speed dial.


Speaking of rolling up your sleeves…


5. Get a job you dig, but your family isn’t so sure about it.

Preferably one the involves a bad ass, yet super practical bandana.

You are blazing trails honeychild. But just because you’re doing good (and subsequently showing hot working class fellows you’re not above boiling kettles and changing beds), doesn’t mean you should look good. This is where the bitchin’ accessories come into play. Either add your own or choose a profession that comes with such things.


6. Forget playing to your audience, focus on coordinating with them.

If you know purple and green are the colours of the people at the protest, make sure your dress matches in a subtle shade of mauve.

It shows you’re both down with the cause and looking good.

You can also match the crowd’s political stripes in your choice of shoes.



7. Sometimes, y’all got to pull the damsel in distress routine.

Don’t get me wrong. You need your opinions and your politics and you need to be willing to stand up for all that in a conversation with you. Your rabble rouser will have mad respect for you. But, on occasion, make him feel needed. Preferably in a great looking coat.

Fainting in public isn’t necessary, but it doesn’t hurt. For the rest of us, you can get him to change lightbulbs or something.


8 . Choose the dude your family hates.

Man oh man. The love between a mechanic and the upper classy lady is a tale as old as time. From 1917 to 1983.

Fortunately for Sybs, there was much less coordinated singing and dancing in her day. And she got lucky – her mechanic had political posters instead of swimsuit calendars on the wall (because seriously, choose wisely when you choose your backstreet guy).

For good measure, try to break his heart once in awhile.

If he sticks around, it’s how you know he’s serious. And makes for way better clandestine sexytimes.

She's just an uptown girl getting sick of her high class toys and looking for a downtown man.


11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 2, 2012 9:27 am

    Like x 1,000,000. I shouted for joy when Lady S emerged wearing her bedazzled pantaloons.

  2. April 2, 2012 11:13 am

    Sybil is fabulous!

    • la permalink*
      April 2, 2012 3:24 pm

      She’s pretty darn great. Mary’s still my girl, but I do love Sybil. I feel bad for Edith. Might have to do a sympathy post for her (story of Edith’s life!).

  3. Ann permalink
    April 2, 2012 3:07 pm

    Am I the only one who loves Sybil but thinks she’s too good for the chauffeur guy? That will only end in heartbreak. She was too focused on choosing a guy her family wouldn’t approve of to notice he kind of sucks.

    • la permalink*
      April 2, 2012 3:23 pm

      They’re lovers in a dangerous time. Y’all can’t be political in Ireland in a period dramz and not have it end badly. Best case scenario, he’s just injured in some explosion, but they already did that with Matthew, so my guess is shot by British soldiers leaving Lady Sybil a young widow at Downton. (If that happens, I will totally gloat during season three).

  4. Amy permalink
    May 1, 2012 8:03 pm

    She’s my girl crush. She can do no wrong.

  5. May 2, 2012 12:13 pm

    She didn’t choose to marry Branson because he was someone her family didn’t approve of, in fact that’s the reason she was so unsure about marrying him up until the episode where he touched her waist, because she didn’t want to screw her family over. If she wanted to make a bold statement she could’ve just run away on her own. She does love him there’s no doubt about that, and I’m sure they’ll be very happy together.

    • la permalink*
      May 3, 2012 1:25 pm

      I’ll admit, I took some liberties with how I saw the whole Branson/Lady Sybil love affair going down…mostly because this was funnier. (I do love Downton Abbey as is though. Such a good show. I’m dying to see season 3).


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