Inspiration: The Sisters of Downton Abbey

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Inspiration: The Sisters of Downton Abbey

If you’re like me (and just about everyone else in America and the better part of the U.K.), then you are probably having quite the love affair with the PBS period-piece soap opera, Downton Abbey. The story lines are ripe with family drama, betrayal, love affairs and – at one point – an unexplainable cured paraplegic (if you’re thinking this has all the makings of Dynasty or some other 80s television melodrama, you’d be correct).

And then there are those costumes. Amidst the backdrop of the English countryside the three affluent Crowley sisters have two jobs: to look good and marry well. Their clothing is indicative of the times (early 1900s) with ornate hats, intricate gowns in deep hues and fabulously textured fabrics, and those funny pointed booties. Jewelry is simple yet elegant – pearls and gold adorn neck lines and ears. As for beauty, hair is always pulled up and back (unless sleeping when it is, almost always, down and braided), skin is left pale as if has never seen the rays of the sun, and makeup is minimal: eyebrows groomed, eyes rather natural and lips have a slight hue.

In fact, here’s an interesting bit of television info: I’ve heard that the actresses that play the sisters – Lady Mary, Sybil and Edith – are made to stay out of the sunlight to keep their skin as naturally colorless as possible (as was the case in the 1900s – perhaps that’s why the women kept their young complexion?) and they are asked not to workout so to keep their bodies naturally curvy as would be the case for women living in the early part of the 20th Century (makes sense – Core Fusion had yet to be developed).

I asked celebrity makeup artist Desirae Cherman to explore the three looks and offer a few quick steps on achieving each. Whether you are more regal like Lady Mary, romantic like Sybil or unique like Edith, with a few simple steps you can have a piece of aristocratic beauty, the Downton way.

Lady Mary: Lady Mary’s makeup look is soft and serene yet powerful and strong much like her character. Her lips are kept soft and light with just a hint of a pink undertone. Cheeks look as if they have just barely been pinched by her fingers to let the blood flow to the surface and create a natural flush. Her brows are strong, large, and very well defined with a high arch. These brows give her eyes strength and intensity, commanding that you take notice when she walks in a room. Lady Mary’s look differs from her sisters with her strong brows  and soft pink lips. She always looks a little more polished and groomed. You can easily achieve this look with tinted moisturizer, a natural looking matte lip stain and a hint of a cream blush. Make sure to fill in brows and brush hairs up, seal brows with a little hair spray on a brow brush.
Desirae’s Picks: I love Tarte Smooth Operator. For lips, I recommend Tarte Lipsurgence in Hope  and Stila Convertible color in Lillium for a cream blush.

Sybil: Sybil’s look is very young, fresh, and romantic. She is unknowingly sexy and demure without screaming “look at me.” With big full lips that are accentuated with a just-bitten rosy stain, and big round eyes, she’s almost like a living doll. Her brows are full and more unkept, making her eyes look softer and more inviting. Her makeup is different from her sisters in that there is a more youthful rosy flush to her cheeks and lips. This look can be achieved with a little bit of concealer in the areas that are needed (under eyes, blemishes, etc), a curl to the lashes to give you that “doll-eyed” effect, then use a multi function cheek and lip stain in a rosy hue.
Desirae’s Picks: I like Stila Lip & Cheek Stain.

Edith: Edith’s look is very natural and minimal. She is a classic beauty without trying too hard or even realizing her own unique beauty. She has perfect porcelain skin that is clearly kept out of the sun. Brows are groomed but not filled in and very light. This look is about making her eyes really pop since they are a beautiful brown that contrast with the lightness in her skin, brows, and blond lashes. Her lips are where we see a bit of effort, almost like she threw on a little balm and kissed a terra cotta colored pot. The best way to achieve this look is to remember to keep it MINIMAL!  Spot coverage with concealer where needed, brush brows up, and use a tinted lip balm.
Desirae’s Picks: Try Laura Mercier Hydra Tint SPF 15 in Apricot.

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