At the end, my favorite Downton Abbey character is the one I least liked in the beginning. Edith Crawley was a loser— the middle sister who was neither beautiful, clever or intellectual.
She couldn't hold a candle to the patrician, flawless Mary or the kind, forward-thinking Sybil. She knew it; you could see it in her face. You would feel sorry for her if she wasn't such a sourpuss.
|Oh happy (wedding) day|
Fast forward six seasons and 13 years in the story. "Downton Abbey" concludes with Edith marrying an accidental marquess (making her more royal than her own family). She's the owner of a successful woman's magazine (and capable of pinch-hitting as editor) and able to be a happy mother at last. She survived being jilted at the altar, falling in love with a married man who then disappeared, leaving her pregnant. The lovely Sybil died in season three, and Edith had to put up with Mary's snipes almost until the end.
For Edith the new fashions of the '20s turned a not naturally pretty woman into one who was stylish and attractive, which in turn gave her character self-confidence. Ah, the power of clothes! And not only the clothes themselves, but how they make you feel when they feel right.
|I'll have what she's wearing|
Edith's fashion breakthrough was never part of the narrative, as opposed to Sybil's hobble skirt or Mary's bob. Edith began spending more time in London, away from the country house. Big city style must have rubbed off on her.
The "real Edith" is the very pretty 29-year-old Laura Carmichael. She had only two small movie roles (one as a maid) before landing the Downton gig. I hope they told her Edith would shine in the end. Why else would one play a frownie-face for six seasons?