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The Gross Secret About The Downton Abbey Costumes

The drama of Downton Abbey is more than enough to fuel the PBS period series' six seasons. Will Lady Mary lose Matthew to Lavinia? Will John Bates be hanged for a crime he didn't commit? And how on earth will Tom Branson ever navigate the path from family chauffeur to... family?

All that excitement aside, however, this is a show many viewers could appreciate for the costumes alone. Set between 1912 and 1926, the series takes us through fashion trends from the Edwardian era into the roaring twenties. Each season, looks were updated with new hemlines, hats, and hairdos. Some of Downton Abbey's most memorable moments set a spotlight on style. Few fans could forget Lady Sybil's joyful pose in harem pants during Season 1. Or Lady Mary's confidence in her fashion forward flapper look — complete with simple silhouette and dropped waistline — throughout Season 3.

But if you ever wished you could own a dress from Downton Abbey to wear for yourself, you probably don't know the full story about these costumes. It's far from elegant — and actually pretty disgusting.

The set of Downton Abbey got downright smelly

Was life really stinkier during the pre-World War II, Downton Abbey years? It's easy to imagine it probably was, considering deodorant was a new idea and air conditioning hadn't caught on yet. In this regard, the Downton Abbey set was thoroughly authentic, awash in odors modern audiences would find objectionable. That's right. The cast members smelled.

It was hardly their fault though. The show's producers (led by Alastair Bruce, an advisor known as the "Historical Oracle") wanted those period costumes to look perfect, and that meant they could never be washed — at least not to the degree that they actually smelled fresh. "We do stink, as they don't wash our costumes," Sophie McShera, who played Daisy (above) confirmed to the Daily Mail in 2013. "They have these weird patches, which are sewn into the armpits and which they wash separately."

That spot clean may not have done the trick of a proper washing machine or dry cleaner, but it did safeguard Downton Abbey clothing from more serious damage. And, after all, it's not as if viewers could actually smell the show. If the cast was willing to put up with it, fans can only be grateful to them for delivering an impressively accurate portrayal of the period.