12 Best Dresses From The Gilded Age, Ranked


  • The costumes in
    The Gilded Age
    are meticulously chosen to reflect the characters’ personalities, social statuses, histories, and ambitions.
  • The fashion choices of the characters in
    The Gilded Age
    reveal their motivations, including Bertha’s bold colors to make an impression and Marian’s practical attire to get work done.
  • Gladys’ blue frock with lace and ribbons demonstrates her desire to make her own way in the world, while Peggy’s business-like attire reflects her ambitions to be a writer.



Like its predecessor, Downton Abbey, The Gilded Age has its work cut out for it when it comes to costumes, featuring countless vintage pieces, fabrics, and decadent accessories — and the best dresses from the series will steal the spotlight from everything else unfolding on-screen. Indeed, viewers watching Julian Fellowes’ period drama may find themselves forgetting all about the plot when one of the characters walks in wearing a breathtaking gown. And there’s more to these outfits than mere ruffles and jewels.

The Gilded Age’s costumes have deeper meanings, reflecting the characters’ personalities, social statuses, histories, and ambitions. For instance, the feud between old money and new money is a central focus of The Gilded Age. Such distinctions factor into how the characters dress, and regardless of their backgrounds, each of The Gilded Age‘s main characters dons stunning outfits throughout the series — though some are more memorable than others.

12 Gladys’ Frock With Lace And Ribbons

Season 1, Episode 4: “A Long Ladder”

Taissa Farmiga as Gladys in The Gilded Age. She's wearing a blue dress with white embellishments and standing near other women

Gladys Russell wears dresses influenced by her mother’s ostentatious taste, typically in paler colors to reflect a naive innocence. However, her fashion sense includes some creative touches, such as a pale blue dress decorated with golden ribbons and white lace with a floral petticoat. Gladys is determined to make her own way in the world and get away from her mother. A dress like this one, with embellishments that are wholly her own, shows her trying to break away.

11 Bertha’s Peacock Dress

Season 1, Episode 2: “Money Isn’t Everything”

Carrie Coon as Bertha Russell in The Gilded Age. She's wearing a dress with peacock designs on it.

Bertha Russell is all about new fashion with bold colors and statement pieces. Mrs. Astor and Mrs. van Rhijn likely thought her bright aqua dress emblazoned with peacock feathers was tasteless, but Bertha likes to make an impression. After all, she needed to wear something memorable if she was going to compete with her husband, who shocked everyone by buying out the entire charity bazaar because the elite ladies organizing it slighted his wife.

10 Gladys’ Debutante Dress

Season 1, Episode 9: “Let The Tournament Begin”

Gladys Russell smiling at her ball in The Gilded Age.

Gladys makes her society debut in a perfectly princess-like lavender dress. It is an obvious choice for the occasion, but it’s lovely nonetheless. The delicate sparkles on the bodice and the asymmetrical skirts demonstrate Gladys’ whimsical flair. At the ball, she tells Oscar van Rhijn, “I’ve had enough of being told what to do.” Viewers are doubtlessly looking forward to seeing Gladys strike out on her own more in the future, which will hopefully be reflected in her wardrobe.

9 Peggy’s Patterned Dress With Solid Ascot

Season 1, Episode 4: “A Long Ladder”

Peggy Scott’s fashion sense can be described as professional yet daring, reflecting her ambitions to become a journalist. She wears this outfit when she meets the editor of the New York Globe, Thomas Fortune, who helps her launch her career. The amethyst dress has a subtle pattern and starkly contrasts with the yellow fabric gathered around her neck. The ascot-like element suggests business attire, and it is a favorite of Peggy’s; she has some other dresses with bold-colored fabric overlaying a pattern in a dark color.

8 Agnes Van Rhijn’s Jewel Ballgown

Season 1, Episode 9: “Let The Tournament Begin”

Agnes and Ada the Gilded Age

Agnes often wears dark jewel tones to demonstrate her pride, both in being a member of the old guard and in herself for surviving an abusive marriage and providing for herself and her sister. She spends most of The Gilded Age season 1 in her own parlor, but when she is roped into going to Gladys Russell’s ball by Mrs. Astor, she pulls out all the stops. Viewers finally get to see her wear her signature color to a formal event, as she sports a deep purple gown. It’s a significant moment for Agnes, one that sees her maintaining her usual demeanor while in a new social situation.

7 Bertha’s Red Opera Gown

Season 1, Episode 4: “A Long Ladder”

In The Gilded Age season 2, episode 1, “You Don’t Even Like Opera,” Bertha says that going to the opera isn’t about music. “The opera is where society puts itself on display,” she explains. This comment puts her costume from the opera episode in season 1 in a new light. It is a blood-red gown with a long train, some black floral embellishments, and a heavy diamond choker. It alludes to royalty and confrontation, with the color taking precedence over a pattern. Her coat is more elaborate, with glittering embroidery.

6 Marian Brook’s Sky Blue Day Dress

Season 1, Episode 1: “Never The New”

Louisa Jacobson as Marian in the Gilded Age. She's holding a cup of tea and wearing a blue and black dress with white lace on the top

When she enters New York society, Marian Brook favors pastel colors to reflect her kind nature, as she is generally more open-minded about the changes happening in the city than some of the old guard. One of her prettiest dresses is a simplistic sky-blue one. Compared to the dresses that the other women wear, it is relatively practical, suggesting that Marian wants to get some work done. Marian doesn’t waste her time on frivolity. In The Gilded Age season 2, she even takes a job teaching watercolors, much to her Aunt Agnes’ dismay.

5 Bertha’s Black And White Ballgown

Season 1, Episode 9: “Let The Tournament Begin”

Carrie Coon as Bertha Russell, Donna Murphy as Mrs. Astor, and Nathan Lane as Mr. McAllister in The Gilded Age

Bertha Russell has been called many things, but humble is not one of them. However, the ballgown she wears to her daughter’s debutante ball is different from her usual attire. While the black and white floral pattern and long train are still luxurious and striking, she abandons her usual bold colors. The party is supposed to be about Gladys, and she decides for once to draw less attention to herself. The gown shows how Bertha may opt for a different style strategy when the occasion calls for it.

4 Marian’s Yellow Evening Gown (One Of Them)

Season 2, Episode 2: “Some Sort Of Trick”

No one wears yellow like Marian Brook. She has several pale yellow day dresses and evening gowns, yet her best one appears in The Gilded Age season 2. It is a sleeveless gown with satin sections across the front, decorated with a trail of small flowers, as well as some larger lilies on her shoulder and in her hair. The look is completed with a diamond hair comb and neck ribbon. It retains elements from her established fashion sense, but it also suggests she is experimenting with some new looks for a new season.

Related: The Gilded Age’s Russel & Van Rhijn-Brook Family Trees Explained

Marian’s light-colored wardrobe also suggests that she is romantic, which goes with her adamance that she will not marry just because society — and Aunt Agnes — demands she have a husband. The viewers know that Marian’s wedding will only take place after she has found her grand romance, most likely with Larry Russell.

3 Gladys’ Floral Tennis Tournament Dress

Season 2, Episode 2: “Some Sort Of Trick”

Taissa Farmiga as Gladys and Louisa Jacobson as Marian dressed in white and smiling at each other in The Gilded Age.

Gladys also gets a wardrobe update in The Gilded Age season 2, with her outfits showcasing more sophistication than her old girlish dresses. Now that she is officially part of society, she is seriously considering marriage to gain some independence from her family. She still favors lighter colors and florals but continues to do something unique with these basic elements. For instance, she wears a white dress with a pink flower pattern, which becomes a type of optical allusion when mixed with the skirt’s ruffles. It suggests gaiety but also careful thought and a desire to stand out.

2 Peggy’s Plaid Dress With Lace

Season 1, Episode 2: “Money Isn’t Everything”

Denée Benton as Peggy Scott in the park in The Gilded Age

Peggy’s best dress is from early in the series and puts a spin on her style in later episodes. The red plaid is a stronger pattern than the others she wears, and the solid fabric gathered around her neck and shoulders is replaced with black lace. The colors and patterns both contrast, making it one of her most interesting looks while keeping things sophisticated. Peggy wears this dress multiple times in The Gilded Age season 1, so she must know it is a winner.

1 Marian’s Shiny Dress With Side Lace-ups

Season 2, Episode 1: “You Don’t Even Like Opera”

Louisa Jacobson as Marian holding onto Oscar's (Blake Ritson) shoulder in The Gilded Age.

Marian stole the show in the The Gilded Age season 2 premiere with pale blue, one of her favorite colors, transferred onto a sheeny dress with embellishments suggesting a day of riding (although it’s doubtful that she really did this). The cords lacing up the noticeably stiffer panels of the skirt and her sleeves are striking. After a failed romance in season 1, Marian takes control this season, all the wiser because of her heartbreak. In a time and place where women have limited power, she uses startling and gorgeous fashion to let the world know she is starting anew.

  • The Gilded Age TV Poster

    The Gilded Age

    Release Date:

    Carrie Coon, Morgan Spector, Louisa Jacobson, Denée Benton, Taissa Farmiga, Harry Richardson, Blake Ritson, Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon

    Drama, History



    Julian Fellowes, Salli Richardson-Whitfield

    Streaming Service:

    Michael Engler, Julian Fellowes, Deborah Kampmeier

    Julian Fellowes


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