The Evolution of Elizabeth Thornton

BY: Sharon Fitness for GOOD.

WHEN CALLS THE HEART has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide with its timeless tales of love, community, and resilience set against the backdrop of the Canadian frontier. At the centre of this beloved television series is the character of Elizabeth Thatcher Thornton, portrayed by the talented actress Erin Krakow. Throughout the show’s multiple seasons, Elizabeth’s appearance has undergone a significant evolution, reflecting not only her personal growth but also the changing dynamics of life in Hope Valley.

Season One: The Innocent Schoolteacher

In the inaugural season of WHEN CALLS THE HEART Elizabeth Thatcher is introduced as a young, wide-eyed schoolteacher from the East, venturing into the rugged frontier town of what was then Coal Valley. Her appearance reflects her innocence and naivety, with soft curls framing her face and demure, modest attire befitting her role as a dedicated educator.

In this first season, Elizabeth’s style reflected her 1910s city upbringing – prim and proper, with high collars, long skirts, and an array of beautiful hats that signified her status as an upper-class woman from the city venturing into the rugged frontiers of Western Canada. Her costumes typically featured lighter colours and delicate fabrics, signalling her newness to the harsher rural life and her initial outsider status in Coal Valley.

Her penchant for a large frivolous hat reflected her naivety.

As she navigates the challenges of teaching and building relationships in a new community, Elizabeth’s appearance symbolises her journey of self-discovery and adaptation to her surroundings.

Elizabeth proved though, that she could adapt quickly and, after burning down her house on her first night in town, she proved she was determined and resourceful, becoming a successful teacher, making friends and becoming an important part of the community.

Seasons Two to Five: Finding friends, love, community and purpose

As Elizabeth began to settle into life in Coal Valley, later to become Hope Valley, her attire subtly shifted to reflect her adaptation to her new environment. Her outfits became more practical yet still maintained a feminine touch, with more earth tones and sturdier fabrics better suited for the daily activities of frontier life. This change was not just practical but also symbolic of her growing connection to the town and its people.

In the subsequent seasons, Her appearance becomes more refined and sophisticated, mirroring her growth as a woman and her newfound sense of independence from her sheltered upbringing.

Her great love with Mounty Jack Thornton (portrayed by Daniel Lissing) was a highlight of the series for many viewers and culminated with their beautiful wedding. Her dress was perfectly suited to the character’s graceful and heartfelt persona. With long lace sleeves that exude a sense of modesty and timeless charm, the bodice was intricately detailed with fine lace and delicate embroidery, creating a texture of romantic sophistication. The skirt of the dress flowed gently to the ground, complementing the fitted bodice with its fuller, softer silhouette, which is both flattering and ethereal. This ensemble not only highlights Elizabeth’s gentle spirit and romantic heart but also captured the essence of a bygone era with its detailed craftsmanship and elegant design.

Romantic and ethereal

Season Six and Beyond: Embracing New Beginnings

Elizabeth undergoes a transformation as she grapples with the loss of her husband, Jack, and navigates the complexities of moving on while honouring his memory. Following Jack’s tragic death, Elizabeth’s appearance takes on a more somber tone as she mourns the loss of her beloved husband. However, in season 6, Elizabeth becomes a mother and her resilience shines through as she embraces this new role. Her appearance reflects a sense of renewal and optimism, with softer hairstyles, delicate fabrics, more feminine styles and brighter colours symbolising her journey towards healing and embracing the future.

The grieving widow
The new mum: a return to softer feminine styles

As the series progresses and new love becomes real, Elizabeth’s wardrobe evolves to include elegant dresses and tailored suits, reflecting her role as a respected member of the community and a confident single mother. The transformation is complete with her occasionally donning trousers, a significant deviation from her earlier attire, underscoring her newfound resilience and adaptability.

Season Eleven: A New Elizabeth of ‘infinite possibilities’

Elizabeth’s new haircut – a chic, shorter style – marks a distinct departure from her longer, more traditional locks that viewers have grown accustomed to over the seasons. This transformation coincides with significant life changes and challenges and signifies a fresh start and Elizabeth’s adaptation to her evolving roles within Hope Valley.

The shorter, more modern haircut also symbolises Elizabeth’s growing independence. As a widow who has navigated the grief of losing her husband and the challenges of raising her son as a single parent, Elizabeth’s new look reflects her strength and the personal growth she has achieved following the breaking off of her engagement to Lucas Bouchard. It underscores her readiness to move forward, not just as a mother and a teacher, but as a woman of the early 20th century who embraces both tradition and change.

Her new hairstyle is a reflection of her fortified self-assurance and determination to face whatever comes her way with a renewed spirit.

New hair: new outlook on life!

The Impact of Elizabeth’s Evolution

Elizabeth Thatcher Thornton’s evolution of fashion and style is more than just wardrobe choices; it’s a window into her growth as a character and a reflection of the times she lives in. Elizabeth’s metamorphasis from a wide-eyed schoolteacher to a strong, independent woman mirrors the transformative journey of self-discovery and empowerment that many viewers can relate to. Her evolving appearance reflects the universal themes of love, loss, and resilience that lie at the heart of the series, captivating audiences and inspiring them to embark on their own journeys of growth and self-discovery.

Each season has added layers to her persona, illustrated beautifully through her attire which captures the essence of her strength, resilience, and the ever-changing dynamics of her life in Hope Valley. The meticulous attention to details by the costume designers who create unique period inspired looks with a modern edge adds an attainable feel to the series, making Elizabeth not only a character to relate to but also a visual treat in the representation of historically inspired fashion.

Erin Krakow’s portrayal of Elizabeth, complemented by her evolving fashion, continues to captivate audiences, making WHEN CALLS THE HEART a show that fans look forward to with each new season. As viewers continue to follow Elizabeth’s journey, they are reminded of the transformative power of love, the importance of embracing new beginnings, and the strength that lies within each of us to overcome life’s challenges.

Watch When Calls the Heart season 11 on Friday nights at 7:30pm AEST on GOOD. or stream from the free GOOD app. Watch now: CLICK HERE.

About the Author: Sharon Fitness is a staff writer for GOOD. She’s a movie buff, TV fan, foodie and dog lover.

Feature Images: When Calls the Heart promotional content from GOOD.