After scoring three Emmy noms for playing lady’s maid Anna Bates on “Downton Abbey,” English actress Joanne Froggatt assumed the challenging role of serial killer Mary Ann Cotton in miniseries “Dark Angel.” “To try and understand the thought process of a woman who did such horrific things was hugely interesting,” says Froggatt, who’s grown more adventurous on the red carpet as well. “Working with a stylist has helped me to try other options and have the confidence to do something different.”

Froggatt’s most memorable Emmy experience was her first. “Michelle Dockery and I went together when [‘Downton’] was nominated in its first year,” she recalls. “We flew ourselves out to L.A. and stayed with her aunt. We had a ball!” Dolce & Gabbana lent her this strapless dress. “I don’t think I had a style ‘direction’ at the time. I just found a dress that fit, that was appropriate, and that I liked.” Looking back, she considers it a safe choice. “I think I’d be a little more adventurous now and possibly go for one of their more colorful designs,” she says.

“I remember the previous year, Michelle and I were discussing what it must feel like to be personally nominated. In 2012, we both got to find out!” Froggatt credits British stylist Kerry Nixon for this “softer, more feminine” Vivienne Westwood look, in a light color. “I now knew how hot it was on the red carpet in L.A.!” She ended up buying her Jimmy Choo bag and shoes. “I also wore them for my wedding to my husband, James, which was about three weeks [later]. It was a fairy-tale month!”

Froggatt’s successful first fitting with U.S. stylist Brad Goreski immediately led to her Emmy look this year. “This was the first dress I tried on and we all loved it straight away,” she says. “I loved the shape, the color, the material, the detailing, everything.” The ethereal J. Mendel design also proved practical. “It was so light and summery and I felt great in it,” she says.

The light color, train, and material of this second J. Mendel number sold Froggatt. “It does make me giggle, looking at this picture though, because I was so ill on the day,” she recalls. “I had been filming such long hours [for ‘Dark Angel’] and I’d just found out I had tonsillitis, so I felt rubbish.”

“I tend to stay away from black now, as my character Anna in ‘Downton’ was constantly in a black dress, but every now and again one comes along that I can’t say no to!” says Froggatt, who loved this classic, understated Stella McCartney design. “I wasn’t personally nominated this year, but I really wanted to be there to support [‘Downton’s’ final nomination], so I chose a dress that I felt reflected that.”