Warning from Allegra: Rants and/or run-on sentences may be found in this post. Proceed with caution.
I have cello lessons at a university. I see a lot of university fashion, and I find the different ways that different people dress fascinating. In my experience, the people of Asian descent seem to dress the most snappily; the girls favor sneaker wedges and shorts-with-tights, and are very on top of the trends (let’s be honest- the petite Asian girls are really the few that can actually pull off sneaker wedges.) Many of the African-American girls dress very brightly, with vivid prints and outrageously fun accessories. Of course, you have your mix of other ‘diverse’ characters, the hippy philosophers and itinerant musicians and just-plain-weird-dudes (ugh), which dress very… uniquely!
Now, the other day, as we were driving out of the university, we noticed that there was going to be an opera, which is a regular occurrence. I, in my usual fashion-watching eagerness, had my nose pressed against the window glass to see what people actually wear to an opera (yes, I have never gone to one. Yes, I know how deprived I am. Yes, I would love to go to one.)
Let’s just say… I was faintly disappointed.
You see, the only places that I have been introduced to opera and the way you dress for it is in books. (Well, plus I usually have my cello lesson in a practice room surrounded as it seems by hundreds of male tenors all yodeling for primal supremacy in a language that was only meant for inventing pasta names. But that doesn’t count.)
Take, for instance, Louisa May Alcott’s book ‘An Old-Fashioned Girl’. In this book, the main character has several scenes about her and her friend getting ready for the opera and loaning each other bonnets and gold bracelets and fans and things, and then riding off in a carriage and having fun at the opera.
Now of course I wasn’t expecting dresses like this one by Carolina Herrera, but perhaps something a little nicer than jeans and a sweater. Of course there were some dresses that I saw, but JEANS AND A SWEATER? HOW ARE YOU EVEN A HUMAN BEING? THIS IS THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, FRIEND, I’VE NEVER BEEN TO IT AND I EVEN KNOW HOW GREAT IT IS.
Anyway, I found this article on Carolina Herrera, and her classic and elegant style. Here’s a quote from the article:
“Herrera’s uniform – big skirts, tailored shirts, mannish trousers – is so honed that she claims she can get ready for the grandest do in 10 minutes. “But women don’t want to be called elegant now,” she reflects, “because they connect it with old-fashioned. But elegance is not old‑fashioned.”
Of course, we can’t all be buyers of Carolina Herrera, or Valentino or suchlike, but many of you who read this blog make your own clothes. YOU can dress how you want to dress, be truly unique, because your clothing is one of a kind. So why not use your talent in the name of elegance? A little black dress is the perfect place to start, and incidentally, seems to me to be the perfect base for an opera outfit. Take this Bistro Dress that mom made me. It’s not black, but it’s a wonderful pattern, and I’d feel quite classy wearing with heels and maybe a cream-colored cardigan to the opera. Maybe next time you go somewhere fancy, the opera, theater, or even a date, think about the elegance factor of your outfit. I’ve been intimidated before by the fact that the people at the event that I’m going to won’t be dressing quite as classy as I’d like to. Maybe what they need is someone to take the style lead, so to speak, and be their fashion Moses- leading them into the promised land of classic elegance. But seriously though, if you dress like a princess and walk into your event like a boss queen, people will look at you and take notice, and maybe ask themselves, “Why did I dress like this? I should’ve dressed like her; she looks like royalty!” Perhaps, through our concerted effort, we can raise the elegance level of this world just a little – I think it would thank us. Here’s a closing quote from Ms. Herrera:
“ You have to work things out for yourself, develop your own eye. Deep down, I think women want to look like women. Not clowns.”