Monday, February 3, 2014

Degas' Little Dancer, the Haughty Chin Thrust, and Perfection in Imperfection

This was a really fun outfit, built around the skirt, a vintage gift from my good friend, Alex. I love the bright jewel tones which might be green, or blue, or turquoise, or teal, or... What do you think?

I was going for a bit of ballerina chic, with the tulle-like fluff of the skirt, the nipped waist, and the plain, fitted, knit top. Thus, a refined updo seemed essential. 

Jacket: London Fog; Clutch, hair comb, and brooch: vintage; Skirt and earrings: vintage gifts from a friend; Bracelet: a gift from Beau; Belt: boutique; Ring: Effy; Top: Reitmans; Shoes: Ecco
The event was very casual, just a pub dinner with one of Beau's old friends, but I felt like dressing up anyway.

Any excuse will do.

To go with my ballerina theme and my matchy-matchy look, I almost wore these little, thrifted shoes, but I thought that might be too costumey so I went with black, flat, mary-janes instead. I'll wear the teal shoes with the dress another time.

Before I left for the evening, I noticed that one of my lamps wonderfully complemented my outfit so I decided to photograph it. I really love the shadows it casts. This photo doesn't even do the shadows justice. They are really quite magical.

It may have been the red in my drapes, candle holders, and 1930s chair that inspired my choice of a red clutch. I just thought that there needed to be a little break from all that green, or blue, or turquoise, or whatever it is.

In the future, I'm not sure I'd wear this belted raincoat with this puffy skirt underneath it. It does create the effect of a rather large behind.

That's okay, though. Who said large behinds are a bad thing? And, besides, it's not all about perfection. 

If it were, I would have paid about $1,500,000 for this real Tiffany lamp, instead of $100 for the knockoff I found on Craigslist.

I like artistic allusions in my life, even if I can't afford the real deal.

With this outfit, for example, I thought first and foremost of Degas' famous little dancer, so I posed accordingly -- matronly figure and terrible back injury notwithstanding. 

I was lucky enough to see this little dancer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I lived in New York. My fitted top and layered skirt reminded me of hers. Even her awkwardness is a bit reflective of my own.

I can swear that I did not think of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in the City when I put this outfit together, but I did think of her much later when I was finding images to add to my post. 

I do remember that I thought of Degas' dancer when I first saw her in the green outfit on the right, and I'll bet its designer did too. It's too obvious a reference to have been accidental, isn't it?

It's true that I haven't the gamine figure of the fourteen year old, little dancer. I have the body of a full grown woman.

In fact, so do the adult ballerinas that Degas was so fond of painting.

They weren't generally thin. They weren't even often all that graceful or elegant. 

Degas was particularly interested in voyeuristic painting of the awkward moments of a woman's physicality.

And these are moments we all have, no matter how hard we try.

So it's not about perfection. It's about enjoyment and letting our enjoyment of beauty make us beautiful too.

Any women who likes the fripperies of femininity will have her moments enjoying the charms of the poufy skirt. Here, Grace Kelly enjoys her ballet inspired dress in the great movie, Rear Window.

And tell me this model isn't loving this tulle froth. (I'd love it if you could also tell me where her legs are.)

Besides, in the 1950s, when there was spate of ballerina inspired fashion, thin was not in. 

Indeed, many outfits actually required that the hips be padded to accentuate rather than conceal female curves.

(I've seen this image before and oh! I so want to see those brooches close up! Don't you?)

So, Degas was an inspiration, and 50s fashion was another inspiration.

And with 50s fashion models, at least one thing is inescapable: the haughty chin thrust.

Here it is used to showcase the matchy-matchy brooch and earrings, also staples of 50s style.

I tried my best to mimic that chin jut. Here, I do it to show off the lovely bracelet Beau gave me for Valentine's day last year, and the vintage, screw-back earrings that Alex gave me when she gave me the skirt.

That chin thrust is hard to perfect. 

(Do also note here the strong influence of 1920s fashion on this much later outfit.)

I tried.

And I tried. I didn't perfect it but it was fun, and I can see that it really can compliment the bone structure in one's face. These poses are invented for reasons.

Also take note of the stone work behind me. Knowing that I was going for a 50s look, I deliberately posed in front of it.

I had the ubiquitous, 50s and early 60s, stonework fireplace in mind when I chose where to pose. 

As I said, I like my allusions.


Now let me be perfectly clear (to borrow a phrase from every politician alive today), the chin jut was not reserved merely for those who were sitting or resting their chins on their palms.

It could be used whilst standing too!

There seemed also to be no such thing as too much costume jewelry.

So I made sure I directed Beau to photograph mine too. Okay, I always do that, but this time I'm showing myself doing it.

I got this D'Orlan brooch for a few dollars at a charity store. I thought its elegant little swoop went well with my theme.

And so, haughty chin thrust still a work in progress...

I blow you little kisses and bid you adieu.

Also: KITTY!!!

(I'm linking this up with Tres Chic Bits, Visible Mondays on Not Dead Yet, Spy Girl's 52-Pick-Me-Up, and Shoe Shine on The Citizen Rosebud.)


  1. I love those shoes! And the bracelet, and basically the whole outfit - very pretty! And forget the chin jut. I think the thing that makes any woman beautiful is a smile!

  2. glad you liked the skirt and stuff so much.... alex

  3. There is something positively magical about wearing a tulle skirt. I felt so feminine in mine, as I can tell you do in yours! Edgar Degas Little dancer is one of my favorite works of art. I have a huge print of it in my livingroom. At leat twice per yearI I will go to the Norton Simon museum in Pasadena to look at the sculpture.

  4. So glad to know that a chin thrust is something those elegant models were doing! I always thought that they were preternaturally chinny. Excellent hues on you!

  5. What a nice post, love those paintings.
    And you look beautiful.
    What a lovely smile you have!!!
    Thank you so much for linking with Très Chic Style Bits

  6. I just nominated you for the Shine On Award. See for rules

  7. It was really great to meet you the other night and get to hang out. I am a little disappointed as I still haven't seen a raccoon but thanks for the tip anyway. Hopefully we will see you again this summer when we are down.

  8. I love froth and tulle, and the gorgeous ballerinas of Degas too. You look particularly lovely in this teal version! Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday.

  9. Yes, you do the little dancer proud in homage. Pretty skirt, and perfect for your romantic self. Sweet photos all, and I enjoyed seeing you looking so happy and beautiful.
    The little dancer was at the Modern when I saw her in the 80s. I'd seen her in photos forever, but the delight of actually seeing the fabric skirt has never been lost for me. Just seeing her again makes me happy.

  10. First off you look like a beautiful mermaid to me- I love that color set on you, and those shoes you didn't wear- LOOOOOVE! Maybe they'll make an appearance again for next month's #shoeshine. And that brooch? Lady it nearly stole the show! Thank you for merging your style with the glory of great art, and reminding me it's the pleasure of combining the day to day with the inspirational that make dressing, and dressing up so fun.

    1. Such nice things you say! I think most don't notice a brooch like that, with its simple elegant lines instead of a lot flash (and I love the flashy ones too), so I'm glad you like it. As for the shoes, I wasn't convinced crippled me could walk in them so I want to give them their inaugural run when I have a ride and/or Beau's arm to lean on, but I walked to this meeting so I opted for something tried and true.

  11. I discovered your beautiful blog today. And I've been reading and reading and reading. You're creating joy; creating it from yourself.

  12. The chin thrust! Hahahaha. Love your outfit, love all your historical references. I think Patricia Field, the SATC costume designer, was alluding to the 80's tutu ala Madonna, which probably also harkened back to Degas. Fashion -- it all circles and cycles.
    Have you read The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan? It's about the dancer that modeled for the above statue. I really enjoyed it.
    Thanks for linking up with 52 Pick-me-up Green! Whether green, teal, or blue, it's all good!

  13. We must have been for sure, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    You are magical