Holiday Burlesque: Make an Entrance into the New Year
By: Sharon Mosley
Think Cher and Christina Aguilera are the only ones who can star in a “Burlesque” movie? Think again. You can create your own showgirl style this New Year’s Eve with just a few glamorous touches. Be discreet? No way!
Take it from Liz Goldwyn, the author of “Pretty Things: The Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens” (It Books, $19.99).
“For the burlesque queen, the single most important contributing factor to her success was an elaborate wardrobe,” says Goldwyn, who spent eight years researching this lavish history of an era when the hourglass figure was in vogue and striptease was a true art form. “Headlining stars were meticulously made up and costumed in order to transform into sex goddesses onstage.
“Designers interpreted the optical illusion of nudity through creative use of beadwork, sequins and netting, often tricking the audience into believing they were seeing more flesh than was actually being exposed.”
Goldwyn cites the story of Sally Rand, a burlesque queen known for her “fan” dance. She appeared to be completely bare except for her giant ostrich feather fans, but she was actually wearing a flesh-colored bodysuit. “Burlesque queens made their stage entrances in full evening regalia,” says Goldwyn, “sometimes replete with headpiece, gloves and cape.”
Well, you don’t have to wear a nude-colored bodysuit to get attention this holiday season. But you can take a few cues from the burlesque queens — past and present — to make a memorable entrance at any holiday party. Here are a few ways to “spice up” your festive attire:
— Fly with feathers. Try a touch of feathers, whether it’s trim on a scarf or a headpiece or even the hem of a skirt. Feathers can fluff up any outfit and give it an exotic twist. Sally Rand may have had her “fan,” but you can get the same effect by just throwing a feather boa around your neck for the evening.
— Add more fluff. Fur is all the rage this fall and winter, so you can’t go wrong when you wrap up in a Tibetan lamb coat or faux fur leopard cape. Real or faux, fur goes a long way in dressing up any outfit. One of the best buys I ever made was a long, black, curly lamb scarf by Adrienne Landau at Saks Fifth Avenue. I toss it on over anything and everything, and it instantly jazzes up what I’m wearing.
— Step out in twinkle toes. The word is “shine” when it comes to shoes. Yes, the higher the heel, the more sexy the shoe … but you don’t have to trip all over yourself to sparkle in your footwear this holiday season. Think metallic or sequins in ballet flats.
— Paint your nails. Now is the perfect time to check out some of the new “glittery” nail colors. OPI has a new “Burlesque” collection filled with colorful, gleaming choices flecked with sparkling choices.
— Get a leg up. We all know that legs are a showgirl’s best assets (well, maybe just one of them), but they can be easily dressed up this holiday season with some of the newest tights sprinkled with jewels and appliqued designs. Fishnets are definitely more of the burlesque queen’s choice, however. Check out www.hue.com for more inspiration.
— Jewels, darling! OK, diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but I say, the bigger the costume jewelry, the better. My mother’s 1950s rhinestone brooch has always been a big hit, and it’s a holiday staple in my wardrobe. So is a huge sterling-silver floral pin I found at T.J. Maxx. I also collect lots of necklaces. Pile them on to get more bling for the buck.
And yes, whether you are a burlesque queen or not, you also deserve to have some showstoppers in your wardrobe any time of the year. Now is the time to step up and step out, girlie girls!
Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association. To find out more about Sharon Mosley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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