Dance Pants

We’re between seasons now, which means I’m wearing strange mashup outfits built by layering all my warmest summer clothes (because I haven’t pulled out the winters yet). Earlier this week, I felt like I was dressed to warm up for a modern dance class or something:

Photo 302

  • 3/4 length sleeve black scoopneck top, T.J.Maxx?,  gift from my mom ca. 2012. You can’t see much of it here, but this top is sort of a double-layered knit. It’s so cozy and soft, without being as bulky as a sweater.
  • Green wrap sweater, Target, summer 2009. I have this illusion that ballet dancers all wear wrap sweaters while doing calisthenics in freezing garrets. But I may have picked this up from that awful Audrey Hepburn biopic starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.
  • Black cigarette pants, gift from my mother-in-law ca. 2011. I didn’t wear these at all last winter, and for awhile I thought I’d lost them or given them away. But then I found them in the bottom of a drawer. These pants are weird because the button is on the wrong side. You wouldn’t think this would matter so much, but it does. Every time I put them on, I feel like I’m in some kind of mirror funhouse world.
  • Stretchy black trouser socks, let’s be honest, probably from Meijer
  • Black flats with embroidered roses, purchased in a tiny boutique in Rome, 2004. 

So, speaking of Audrey, I suspect that pretty much everyone thinks of her first when they see or wear pants like this. GAP revived this image a year or two ago (I cannot imagine what they must have paid in permissions to make that commercial….), but if you haven’t ever enjoyed the original scene from Funny Face, you should really just do that. Try to ignore Fred Astaire’s aged smirk:

You guys know the story about filming this scene, right? It’s one of those legends that helped created the image of Audrey, fashion icon and all around classy lady. The story goes that the director of Funny Face (or maybe the choreographer) wanted her in all black for this scene, but with white socks. Audrey, generally adored the world over for not making a stink about things, apparently put her very long foot down and refused to commit the fashion faux pas of wearing white socks with black pants and shoes. But in the end she didn’t have a choice, and gave in. Of course, the scene isn’t really about street fashion but about the aesthetics of the scene, and in the dark smoky bar, the white socks make her feet pop and show off the dance better. Apparently when the scene was complete and she saw it, Audrey sent a classy letter of apology to whomever made her wear the socks in the first place.

I actually thought about wearing white socks when I wore this outfit, until I realized that probably no one would get the allusion. And the ones who did would wonder why I was basically dressing in costume to go to work.

Anyway, I suspect that most of us have an unbreakable mental connection between skinny black pants and Audrey Hepburn. But thanks to my mom, I have another association in my mind:


This is Mary Tyler Moore, in her breakout role as Laura Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke Show. We would suggest that it was really MTM who brought the skinny dark pant to the regular American woman.

My mom recalls that when she was young, she put rubber bands around her legs to create the illusion of sleek, fitted pants. I suspect the effect was not quite as she imagined it would be!

Reminds me of the time I took apart a wire hanger with the intention of attaching it to the hem of one of my skirts, creating what I imagined would be a glamorous (? What was I thinking?) hoop effect.

Have I told you about my grandma, who once wore three skirts on a plane so she wouldn’t have to pack them?

MacGyvering your look, it seems, is a long-running tradition in my family–and one I am proud to uphold.


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