Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891


Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

How To Be Lovely: The Paintings

Penned upon the 23rd of September, 2007

I take a lot of inspiration from great paintings; indeed, I find myself trying to live up to them, to the harmony and poise they express. Paintings can be a fine source of hints for dressing – really, it’s as if somebody else has already done the work balancing line and colour for you. I’ve brought some interesting works in oils from my scrapbook collection which I think fine examples of elegant but comfortable casualwear!

Édouard Manet – Portrait of Stéphane Mallarmé

A peacoat like the Symbolist leader is wearing here makes for excellent casual outerwear. As well as being warm, you can wear it with more or less anything – buttoned up with a scarf for a dressy, academic look or open for a carefree ‘shore leave’ sort of look. Are those jeans he’s wearing there? Entirely possibly – they were the sailor’s staple even before the were the worker’s, so they suit the nautical style!

Giovanni Boldini – Portrait of a Young Man

Spiky hair was in before the 1970s. Rebellion goes back a long way. With his chinnie, massive collar and big floppy bow, this Young Man shows that steampunk isn’t so fanciful after all. Do something crazy with your hair today – dye it, cut it yourself, weave flowers or smouldering wicks in it. History’s too short not to have fun!

James Tissot – A Passing Storm

This fellow isn’t the focus of the painting – just a passerby himself, really – but he caught my eye. Look at the rich, deep blue of his coat, next to his white waistcoat. Is the waistcoat silk? Perhaps. It’s double-breasted, and the two columns of buttons looks to be quite narrowly spaced. Have you ever seen something like that worn before? Why not be the first?

Henri Matisse – Self-Portrait in a Striped T-Shirt

T-shirts were in before the 1970s, too. In truth, I love striped t-shirts. They’re ‘in’ right now, so it’s a good time to buy them before they’re ‘out’ again, so you’ll have lots and can be the only one wearing one. Here’s a secret that seems entirely counterintuitive before you actually try it: horizontal stripes are flattering. Very, astonishingly flattering. Provided, of course, they’re of even width and spacing. Uneven stripes are always horrendous, and fit only for estate agents’ ties.

Édouard Manet – The Luncheon on the Grass

This fellow looks so comfortable. He has his big coat – possibly velvet – and his smoking cap, and he’s having a picnic. Yes, smoking caps are orthodox only within one’s own home, after Xpm, after guests have gone home, so on so on so on – but the theology of loveliness is open to a little reinterpretation (and a little nonsense) now and then, yes? Slippers in public say “I’m comfortable with my place in the world, I’m not here to challenge you or be aggressive.” The world could use a little more of that.

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Commentary upon “How To Be Lovely: The Paintings”

  1. Meaghan was heard to remark,

    Upon the 4th of October, 2007 at 10:58 pm,

    All you need now for the last picture is just some lovely, lush bare thighs.

    I’m sure you have a pair of those lying around the house somewhere, though, I daresay. Perhaps attached to your lovely fiancee?

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