Like many old-guard Washingtonian ladies, my mother purchases a season subscription to the Kennedy Center ballet series every year. She frequently (and generously) takes me as her date, as she did last night, when we attended the “Ballet Across America” program featuring acts from the Houston Ballet, the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and North Carolina Dance Theater. I’m normally more keen on the full-length ballets like “Swan Lake,” “Romeo & Juliet,” and — a recent favorite — “Don Quixote” because I love the costumes, the sets, and the drama, but last night really challenged that perspective. I was obsessed with the concluding act in particular, which featured a live bluegrass band and an enthralling hybrid dance style somewhere between classic ballet and square dancing. But before I indulge myself in a full-length review of the evening (one dancer could not spin or leap without making the most alarmingly strained look on his face), let’s get to the fashion side of things: how to dress as a prima ballerina in your everyday life.
It doesn’t necessarily begin with a tutu, even though Sarah Jessica Parker had a Major Moment sporting one in the opening credits of “Sex and the City.”
You can just get your feet wet by adopting the petal pink-on-white color combo as our own. Maybe inch your way toward the ethereal look with a manicure in the classic, best-selling Essie color “Ballerina Slippers” ($8, EssieShop):
(This will likely be my shade of choice for my wedding day.) Consider this breath-taking Caroline Hedaya open-back dress in summer-ready linen ($298, Shopbop):
It’s the perfect way of subtly nodding to the ballerina style without sporting a full-on tutu and I’m in love with it. Offset with feminine enormastuds (I’m head over heels for these adorably-titled “I Do” studs by Kendra Scott — $70, Max & Chloe), perfect blush pink flower-adorned pumps (Martinez Valero, on sale for $149, Endless), and a fluttery little clutch (Sondra Roberts, $98, Nordstrom):
Other dress options include this gorgeously draped Alice & Olivia in luxe blush silk georgette ($370, Net-A-Porter)
Could be worn with jet black Louboutins for an edgier vibe or kept light with some blush-toned peeptoes. Alternately, go totally glam with these OMG-worthy bejeweled Giuseppe Zanottis ($1,075, Endless):
You pretty much can’t wear any other jewelry with those puppies. They speak for themselves. Maybe just some simple mother of pearl earrings — these Ylang23 Vintage enormastuds look they were made to match ($175, Ylang23):
These lovely Judith Jacks would also look gorgeous ($175, Nordstrom):
Looking for another dress option? “The Adelaide” (also by Alice & Olivia) is frothy perfection and could be easily dressed up or down ($298, Shopbop):
If you’re going for the more formal route, keep in mind that ballerinas wear a lot of diamonds and crystals on stage because they are eye-catching, especially when they hit the stage lights amidst their routines — why not act as though you’re on centerstage as well? Check out the Ylang23 Vintage clips I feature below — or, if you’re really glamming it up, this chunky J. Crew tangle of a bib necklace (on sale for $95, J. Crew):
Or maybe, for something slightly more subdued, this Lee Angel adjustable variation ($300, Lee Angel):
Now, if you are willing to go the Carrie Bradshaw route — go you, fearless Magpie! Balmain was on your page last season when they featured this wearable art:
Pretty much TDF. But you’ve got to be careful to strike just the right balance when you’re sporting something tutu-like, or you can quickly end up look inadvertently punkish or childlike — neither of which are particularly fetching, in my opinion. For a safer bet (a modified tutu), this darling Betsey Johnson concoction will take you places ($378, ModCloth):
(Simply replace the electric blue sash with soft pink.) Wear with sparkling enorma-studs or this beaded Day Birger et Mikkelsen necklace ($66, House of Frasier) and a pair of nude pumps — these Giuseppe Zanotti’s are endlessly wearable (they literally go with everything — $595, Endless):
These oh-so-lovely Pedro Garcias (on sale for $301, MyWardrobe) could also work for a slightly more formal setting if you swap out the beaded necklace for some diamonds (real or fake):
Round out the look with a flirty cocktail ring (Kate Spade, on sale for $46, Nordstrom):
For a similar — but slightly more Vegas-inspired take (check out the sequined bodice) — try on this Alice & Olivia (on sale in limited sizes for $331 at Neiman Marcus, but I think you’d be able to track it down in your size for the full price of $495 elsewhere):
If you’re into the tulle look but not so sure about the uber-femininity of the blush pink color, consider this black Lanvin tulle skirt ($490, Yoox):
Pair with sparkling enorma-studs (I’ve featured these before, but they are just the perfect style — $170, Ylang23), a super fitted strapless top (corset if you dare — can you imagine the looks you’d pull topping it off with the D&G tulle version below — a modest $2,350), and some amped up evening shoes (below — Pedro Garcias, on ridiculous Super Sale for $123, Chickdowntown):
Swoon. For something a bit more dressed-down, consider this ballerina-pink sundress by Lilly Pulitzer — the “Betsey” ($248, Lilly Pulitzer):
Pair with these adorable (and affordable!) flower studs ($20, TopShop):
Or opt for the white eyelet version of the dress above and swap in a ballerina-ready bib necklace, like this covetable Sparkling Sage style ($158, Nordstrom):
Love the druzy effect of the stones. Pair with gold sparkly sandals or heels, depending on the formality of the event — you could get away with simple gold t-straps for a summer graduation party or some be-sequined peep-toes for a cocktail event. If you’re still seeking ways to dress down the ballerina aesthetic, maybe this strawberry frosting-of-a-dress by ModCloth tickles your fancy ($65, ModCloth)?
How precious?! Wear with simple white t-straps — why am I so in love with the simplicity of the K. Jacques below ($245, Net-A-Porter)?
Bone-colored flats could also work. Alternately, this butter yellow scoop neck dress by TopShop is reminiscent of ballerina garb ($32, TopShop):
(Keep in mind that TopShop earned a pretty penny when Kate Moss released her first line for the brand a couple of seasons ago and featured a black tutu dress that instantly sold out. So if you’re wondering how The Fashion Magpie can jump from yesterday’s rocker chic Kate Moss look to a soft-and-dainty ballerina aesthetic today — just remember that fashion is, in essence, all of one thread. Excuse the wretched play on words, but it’s true — consider Moss’ famous Vogue spread from last year, where she wore a kickin Vivienne Westwood tutu and some absolutely bananas shoes:
The devoted Magpies out there will agree that true fashion is a study in contrasts.) Returning to the inspiration at hand, let’s see what other gems we can find — perhaps this frilly-fun tutu-inspired skirt by Paul & Joe (on sale for $214, MyTheresa):
Don’t worry, it’s not as brief as it appears. Pair with a simple white tank and some strappy flat sandals — I’m gaga over Madewell’s recent launch of their eBoutique, so I’m going to continue to prominently feature their affordable classics, including the goes-with-and-under-anything “Ideal Tank” ($18, Madewell) and the Cypress sandal, which I’m absolutely in love with ($88, Madewell):
It’s a citified tutu look. Very Rachel Bilson-hits-up-the-farmer’s-market, especially if paired with an of-the-moment cross body bag in a yummy brown leather, like this Rebecca Minkoff ($295, Shopbop):
But before we travel too far afield, consider these lovely, slightly whimsical add-ons to an otherwise straightforward getup of skinny jeans and a little white tee — a fabric-flower necklace (Stein & Blye, $38, Nordstrom) and some canvas ballet flats ($30, TopShop):
Love the ethereal softness of the color and the materials of the items above — they remind me of the sort of dainty loungwear and intimates I tend to reach for, like this prima ballerina terry robe (Juicy Couture, $85, Net-A-Porter):
And this matching petal pink babydoll set (also Juicy, $88, Net-A-Porter):
I’m also in love with Hanky Panky’s super-comfortable undergarment sets — how dainty is this “bliss pink” shade ($37 for top, $18 for bottoms — Zappos)?
While in the boudoir, don’t forget to glam yourself up with a retro-styled sparkle-dusting powder puff ($26, Benefit Cosmetics):
I received one as a gift and I get a kick out of it every time I puff it on. So old school bombshell.
Ready to dance?!