Well, it’s happened. I’ve received my first special request regarding how to incorporate a specific item into one’s wardrobe. The item in question? The parasol–that bastion of feminine skin tone preserver, enemy of sun spots, freckles and UV rays. I’ve done my research, I’ve looked at image after image of runway parasols from 2008 (the last time it arose as a trend), and I have to say, the parasol has me feeling challenged. What’s the deal with the parasol, anyway? It’s like an umbrella, but more personable. Sort of. I’ve been racking my brains about why it seems so much more difficult to wear well and I think I’ve hit on something. The parasol? Is performance.Which means it’s a bit harder to just throw into a preexisting look. I mean, I’ll wear some weird looking shit, just to give it the old college try, but I don’t think I’d attempt a parasol. At least, not unless I was designing my whole look around the fact that I was carrying a parasol. Or maybe I would. Let’s take this journey together, shall we?
By saying it’s performance, I mean that the parasol has a history of use by the elite (of both the religious and the secular varieties). It’s been used to keep the sun off of human skin, tease away the heat and help lessen the toll of humidity since at least the time of the ancient Egyptians, who used it both in a utilitarian fashion and as ceremonial pomp. Priestesses in Greece used them during religious ceremonies, and every manner of royalty from Rome to China has been followed by some poor chump whose sole responsibility is keep his/her highness under its protective disc. God forbid this and that land owner look like their sun-worn farm hands. SCANDALIZED.
Anyway, parasols. For any occasion. It can be done. I think. Nay! I know.
From what I’ve seen so far, the parasol works well when consciously performing femininity. That girl on the fake-out sand beach of Governors Island in New York looks fairly at home in her slouchy jersey beach wear and her paper parasol. The setting makes sense, and she somehow (I can’t quite place how and it might actually be the parasol itself glamoring me in some way) has a contemporary version of an early 20th Century look going. In fact, if you’re not royalty, a wealthy land owner from any given continent in antiquity, an ancient priestess, or the old Asian ladies at my bus stop, the parasol really looks great with Jazz Era-inspired outfits.
The Jazz Age is a really intense look to pull off.
Fun green stripes, courtesy of Bella Umbrella!