Clothing Stories: BLANCHE! And All Things Glitter, Gold, and Faux Leather Leopard

In general the holiday season is a time where it seems to be more socially acceptable to wear sparkly stuff. This is nothing new. It’s being done by seniors in Miami every day. If you grandma’s wardrobe places her with the likes of Blanche Devereaux then you are in the position to inherit some seriously outlandish clothing.

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Blanche Devereaux giving this Balmain model a very disdainful look for copying her sequined glory.

Sequins, gems, and other embellishments can be hard to pull off. You run the risk of entering into serious tacky territory. However, if you’re up for it, there is no shortage of embellished pieces to choose from. Older women often get rid of evening gowns. The generation in their 90s getting rid of all their fancy apparel would have pieces from the 1970s to 1990s–making for some very extravagant and unique pieces.

For examples of this we return to Blanche …

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Yes. I did make this montage

Some things have to be regulated to the costume closet while others, if you are careful, can be used for those rare occasions during the festive season… or Caribana.

On my mother’s side, a love for sequins and embellishment seems to be a family trait.

Five years ago my mother came into my room with something behind her back. Before showing me what it was she said. “I have this shirt that has always been one of my favourites. I just don’t think that I can pull it off anymore. I would love for you to have it.” Then came the grand reveal. My mother held this out to me….

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Top left: my mother wearing the leopard. Top Middle and Right: me in real life sporting the leopard. Bottom: details.

Yes. That is a black ’80s sweatshirt, with shoulder pads, and a silver sparkle and black faux leather leopard print on it. Since inheriting this gem it has been worn for countless occasions. I’m still waiting for the perfect Lisa Frank and Kiss-themed party to wear it to. I now feel at peace having found my power animal.

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But my mother isn’t the only one with an eye for glitz.

Visiting my grandmother is a really hilarious and enjoyable thing. She is an extremely intelligent and funny 90- year-old lady who still lives on her own, does yoga for seniors, and cares about her family very much. Even in her 90s she still looks impeccable. She does however regret that she can no longer where the styles of dress she used to. So for her enjoyment (and mine) I will often bring new pieces of clothing I’ve bought or acquired to show her.

While at her house I often make a brief trip to the basement to see if there are any old pieces of hers that I would like to borrow. On my last visit I came across a sea foam green dress with rhinestone embellishments. My grandmother had been holding onto this dress from 1970. She just couldn’t bear to part with it. It had some sentimental attachment but, at the heart of it, it was just one of her favourite pieces. I knew that she would love to see it being worn again, and I had the perfect occasion.

About a year ago I auditioned for a band called the Peptides. The stars aligned and low and behold I was in. The Peptides have been around in the Ottawa music scene for a while and have somehow managed to blend disco, break beat, funk, and soul. The aesthetic is vintage cocktail party. For every performance, I spend roughly an hour in stage prep perfecting a beehive and jumping into a cocktail dress. When I saw the sea foam green dress I knew it was destined for an onstage appearance.

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Back at my grandmother’s house, I surface from her treasure trove basement carrying the dress. My grandmother asked me what in the world I was planning to do with it, and when I told her my plan a giant smile spread across her face. Unfortunately, due to mobility issues she could not make her way up the stairs at the club where we are performing. So instead, she and I have a date coming up. I will bring the laptop and the video of the performance, she will provide the homemade peanut butter cookies, butter tarts, and tea. She is looking forward to it since she has been to nearly every single show I’ve been in. She loved them… except for the Rocky Horror Picture show. She didn’t understand the plot.

So be creative with your garments. Remember, when in doubt: you can always make your brother wear your Blanche Deveraux frock as a wizard’s costume.

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About olexpruchnicky

The biggest problem in my life is trying to decide on one particular area, one particular part of life to focus on, to totally immerse myself in. So I've decided not to fight it, and like a whole lot of everything. I become interested when there is creativity, innovation, a bit of controversy, and a deep passion. A little bit of the random crazy and more than anything something that will raise or furrow my brow. Lines on my forehead... worth it. I work in politics, visual arts, music, and photography.

4 comments

  1. I don’t know what’s more wonderful: Blanche’s wardrobe, or the hours of Internet fun you must have had making that montage!

  2. Janice

    Oh Olex, you’re only fabulous! My Nanny used to sport sequins at every point and turn and had matching tangerine pumps and handbags in her closet. Sigh….I miss her. Keep jumping into those cocktail dresses and donning that beehive with pride!!

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