Actually, it's not just today - I love ball gowns, period. But sometimes more so than others - for instance, yesterday, I woke up with a huge desire for an elaborate ball gown. I do have a couple, but I would love to have more - in different colors and with more excuses to wear them.
Yes, they are impractical (imagine getting into a modern car or a subway train in a Civil War era hoop skirt), and have to be worn with care. Not only does a ball gown-wearing lady need to practice handling the big skirt, she also needs to acquire a proper posture. Rolled back shoulders, straight back and uplifted chin create an image worthy of a queen. An office job-induced slouch? Not so much...
Considering that truly formal black tie events and dressing properly for them are becoming a dying art, it is nice to see that some clothiers are not afraid to swim upstream and continue to offer the kind of formal wear that would have been admired a hundred - hundred and fifty years ago.
While in the 19th century, pale-colored open-shoulder ball gowns were preferred, the contemporary designers have wisely realized that pink, lavender, silvery blue and white are not for everyone, nor are the sleeveless, strapless and off-shoulder fashions. So, now there are options for those of us who have less-than-perfect arms or are just reluctant to put too much skin on display at a formal gathering.
Aside from ball gowns and tuxedos, I would love to see some old-fashioned dancing at formal gatherings - the kind you see in movies based on Jane Austen novels: where most people know the steps because they were taught since they were kids, and no one feels left out, because almost everyone gets to dance at some point. I love dancing myself, but let's face it - macarena doesn't exactly go with a ball gown, nor does any of the modern stuff. It would be lovely to see something graceful and dignified - like a minuet or a waltz. While sometimes deceptively slow, not only the old-fashioned dances are excellent exercise in awareness, coordination and stamina (try twirling in a big skirt and not losing your balance - you'll know what I mean), they also show off those gorgeous evening clothes to the best advantage, allowing many opportunities for the graceful swish of a skirt and a playful peep of a dance slipper. Let's have a ball, everyone!
Images courtesy Cloak Company, Recollections, Victorian Trading, Yosa, Maria K.