I secretly celebrate small victories. I relish a rare moment of joy as I realize the latest purchase I’ve made is a wise one that I shall reap the rewards from for years to come. In this case, it’s my peasant dress. Being a serial shopper, I’ve been on a “peasant style” bandwagon lately and I’m ashamed to admit how many I’ve bought.
I can write a long list of all the parts of my body that I’d like to hide. The backbone of fashion, to me, is a game of hide and seek. And I’ll admit that I’m a master at hiding. But once in a while it’s nice to go against the grain and show a little skin, or in this case, a little shoulder. Far more subtle than showing legs, and less desperate than showing cleavage, baring the shoulders is a time tested winner. And that’s where my favorite top of all time, the peasant-style top, comes in.
The first time I can remember that I was aware of this style top and the root of its name was many years ago, when I was an extra in the Russian opera Boris Godunov. The Florida Grand Opera was looking for extras and I decided to sign up. It ended up being one of my most memorable adventures.
I had two costume changes for my silent roles: one, a red brocade gown encrusted with gold thread and pearls for my role as a lady in waiting to the leading soprano, and the other, a mismatched peasant costume. How bizarre that all these years later, it’s the latter and the least glamorous costume that I’m writing about.
All the peasants were dressed in layers of mismatched clothing. When we were given our outfits at our fittings, I fell in love with mine. It consisted of a peasant top, a full-length skirt, several shawls and a headscarf. And regardless of what we wore on top, the core of the outfits for men and women, king and queen alike, was the peasant top. It was the clothing of the working class, but there was something exceptional about it.
The peasant top is usually made of plain cotton and has one of the most pedestrian shapes in fashion. Its wide, crunched neckline and large sleeves make it timeless and flattering. And it’s also one of the most resourceful clothing items. With one tuck off the shoulder it can be transformed into an outfit that looks like it costs a king’s ransom. And nowadays, it usually does.
The classic peasant-style long-sleeve top in a sheer fabric is the easy choice for OC days or nights, whether paired with long skirts or short shorts worn with flip-flops or wedges. By Elan in white, available at M. Fredric/Fashion Island, $48.
Lovely in Lace
I’m in love with the feminine feel of this cotton lace, super flirty, off-the-shoulder dress. Perfect for day or night. By Elan in natural, available at M. Fredric/Fashion Island, $68.
One of my favorite beachy brands, Indah is created and produced on the island of Bali. This butterfly wing peasant-style tunic from its Amore collection has become one of my favorite items of clothing. By Indah in papaya, available at shopindah.com, $127.