Day vs Night
The eternal question WHAT DO I WEAR? is also a question of WHEN do I wear it? While there are some garments that have 24 hour potential, special considerations must be made for when the sun goes down. To answer “can I wear this tonight?” I turn to the following term in the fashion glossary: “day face.” In the business of drag and burlesque, “day face”means you’re sorely under made up to have anybody pay to see you. You hardly have enough look on to go down the street to the bodega, let alone enough to shake your things on stage.
When you’re putting a look together for evening, you want to avoid both day face and day body. Wherever you’re going—nighttime demands something of us. Something more: a little bolder, a little more bronzer, a little more body, a little more shine, a little more scandal, a little more MORE.
My philosophy of MORE is rooted in the idea that the spaces where we converge at night have a greater potential to be sites of liberation from the ordinary, from the expectations of who we must be when we’re on the clock. We get to chose where we want to be in our (very little) free time; we should consciously choose who want to be, too, in those moments of freedom.
Here I’ve tackled what to leave behind to make more room for night time ferociousness:
Denim: Upon finally finding high waisted jean shorts big enough to (barely) fit both my thighs and butt, I have been considering for weeks whether or not they are appropriate for night. I was getting ready for a party on Friday and put them on with a beautiful beige cropped button up and decided definitively: no. No denim shorts at night. Shorts in general are a no for me at night. Either they’re too casual or something is lost in the translation to a nighttime fabric like satin.
Of course jeans are classic and can always be incorporated into a night look. I tend to wear a darker wash for going out, but not always.
Cotton: Recently a friend called me to ask if she could wear a cotton polo shirt dress out on a date if she paired it with pumps. It doesn’t matter how much dressing or goat cheese or dried cranberries you put on iceberg lettuce. It’s still iceberg lettuce. And iceberg lettuce is good, but it’s not romaine. So my thoughts on cotton are: don’t ask cotton to be something it’s not. Figure out what shoe can complement the outfit without reaching. Accessorize to accentuate, not hide.
As a broke bitch, I can’t often afford expensive fabrics. But I can be aware of texture, color, and cut. This summer I wore a lot of mesh. This past winter, I wore a lot of lace. The cotton dresses I wear out at night tend to have interesting layers, embellishments, or prints. Cotton can be eye-catching, not just low cut. There is something nice about how jersey hugs the booty, too. Overall, wearing cotton at night is about balance. If you’re wearing something cotton on the bottom, don’t wear something cotton on the top.
Flats: Heels are, well, the Achilles heel of my femininity. I kind of stomp around, dance hard, and hate when my feet hurt. So my guidelines around flats are pretty forgiving. No you can’t wear plimsolls to the club…Keds are a day face on your feet. But if you are on your limited edition sneakers with no scuffs grind I can’t really hate (although lots of venues do). In fact if you do have some go-out sneakers, let me know where you got them and if they go down to a size 7 in women’s.
Material matters. Patent and suede tend to be good looks. Structure of the shoe is also a deciding factor. I would wear something more structured rather than a slip on type shape. Example: patent oxfords are a yes. Suede ballet shoes are a no. Flips flops are a never. The shape I’m drawn to most is wedges as a stylish middle ground.
Bare lips: I feel like gloss is too outdated for me to glam up my mouth, but was avoiding lipstick for a long time because even a stay-on will get on the rim of your cocktail or on the collar of your dance partner. Then I discovered lip stain and my life changed. I save pasty sticky heavy lipstick for the stage, and polish off my nighttime look with brighter colored lip stain. Revlon Just Bitten is cheap and accessible. I like Flame and Passion. Other night time looks I love are a metallic or electric eyeliner (no cat eye with these), dark shimmery shadow skimming under the lower lash line, and/or a bulked up cheek.
Rules, though, are meant to broken. Bottom line: if I had to pay a cover to get in here and stand in your eye line, please look good.