Might You Lend Me The Favour Of Your Bellybutton, My Lady?

So I've been watching a whole lot of Downton Abbey lately. All of it, in fact. I finished the whole of the first two seasons in about a week. I believe it to be period drama crack cocaine, and I am by far the twitchiest junkie on the block.

What I love best is how eloquently the characters verbally respond when faced with social faux pas, insult, or scandal. They respond in a way that would lead the author of the insult to believe that they are in fact thanking them for the insult, and have even been wishing for it for quite some time indeed.  For instance (spoiler alert!), take the Season II finale. There is a scene in which Sir Richard Carlisle (Iain Glen) insults his hosts, the Crawleys, by proclaiming (in the manner of the times) that he is too cool to play an after-dinner round of charades. "Do you enjoy these games, in which the player appears ridiculous?" he asks of the Dowager Countess (the awesome Maggie Smith), the matriarch of the family.  She replies, "Sir Richard, life is a game in which the player must appear ridiculous!"

That's right Sir Richard....now get back in your box.

Sublime phraseology like this is such a contrast to the often cynical ridiculousness of modern living.  I'm sure that the escapism of it has everything to do with the success of Downton Abby. It tickles me to no end.  You can find more examples of this from days gone by (when insults had class) here. If you're like me, you will be secretly hoping for the day that you might actually get to put one of them to use.

This contrast of the sublime and the ridiculous has been appearing on my sartorial radar lately as well. I am almost reluctant to sully the aforementioned references to Downton Abbey with this next montage, but for the good of us all, I'm afraid I must.

They are actually trying to bring back the bare midriff trend. I find myself stricken with the vapours.

From Left: A wedding dress (!?!?) by Allure, Kristen Stewart on the cover of Elle UK, and Gwyneth Paltrow at the Emmys.

I mean really.....I feel I truly must protest to this nonsense. I'm sure many of you, like me, remember the first incarnation of this atrocity in the 90's.

Heather Locklear on Melrose Place in her crop top.
Ugh, not again!
I feel that I must also add that of all the many atrocities of mankind, I have seen none so sartorially offensive as that "wedding gown" pictured above. The lace bandeau top! The dropped waist netting poofery! It resembles the underpinnings of the bygone era we were discussing earlier. It is what might have happened if the lady's maid got drunk one evening and prematurely sent Her Ladyship down to dinner, then promptly passed-out, snoring in a chair while the actual evening frock still hung on the dress form.  I agree with our beloved Dowager Countess,  that in life one must look ridiculous from time to time....but somehow I highly doubt she would have ever counted on such a literal, and self-inflicted interpretation.

Now let me set the record straight. I am not some prude, a revisionist historicist pining for the "good old days" of Victorian ideals. Nor am I a hyper-religious born-again, a lover of the rules (both the book and the actuality), or someone who believes in malarkey such as not wearing white after labor day. If you want your belly to stick out at a nightclub, a beach picnic,  a rock concert, the mall...you go right ahead. I have no quarrel with you.  But the dresses pictured here are event dresses. It is as if someone in a position of fashion power is threatening to kick it up a notch, and in the worst possible way. It makes me wonder what we have done to deserve this.

My position is this. If you are going to an event that requires a dress or gown, you will undoubtedly be faced with the need to carry on polite conversation with people you have never met. Such is the way with these things. You will have to network a bit, like it or not. Can you imagine trying to discuss your position on the impending collapse of the Euro, or worse yet, the state of affairs surrounding women's rights in Afghanistan, while your bellybutton is poking-out?  Girl, please.  By the end of the night,  I daresay you would be wishing that people were just staring at your boobs, instead of mistaking you for just another attention whore "celebutante" with exceedingly bad taste.

Take this, for example.

Topshop sun dress 38 GBP
Though this dress is a little more casual than its predecessors, it still sails dangerously close to the wind. If you are even considering a flirty floral or paisley sun dress for your event,  you can be assured that a glimpse of bellybutton will be inappropriate. It's just not that kind of place.  Bellybutton at a garden party? At a family barbecue?  Put it away, for goodness sake woman! The rest of us are trying to eat our veggie burgers!

The conclusion:

To have the opportunity to be invited to an important event or gala  = sublime
To show your midriff at said gala or event = ridiculous

And now I fear that all this talk of indecency has grown tiresome. In fact,  I find myself quite overcome.
Do excuse me,  I'm afraid I shall have to remove myself to my rooms to lie down. Will someone please summon my maid?


    Make midriffs go away. Yikes. Melrose Place and Married With Children and Clueless. UGH. So terrifying. I cannot handle it. I do like the one that Kristen Stewart is wearing though. Just... enough skin.

  2. I thought that too at first, that it was okay....but then all I could think about was how much better I would like it if it were all one piece. I think midriff dresses ruin the continuity of the line. Plus, it competes with your accessories, and we can't have that!

  3. As I meant with your post a few days ago with the Devil Wears Prada scene. Sometimes we should give credit to the artists who influence us all and sometimes we should expect them to apologize to us all for thinking we are idiot sheep. "They" come up with some trend that flatters no one (cap sleeves) and we're supposed to buy it???

    I think the bare midriff thing is worse than just who you would offend if you wore it. There are probably 2 women out of every 100 who have midriffs they wish to show off, but designers put them in stores expecting to make money because we are so dumb we'll buy what we're told. That's the true insult...they think us fools.

  4. Even Gwennie is showing a muffin top in that photo. Ewwwww.


  5. I'm a fan of Downton Abby too and love an elegant rejoinder. Agree with your opinions of the dresses and where belly buttons should be exhibited. Sometimes I think things are worn and meant to shock but in fact they just look tacky.


  6. Ever since I found out she was a murderer, I've stopped reading Anne Perry's books. But I did love her elegant insults: "Oh, you're wearing lavender. I can't wear it because it makes me look sallow. But you..." (She said it better, but that is the spirit.)

  7. Wow has it been twenty years already? I guess it is time for this look to come back.
    Will high waisted faded jeans come with it?

    A la 90210 :O)

    Oooh and I posted pics of Scotland on my blog!


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