The Art of Style

You can have

anything you want in life

if you dress for it.

Edith Head


JDR by Richard Alvedon

Who defines your sense of style when dressing for the holidays?  A celebrity, a designer, a brand? How do you filter through the noise of advertising and social media to choose what is right for you?

Jacqueline de Ribes, 86, French socialite and muse who reinvented herself as a designer, has graciously lent a few dozen evening  gowns from her wardrobe to the Met’s Costume Institute for inspiration. She is known in Parisian society for her elegance and style despite her strong belief growing up that she wasn’t beautiful. “I wasn’t brought up in a family that told me I was beautiful–quite the opposite. I had a problem with my nose. I thought it was too big and too pointed.” Her relationship with her mother was strained, assuring her for years that she could never learn to walk like a lady.

Encouraged by Diana Vreeland to embrace her adventurous spirit, Jacqueline’s insecurity was quelled by Diana’s advice “Jacqueline, don’t be afraid. Whatever you do, just remember: Follow your instincts and you’ll never be wrong.”

The dresses can’t tell her full story though. Jacqueline had an irreverent flair for extravagantly mixing and matching pieces, piling on accessories and even splicing together garments to reflect her mood. Because she dressed to please and express herself, Jacqueline’s wardrobe has a sense of individuality, consistency, and timelessness. Her ambition for this exhibit is to inspire people to embrace the freedom and confidence of self-expression through fashion, saying “You can be elegant and chic by being yourself.”

Harold Koda, curator-in-charge at the Costume Institute sums it up, “It requires a certain discipline to say: This is what’s good for me, this is who I am, and whatever trend is out there I am only going to buy to the extent I can use it to frame the best portrait of myself.”

Of course, a little money to spare for haute couture never hurts. 😉

Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style is at the Metropolitan Museum until February 21, 2016.



How fun to be a fanciful belle of the ball!


Though I’m not a fan of black, I love the lace and feather detail of this velvet piece.


A sculptural one-shouldered gown from de Ribes’ inaugural collection as a designer.



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