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Elements of Style: Too Hip For The Room | Manolo for the Big Girl

Elements of Style: Too Hip For The Room

Today we’re going to learn about the phrase “Too hip for the room.”

Comics use it to describe what happens when they die on stage, not because the material is bad, but because it wasn’t the right material –generally too sophisticated– for their audience. If you’ve got a fart joke crowd and you start making Schopenhauer gags, you’re going to get a bottle thrown at your head.

I think you see where I’m going with this.

While yes, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed, being too hip for the room is a pit into which even the most seasons fashionista –and I’m including myself– can occasionally fall.

Case in point:

New Year’s Eve is amateurs’ night, and if I didn’t have an annual tradition of celebrating it at Beerland (the happiest place on earth) with two of my dearest friends, I would stay home in my underpants and Barcelona jersey painting my nails, the way Leo Messi and the Good Lord intended it.

But a girl’s gotta make an effort and since I was planning on seeing the impeccable Lady Bunny (and if you’re not imagining a choir of hot houseboy angels singing upon mention of her name, you’re clearly a broken person and I feel sorry for you) the next night at Oilcan Harry’s, I wanted to test run my outfit.

The outfit was as follows:

-a beautiful pair of tobacco brown slim-cut suede “cargo” pants
-a black, Elizabeth Taylor-style lace-top slip
-my favorite push up bra
-a blonde mink stole
-my big Cleopatra necklace

You might have noticed there wasn’t a shirt mentioned. The slip+bra was enough, with the mink for warmth and upper-arm coverage. It was a variation on an outfit I wore to Towndanceboutique a reunion night of the legendary Velvet Nation in DC with great success in October.

The outfit was great: a flawlessly executed combination of hard/soft and high/low and I looked SMOKIN’.


I was too hip for the room.

I gauged my audience incorrectly.

What is a perfect acceptable level of rackitude for a gay disco where ain’t nobody interested in your ladybidness except the occasional seven foot-tall drag queen named Cookie who just has to check if they’re real (what? I’m tall and wear big jewelry, mistakes are bound to happen) is way, WAY too my cleavage for a straight club full of drunk dudes.

I still looked great, but I was too hip for the room and had entirely too much of the wrong sort of attention the whole night, to the point where my friends’ hugely tall and gallant husband literally had to orbit around me with his arms out to get the crazies to leave me alone.

Don’t let this happen to you.

There’s nothing wrong with being the best dressed person in the room (except if you’re at a wedding or trying to sleep with someone else’s husband) but know your audience, and if you’re going to overshoot it, do it thoughtfully. Don’t be too hip for the room.

11 Responses to “Elements of Style: Too Hip For The Room”

  1. Madame Suggia January 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    I’m afraid that here in the sunny suburban hell that is South Florida, turning up to collect the offspring from school in pressed clothes and a little lippy is looked on as ‘dressing too formal’. I swear, once I turned up wearing a dress (a t-shirt dress, with flat sandals,belt and some serious bijoux…my usual working-at-home attire) and was asked if I was on my way to a wedding. I’ll take overdressed anyday.

  2. Miss Plumcake January 12, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    @Madame Suggia, too true, too true, but that’s what makes being THftR so insidious. It’s a fine line between being acceptably overdressed and looking like a jackass.

  3. Less January 12, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    The outfit sounds devastating. Wish I could see a photo!

  4. Emily January 12, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    New Year’s, like all amateur drinking nights, is an occasion where showing up dressed like anything other than the blowsy house mom of a local sorority is THftR.

  5. jen209 January 12, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    Your post made me laugh especially hard, because I used to work with a guy who was occasionally a REALLY bad drag queen named Cookie. He never asked me if my boobs were real, but I could definitely see him doing it.

  6. txbunny January 12, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    All I want to know is where did you find the black, Elizabeth Taylor-style lace-top slip in fat girl sizes because I have been looking for one for forever….

  7. cedar January 12, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    Oh yeah, this is tricky, especially when you’re going to a new place and you just don’t know what kind of a room you’re getting yourself in to.

    I’ve had the “too much cleavage for the situation” problem a couple times lately, and its been my own fault, really, but… I seem to be a REALLY late bloomer in the boob and hip department (I’m talking going from an a/b cup to a c/d cup in my mid-thirties without either pregnancy or surgical intervention.) You may think you want this problem, but I’ve found it a serious pain in the ass.
    It required me to get all new and more expensive bras (which you’d think would clue me in) and my wardrobe of v-neck and scoop tops that were flattering and appropriate on the old boobs are now much more “well hello sailor!” than I’d like. I keep putting on excellent and reliable outfits and going out without seriously studying in the mirror what the new effect is going to be.

    BTW, Plumcake, you haven’t told us what SHOES you were wearing with the THftR outfit. The Manolo must weep!

  8. Miss Plumcake January 12, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    @Cedar: Well I knew precisely how much I was showing, I just misjudged it for the room. When no one is interested in what I’ve got up top (except the necklace) a ton of cleave is an editorial statement. At a straight bar full of drunk dudes, it was, as you say, “hello sailor.” No good at all. Oh and I was wearing cognac leather cowboy boots, because I was going to be doing a lot of walking/standing and wearing heels to a club on NYE is a rookie mistake.

    @Txbunny: Delta Burke makes great slips. I only ever find them at Ross and even then rarely, but it keeps me going. Every time they’re there I buy every one on the rack.

    @Jen209: There is always, ALWAYS at least one really bad drag queen named Cookie. It’s in the gay bar bylaws.

  9. Camo January 13, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Where’d you get the suede cargo pants?? Sounds very Balmain.

  10. Miss Plumcake January 13, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    @Camo: They are VERY Balmain, but slim-cut instead of skinny. I saw them a year and a half ago in some catalog I can’t remember (to my unending chagrin) and bought them despite knowing they didn’t fit. Generally I am not a proponent of buying clothes you can’t wear, but if I’d let them go I would have regretted it the rest of my life. This year I CAN fit into them and I have been wearing the hell out of them. I wish I had a dozen pairs. So fabulous.

  11. Talbot January 13, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    My mother, grandmother, that whole side is from the South. And they and their friends provided some of the greatest, funniest stuff to listen to. Rackitude, ladybidness, the Good Lord, hugely tall and gallant–you write in the same vein in which they spoke. Thanks for providing some of the best stuff on the web. It never fails to make me laugh (alas, I am from the North and lack those skills).