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.
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.