Privilege Blog

Waving A High WASP Flag At The Oscars

High WASPs like navy blue best of all. We like it on the flag, we like it on sailors, we like it on business suits.

So we like it on movie stars. Consistency.

To last night’s Oscar ceremonies, Marisa Tomei wore a 1950s dress by Charles James, via Lily et Cie, vintage purveyors to the stars. In navy. The exaggerated sweetheart neckline with the little extra space in the bosom? We think it’s charming.

Amy Adams wore navy L’Wren Scott. Sequins, mind you, but navy nonethless. And tee shirt simplicity appeals mightily to Sturdy Gals everywhere.

Amy Adams in Navy Sequins

That sound of polite but enthusiastic clapping you hear? Yeah. High WASPs across the world.  The accompanying whisper of, “Great dress Amy, but what’s with the necklace?” Everyone. We might think that a multiple-strand pearl and diamond bracelet would have been so, you know, appropriate. Good-looking, even. If it belonged to her grandmother, we’ll shush.

On the other hand, since the woman behind Amy in this alternate image seems to be wearing 72 hot pink tulle petticoats, and they may even belong to the tall man in the black jacket, we should probably assume our etiquette principles apply better in other venues.

Images: Marisa, Amy, Amy and 72 pink petticoats.

38 Responses

  1. Watching the Oscars is such a fashion event.

    Agree the navy gowns are elegant yet understated. I like that you focused on this tone in the color palette.

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  2. Love your picks Lisa–Charles James is my favorite designer and I love navy at the Oscars! Amy Adams (despite the necklace) looks stunning!

    xo Mary Jo

  3. There certainly were some stunning gowns on the red carpet, but I loved Amy Adams navy blue number and the vintage Charles James.
    What can I say…navy is my black.

  4. I agree about the Charles James dress! I think it gets panned otherwise by the fashionable-but I rarely agree with them. I posted about this dress too! Loved Cate as well. Navy is hard to find-but I think it is on the resurgence in something other than the blazer- I look for it every time I do some shopping. pgt

  5. With regard to Amy Adams, I think she was trying to mitigate what was an unfortunate neckline. Higher or lower would have worked, but it just cuts her head off where it is. Lovely dress otherwise.

  6. I truly want to believe that the pink petticoats belong to the tall man. Navy blazer? Check. Conservative haircut with bald spot? Check. Master of the Universe smirk? Check. Petticoats? Check. Oscar-worthy.

  7. My daughter and I both agree…Amy too much bling with the sparkly dress…maybe just a bracelet of glittery diamonds deco style….or nothing else…the dress is enough already. But she is adorable and we are big fans of hers…Marisa Tomei’s gown is amazing….

    I am wearing my LuLuLemon Yoga gear off to the studio…no bling!
    How about you Lisa, what are you wearing today?

  8. The Oscar Gala is indeed a big thing to you all over there.
    The blue evening dress in the first picture is nicely dramatic!

  9. Dear Lisa, You have to love a dress that emphasizes a girl’s curves. Navy blue is lovely – I particularly love the way it is not black which is sadly so omnipresent. Best I love a shot silk navy blue, elegantly sparkly and yet understated. In fact, from reading your posts, elegant understatement appears very much what High WASPs value in evening clothes. Lindaxxx

  10. Amy’s dress was beautiful, but given the high neck, she should have gone sans necklace. Wow-it-up with some fabulous earrings and perhaps wear the hair up, then that may have really rocked the dress. Still, a gorgeous frock and woman either way.

  11. I LOVED Amy’s dress, but that necklace? Who told her that looked good? The dress needed no necklace, but still alovely look!

  12. Thank you for the Navy shout-out. I think Marissa looked fabulous! The style and shape of the dress is true to its era and I was frustrated by so many ‘fashion police’ commenting that it wasn’t flattering or didn’t fit right, if you ask me, it flattered and fit better than Gwyneth’s Calvin Klein metallic sheet.
    Also, I agree about the whispers of “what’s with the necklace” pertaining to Amy Addams, but it did add interest and make a statement. And, she did have the green in her bracelet to tie in the necklace. The more I look at her, the more I like the contrast.

  13. The necklace was de trop. OTT. And I’d have liked her hair up and away from that mandarin collar — there was too much competition for attention.

    Melissa Leo’s dress had a similarly dramatic collar, and I thought her hair style was a much better look.

  14. I enjoy your website in many ways and your style of writing is wonderful.

    I was under the impression that high wasps would not be interested in something like the Oscars and what is worn.

    I thought high wasps were more interested in discussing literature and other intellectual pursuits.

    I am – not – being catty………I was just surprised that high wasps enjoy this sort of thing. I would have thought it would have been considered a waste of one’s time.

    Please advise.


  15. Love the navy blue dresses but as I looked at the second photo I thought “oh no, shame, necklace does not work” and then you wrote about the necklace not being right!! Maybe I will make a high wasp after all!! XX

  16. Amy Adams is wearing Cartier diamond and emerald jewelry, rather “good looking”.

  17. belle on heels – :). So crisp!

    Mardel – Now I kinda want petticoats like that. You know what I mean?

    Sarah – Yes, I agree.

    Karena – Thank you!

    mary jo – Thank you. I had never even heard of Charles James.

    Stephanie – I know. Once the red carpet was over I found I had nothing left to say.

  18. Ms. Bunny – My issue was that I couldn’t tell if the top loop of the necklace was necklace or dress neckline, so the look distracted me.

    Belle – :). Navy is my black whenever the clothing industry supports the obsession:).

    Patricia – We need a joint navy radar tool. I think much of the fashion press didn’t understand how one might wear a vintage dress differently than one from current fashion. I love your blog, BTW:).

    deja – Very good point.

    Louise – Ha! Yes, his smirk is perfect, and the petticoat would make a nice accessory.

    Amy – At the moment I’m wearing pyjamas:). Yesterday I had on dark wash jeans, a cream cableknit cashmere turtleneck, and quilted pointy-toed ballet flats. Where was the red carpet, we wonder!

  19. Mette – You’d look great in the Charles James, I imagine.

    Linda – You are 100% correct. Elegant understatement is the mantra, whenever we can pull it off. Navy shot silk sounds fantastic. Edible, even.

    FF – It was! California had a cold snap. Weatherman were in veritable tizzies.

    Valentine Hayes – Well. Yes. There is that.

    DocP – Ha! Must obtain parure, stat!

    Jen – Agree. Gorgeous frock, gorgeous girl. I can only wonder what the thought process was. Deja Pseu may be right, an attempt to work with a difficult neckline?

  20. Susan – Let’s use that as our working hypothesis…

    Princess – I would SO love to interview her stylist.

    Laura – You know, listening to everyone here, maybe she WANTED the dissonance. It does fit the current trend to wear stuff that doesn’t match. Just because it doesn’t comport with a harmonious red carpet, maybe that’s OK. In fact, m
    aybe that was the goal?

    Preppy 101 – Oh wonderful. And I do love a baby in white. Of course I like babies in nothing too, but you know what I mean.

    Terri – Oh, I confess. I’d like the petticoats on anyone, in a kind of rebellious, Burning Man, performance art, kind of way.

  21. Rubi – And the necklace obscured the mandarin style.

    Ann – I thank you very much. Your comment doesn’t seem catty at all, it’s appreciated. My mother doesn’t watch. My father wouldn’t watch even if you tied him down in front of the television. Fashion IS, in many ways, considered a waste of one’s time. And certainly frivolous. I examine fashion because it seems like the best and most fun vehicle to understand social class and social signaling. I also like pretty clothes. So you are right, at the most strict levels.

    Sarah – Oh yes. We hand out honorary memberships to anyone who wants one. The desire to exclude is disappearing, and I’m doing whatever I can to make it disappear more quickly.

    Julia – The article is dead on. Many current routes to wealth, and the concomitant culture of celebrity, drives High WASPs of a certain generation and temperament berzerk. They are OK with Mark Zuckerberg – at least there is intellect to back it up. In my generation, however, all that is fracturing. Thank you very much for the link.

    Duchesse – Worn with, for example, a low cut black or white dress, and long gloves, to the opera, I’d agree.

  22. Mr. Amy Adams: Why don’t you ever wear that swirly diamond necklace I got you from Cartier, that you just HAD to have?

    Amy Adams: Fine! I’ll wear it to the Oscars! Happy?

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