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Fashion Inspired by Art: Edgar Degas’ “Ballet Rehearsal on Stage”


Fashion, in its essence, is wearable art. Think about the clothes you’re wearing now: someone designed them, manufactured them, advertised them, and then you bought them and combined them into your own look! Here at CF, we’re big believers in this idea: from movies to books to music and more, our posts aim to prove that all creative mediums can inspire one’s clothing choices.

Continuing our series on Fashion Inspired by Art, every two weeks, I’ll feature a piece of artwork and create various looks inspired by elements of the work. This week, we’ll be discussing Edgar Degas’ Ballet Rehearsal on Stage. I hope you all enjoy!

The Dancers: About Edgar Degas and Ballet Rehearsal on Stage

Degas ballet rehearsal
Edgar Degas’ Ballet Rehearsal on Stage (1874) [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917) is considered to be among the founders of Impressionism, although he himself did not like the term. Known in part for his portrayals of dancers, Degas’ unique depictions of movement have been widely studied around the world. His style of painting is loose and soft, though precisely so – although his works appear to be spontaneous in their capture of movement, Degas actually spent countless hours observing the human form in motion.

Ballet Rehearsal, while being one of Degas’ more muted works, does follow his typical sense of composition in that the background comprises much of the scene and great attention is given to perspective. In this work, Degas uses an overhead view to frame some of his favorite subjects — ballerinas. This gives the viewer a sense of looking down upon the scene, as if we are peeking into a dollhouse. This perspective, combined with the somber color palette and loose brushstrokes, creates an air of delicate, feminine features set against a dark, rigid background.

Outfits Inspired by Ballet Rehearsal

Prima Ballerina

Outfit inspired by Degas Ballet Rehearsal on Stage - Ballerina-inspired dress, flats, nail polish, knit cardigan, studs, tights
Product Information: Dress – Delia’s, Earrings – Stella & Dot, Nail Polish – Essie, Cardigan – Fashion Union, Belt – Dorothy Perkins, Shoes – Payless, Tights – Charlotte Russe.

Ballerinas are often seen as the epitome of poise, however Degas’ ballerinas are unique because they are shown at ease – this was actually quite unusual for the time. In keeping with the relaxed-ballerina motif, this outfit focuses on comfortable pieces that allow for movement.

To get a look that’s ballet-inspired without being costumey, aim for a mix of ultra-feminine pieces (think lace, tulle, nipped-in shapes) and modern accessories (like a black patent belt and graphite stud earrings). A lacy dress becomes more casual when worn under a cozy cardigan, while beige patent flats are loosely ballet-inspired yet still classic enough for everyday wear.

As always, this outfit is perfect for interpretation – add heavier layers if it’s a cold day, or substitute some boots for the flats. You’ll still maintain the ballerina look, especially if you style the outfit with a fashionable top-knot. In this girly Degas-inspired outfit, you’re sure to make an impression (ha!).

Black Tie

Outfit inspired by Degas Ballet Rehearsal on Stage - Tuxedo pants, button-down shirt, hat earrings, menswear-inspired flats
Pants – Topshop, Earrings- Etsy, Shirt – Forever 21, Nail Decals – Etsy, Shoes – Boohoo, Ring- Forever 21.

This look is based on the well-dressed man in the right background of the picture. (Bet you didn’t even notice him the first time you looked — I didn’t!) He’s shown in his finest suit, which is what inspired this feminine take on menswear.

This outfit is all about the extras. While tuxedo pants and a white button-down blouse are classic staples, fun details like yellow-cuffed sleeves and mustache-adorned flats add a lot of personality to the look.

If you find that this outfit is still too masculine for you, glam it up with some bombshell waves, a lace cami, and of course a bright red lipstick! Just because you’re wearing clothing inspired by a man doesn’t mean you can’t look like a Hollywood screen siren. It’s totally up to you.


Outfit inspired by Degas Ballet Rehearsal on Stage - Neutral dress, flowing cardigan, metallic-tipped flats, accessories
Dress – Oasis, Ring – Urban Natures, Necklace – Etsy, Cardigan – Zalando, Shoes – DSW.

In art, the setting is just as important as the subject. You wouldn’t wear a ball gown to yoga class, would you? This look is based on the objects in Ballet Rehearsal, which can be seen in the background. Behind the group of dancers on the left is a tree, and the right group stands in front of the curtain wings and hanging pictures. As stages are designed to be altered for each performance, this look is designed to be versatile in its usage as well.

This outfit can be worn on many occasions, from class to a movie date. A loose, neutral dress imitates the flowing curtains, while ornate, bronze-hued jewelry recalls the set elements. Cap-toe ballet flats are a modern nod to the dancers’ footwear. Wear this look for any semi-casual event and you’ll feel like anything but a wallflower!

What do you think?

Have you seen or studied a Degas work before? Do you enjoy his style of painting? What do you think about the inspired outfits? Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your opinions!

Posted on on January 9, 2013 / Filed Under: Inspiration / Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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28 Responses to “Fashion Inspired by Art: Edgar Degas’ “Ballet Rehearsal on Stage””

  1. 1
    January 9th, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    I love Edgar degas this is awesome :)

  2. 2
    January 9th, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Chelsea’s art-inspired fashions are, well, inspired! She is awesome, an excellent addition to College Fashion!

  3. 3
    January 9th, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    This column never fails to amaze me! Degas has always been one of my favorite artists and the thought/detail put into this article is impressive. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

  4. 4
    January 9th, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    I adore the art world as a source of inspiration! Although Degas has been done by CF before, I much prefer these outfits, particularly the third one. Should I cross my fingers that future looks will take inspiration from the works of Helen Frankenthaler?

  5. 5
    January 9th, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    I love all these looks! Great job styling!

  6. 6
    January 10th, 2013 at 12:20 am

    I love this post!! Degas is one of my favorite painters and his ballerina sculptures are just as beautiful! I love the third look so much!
    Great job

  7. 7
    January 10th, 2013 at 12:53 am

    i love the first outfit, so pretty, and the painting itself is gorgeous. i adore this post.

  8. 8
    January 10th, 2013 at 1:12 am

    Gorgeous outfits

  9. 9
    January 10th, 2013 at 1:28 am

    This is marvelous!

  10. 10
    January 10th, 2013 at 2:04 am

    I love the outfit for prima ballerina! I have a chunky sweater that resembles the cardigan, but the whole look is just perfect. Great job!!

  11. 11
    January 10th, 2013 at 3:27 am

    What an amazing collection of treasures, thank you so much for including me in it.



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  12. 12
    January 10th, 2013 at 7:58 am


    Both the pictures and articles are attractive. I enjoy his style of painting so much.

    This post helped me to innovate some new fashion ideas.

    Thank you so much.

  13. 13
    January 10th, 2013 at 9:21 am

    It’s funny that you say fashion is wearable art. I never thought of it that way.

    Does this mean that people who are into fashion are also inclined to be artist. Hmm….

    You could look a it the other way around and say does it mean that artist tend to like fashion.

    I guess you could research the top artist and see what they wear. Are they fashionable or not?

  14. 14
    January 10th, 2013 at 11:03 am

    I’ve never seen this particular painting before, so thank you for the amazing outfits and expanding my artistic knowledge! All of these looks are something I would wear in a heartbeat :)

  15. 15
    January 10th, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Outfit 1: Too much light colors? I would guess it to be hard to pull of for a lightskinned/blond girl, as it would look very washed out!

    And, me personally, I absolutely hate white/light textured tights… They make nearly everyone look fat, flabby and/or unhealthy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it worn well! Plain white, maaaybe, works on a ballerina on the stage :p You would have to have _great_ legs though!
    With all the lace in the dress, and the texture in the cardigan – too much. I would have gone without, with a plain hose, or black hose/tights.

  16. 16
    January 10th, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Simply beautiful dresses :) Loved the concept.. Will send the link to my gf :)

  17. 17
    January 10th, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    I’m not even kidding, I NEED the first outfit in my life….

  18. 18
    January 10th, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    these options are gorgeous.
    If I could I’d wear Prima Ballerina every single day.

  19. 19
    January 10th, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    I’m obsessed with the Oasis dress in the third outfit <3

  20. 20
    January 10th, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Love this new series!! Degas’ ballerinas are beautiful.

  21. 21
    January 11th, 2013 at 9:13 am

    So happy to have this column here! I really really like the first outfit, I’d buy all the same things, just with darker colors because light colors aren’t really my style.

  22. 22
    January 11th, 2013 at 10:24 am

    outfit one is so waw :D

  23. 23
    January 16th, 2013 at 9:11 am

    I love pictures that show what things were like before photographs were invented.

    It just bring it all to life. The dancers in the pictures are fantastic. They really caught them in the act of rehearsing. In other words, it’s not a staged picture.

    Buy be some art worth buying for the house. A reprint of course!

  24. 24
    February 21st, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Holy crap. How do you do this!? I love ALL of your posts. Seriously, these are the best.

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