Fashion inspired by art: Edgar Degas’s “Ballet Rehearsal”

Feminine looks inspired by yet another Impressionist favorite.

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This week’s Fashion Inspired by Art features one of Edgar Degas’s depictions of a ballet practice. Accompanying two previous College Fashion articles about Degas’s “Ballet Rehearsal on Stage” and “Swaying Dancer,” the following is my take on one of his acclaimed ballet works.

degas ballet
Image Source: Edgar Degas

About Edgar Degas and “Ballet Rehearsal”

Edgar Degas (1834-1917) spearheaded the French Impressionist movement, along with Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, and Camille Pissarro. Contrary to his whimsical contemporaries, Degas remarked, 

“of inspiration, spontaneity, temperament, I know nothing” (source). 

Though Degas rejected the term “Impressionist,” preferring the term “realist,” his works are regarded as some of the most influential in the Impressionist period. Scenes from contemporary life dominated his early artistic career, but most popular were his paintings of young female dancers – we see a large collection of these ballet works because they sold well during his time.

Degas created this oil-on-canvas painting around 1873. Like Renoir, Degas had a fascination with photography that influenced his work. Paintings as snapshots in time, capturing movement from the perspective of an unnoticed spectator, defined Degas’s work. A musician plays in the foreground of the piece, part of his body cropped out of view.

Outfit 1

degas ballet 1

Products: Turtleneck, Tulle skirt (Cheaper version), Bag, Heels

This first outfit is a sophisticated take on the dancers’ ballet uniform. Despite the ensemble’s simplicity, its waist-defining, striking proportions make the outfit dynamic. A dark, form-fitting turtleneck contrasts well against a full, tulle skirt. Bow-attached heels and a sleek evening clutch complete the simple, feminine look. This outfit is perfect for going out to town to see a ballet, but would be equally great for any fancy event.

Outfit 2

degas ballet outfit 2

Products: Top, JeansFlats, Earrings, Watch

This second outfit is more fit for a casual day studying at a café or taking a light stroll around down. Inspired by the dancers’ delicate footwear and the lace-up ballet flat trend, I found these inexpensive flats from Old Navy. Cuffed blue jeans make the outfit comfortable and homey, pairing nicely with the tutu-inspired peplum blouse. I picked out rose gold accessories to channel the painting’s pink accents.

Outfit 3

degas ballet outfit 3

Products: Dress, Boots, Tights

This last outfit is inspired by the flow and movement that the painting conveys. The dancers are spread throughout the rehearsal space, all doing their own activity. This loose shift dress takes inspiration from the painting’s flow and blue-green accents. The over-the-knee suede boots are inspired by the dark, static musician in the foreground. Layer black tights underneath the boots to tie the pieces together.

What do you think?

Do you have any style tips for channeling Degas without being too feminine? I’d love to know the possibilities – let me know in the comments below!

5 thoughts on “Fashion inspired by art: Edgar Degas’s “Ballet Rehearsal””

  1. This is a great post (love all the ‘Inspired by’ series) but it’s pretty similar to Chelsea’s ‘Fashion Inspired by Art’ article from 2013 based on Degas’ ‘Ballet Rehearsal On Stage’…

    • You’re right, I took great inspiration from Chelsea’s post! I was hoping to give a refreshed, 2015 take on that classic CF article. Chelsea’s art series was actually what got me interested in writing for this column 🙂 Thank you for your feedback!


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