28 responses

  1. class-factotum
    October 7, 2009

    1. I want to be a Grande Dame, if for no other reason than I want a fur coat. I am tired of being cold.

    2. But I am not willing to date/marry someone my dad's age (or the age he would be) to do it. I also like that my husband is taller than I am. I know. Pathetic.

  2. Dani @ Weddings Fresh
    October 7, 2009

    i jump to say sign me up, but i think all the gossip and bad write-ups about me and my personal life would get old real fast. maybe i would run away and live on lake como instead of living in new york. :)
    …did you see what tory burch was wearing? that is what i would wear :)
    great post, LPC.

  3. Elizabeth
    October 7, 2009

    Yep, that's what I want to be when I grow up too. Especially the purple bit…

  4. Princess Freckles
    October 7, 2009

    I'm glad to see the Grande Dame evolve too! Its really an attitude afterall! Love those photos! That red dress is really to die for!

  5. What a Splurge
    October 7, 2009

    In my mind's eye, I can picture the Episcopalian women who attended my church when I was growing up. Back then we always wore dresses, skirts and suits … never slacks. I didn't give it a second thought but these gals were out of central casting. Lots of good quality wool and cashmere before it became so reachable. Pearls, of course. Their skin was a little more wrinkled than it should have been for their age but that's what happens when you have a shore house and you play golf on vacation. I don't know if they were true "Grande Dames" but in my eyes they were pillers in pearls.

  6. Judy
    October 7, 2009

    The Grande Dame also makes no excuses for what she has or doesn't. If she has a daily housekeeper and/or cook, then so be it. If she involves herself with a career, she doesn't spend one minute worrying that she's not "raising her children." The confidence is very refreshing. Excellent as always, LPC.

  7. Jan
    October 7, 2009

    My paternal grandmother was a Grande Dame. Impeccably dressed at all times and unwavering in her almost regal bearing (something I learned later in life she had acquired after my grandfather made his money), she had the ability to strike terror in my heart as a small child with one withering look. My maternal grandmother is the epitome of the Proper Southern Lady – a different animal all together, but every bit as intimidating.

    I, alas, shall never be a Grande Dame, or even a Proper Southern Lady. I just dripped whatever it is they squirt all over a Sweet Onion Teriyaki Chicken sandwiche down the front of my Liz Claiborn blouse and spent 3 minutes picking Sun Chip crumbs out of my cleavage.

    I fear I am hopeless.

  8. Deja Pseu
    October 7, 2009

    I could never be a Grande Dame (am far too irreverent) but those are some fabulous Polyvores, LPC!

  9. Sher
    October 7, 2009

    I own the red gown, the fur coat and the gold jewelry. BUT I've no where to wear it! So not part of that crowd ;D

  10. Buckeroomama
    October 7, 2009

    I love your portrait of the Grande Dame. I like that you shared glimpses of the workings of her mind beyond just discussing how she might dress.

  11. Laura
    October 7, 2009

    where can I sign up to be one? Because right now I am a Grande Loser!

  12. LPC
    October 7, 2009

    Hahahaha. You guys are making me laugh again. I think confidence is the trick. Impunity. Sher, I know from your blog that you are your own sort of Grande Dame. No question. I am trying to separate the clothes from the person, and still use the clothes to ILLUSTRATE the person. Showing the "workings of the mind" and the red dresses. And purple. If you have the clothes, find somewhere to wear them if you want. You make the crowd by showing up.

  13. Meg
    October 7, 2009

    Oh, LPC, you didn't spend enough time in New York after all. OF COURSE Grande Dames are Jewish. They have been for several generations. And the Jewish ones make the Episcopalians go shiver in the corner. Terrifying.

    I was a Patron liaison at one of the major New York Theatres. Trust me, I know of whence I speak.

  14. materfamilias
    October 7, 2009

    If one were born a Grande Dame (are they born, or made, do you think?) would one never then suffer from the Imposter Syndrome. Imagine . . .

  15. class-factotum
    October 7, 2009

    My grandmother was just a regular Dame. I never once saw her without dark red lipstick except in her coffin and we rectified that. (We were horrified that the funeral home had put her in soft pink — so not her!) She had rings on her manicured fingers, smoked, drank beer and played cards. Crummy cook but great fun.

    If I can't be a Grande Dame, I'll be a plain Dame.

  16. LPC
    October 7, 2009

    I think they can be born but must also be made. And they can be made without being born. Grande is a state of mind. And yes, I think they are the defined by their lack of Imposter Syndrome. At least, their lack of need to let us know about it…

  17. Maureen@IslandRoar
    October 7, 2009

    This was really fun.
    I'll never be this definition of a grand dame, but maybe in the future…
    Ah, to dream.

  18. Duchesse
    October 7, 2009

    Moist edifying, thank you! A born grande dame would never use "the Met" for both the museum as the opera, and knows which is which.

    I love the crunch of taffeta on a ballroom floor.

  19. La Belette Rouge
    October 7, 2009

    Fantastic style. I was not born a grande dame but I am willing to take the training course to become one. The day look is my favorite.

  20. Duchesse
    October 8, 2009

    Oh that should have been "most" as les grandes would never be moist; they are quite crisp. Loved class-factotum's definition of her grandmother! Dames are so vivid- true bonnes vivantes- and they also appear (to the casual observer) to have better sex lives than grand dames.

  21. LPC
    October 8, 2009

    Hahahaha. Agree, they would not be moist. Pillars in pearls indeed. I'm still considering the role of Teriyaki sauce.

  22. miss cavendish
    October 8, 2009

    I knew a grande dame in Canada. She was a senator and did the groundwork that led to the Council of the Status of Women in Canada. She did not go to her reunion one year at Bryn Mawr College because Kate Hepburn was going too and my friend didn't want to upstage La Hepburn. Grande indeed!

  23. Grande Dame wannabee
    October 8, 2009

    Wow a Grande Dame with her own JOB(not to mention she has a husband and a daughter). The modern Grande Dame has certainly evolved!
    Julie looks gorgeous and those gowns are to die for.

  24. the Preppy Princess
    October 8, 2009

    Our endearing memory of the maternal Grandmother is one with her standing in the boathouse in a lovely dress, not quite a day dress, but definitely not anywhere near semi-formal, just a nice dress.

    Her handbag is draped over the wrist with the gloves in one hand, her pearls were draped around her neck, and she had a fur draped about her shoulders. (Lots of draping that night apparently.) There's a photo from that evening; while it never occurred to us the ensemble might appear odd, years ago someone asked about it and had to recognize some found it unusual to get to dinner on summer evenings via boat. Gran-mama could qualify as a Grande Dame; she was a hoot too. Sometimes I wish there were more still around.

    Fabulous post Miss LPC. And those gowns? Definitely in the 'Fairy Tale Princess' category. Yeppers.

  25. Jill
    October 9, 2009

    I love love love making an entrance! Your opera ensem is beautiful. The jewelry spectacular! I wouldn't mind just being called a Dame. I think I curse too much to be Grande!

  26. Pink Julep
    October 16, 2009

    Minus the money and invitations of the charity event of choice, I quite fancy myself in this fashion… and throw red paint on me… I have fur! hahahah Great post!

  27. Anonymous
    January 8, 2010

    In the event that men read this blog, I would offer a word of caution. When I first met my future mother-in-law, who was, as UES grande dames go, at the very top of the heap — just as women in her family had been for nearly 200 years (think Bowling Green, Washington Square, and the slow, reluctant move uptown — first on Fifth, then to the 50s, and finally, at the end to 70s) — it NEVER occurred to me that my lusty 20-something girlfriend could wind up a charming, sacred monster.

    Our marriage has survived, against all odds, in large measure because we have avoided NYC as if it were a plague ship. (Which, of course, it is.)

    P.S. As best I can remember, her mother had more than a hundred pairs of Belgian shoes.

  28. LPC
    January 8, 2010

    But what is the word of caution, exactly?

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