dress code: tiaras and decorations, or at least tiaras

I still can't stand for very long, that stupid ankle made cooking impossible and celebrating very - fraught. I use that last word in the manner of Mom's good and dear friend Vera, who would accompany the word with one raised eyebrow. You had to supply the whatever the subject of the sentence was fraught with.

Maggie invited us to her house for Christmas Dinner, and we love Maggie and Duff and their friends and relations - remember the illustration of Rabbit's Friends and Relations?
Himself says "Duff never met a stranger."

So we knew that no matter who else would be there, and however many guests there would be, there would be no strangers.

Maggie's house is perfect for gatherings and celebrations, it's not large, but almost the entire back wall is glass and looks out to woods. The ceiling of the main room is very high... It feels baronial, not because of the size, but because of the way that you're greeted at the door and ushered in by Duff,  you feel that the Earl himself has brushed off his Guard and Affinity and come to the door alone to honor you.

Duff is always surprised and delighted that people have come to his house. Even if he was the one who invited you.

Thus you will not be surprised at the following exchange of texts between me and Maggie:

Looking 4wd to Christmas, dress code?

not formal, but festive

so, tiaras but no decorations?

absolutely tiaras. guys do not need ties. 

So naturally I wondered about making an effort to show up wearing a tiara. I turned to my trusty computer, and in only seconds:

here is the full address in case the above link doesn't do it --   http://the hairpin.com/2014/12/are-tiaras-the-new-power-scrunchies/utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+thehairpin%2FBdYj+%28The+Hairpin%29

In sum, The Hairpin has identified (Heaven help us!) a new trend - wearing tiaras to work to build one's confidence and give one an air of being in charge. Hmm.

This must be the next new thing after wearing sequins during the day and in the office: the headpiece. Kind of the ultimate version of Diana Vreeland sitting at her desk with her hat on. Or of an intergalactic female executive telling the Copywriter From Space what her year-end bonus will be.

I can't see a tiara fitting in with the "work and then after work" school of dressing - you know, the one where you change your shoes, roll up your waistband, and pull a low-cut tank out of your paperclip container to turn your gray blazer into a sexy outfit. Yeah, right.

But if you're already wearing a tiara, HOW DO YOU DRESS IT UP TO GO OUT AFTER WORK?

Nevertheless, as wannabe fads go, the  tiara isn't a bad thing. It beats wearing shorts and woolly socks with high-heeled peep-toes and a garish smear of red lipstick  - which I confess was one of my favorite outfits WHEN I WAS THREE  - or going to work or school in your pajamas, spike heels and a garish smear of red lipstick - which I confess I once did when I'd been up all night finishing a crucial paper and had to run for the bus.

The good thing, assuming there is one, about daytime tiara wear is that if you get where you're going, say, to work, and you decide that the tiara is a mistake, you can remove it. Not so easy if you've decided to introduce leather shorts to the hallowed hallways of Dewey, Cheatham & Howe.

So, how to go about it?

If you haven't inherited a tiara, they're easy to find on Etsy and Ebay, but you need to research creatively, and beware of things with trailing ribbons and leaves and little flowers. I once passed on the opportunity to hire an otherwise promising candidate because her resume revealed that in addition to English and Portuguese, she was fluent in Elvish. It was tempting to imagine her sharing an office with the guy down the hall who was said to speak Klingon, but I resisted.

There are some cute tiaras at BHLDN, but they cost. Further, I would suggest that to any potential tiara-buyers out there that if possible, you should try the thing on with the rest of your outfit before heading for the conference/meeting/closing/lecture. Imagine popping into a bridal shop and exchanging your tiara for "something more tailored."

So rather than go out and tiara-shop, I decided to work with what I have. This hasn't always been a great solution to staffing a project, but in the seated dinner context it was possible - because yes, I own a tiara. In a moment of madness, I once left an Ebay bid on what looked like a round gold wire, ends unjoined, one end terminating in a snake head. In the earlier days of Ebay, many sellers hadn't yet watched Antiques Road Show or searched the listings of other sellers... they were selling things on Ebay because they could find no better way to sell something that wasn't selling locally because nobody knew what it was. In fact, my seller described it as looking like some kind of a large bracelet.

I won the auction, and the prize arrived. It was a very large bracelet indeed. In fact, it was a tiara, made of one piece of heavy, bent gold wire, and the word Peretti was stamped inside, along with the number 750.

I would like to tell you that I immediately ran down to Tiffany's for verification of my "find," but Tiffany's doesn't work that way. You make an appointment - the wait is longer than for most fine restaurants, and a few months later, you get a little card reminding you of your date and time, and instructing you to be prompt. My appointment was difficult to schedule, because I wanted to verify that I had a Tiffany piece, and if so, could it be sized to accommodate my head at the point I wanted to wear it, and if so, what would that cost. The person I spoke to found dealing with three issues a challenge, but ultimately gave me a date some months off.

When the day came, I reported to Tiffany's. Result: my piece would have to be evaluated by a Peretti specialist, I should leave the tiara with them - I got something that looked like a laundry ticket but with a picture of my treasure attached - and I would hear in due course.

Sure enough, I was again summoned to Tiffany's. The piece was indeed 18 karat gold, and was indeed a Peretti from the 1970's or early 80's. (yay!) They would not size it, however. That would tamper with the integrity of the design. I protested that it was unwearable as it was, and was offered the opportunity to donate it to their private design museum.

Instead, I took it to my repair guy, and we talked. I thought if it could be made to fit around my neck it might be more useful as a kind of thin torque. I know that the Roadshow people tend to get frantic when an old piece is altered, although lately I've heard the appraisers telling the hopefuls that some things would benefit from a careful professional cleaning or an adjustment here or there or a careful reinforcement to the setting.... But my little gamble had come about because I thought I would like something I could wear, not because I wanted to make an investment. My repair guy rose to the occasion.
magnificently beautiful woman wearing ex-tiara
I've never worn it to the office, in fact I never wear any jewelry to work but that's another story.
And if I ever need to go to Tiffany's again, I won't wear it there either. But my friend Maggie was delighted with the concept of an "ex-tiara," especially now that style journalists tell us that tiaras have a chance at becoming "workwear." And isn't making our friends happy something we all like to do, especially at Christmas?


  1. My goodness, that is an incredible find. I do agree you will get much more wear out of your lovely piece as a necklace. I think tiaras for daily use suit anyone young enough to wear Disney Princess gowns regularly- and royalty. Otherwise, it is a grey area.

    1. Hi, KnitYarns, Merry Christmas! It was a great find, in the early days of Ebay, there were some great finds - and some rascally sellers too, a colleague really got hosed over some computer components. I was very lucky.

      As to actually wearing a tiara on my head, no. I would feel like I was waiting for the cue for my solo.

  2. Lovely necklace! I'd like a tiara. I think it might help on those darkest of days. And the grand days would be even more grand!

    1. Hi, Jen, Happy New Year! I actually wore my curvy snake as a tiara/headpiece while I was waiting for contact from Tiffany's. I wore it as a headband preppygirl style, and I wore it across my forehead pagan princess style. Frankly neither was becoming, although it might have liioed great on someone else.

    2. Oops, autocorrect, that was supposed to be "looked" great.

  3. At the blogging conference I attended in the summer, one of the speakers, Emma Freud, has a penchant for wearing a tiara when making a speech. To make her feel welcome, some cheap plastic tiaras were placed on the table for us all to put on at a given moment. Quite surreal.
    Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2015 x

    1. Thanks, Trish, and to you and yours.

      I think à roomful of plastic tiaras sounds divine!

  4. oh dear. could you just imagine someone in the oh i just slipped this one and borrowed the nightie top from my boyfriend while he was still in bed with the sandals and socks and a tiara. I would lose my manners!

    But so clever of you to repurpose it though I don't think there is a pinterest section for tiaras turned necklaces. But you may have started the trend! happy new year WFF

    1. Hi, Naomi, I'm afraid I could never get away with the unmade bed look. It's just not in me.

      Happy New Year to you, too!

  5. Of course you have a tiara! Most excellent!! I had no idea Tiffany was that busy, wow, weeks wait for a look. Naturally, I had a tiara in the 90's; one of those similar to the photo of the metal ones with stones, very discreet, tamed the long mane a bit. (I was excited to see that other Trend to tame manes, the messy braid, endorsed recently in NYT as I am an expert practitioner of same). How lovely you did not have to cook, I hope your ankle was properly elevated. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    1. and to you, Lane! Actually I think the problem was that the thing had to go through the Authentication department first, before they got around to deciding whether or not to alter it.

      PT is progressing nicely, ankle is cooperating.

  6. What a find and great idea to turn it into a necklace, quite frankly I could use a tiara! What a commotion dealing with Tiffany's? Have a lovely evening Fred, wishing you all the best for 2015.

    1. Hi Dani, and to you and yours! I guess Tiffany's didn't want just anybody dragging in stuff...

  7. What an amazing find on Ebay!! I always marvel at the amazing stuff people are able to score on Ebay. Your idea to repurpose the tiara is brilliant!

    Happy New Year to you and yours! Looking forward to the March get-together!

    1. Hi, Louise, for every day I've come up lucky on Ebay, there have been dozens of barren expeditions. But this was a good find indeed.

      Happy New Year to you & family!

  8. That would have to be one of the best eBay finds I've ever heard of. Up there with the Art Hunter in London (Philip something or other) who bought a painting on eBay for around $100 and had the overpaint removed to reveal it was some original 18th Century masterpiece. Wish I could remember the details more correctly but I am feeling slightly addled from the soporific New Year's Day state I'm currently in.
    At any rate, I think you did the right thing to find a new use for a tiara. Although I believe they're good to wear when cleaning (Cinderella in reverse).

    1. Hmm, for some reason cleaning has never occurred to me...

  9. The tiara looks tiara looks fabulous as a necklace. I hope your ankle is improving. I was extra careful getting into the Uber last night with a narrow skirt. I wish you a very happy and healthy New Year.

    1. Thank you,Teacups, and (belatedly) to you and yours!

  10. Oh I love that! Pretty incredible win there. You look festive and fancy and decorated and the whole dealio.
    Actually I have one Tiara and feel I need to action another one which is higher.
    Your Maggie sounds perfect with the one eyebrow raised - maybe i could try that with the kids to instill some order?
    Perchance reminiscent of the other fine Maggie who asked "What is a weekend?"

    1. Welcome back, Jody, glitzed at Christmas, blitzed at New Years, was this year's motto.


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