We’re longtime fans of Beyoncé here at Sartorial Scholars, evidenced in part by our history of copying her looks you can see in the CFO for this Wednesday. But we especially dug Lemonade; we have been pumping the album for weeks, and completely loved the look of the visual album.
There’s so much going on fashion-wise in Lemonade, a kind of speculative history/ afro-futurism built on the stitched structure of Victorian leg-of-mutton sleeves, couture once reserved for whites only, and light-filtering lace.
I say speculative, because there’s a steamfunk (afro-diasporic steampunk) aspect as well as an imaginative futurity throughout the aesthetics of the film, including the fashion: what if there were no white people, and few men? The film, especially towards the end, imagines an agrarian, afro-diasporic, homosocial space; what would you wear?
On the other hand, the imagery is ripe with historicity–you don’t need me to do a close reading, a lot of other more qualified people have done so (check out the CFO and our Friday post for think piece recs). But I do want to say that one of the many insidious aspects of racism is that it robs the systematically oppressed and all of us of their history and accomplishments; it requires deep archival work and recuperative research to provide accounts of, for example, black culture and industry. Of course, mainstream Western culture has always carried black labor and creativity forward, obfuscated by changes rendering it more ‘appropriate.’
The ‘reclamation’ of Victorian fashion is really that–it’s widely asserted that the obsession with bustles stemmed from the colonialist obsession with the body of Saartje Bartmaan. And muttonleg sleeves are part of the overall penchant for tiny waists in the 1880s-1900s. As then, this is a moment for hourglass shapes, and the costuming largely reflects that. Much like in the 1940s, 1980s, and the fall 2009 runway shows, in Victorian fashion and in the costumes for Lemonade and the Formation Tour, large shoulders are used to highlight waists through contrast, much as bustling and paniers did before them. Interestingly, the tour costumes are mostly leotards, forgoing fabric for the original bustle, if you will.
Before we get into the present, and how we here at Sartorial Scholars were inspired by Bey for our everyday wear, I wanted to put these images together here, for their representation of historical, performative, and lived-in black female homosocial assertions of power-in-presence:
Bey’s own history is long, and her fashion oeuvre deep like her musical one. Our interpretations and inspirations for #WednesBey varied widely, and there’s definitely a lot more to be inspired by in the future! We hope you’ll join us!
*Turn of the century photos from the Library of Congress’s collection “African American Photographs Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition” which I learned about here. 2009 NYFW coverage here. Context for the West Point photo here.
You know who likes high waisted shorts and crop shirts? Me. Also, Beyonce. So basically we’re the same.
Specs: H&M top and shorts, Zara basic sandals (with metallic heels and the ability to make you lose your toenail upon first wear because you kick a stupid european brick sidewalk brick), gifted Ohio necklace, &otherstories glasses.
fave bey song: it’s a tie between Sorry and XO because just like Bey, I hate you and I love you.
Also this one because #dustthosegrammys
Lemonade à la a casual work environment:
Specs: tee (Gap), skirt (Elle aka Kohl’s), sandals (Sam Edelman), middle part (yours truly)
Thinking about making the middle part my all the time hairstyle. What do we think?
[this is Alex on Sonnet’s behalf!]
This amazing look is channeling Bey’s incredible “Haunted” video, where she arrives at a haunted mansion with not one but two(!) capes in addition to the amazing suit she’s wearing. She also rocks incredible finger waves, which as Sonnet has pointed out in the past, short hair is actually ideal for. And Sonnet’s hair is the perfect color!
In addition to the above mirror shot being badass, giving us a last glimpse at Sonnet’s wonderful Beograd apartment, and matching the “Haunted” décor, it reminded me of the 2013 “Mirrors” Pepsi ad!
Queen Bey as inspiration. I love this beautiful bold dress throughout Lemonade. It features in “All Night” as Beyonce walks through fields, a performance of “redemption” of herself, her love, her marriage, and a recuperation of Southern racial politics and history in this gown that marries antebellum, Elizabethan, and with its large abstract floral prints, African motifs, too. I was also thinking of her Queen dress in “Bow Down,” her puffed sleeves and leotard for “Formation,” and yes, I’ve still got Prince on my mind and in my heart.
Her stylist Marni Senofonte explains Beyonce’s fashion inspirations and colors for Lemonade: “There was a lot of African print and gold. Royal, regal African images. There was a lot of white, antebellum vibes and hats and collars, vintage Gaultier and McQueen.”
I tried to hint toward that look with puffed sleeves, good accessories, head-to-toe regal purple, bold prints (and some power clashing).
Specs: purple blouse (Ralph Lauren); skirt (Marc Jacobs); purple tights and gold headband (Target); booties (Doc Marten)
I did some closely matched WednesBey outfits based on specific Lemonade looks that Tuesday night, in classic Alex Harlig fashion trying clothes on til 4am…you can see those and what I wore today here. What I actually wore was inspired by various moments throughout the album, including silhouettes (like Colleen), white lace/eyelet throughout, the glossy eye look/highlight, and those gorgeous curly milkmaid braids at the end of “Six Inch.”
This dress was actually in the donate pile, but it called out to me. I bought it at a vintage store in Ithaca in college–it’s a synthetic silky ’80s -does-’30s/’40s bag dress which I have also worn with fingerwaves to teach Astaire&Rogers films! The petticoat was made by my mom for our elementary school days going to olden days camp at the one-room schoolhouse Honeycreek. I think I also wore it in high school as Aunt Eller in Oklahoma! The elastic is starting to give, so I couldn’t control its peaking out very well!
I definitely got some funny looks/stank eye out and about, but I kind of loved this outfit–way more ‘out there’ than I’ve done recently, which required a “Hold Up” level strut and confidence!
Rachel Steindel Burdin (left) via Insta: “My interpretation of #wednesbey, hitting on my favorite Beyoncé themes: high waisted short shorts (thanks to @readymadeal for shopping with me!), high collar, long sleeves, ankle boots.”
“Because squad love is the best love”-Regina Bradley
We love the camaraderie of Wednesday Friendsdays. Keep your eyes open to our Instagram (@sartorialscholars) and Twitter (@sartorialschols) for CFOs (Calls for Outfits) and roundups! And, you can always e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org