It’s a tutu party

I recently flew to Cape Town for a birthday party of one of my best friends and it was themed ‘Ties and Tutus’, I wanted to wear something edgy yet still girly. I had a blast and special memories were made, I thought I’d share my outfit with all of you.

By definition, the word tutu is a corruption of cucu, French baby talk for cul-cul meaning roughly “botty-wotty” (for bottom). Legend has it that the term was first used by commoners who, unlike the wealthy sitting in the upper levels of the ballet theatres, were seated in the lower levels. These commoners would look up at the dancer and had a very different view of the ballet. “Tutu” refers to the area seen under the ballerinas’ skirts. The derivation of the name not nearly as elegant, beautiful and romantic as the garment itself!

Tutu Styles
The Romantic Tutu

The first tutu is credited as appearing in Paris in 1832 on Marie Taglioni in La Sylphide. Her skirt was cut above the ankle to show her famous legwork. This first tutu style was dubbed, “The Romantic Tutu”. This romantic style occurred during the “Romantic” period in ballet history.

Romantic Tutus are long, floating and ethereal. They are usually 3 – 5 layers of soft tulle.

There are 2 types of Romantic Tutu. In the first type of Romantic Tutu, the skirt begins at the waist. The second type of Romantic Tutu is a dropped waist version. The skirt begins at the high hip and is called a Romantic Tutu with Basque.

The Classical Tutu

Historically, after the Romantic Tutu, came the Classical Tutu. The Classical Tutu was born from the viewers’ request to see more of the intricate movements that dancers were starting to perform. The Classical Tutu jutted out horizontally from the dancer’s hips and showed more of the leg. This style of tutu was first worn by the Italian ballerina Virginia Zucci in the 1880s. This first “Classical” style tutu ended just above the ballerina’s knees and looked more like the current “Bell” or even “Romantic” style of tutu.

As the years went by the Classical Tutu shrank to show more and more of the feet and legs. Today, there are two main styles of what is known as the “Classical” Tutu: the very flat Pancake / Platter / Plate or Russian design (this tutu goes by many different names!) and the softer Powderpuff or “Balanchine” style of Classical Tutu.

The skirt ruffles on Classical Tutus are placed on a panty.The pancake style Classical Tutu has a wide, flat skirt, is hooped, and is tightly tacked. It is made of stiff tutu netting.

Hooping is stiff petticoat wire inserted into a casing in one of the central ruffle rows. Hooping aids in keeping the tutu’s flat, stiff shape.

Powderpuff Classical Tutu

The “Powderpuff” style of Classical Tutu has a softer look. It is not hooped, has a shorter skirt and is tacked more loosely. It can be made of softer tulle (like the romantics) or a combination of net and tulle.

Bell Tutu

The Bell Tutu is named for its bell like shaping and is combines features of the Romantic and Classical tutu. The Bell Tutu has shorter, more numerous skirt layers than the Romantic and longer and less numerous skirt layers than the Classical Tutu. The Bell has no hoop and is very loosely tacked. It can be made of softer tulle like the Romantic or net like the Classical or a combination of both. Like the Classical Tutu, it has ruffles that are stitched onto a panty.

Shop my look:

Top and necklace: Topshop
Skirt: Custom made
Belt: Sandimasa
Shoe: The Plaza


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