Pet En L’Air

Directorate! I had a feeling that you might be missing me, possibly even needing me. I miss and need you!

Wouldn’t we all benefit from just a little extra Directrice right now?
Indeed we could.
So here I am on Saturday, showing you casual Friday.
This is Casual Friday

A hazy false memory?
Something about this beautiful silk blouse called to mind the image of a costume from some drama . . . possibly Austen, of a woman in a Regency-era dress with a short, puffy jacket over it. It may also have been from an earlier era: Petit Trianon?
My efforts to find the image in my head on the Internet failed, but I did find many beautiful photos and sumptuous descriptions of late Georgian (or Louis XVI) clothes, including Pet En L’Air.

Pet en l’air, translated literally, means fart in the air, but it is the name of a short, sacque-style jacket worn in the mid-18th century: fitted sleeves, a round, scooped neck, and loose, pleated back.
This winsome blouse won me over with its scooped, gathered neckline with graphic ribbon tie and sweet print.
I mean, it’s not really a pet en l’air; but it’s suggestive of something

Plainly this would not do
I found this blouse on The RealReal. When it arrived, it wasn’t quite the shape I expected; it was a little short and too boxy.
What to do, what to do.

At first I thought I would wear it under a jacket. I tried a few on, but none of them set the neckline off. I realized I would need to wear the blouse over something and pulled a few jerseys, tanks, and shells from my closet and started trying them on. Persistence!
The winner is beneath: a round-neck, ivory shell made of silk. The blouse is the palest pink — almost colorless — and the pair, together, are the right length.
Combatting the boxiness? Child’s play!
A narrow black patent leather belt is a nice addition to the black grosgrain ribbon.
I knew things would work out

You may ask, Why, Directrice, did you not pack this right up and send it back if it was such an unflattering shape?
Is there a lesson in all of this?
Absolutely not.
Perhaps there is a micro-lesson: Always try a few things on.
I think the lesson is a very small amount of persistence and a bit of under-considered, non-denominational faith can fix many wardrobe mistakes

Note the dropped sleeve. Ordinarily I am not a fan of the style, but it works well in this silk — which is stiff enough to hold a shape but fluid enough to be graceful.
The print is also an unusual choice. I am not usually a fan of literal florals, and these rosebuds are rather lifelike. But these charmed me.
Tiny, faded roses are like a faint memory

The star here, clearly, is the neckline, which could be gathered more tightly or worn more loosely. It has an unstudied elegance to it, and the graphic ribbon tie — in black, which in no way relates to the rest of the blouse, is the masterstroke. Marni!
The eagle-eyed may also see the pleated neckline of the ivory silk shell underneath. The pink of this blouse is so pale as to be almost undistinguishable from the ivory.
An unexpected look from the genius of Marni

For those who want to see a real pet en l’air, I found a lengthy — and very interesting — series of blog posts by a costumier and textile historian who made one.

You can read much more and see photos of other samples on her blog, The Dreamstress. You may find reading about sewing to be very therapeutic in the coming days.
Blouse: Marni from The RealReal; Tank (underneath): Talbots; Jeans: JCrew; Shoes and Bag: Coach

10 thoughts on “Pet En L’Air”

  1. Okay I have to admit I’m a little disappointed because I thought this post was going to be about the cats taking the air. But good work with the blouse.

  2. Oh thank god you’re still posting! It’s inspiring that you were open to bending so many of your own rules (or not really rules, but general preferences/practices) at once. Lovely result. And congrats on scoring another Marni piece!

  3. I did so hope it would be a post about gently throwing fluffy kitties in the air, and gathering them back in your arms. Alas.

    However, the blouse with the stealth shell pink underpinning, is lovely.

  4. My 7 year old is intrigued by the idea of a fart in the air jacket — she’s going to keep it “in mind for a fancy party!”

  5. Dear Directrice, we do indeed need you now more than ever! Being familiar with the French Canadian “Pets de Soeurs” (nuns’ farts) pastries, I was intrigued by your subject line for this post and thought perhaps you had decided to branch out into the world of baking (or eating!). Mais non. But like Pets de Soeurs, the Pet en L’air is yet another etymological mystery.

  6. fart in the air! ha! charmante, as usual. keep them coming Directrice! you may be the only thing holding the republic together at this point.


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