Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Music By Which to Dress

Jut thought I’d get that into your collective head for this evening.

I don’t know why, but setting the proper mood when dressing for the evening’s festivities always brings out the best in my sartorial sense. A theme like “Charade” can bring out your inner cold warrior or James Bond — all white shirts, navy suits and highly polished black oxfords. A Cole Porter tune may lighten the mood and ready you for cocktails at the local piano bar; preferably in black tie. Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin will let you ring-a-ding-ding into the night. Usually with a dressing drink while you step into your Camelot-era slim suit.

Most of the time I play music from the 1930’s through the early 1960’s, depending on my mood and the dress code for the night.

For some wonderful jazz, check out the V&A’s Art Deco Music Collection from 2003.

For some forgotten gems try a compilation like Verve’s Unmixed or Remixed series.

Or stick with the originals. The classics never go out of style.

What’s your favourite “mood” music?

13 thoughts on “Music By Which to Dress

  1. I like “Time Out” by Dave Brubeck. Or if I’m going to ring-a-ding, there’s always Sinatra or Eddie Cochran (“Come On Everybody” will get you moving if you have a pulse!).

    And for those times when you’re going out to a quiet pub to drown your sorrows in solitude, a little Nick Cave sets the mood just right.

    Have a good weekend!

  2. In addition to those you note, plus “Time Out” as mentioned by Tucker, I can always count on playing Brazilian music while dressing for an evening of fun. Particular favorites include Jobim and Gilberto, also Sergio Mendez’ “Brazil 66”.

  3. What a splendid idea! I love music and I like to dress when I go out. Some Edith Piaf before eating French or some Sinatra before Italian. And since my wardrobe is mostly Thirties-inspired, then I will listen to some Gershwin, Cole Porter or Big Band. The possibilities are endless.

  4. Joan Morris and her husband, composer William Bolcom, are on the faculty at Ann Arbor. He’s done an incredible William Blake song cycle but they are the top when it comes to interpreting the music of Rogers & Hart and the Gershwins.

    Also Andrea Marcovici and Mabel Mercer. And if you look at the composers of many of the songs done by Mercer, it will open up a whole new world (Alec Wilder, Portia Nelson, etc.)

  5. ELW, thank you! I know a bit of Mercer’s work and will love to look into the composers further.

    Lots of la petite oiseau…. hmmmm. A favourite of Mrs. E.’s, too. She worked on my very rusty French accent before we moved by making me howl along to “Non, Je ne Regrette Rien.” Ce n’est pas si simple de chanter, tu sais?

    Reggie, I have a special place in my heart for bossa nova and Jobim/Gilberto et. al. “The Girl From Ipanema” is our song.

    HOBAC, I wouldn’t have guessed!

    Tucker, mine is Tom Waits…

    Mr. H., brilliant.

  6. I would like to vote for Miles Davis. A good bottle of wine and the first three notes from “So What” can cure any bad day.

  7. I must not be quite as refined as the rest of you.
    When I heard the charade link, I immediately thought of ‘Iko Iko’.

    As to dressing and preparations, the song would be ‘Once in a lifetime’ by the Talking Heads.

  8. My friends and family say this proves I’m eccentric, but my music choices depend on several factors. The day, the time of day, what my activities are at that moment of the day and, of course, the season. (Even the weather has its effects)

    Edith Piaf is always good…as is Ella Fitzgerald and my collection of “Songs That Got Us Through World War II” Frank Sinatra’s “In The Wee Small Hours” and champagne got me through many a lonesome night. Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis & John Coltrane are all old frieds.

    Right now though, as the leaves change in the great state of Ohio, my music of choice is Harvest Home by Jay Ungar & Molly Mason; the soundtrack from Ken Burns’ Mark Twain and various area artists I’ve collected from local festivals over the years. They’ll never get a record deal but their music is sincere, pure and played with passion. This will be my daytime music through Thanksgiving.

    Come evening, though, all bets are off!

  9. L2R, the anniversary edition of “Kind of Blue” is out and looks to be very good, if a bit pricey.

    Theo, don’t sell yourself short. Both are great driving songs in my book.

    Robin, as long as your doctors aren’t saying the same thing you cue up whatever you’d like, Sounds like a very good collection.

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