By Froma Harrop
Dracula sets the bar high for timeless style. His refined silhouette and eclectic tastes make him an internationally recognizable figure.
Fashion writers shifting and swerving through constant change still freeze in the vampire’s presence. Some cultural figures, like Audrey, like Cary, like Jackie, create a signature look defying the march of trends. Dracula is one such fashion icon for the ages.
And you don’t have to be born in a crypt to get the look. In fact, c’est facile. Here are seven rules for achieving Dracula Style:
1) Mix it up. In Bela Lugosi’s 1931 movie interpretation, the Transylvanian count effortlessly combines modern and ancient vibes. Thus, the style — called everything from “lounge lizard” to “aristocratic corruption” — defines irony. And it has lasted centuries.
2) Stay out of the sun. As we all know, exposure to the sun can cause wrinkles and other skin damage. Dracula is extremely careful about this. He may be out and about through the dark hours, but at the first glow of dawn, he hastens to his darkened coffin for protection against the UVA and UVB rays.
Attention to the cause of aging skin — plus his dedication to getting a full day’s sleep — keeps him vaguely handsome after 500 years. It has offset the toll of an extraordinarily active nightlife.
3) Black goes everywhere. As the Neiman Marcus ad read, “women who wear black lead colorful lives.” And so do male hipsters. So do female clubbers dressed in black like old-world widows, except for the 10-inch skirts.
Dracula Style does make an exception for tormented women. They may wear diaphanous white gowns and after Labor Day) — but only once they’ve been bitten.
4) Stick to the classics. For Dracula, eveningwear is the chic uniform. His closet contains just a few very high-quality pieces kept in immaculate condition. His wardrobe is carefully curated for perfection.
There are three must-haves:
— A little black cape.
— Neat pocket handkerchiefs. Vintage, of course.
— A standup collar with sharp points. Guaranteed to make a statement.
5) Accessorize, accessorize. Though Dracula was a pioneer in minimalist dress, he knew how to add drama with unusual ornaments.
You will recall the distinctive medallion resting on Lugosi’s elegant dress shirt. He was also a master of restrained bling; note the heavy ring bearing the nobleman’s crest.
So use jewelry to liven up the look. Just be careful to avoid pieces with sharp edges. Bloody cuts must be avoided at all costs.
6) Exude confidence. Dracula knew what he was about. He never vied for approbation from others. He quietly made it work.
Among his trademarks are high standards for impeccable grooming. That Dracula’s polished manners contrast with his beastly appetites makes him a subject of widespread fascination. He is intellectually provocative.
So stand straight. Glide when you walk. And don’t forget to see a dentist regularly.
7) Observe these “do-nots” of Dracula Style.
— Do not go overboard on “ethnic chic.” The accent is enough.
— Contain your screams. Dracula finds them awkward, especially when entertaining outsiders at the castle. Recall his trying to explain the sounds to an alarmed English visitor: “Children of the night, what mu-u-u-sic they make!”
— Avoid red. It might lead to bad dreams.
— Do not bring mirrors. They disturb Dracula and, in any case, do him no good. Mirrors serve as mere clutter.
That’s it. Come breathe the stale air. Recall Jonathan Harker, on entering Dracula’s Carfax Abbey, saying with an absolutely straight face, “The place smells horribly of bats.”
Follow Dracula’s rules of style and you’ll never have a lonely evening again. Bonne nuit, children. Go out and make some music.
Former Harrop is a Providence Journal columnist. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org