10 STYLE LESSONS LEARNED FROM MARIA CALLAS

In this post, we shall examine Maria Callas' style secrets. Maria Callas was a legendary opera signer, nicknamed 'La Divina'. Considered one of the most important and renowned opera singers of the twentieth century, Maria Callas's artistic and style legacy continues to inspire. Her stage life was relatively short, but her influence on opera was enormous. Maria Callas died in her early fifties from a heart attack,  after battling dermatomyosis (a rare illness that affects the muscles) for years.

 We could perhaps describe Callas as a citizen of the world. This Greek American singer was celebrated not only in her native countries (USA & Greece), but in Italy, France and England. Callas spoke four languages fluently. Maria Callas was intelligent, eloquent and well spoken.  During her life, she was considered a style icon. It is her style that we shall examine in this post.  I would describe her style as elegant and timeless. Callas was known for being always camera ready and beautifully dressed. However, before we get onto a subject of her impeccable style, I'll  write a few words about her. 

 Life wasn't easy on Callas and the press often treated her horribly and cruelly, inventing scandals and exploiting her personal tragedies. I watched some interviews with Callas and I was appalled by the way some journalist talked to her. It is remarkable how in face of such incivility, Callas never lost her composure. On the other hand, Maria Callas was often put on pedestal. She was both adored and criticized, possibly more so than any female opera singer up to that time. Callas admitted to being terrified of 'glory', of feeling the constant pressure of having to perform 'a miracle'. Some describe her as a victim of her enormous talent, that drove her to strive to perfectionism. Supposedly, she put high demands on those working with her, leading her to be labelled as 'temperamental tigress'. There was and still remains a lot of speculations about Callas' professional and personal life. 

What is known today is that Maria Callas had a serious illness that affected her muscles and that (combined with other factors) might have caused her early death. It is this and not 'a diva tantrum', that caused her to give up signing and step off stage. Next year it will be a hundred years since Callas's birth, so perhaps this anniversary will help to shed more light on the life of this amazing woman. 

Born in New York in 1923, Callas moved back to Greece with her mother in 1937 (following her parents' divorce). Callas' career path is pretty well known to music lovers, so I shall not speak too much of that.   I've been an opera lover since I can remember, but I will not pretend to know more than I do about the technical aspect of signing or about musicality. I have no musical talent or education myself. I'm neither a vocal coach, nor do I know much about signing from the technical aspect. However, as a language teacher I can testify that she had an incredible linguistic talent and sensitivity to accents, something she employed in her signing. In her speech, Callas was very extremely eloquent and well spoken. Maria Callas died before I was born, so I obviously never saw her on stage. However, from what I've seen on photographs and videos available, Callas had a great stage presence. 


Now that we have talked about our diva, I shall share with you ten lessons we can learn from the great Maria Callas. I will first identify key aspects of Maria Callas style and then analyse them. Finally,  I'll write about how you can employ Callas' style secrets to your advantage. When it comes to Callas' style in clothes, she was perhaps both 'a citizen of the world' and a Mediterranean lady. By that I mean, that her style was characterized by a classical elegance. She always remained a lady and a diva.

THE KEY ASPECTS OF MARIA CALLAS' STYLE

1. LUX AND QUALITY FABRICS

2. DRAMATIC MAKE UP AND HAIRSTYLE

3.  TAILORED PIECES

4. STATEMENT JEWELS 

5.  FEMININE ACCESSORIES (HATS, BELTS, BAGS)

6.  BLACK CHIC

7. DEFINED WAIST

8. HEELS

9. DRESSES

10. GLOVES

The key elements of Callas style are: quality fabrics, tailored pieces, statement accessories and feminine  make up/hairstyle. Now that we have identified the essentials of Callas' style, we can hack her style secrets. If you want to find out more about who dressed Maria Callas on stage, there's this fantastic  Arts & Culture Google piece here. 

10 STYLE LESSONS WE CAN LEARN FROM MARIA CALLAS

1. EMBRACE YOUR INNER DIVA BY WEARING LUX AND GLAM FABRICS 

Callas often choose luxurious fabrics such as: silk, satin, lace and fur.  Fur items, in particular, are perfect for adding glam to our outfits. Naturally, if you don't wear fur (like me), you can turn to faux fur or even vintage fur. Keep in mind fabrics and textiles have a timeless quality to them, so they can be a great investment. Educate yourself about textile quality if you want to shop smartly.  The fabrics Maria Callas wore were often expensive, but there's always a way to get the look for less. If you are on a budget, you might find affordable lux clothing items in vintage and second hand shops. When you're buying clothes pay attention to the quality of materials. Vintage clothes is usually more quality made than what we can find in shops today (i.e. mostly fast fashion). If you can afford designer and locally made clothing made from lux materials,  that's great, if you can't- charity shops it is.


2. DRAMATIC MAKE UP  AND HAIR STYLE (ESPECIALLY WINGED EYE) 

Maria Callas was known for her diva appearance. She always looked polished and put together. When it comes to signature beauty style, for Maria Callas it was all about the dramatic make up. She often accentuated her eyes and brows. In addition, Callas often opted for a red lip. Her make up style was quite dramatic at times, but reminiscent of what opera signers  really wear on stage. It could be said that she applied what she learned at theatre to every day life. One thing that I love about Maria is how she embraced her ethnic features. The dramatic make up she wore emphasized her strong Mediterranean features rather than hid them. You could say that she fully embraced her looks, never trying to be anyone else. People change, as she said, but the core remains the same. I think that was the secret of her style- staying true to herself. In one of her late interviews you can see Callas without any foundation, but her signature cat eye make up remains. In the same way Callas' winged make up accentuated her large dark eyes,  her hairstyle accentuated her dark and thick hair. Whether she wore her hair in a bun, or in a more elaborative hairstyle,  Maria's dark hair was often styled glamorously. Callas' hairstyle sometimes reflected trends of the time and sometimes it was more classically styled, but it was always elegant and looked put together. 

3. WEAR CLASSICAL CUTS AND TAILORED PIECES FOR  THAT TIMELESSLY  ELEGANT LOOK

Another style lesson we can learn from Maria Callas is the importance of tailored pieces and classical cuts. It is easy to achieve a classically elegant look if you wear tailored or timeless items. Callas often had clothes made for her. Moreover, Maria Callas enjoyed wearing classical cuts, proving you cannot go wrong with elegant classics. If you don't have classical items in your closet, you might find some in vintage shops or with vintage sellers. If you haven't already, consider investing into tailored pieces. How to get that tailored look on a budget?  If you cannot afford having something made for you by a seamstress, consider investing into a sewing class and become your own tailor. It might pay off in the long run. Nothing fits as good as a clothing item that was tailored for you. 

4. WEAR STATEMENT JEWELS AND CHANNEL YOUR INNER  DIVA

Like many divas, Maria Callas loved her jewels. A style lesson to take to heart: 'Never underestimate the power of jewellery. ' A well selected piece of jewellery can take an outfit to a whole new level. While an average girl's jewel's collection is much more modest than those of Callas', it is important to know what you have, what you like and what works for us. If you're on a budget, consider creating your own statement jewellery- that's what I do. If you're not crafty or artistically inclined, you can look for unique locally made accessories or jewels. Today there are a lot of faux options when it comes to jewellery, so anyone can get those classical jewellery items. Whether you're investing or shopping on budget, do make sure you buy jewellery items that are in accordance with your personal style. If you're not feeling inspired, go for classics. For example, a faux pearl necklace can help you  achieve that classically elegant look on a budget. I remember when bijouterie pieces were pricey, but today one can get nice looking bling for less so that's a plus. 

5.  WEAR FEMININE AND CHIC ACCESSORIES ( CHIC HATS, BAGS, BELTS)

Besides jewellery, there are many other accessories that can add glam to your daily outfits. Maria Callas often spiced up her elegant outfits with eye-catching accessories. Callas often wore beautifully elaborative hat styles that added to her diva style. Moreover, she knew how to select the right bags and belts to go with her outfits. If you want to create that Callas's chic, don't forget about the chic accessories. 



6. EMBRACE THE TIMELESSNESS OF BLACK CHIC

Maria Callas often embraced the timeless elegance of black chic. She often wore black gowns and dresses for formal occasions. Callas wore colours (especially in her later years when she dressed in colourful caftans) but she understood the elegance of black clothing. All black outfits can be very powerful. If you are afraid of blending in, don't forget what Maria Callas taught you about accessories. With well selected accessories, black outfits don't have to be boring. 

7. EMPHASIZE YOUR WAIST FOR A MORE FLATTERING SILHOUETTE

Observing Maria Callas outfits, I've realized the importance of putting the emphasis on the waist. If you observe Callas's outfits, you'll notice that she often empathized her waist, adding to the elegance of her outfits. She did this either by wearing tailored pieces that emphasized the waist (Maria Callas' style lesson number 3) or by belting her outfits (style lesson number 6). If want a more feminine silouette, putting the emphasis on the waist is the way to go.

8. HEELS ARE A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND FOR THEY ELONGATE THE FIGURE

Despite being a tall woman, Maria Callas often wore heels. She knew that heels help elongate the figure. You could say that she embraced the words of Marilyn Monroe: "Give the girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world." If I remember well, Marilyn Monroe was an advocate of wearing heels. I read somewhere that Callas liked Marilyn Monroe and I distinctly remember seeing a photograph of them together. Anyhow, if you do decide to wear heeled shoes, don't think the heel has to be high. If you aren't used to wearing high heels, consider wearing kitten heels. Nicely designed one or two inch heel can look just as elegant as a higher heel. Remember that comfort is important. From what I found online, Callas was quite sensible in her footwear choices (unlike yours truly) she never wore extremely high heels. Callas often wore classical and elegant pumps that look fantastic with everything. 


9. WEAR GLOVES TO LOOK MORE LADY LIKE

I have already wrote about how Maria Callas utilized accessories to add feminine glamour to her outfits, but there is one accessory that deserves special attention and that is- the gloves. Maria Callas often wore gloves. She used this feminine accessory to add glam and elegance to our outfits. Why not try the same? Add some vintage chic to your style by wearing a nice pair of gloves. They have the added benefit of keeping you warm in the colder months. Let's not forget that gloves can help to keep the bacteria away. If you're tired of washing your hands every ten minutes, why not wear some gloves?

10. SAY YES TO A DRESS AND WEAR A DRESS LIKE A LADY

Maria Callas loved wearing dresses, didn't she? Her wardrobe famously included more than 200 dresses. That doesn't sound like such a big number these day (with fast fashion and everything) but back in the day when dresses were more expensive and better made, it was a considerable number. Not that you need to have that any dresses to evoke Callas's feminine and classical style. What you need is a dress you can feel good in- and there are budget  and sustainable options for that as well (altering something you already have, buying vintage etc). If you want to wear dresses but don't know how, take baby steps. Find that one style that you feel good in and work from there. Once you feel comfortable wearing a dress you can figure out how to wear them with tres chic. The way Callas wore dresses was always glamous, elegant and chic. The historically inspired dresses she wore on stage were obviously glamous but her everyday dresses were stunning as well. If you have read all my other style lessons learned from Callas up to know, you'll know why she looked so polished in dresses. In case you forgot here's a little revision: accessorize well, choose classical cuts and wear (reasonable) heels. In accordance with her style, Callas often choose classical and feminine cuts and patterns. Later in life (she died very young so later in life for her  was late forties and early fifties) Maria Callas often wore caftans and I think she looked absolutely amazing in them. Moroccan silk caftans in particular complemented her beautiful Mediterranean skin. 

Thank you so much for visiting. I hope you enjoyed this post.


Comments

  1. I hadn't heard of her before so thank you for sharing! it's great the way you have structured this posts with your pics side by side with hers - she really had a classic, glamorous style! :)

    Hope that your week is going well :)

    Away From The Blue

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  2. She really was an icon- and you emulate her and her style so beautifully!

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

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  3. Ella es divina . Genial homenaje. Te mando un beso

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  4. Wow, I had no idea Maria Callas was a style icon - these pictures are all new to me. Thank you, Ivana! I love seeing you emulating this icon!

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    1. Thank you Sheila. Callas was a very stylish lady, I myself wasn't aware of just how fabulous her fashion choices often were. I have learned a lot about her while preparing this post.

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  5. What a fun post! Loved reading about Maria Callas and her style and your recreations are gorgeous!
    xoxo
    Lovely

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  6. Although I'm not a fan of opera I've always loved photos of Maria Callas, a timeless beauty and very similar in looks to you! A fabulous post. xxx

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  7. You are beautiful woman Ivana. Amazing!

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  8. These pictures of you by the balcony door are phenomenal! I thought it was Maria Callas, but in fact you are :)

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  9. I love listening to Maria Callas areas on youtube, her Habanera is divine. Your post made me realise I don't know much about her, but it looks her style was beautiful and elegant, easily to understand why is an inspiration.
    Your interpretation of her style is wonderful and inspirational. xx

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much. I always loved listening to her, but while doing research for this article, I realized there was a lot about her that I didn't know.

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  10. Such a beautiful post! I love the black and white collages. Such great drama. Awesome outfits you own. Very iconic indeed! Thanks so much for the wonderful post. I greatly appreciate it!

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  11. Adoring the post! Love your photos. You know this icon so well. Thanks so much for this list and more. Wonderful photos. I am sure they will inspire your art, too. Some great poses, indeed ❤

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it is possible I'll try to paint her some day.

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  12. I agree that Maria Callas is a true legend and she has such a timeless style. In fact, I can see a fair degree of resemblance between Maria and you, and had to look twice at some of the photos to see whether it was you or her! A marvellous post, Ivana! xxx

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. Who knows, maybe I have some Greek blood in me that I'm not aware of :).

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  13. What a fun post Ivana. I did not know of this woman but I'm so intrigued. I love the idea of gloves, and may have to succumb and get some one of these days.
    XOOX
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    Replies
    1. I mostly wear them when it's cold, but I'm starting to realize they can used for elegance.

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  14. Hi
    Right now I'm reading her biography, she's one of my female idols! I like the way you presented this post! I think these 10 lessons make any woman shine today! She has timeless style! And you playing the role of La Divina did very well and with much applause!! I was perplexed by many comments saying that they had never heard of her, how is it possible???
    xoxo

    marisasclosetblog.com

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  15. Che bello questo post! Una vera icona la Callas, mi piace moltissimo come hai ricreato il suo stile!
    Kisses, Paola.

    Expressyourself


    My Instagram

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  16. Good morning! It was a real icon! A beautiful woman with a character and style that many would like to have. You show her style wonderfully. You are a wonderful inspiration. I like these style lessons, I need to keep them in my heart and apply them :)
    Beautiful entry, a lot of work and time, but it was worth it!
    Greetings from Poland!

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  17. A very interesting article, dear Ivana, and an exciting idea to be inspired by a style icon in this way. A few years ago I saw a documentary about Maria Callas and her relationship with Ari Onassis, before that I didn't know much about her other than that she was a famous singer. I think you also have a certain resemblance to Callas, at least the dark hair and slim figure, and you perfectly embody the ladylike charisma. I'm a completely different type than Maria Callas, optically and probably also in character, far away from a real "lady", so her style wouldn't suit me (or there are only a few things that suit me - like accentuating the waist or from time to time a statement necklace, I do that anyway ;-))
    All the best after my blog-break,
    Traude
    https://rostrose.blogspot.com/2022/01/blogpause-beendet.html

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    Replies
    1. Yes, accentuating the waist and using statement necklaces is something I always enjoyed doing too. These tips are mostly about using classical cuts and feminine accessories to create an elegant look, so it's something everyone can do if they enjoy this kind of style.

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  18. Maria Callas è stata una vera diva, di quelle che non potranno mai essere dimenticate!
    E non parlo della sua vita (che, per quanto tribolata, ha avuto comunque alti e bassi) ma del suo infinito talento e della sua splendida voce.
    Sentirla cantare fa emozionare e non è paragonabile a nessun altra, secondo me!
    Poi certamente era anche una donna di gran classe ed eleganza, ma bisogna anche ammettere che quello era un momento storico in cui l'ideale di donna aveva proprio quelle caratteristiche e probabilmente un pò tutte ci si adeguavano (vedi Grace Kelly, Audrey hepburn, ecc.).
    Ma sai che comunque tu le somigli? E penso che con il giusto make up potresti davvero fare la sua controfigura! :)
    Baci!
    S
    https://s-fashion-avenue.blogspot.com

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    1. Certo, questo era un periodo quando moda era molto classica e elegante. Si, sentirla cantare fa emozionare, era un grande diva.

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  19. Oh, wow, I´m really impressed how you covered her appearance, but made your own style out of it! A friend of mine is a real fan of Maria Callas. It`s sad how she ruined her great voice für the sake of a perfect look - so at least I`ve heard.
    Have a great weekend! xx

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    1. That's an urban myth. Her voice loss had nothing to do with her weight loss. Callas suffered from an illness that affected all of her muscles, especially the muscles in her chest and throat.

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  20. I didn't know her, but I thought she was very stylish. I liked that you showed what you learned from her about style.

    https://www.biigthais.com/

    Kisses ;*

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  21. Great post and very thorough analysis.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment, I'm glad you enjoyed this post.

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  22. Che stile cara Ivana, non deludi mai!
    Buona domenica,
    Kisses, Paola.

    Expressyourself


    My Instagram

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  23. Such a wonderful post dear Ivana- Maria is a real icon and I see that she is your great inspiration( you both have very similar type of beauty :-) ) Awesome pictures !

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  24. Very interesting, I loved it! :)

    https://www.heyimwiththeband.com.br/

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  25. wow she was so pretty woman, so awe inspiring!

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    1. Thank you for your comment Kathy. She was very pretty indeed.

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  26. Very interesting post.

    www.paginasempreto.blogspot.com.br

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  27. Love how glamorous this woman is! You can tell everything is well thought out from head to toe.

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  28. I really enjoyed this post. Of course, I knew of Maria Callas' voice but actually knew nothing of her life or what a style icon she was! I love how you placed photos of your style alongside hers to demonstrate the fashion points you were making. Very clever!

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    1. There were a lot of things I wasn't aware about her- most of her the illness she had. Callas was a brave woman to fight her illness.

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  29. Thinking About The Two Of You - Hope You Are Well - Sending Positive Vibes Your Way

    Cheers

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  30. She sounds like a very interesting person who had to deal with a lot in her life. I love all the style tips you shared inspired by her! Thank you for another wonderful post :)

    Ekaterina | Polar Bear Style

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  31. WoW what a beautiful photos (Art-Works)! What a beautiful outfits! Happy February.

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  32. Oh this is my first time reading about her

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  33. Great post dear, so nice and interesting, love it!

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  34. Just passing by and wishing that you are in good health!

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