One Lavish Way To Find The Perfect Little Black Dress

Well, I did it. I replaced the Little Black Dress That Couldn’t with the Little Black Dress That Most Certainly Could.

First there was Miss Blumarine. Just too dang short for the over-50 and too dang worn for anyone else. Enter Ms. Lhullier. Purchased in exigency, worn in regret.

Exeunt Ms Lhullier. Au revoir, mon amie. Tu ne me manqueras pas.

But wait, what’s that I hear? Who is whispering seductively in Spanish? Oh, Mr. Rodriguez, I’ve been waiting for you. Thank you for arriving before I develop dowager’s hump and can no longer fit your siren curves.

So. Once upon a time I needed a new little black dress. I know, by now, that I require structure, sleeves, classic materials. I know, by now, to do research on the Internet. I looked online all around. And, on the Barney’s New York site, (40% off sale on selected items today, if you are so compelled) I found this.

“Aha!” I thought, “Good design, private label, equals luxury bargain.” And off I went to Barney’s New York. In San Francisco. Which begs the question of why isn’t it Barney’s San Francisco? Do they think we feel the words “New York” add style? Have they talked to anyone in California? At all? But I digress. (The most compelling word in the English language, digression.)

Small lobby, Barney’s. Elevators at the back of the store. Rather like those old New York emporiums, Bergdorf’s, etc. Up. You can see almost everything on the women’s designer floor from the moment those elevator doors slide open. Find a saleswoman. Explain that you want the Barney’s private label dresses. Wonder if you feel a faint chill of disdain. Remind yourself about impunity.

Try on the dress. It looks awful. Hostile pleating. Oh well. Best laid plans. But since we’re here….

Try on on Balmain, Balenciaga, Gaultier (twice), DVF. Break into loud guffaws, snorting to the salesperson, (you’ve been passed over to an important guy, sensing wallet blood, male, gay, fabulously stylish, both discrete and reassuring), “I AM JUST TOO FAT AND TOO OLD FOR THIS!” Tell him you have been in denial. Tell him, laughing, that you didn’t realize things had gotten to this point.

8 dresses later, pull on Narciso. Feel the click of yes. (You know that click?)

15Sleeves, check; structure, check; cashmere-wool blend, checking it twice…

Realize you don’t really mean that you are fat*, just that you certainly aren’t willowy any more, and you, most of all, aren’t 20. Or 30. Or even 40. But that, at 50, the Narciso dress locates every bit of your current appeal and says, “Uh huh.”

And, since the dress is in fact a present, receive confirmation that the atmospheric price is within lavish budget and take your purchase home. Where you will pull it out as soon as you walk in the door, just to look. And again, for Thanksgiving, and probably Christmas parties. For Christmas dinner, and New Year’s. Any time at all you travel to Manhattan. Uh huh. New York City.

*I’m not “fat”. But, being female in America, I sense the possibility, always hovering nearby. The right question is, fat compared to what?

Update: July 16, 2014

For anyone checking in from my notice about the Highland Fashionista post, I thought it would be fun to see if Blumarine still makes good LBDs. I’m going to say yes.

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  • Gorgeous dress…quality is always worth the time and money invested! :)

  • Love that LBD LPC!! I feel a MIss Skye Peale moment, not 16 and yet flattering and sophisticated at 50 something. The CPW on that garment is way up there too, great choice.
    Barneys in Seattle sounds very much like the SF shop. I have not purchased anything from Barneys (yet!)

  • You make my mornings!

  • It's classic and lovely. Great find!

  • Great classic dress to wear for years to come.

  • Tried to go shopping yesterday, could not find the dress locates every bit of [my] current appeal and says, "Uh huh." I didn't hear the click of yes. I came home empty-handed.

    Have I mentioned that I love your way with words? :)

  • Ah, the click of yes. Such a siren call. Impossible to ignore . . .
    That dress is perfect — hard to imagine it dating. Perhaps a Polyvore to show it styled various ways?

  • I'm glad you found your dress. Black is NOT a good color for me – the usual response to my wearing black is concern for my health. I try to avoid wearing the LBD, but sometimes it is necessary. I think I need to go shopping.

  • Such a great feeling to realize it's not one's shape that's problematic, but the clothing one is putting over it! Congrats on finding the perfect match.

    As it was a gift that you picked out, will you feel compelled to wear it more often? If so, win-win!

  • Love the account of your quest for a black dress!

  • Fabulous choice! I'm so glad for you. Your descriptions are fantastic.

    Still searching for my own LBD perfection, and my criteria are pretty much the same as yours. Maybe a trip to Barney's Beverly Hills is in order.

  • Oh hurrah! What a great feeling: syzygy.

  • Oh, lucky you, you've found the perfect black dress!

  • Loved this.

  • Gorgeous post and pieces, darling!


  • Love LOVE the dress!!And the post!!

  • Wonder if you feel a faint chill of disdain.

    Ha. From a saleswoman making $9/hour? Please. Either she is sadly misguided or the chill you feel is actually her desire just to finish her shift and go home.

  • Your new dress (yours!) is poetic. May you wear it with pleasure, knowing that you have been given a treasure. How I love black dresses, your latest an object lesson in why.

  • What a great black dress…enjoy! xx

  • I will enjoy, thanks for riding along with me. It's kind of like taking you all shopping. I said to the salesguy – Can I take pictures? He looked a little puzzled, but agreed:).

  • Perfect, just perfect! Now when is the party?

  • Is that you in the mirror? Cuz if it is, you've got great calves (I always notice calves; mine are too skinny, a genetic flaw)! The dress looks lovely and I agree with the above comment that compliments your way with words!

  • Great dress. Lucky you, to have such a generous present-giver.

  • Calves are mine, directly channeling my mother. I will tell her your compliment:). Thanks. And yes, so lucky. Very lucky.

  • I like Narciso myself! : )

  • Well, missy. You hit on all the over 50 insecurities as only someone our fabulous age can relate to. I went through this rite of passage this past summer. I went with a lined frock to smooth everything I could but refused to don hose with 100+ degree weather with matching humidity. I have been damaged from that day forth. Your post gave me hope to try again in a gentler season.

  • That LBD you chose spells elegance. I love it.

  • Well look at you in your little black dress! How fabulous you look.

    Now I want to go shopping. And I hate shopping.

  • Stunning dress! I so enjoyed "going shopping with you"!

  • Definitely NOT fat! :P And GREAT legs! Really – smashing legs.

  • Stellar post! I always enjoy reading about someone else's shopping trips…clearly I'm not the only one who finds humor in trying on clothing.
    There must be a better word than 'fat'…:-)

  • Lisa — Don't even worry about fat! You have much better calves than I do. (And I'm younger.)

    I'm with you on dress requirements — sleeves, v-neck, structured. But pleats are usually not my friends. They usually make my tummy / hips look bigger than they are. But Narcisco's pleats look very clever. What a lovely (Christmas?) gift.

  • I thnk you found the perfect dress! I know what you mean about the "fat" thing. We are way too hard on ourselves. I say, unless you could be a serious possibility as a Biggest Loser participant, you are NOT fat! Haha! That is my standard. :) I hope your new dress makes it to many parties and fun adventures with you!

  • bravo, stunning! now, accessories and shoes, please :-)

  • I'm so glad that you found something! This is the most wonderful commentary on a dress purchase, ever! I so enjoyed following along on your adventure.

  • So lovely, my dear! I am still on the hunt for my "click" moment…I have missed being able to read you more consistently, but you never disappoint when I have more than a moment to lavish in your posts :)

  • Oh my god, if I had money I might encounter the fabulous gay supersalesman. He always turns up for my mom. I tend to attract teenage gum-chewing saleswoman. Unhelpful.

    Also, dear LPC, that is a truly fabulous dress. I hope you take it out on lots of adventures.

  • Accessories, shoes, adventures. check:). And thanks for the comments on the gams. Does an old lady's heart good.

  • Hahaaa..I like that, "fat compared to what?". That will forever more be my little mental crutch…XXOO

  • I love your way with words.

    And now I really want to go shopping. I feel the need for the click of yes.

  • Delightful post – just the best!

  • When do we get to see you in Mr. Rodriguez’s creation? Do post!

  • A little late for the party but to “class-factotum” comment…….I worked as sales associate for 4 years at Bloomingdales and earned $62,000 yearly (commission only)…..not $9.00 an hour. I never felt or displayed disdain towards customers but seems as if commenter perhapsnma have disdain for store employees based on their “llowly” positions and/or salary. hmmmm

  • What a lovely way with words you have Lisa! And yes, I have been there, on that eternal, increasingly difficult quest for the perfect dress that fits this increasingly un-perfect body of mine…. still looking!

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