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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44 Comments

  • 12/01/09
    7:16 am

    Reply

    CZ said...

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

  • 12/01/09
    7:19 am

    Reply

    hostess of the humble bungalow said...

    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!)

  • 12/01/09
    7:27 am

    Reply

    Jill said...

    You make my mornings!

  • 12/01/09
    7:29 am

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    What a Splurge said...

    It's classic and lovely. Great find!

  • 12/01/09
    7:49 am

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    Belle de Ville said...

    Great classic dress to wear for years to come.

  • 12/01/09
    8:40 am

    Reply

    Buckeroomama said...

    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? :)

  • 12/01/09
    8:43 am

    Reply

    materfamilias said...

    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?

  • 12/01/09
    8:49 am

    Reply

    DocP said...

    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.

  • 12/01/09
    8:52 am

    Reply

    Vix said...

    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!

  • 12/01/09
    9:07 am

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    JMW said...

    Love the account of your quest for a black dress!

  • 12/01/09
    9:29 am

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    Deja Pseu said...

    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.

  • 12/01/09
    10:15 am

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    Miss Cavendish said...

    Oh hurrah! What a great feeling: syzygy.

  • 12/01/09
    10:28 am

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    Maya said...

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

  • 12/01/09
    10:32 am

    Reply

    Cate Subrosa said...

    Loved this.

  • 12/01/09
    10:39 am

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    Couture Carrie said...

    Gorgeous post and pieces, darling!

    xoxox,
    CC

  • 12/01/09
    11:27 am

    Reply

    Mrs. Lynch said...

    Love LOVE the dress!!And the post!!

  • 12/01/09
    12:09 pm

    Reply

    class-factotum said...

    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.

  • 12/01/09
    12:15 pm

    Reply

    Duchesse said...

    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.

  • 12/01/09
    12:18 pm

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    Let The Tide Pull Your Dreams Ashore said...

    What a great black dress…enjoy! xx

  • 12/01/09
    2:33 pm

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    LPC said...

    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:).

  • 12/01/09
    3:41 pm

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    Sher said...

    Perfect, just perfect! Now when is the party?

  • 12/01/09
    4:33 pm

    Reply

    Maureen@IslandRoar said...

    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!

  • 12/01/09
    4:39 pm

    Reply

    julia::ordinarysaturdays said...

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

  • 12/01/09
    5:36 pm

    Reply

    LPC said...

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

  • 12/01/09
    8:46 pm

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    Twenty Four At Heart said...

    I like Narciso myself! : )

  • 12/01/09
    8:52 pm

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    Pink Martini said...

    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.

  • 12/02/09
    3:07 am

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    Leah said...

    That LBD you chose spells elegance. I love it.

  • 12/02/09
    5:14 am

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    Peonies and Polaroids said...

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

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

  • 12/02/09
    5:51 am

    Reply

    mint juleps and magnolias said...

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

  • 12/02/09
    5:52 am

    Reply

    Jan said...

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

  • 12/02/09
    6:51 am

    Reply

    Some Like it Vintage.com said...

    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'…:-)

  • 12/02/09
    8:02 am

    Reply

    Joyce Hor-Chung Lau said...

    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.

  • 12/02/09
    8:24 am

    Reply

    Princess Freckles said...

    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!

  • 12/02/09
    8:40 am

    Reply

    Patsy said...

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

  • 12/02/09
    12:19 pm

    Reply

    Red Lipstick Style said...

    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.

  • 12/02/09
    3:45 pm

    Reply

    Dani @ Weddings Fresh said...

    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 :)

  • 12/02/09
    4:17 pm

    Reply

    Mouse said...

    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.

  • 12/02/09
    7:05 pm

    Reply

    LPC said...

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

  • 12/03/09
    8:37 am

    Reply

    Summer is a Verb said...

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

  • 12/03/09
    2:35 pm

    Reply

    agirl said...

    I love your way with words.

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

  • 07/16/14
    7:04 am

    Reply

    Jane said...

    Delightful post – just the best!

  • 07/16/14
    8:15 am

    Reply

    Mamavalveeta03 said...

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

  • 07/16/14
    8:22 am

    Reply

    Sandy said...

    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

  • 07/16/14
    8:27 am

    Reply

    Gaia said...

    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!

3 Trackbacks

  1. [...] night at the opening reception I wore this little black dress by Narciso Rodriguez, black Simple 70 Louboutins and some [...]

  2. [...] a mailing from Barney’s. Most likely they sent it in recognition of last year’s giddy Narciso Rodriguez LBD. Or an exorbitant tube of Cle de Peu concealer I ran in to replace, but that’s another story. [...]

  3. […] I answered by telling the story of my 40th birthday party, which you’ve heard before, here, but this time told with photos and flamingos. If you have a moment, you might take a look, […]

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