Let us acknowledge. New Year’s Eve, and the New Year that follows, will be a combination of things you can, and cannot, control. In some cases you will have planned everything, and your plans will materialize. Congratulations. In some cases, you will have planned nothing, and life will come at you like wind around a Manhattan street corner. Cold, large, and in your face. Most often, plans will be made, and shifted, and forgotten. Realized enough. Life is more than the attainment of goals.
You can, however, reign as queen of your Little Black Dress. Assuming sufficient financial resources and the absence of true emergencies, life rarely insists on our accessories. Maybe that’s one of the enduring roles of style.
- Shoes in my closet that don’t hurt my feet. They happen to be black Dolce & Gabbanas. Luck.
- A necklace of sentiment. I would remove this only for a serious fashion moment. Maybe one involving photo opportunities.
- Pearl earrings rather than diamond studs. I’ve been brought up to think too much matching is a sign of weak character.
- My Rolex Cellini man’s watch. Because I love it and because I don’t want to have to find reading glasses and pull out my pink-encased iPhone to see when the clock is about to strike twelve.
As a Sturdy Gal, I will be quite happy in this getup. However, as a style analyst, I suck air in between my teeth and give a quick shake of my head to the left. The Grande Dame and Artsy Cousin would make other entrances. They are both quite clear on these key principles to Accessorizing A Statement Piece.
1. Assess the cumulative impact of surfaces.
2. Understand the roles of consistency and contrast.
My Narciso dress has got all kinds of stuff going on. It has seaming and a tight bodice and a sweetheart neckline. It has visual texture. My accessories, while perfectly appropriate, fail to collaborate. Fail to enhance the impact. Consider how our friends might approach this.
The Grande Dame would go all smooth on us. She will match if she wants to, goddamn it. (High WASPs say this in genteel exasperation.) Pearls around the neck. Very large round ones. Pearls at the ears. Encircled in diamonds because she can. Even a pearl bracelet. With 3 strands, the audacity of Too Many Pearls overturns any idea that matching is not the Done Thing. Worn with smooth, classic Louboutins that in their sheer lack of detail focus attention on the dress itself. Naked legs, waxed. (Sturdy Gals hate depilation.) Pale lips. Winged eyeliner. Perfume. Layer upon layer of smooth. Oh yeah, she’s pulling out all the stops.
The Artsy Cousin would take it the other way. Texture everywhere. Wrapped and strapped booties. Textured stockings. No necklace at all, to contrast the decolletage with all that other, you know, texture. Delicate but irregular platinum bangles up and down the wrist for a global reference, modern locally-made earrings for the, you know, refer globally act locally thing. Would powder her skin and wear dark red lipstick. The current, you know, obsession with blood and the consumption thereof.
But the Sturdy Gal, despite her sartorial approximations, will have a good time. Once you hit 50, with any luck, a certain It Is What It Is peace descends. My shoes shouldn’t be suede. They contribute either too much or not enough fuzz, given the knit dress. Oh well. My watch neither reinforces nor contrasts with my necklace. Oh well. My earrings aren’t bold enough for Narciso. Oh well. The dress fulfills any social contract. Beyond that, we can, in fact, all do as we like.
I will be in the company of those I love. I will have happy feet. I will know what time it is. Sentiment, comfort, function. Oh, and a killer Little Black Dress.
It’s possible there’s a lesson for the New Year in all of this. If so, it hovers just beyond my grasp.
Happy New Year’s Eve to all.