Splurging on a pricey black dress can make you feel slightly wanton. “I will wear this so rarely! Be sensible, Oh Woman, refrain” But I have found there are ways to make your LBD more flexible. And flexibility builds value. A lesson for life, really, but we’ll move on.
It helps if your LBD is not really black
Asked, “How do I find a little black dress I can wear forever?” one might think first of bright accessories against a monochrome garment. But consider a print. Of course, it helps if the print is skillful, subtle, almost art in and of itself. This is Dries van Noten’s photoprint of a Belgian toile,
and the Tokyo night sky. I’ve showed it to you before.
I wore it, last week, out to dinner with my dad and two sisters. We ate at the Flea Street Cafe. It’s a local institution, run by Jesse Cool, and looks exactly as you expect a Northern California restaurant should. And, if you have no archetype in your mind for that, imagine white table cloths, plants, food called out by origin, stunning presentation, nobody in tight clothing. In my new retirement life, heels are rare, so I put these on. Bare legs and some artsy earrings kept me in the California spirit.
Never mind the parking lot. There remain a few of us in California who believe that cars are not accessories.
Shoes, hair, and jewelry take a little black dress one way or the other
Ballet flats in a bright color steer you to the casual side. Of course, long hair all over the place helps.
One can’t always count on a nearby red truck. As I said, an auto does not an accessory make.
Loose and floaty gives more flexibility than tight and heavy
This dress is made of lined cotton lawn, so it survives a pretty wide temperature range. Not every experiment will work, of course. Beige Reiker gladiator sandals, while comfortable on gravel, weren’t the best style choice. But as my sister suggested when we were out last week, a pair of chunky strapped black sandals, or color-blocked, like these, or these, would have been perfect.
Pile on the black and the shine when you want to turn the Fancy dial
What I haven’t shown here is a picture of this same dress worn with those same Louboutins, black tights, gold chandelier earrings, and a gold cuff. That’s what I wore to an awards event we attended for my most recent job. Perplexingly, no one paparazzied me, “You in the little black dress regalia! A picture, please!” So trust me without a photo, if you could, it was quite fancy in effect. Hair up, sheerest black tights, and strappy sandals could have taken me anywhere in San Francisco except the Opera or Ballet opening night.
This might be a data point for those of you considering investment pieces. Despite the extreme drop in my cash flow, post-retirement, I regret the Dries dress not one whit. It’s art and I wear it and it never lets me down. Where to find the (admittedly somewhat elusive) designer? Barney’s carries Mr. van Noten, as does Yoox, on sale. Tulips and stripes. This embellished bead slip dress. Sigh. And he’s not the only one who gives good print – you can take a look at the blog sidebar for a few more ideas if you’re so inclined.