Over the years, may people have written praises of the little black dress. A creation of the 1920s from the minds of Chanel and Patou, it’s become something of a staple in the wardrobes of women across the globe.
This year, after reading a retrospective post on HelloGiggles (Live, Love, and Death in My Little Black Dress by Mary Dacuma), I realized I didn’t have that dress. Sure, I have black dresses — approximately 3, if you don’t include a black-white cocktail number — but they’re all specific. They’re not nondescript enough to be truly versatile. So, naturally, I began a quest for “The” little black dress that would define my twenties. It didn’t matter where this LBD was from, how much it cost, or what is was made of — only that it was flexible. Sexy enough for a third date, somber in the event of a funeral, and the appropriate level of demur in the event of a wedding or family dinner. Something to be worn all seasons. Shapely. Timeless while appearing on-trend.
Easy enough — or so you’d think. But being an hourglass-y size twelve comes with its challenges, and when you’re limited to primarily online shopping, things can get a little pear-shaped at times when it came to sizing.
Then there were the details. High low is too trendy, but I adore it nonetheless. Velvet can be risky, and statin-y materials come off as cheap or are simply too delicate to withstand the years of wear I’m anticipating. Are LBD supposed to have straps but not sleeves? What, exactly, is the perfect neckline? How much cleavage is appropriate? And what about shape — are we going bold with a bodycon, or should I steer away from that for something more fit-and-flare, a-line, or straight?
I found the perfect dress on a whim. I’d like to say it was in some hole-in-the-wall thrift shop, a mysterious little tagless number, much like Carrie Bradshaw’s wedding suit-dress-thing from Sex and the City: The Movie, but it wasn’t. My LBD came from Modcloth, my second purchase after a disappointing blue dress was sent back. On sale, it didn’t have the greatest reviews, but I took a chance. And, after slipping it on in between class on a rainy Wednesday, I knew, twirling in front of my mirror, that it was the one.
Still, it took a second opinion. Back at home, trying it on for my mother, she stared at me, wide-eyed, silent as I preened in front of the bathroom mirror.
“Well, should I return it?”
It took her a moment to speak. “No! No, keep it.”
“It’s not too…boob-y? Short? Tight?”
“No,” she said again, softer. “It’s perfect. Though, maybe not for funerals….”
Mom-approved, I knew it was a go.
It makes my boobs look great, emphasizes my waist, and can work for both slightly-more-formal and slightly-more-flirty occasions. Scenic in Noir has a brocade-y look to it, which I adore because I love the look of brocade but am often too poor to afford the real thing. I can wear this LBD without a bra. It has adjustable straps (though, no pockets, which is a con). While I’ve only ever worn it once, I know we’re going to spend a lot of time together over the next few years.
I think finding a LBD is a great metaphor for life. Your first few fitting may not always work. You may search long, and hard for that perfect dress. You might have a few brief affairs with other black frocks before finding the one that makes you feel and look freaking awesome. But in time, you shall find it. Whether “it” isn’t actually a LBD, but love or a career path or a cake mix or a home. Maybe your LBD doesn’t have all the features you’d hoped for (like pockets), and maybe it doesn’t fit into every aspect of your life as neatly as you’d like. But if it makes you feel good and look good (or scores you loads of compliments, that helps too), then maybe its meant to be.