The zenith of elegance in any woman’s wardrobe is the little black dress, the power of which suggests dash and refinement. Andre Leon Talley, Vogue Editor and author of “The Little Black Dress”
Almost every woman owns a LBD. And why? Because it is the work horse of any woman’s wardrobe. It’s the one piece of clothing that, when chosen with care, can embody simplicity, versatility, timelessness, elegance, class and sex appeal all at once.
Coco Chanel is attributed to making the little black dress popular. When her sketches of a simple black sheath dress worn with pearls showed up in Vogue Magazine in 1926, it was compared to the Ford Model T, which of course was classic, black and reliable. Vogue later claimed it would become the “uniform for the modern woman.” And Vogue was right!
Of course, one can’t think of little black dresses without thinking of Audrey Hepburn. No one else in history excelled as much as she did at taking the little black dress to a whole new level of chicness. And women have been inspired by her iconic look ever since.
Which brings me to the reason for this post. Since this is the holiday season, you’re bound to see lots of gals in little black dresses at every party. So if you want to stay with the classic, but don’t want to get lost in the crowd, a great way to stand out is to wear an authentic vintage dress or style a new LBD with vintage flair.
When women wore a black dress back in the day, they were often accessorized perfectly. Back then gloves, hats, jewelry, stockings and makeup all played a part in creating a totally pulled together look when worn with a LBD, one that worked for cocktail soirees, dinner parties, the theater etc. The black dress was always ladylike and feminine, even if it was curve hugging, and was the foundation on which a woman could build a masterpiece that expressed her own individual style!
Here I am on my way to a Christmas party, a couple of years ago, to show you how I styled my little black dress so the overall look was vintage.
New vintage inspired black pencil dress.
Authentic vintage black silk shantung cropped 3/4 sleeve jacket.
3/4 length vintage black ruched gloves (am holding)
Black beaded velvet vintage style purse.
Black and gold brocade authentic 60s pumps.
Poinsettia flower brooch and authentic 50s clip on earrings.
French twist, red lipstick and nails, of course!
1. The Dress If you can, find yourself an authentic little black dress, preferably from the 50s or 60s. The cut and details of dresses from these eras is very distinctive, and that alone will make you stand out. But if you can’t find one you like in your size, look for a new black dress that is inspired by the past or has a very classic silhouette. Look for knee length or just below, fitted bodice, either pencil or full skirt. A bateau ,sweetheart or draped neckline are all flattering choices. For fabrics with a vintage vibe look for crepe, damask, lace, satin, silk jersey or chiffon. Once you’ve found your perfect LBD, the finishing touches are what will give you that ultimate classic glamour look that will make you standout.
2. Gloves Long black gloves or even metallic knit lamé ones are a must. Slip a glitzy vintage bracelet over one of them if you’re just going out dancing and having cocktails, as gloves would have to be removed at dinner.
3. Jewelry As a matter of fact, because of the simplicity of the little black dress, you can go all out with glitzy vintage necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Or a beautiful rhinestone brooch or two would look nice pinned to one side of the bodice.
4. Shoes Wear kitten heels or closed toe slingbacks. If you can find a pair in brocade, patent leather or with a bow at the back of heel or on the vamp, all the better!
5. Stockings I know a lot of women are for the bare legged look these days, no matter what time of year or occasion. But if you want a polished classic glamour look you need hosiery. You can buy very sheer, barely there stockings or pantyhose online. Just look for a low denier count. Anything under 10 denier will be pretty sheer. And for an authentic sexy retro look, buy them with back seams. I recommend Secrets in Lace. They have a stunning collection.
6. Cocktail Hat It thrills me to see how many milliners are making smart little cocktail hats and fascinators these days. So between the true vintage ones that are available and the new recreations, there is no excuse not to add one of these beauties to complete your outfit. Wear one with a black birdcage veil to add a bit of the femme fatale to your look.
7. Makeup & Hair A defined brow, cat eye liner and red lipstick. For hair, try a bouffant updo or french twist with a jeweled comb or roller set your hair for a wavy side parted look with your chic cocktail hat!
Now you’re ready to hit the town in a look that would make Audrey proud!
Have a glamorous day!