Five Great: Little Black Dresses for Cocktails and Beyond

Happy Gray Friday everyone!

No, that’s not some newly invented consumer holiday, it’s just all rainy outside and my dog is giving me Meaningful Looks whenever I try to encourage him to leave the cozy confines of his crinoline to go outside and do what needs to be done. No, I’m not sure why he sleeps cuddled up on a crinoline. Several months ago he started using one of my old, bizarrely dead wasp-filled (how?! HOW did that happen??) petticoats as a bed. I don’t know why.

Maybe he’s the reincarnated spirit of Christian Dior, maybe he’s just a weird dog. Either way, I’m not getting that crinoline back and I suspect I’m going to find a puddle somewhere.

Speaking of crinolines, the winter party season is well upon us and although I don’t subscribe to the theory that every woman must must MUST have a little black dress, there’s no denying they come in handy especially if you don’t have the dough to drop on several high-end pieces.

Accessories make the dress when you’re talking basic black. Take, for example this Tadashi Shoji asymmetrical cocktail dress.
First of all, I love it because it has SLEEVES and hits just below the knee, which means it’s appropriate for all but the most conservative of occasions.

For a holiday party, I’d pin on something like this fabulous Judith Jack snowflake brooch just where the ruching gathers over the hip and toss on some sparkly earrings.

Then when spring rolls around, replace the brooch with a pastel silk flower –I think we’re past the super-saturation of the early Sex and The City days– and coordinating shoes, maybe even sheer shortie gloves in the spring color of your choice if you’re adventurous, and you’re good to go through May.

Of course, you can go with something that’s already adorned, like this
Kay Unger dress with an oversize asymmetrical collar. The right accessories will take this through Easter too, and if you’re REALLY hippy –more eggplant than pear– this is an answer from heaven to balance out your figure.


It will also work gangbusters if you’re straight up-and-down and tall (short and topheavy, you’re up next). Plus, it’s a slightly more interesting variation on the asymmetrical thing that’s been around and shows no sign of slowing.

I know what you’re thinking. No way this
David Meister draped sequined dress
is going to work on a big girl, but you couldn’t, in the words of the dope (in both senses) Kanye West, get much wronger.

I know, I was surprised too.

This is an absolute no-brainer for apples and the topheavy among us. Just toss on a pair of substantial, not spindle-thin, heels to anchor the look and be prepared to devastate. However, it works surprisingly well for the hourglassed too, even if you’ve got a bit –maybe not a TON– more sand in the bottom.

I tried on something similar to this a few seasons ago, not expecting much and I was shocked at how well it worked on my frame. It’s glitzy, it’s young without being reminiscent of mutton incognito, and it’s got just enough Bianca Jagger to keep it capital F fashion without being self-consciously hip.
Of course, if you’re looking for something a little more grown up but still  visually compelling, there’s this Tadashi Shoji cap sleeve number.

I’ll be honest, I debated putting this in because of my well-known hatred of all things cap sleeved. Then I thought about how cute this would look with one of my vibrant silk rebozos, Frida-style:

Or paired with a luscious emerald cashmere cardigan under a skinny little belt for that “Oh, yes, I always look this chic. See, I just popped this little sweater on in case I’d get cold. You mean some people have to TRY to look this fabulous? How interesting!”

And finally, the sleeper hit: David Meister’s 3/4 sleeve asymmetrical dress no sequins, no lace, no ornamentation, just a well-designed black knit dress that will look great on pretty much everyone, all the time.

Honestly, this is the dress I’d be most likely to select for my own closet because I could wear it to a hundred different parties a hundred different ways. It’s the perfect backdrop to not only a set of bangin’ curves, but also those showpiece jewels and traffic-stopping shoes. Bib necklaces, hair ornaments, ridiculously over-the top shoes, gloves, handbags…with the exception of my sneakers and cowboy boots, I’m having a hard time imagining a single accessory that wouldn’t work with this dress.

Nope. Can’t do it.

Stay tuned next week and through the rest of December for more of the Five Great series. Now while you’re off shopping, I’m going to find a puddle.

5 Responses to “Five Great: Little Black Dresses for Cocktails and Beyond”

  1. harri p. December 2, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    I have that Tadashi Shoji asymmetrical dress and it’s unbelievably flattering.

  2. Thea December 2, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    Gorgeous stuff Plummie. I’m craving that last David Meister dress in a big way….

    And I died when I read about your dog’s crinoline addiction. I have a very tattered old crinoline that has been greatly loved by every cat I own. It lies on the bedroom floor filled with cats, catnip toys and whatever else the little demons have taken a fancy to and decided to drag into their lair. I have to shake it out every few days just to see what falls out.

    My trophy son calls it ‘the dead wedding dress’

  3. Tovah December 3, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    Oh my gosh. Best collection of LBD’s. I’d die for that Kay Unger dress and the Tadashi.

  4. pamici December 3, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    Love them all! Plus the accessory potential is staggering – and I do love the accessories. And I know I’m behind on my internet shopping, but how cool is that video function on the Saks site??

  5. GAB December 6, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    Just great fashions!~ I love them! Perfect look for the Wifey!