Wednesday, July 26, 2006
The power of the black dress compels you…the power of the black dress compels you…
Most mornings I stand in front of my closet and let the voices in my head help me choose my clothes. I should add that the voices belong to my fashion crew – I don’t try to copy any one of them, but do draw inspiration from them, based on my mood that day.
For the most part the Hepburns (Audrey and Katherine) do most of the talking, but occasionally Molly Ringwald whines that I have not worn anything remotely funky and that some colour would be nice. Then Laverne (Delvecio) pipes up that if I’m not going to add an “L” to my shirt then I should at least tie a scarf around my neck (oh, and chew lots of gum).
Then there are the days when all the stars align and the voices agree on one thing.
The black dress.
The Hepburns like it because it’s simple and classy, Molly likes it because no one wears a black dress to work mid-week, and Laverne calls it the “wiggle dress”. And there in the corner, Betty Boop is winking one of her enormous eyes and giving me the rocker’s bull’s horns.
This dress generally comes out for parties and weddings, but thanks to the magic of accessories, never looks the same. Occasionally I will feel the need to wear it for no other reason than I feel like it and/or need a boost. That was yesterday.
You see, like Jim Carrey in The Mask, wearing it does something to you. Suddenly I feel like I should wrap a scarf around my head, put on dark glasses, and go off driving through the countryside in my sporty little MGB. Only a young Gregory Peck beside me would make the moment complete.
Seriously, though - it is a total attitude adjustment. It is not a short or strappy little thing – it is a classic style, but it has “sass”.
I went looking for images of black dresses and found this article. I’ve cut out the blah-blah historical reference and left the meat of it.
The History of the Little Black Dress by Julie Moore
Every woman looks great wearing it, and every woman has her own. It is the default date ensemble when it is one of those “I have nothing to wear” days. In fact, it is so popular, so necessary, and so much an institution in women’s fashion that we had to ask: “Where did the ‘little black dress’ come from?”
To properly understand the fashion environment necessary to produce such a simplistically fabulous necessity for any wardrobe, we must visit the 1920’s. As women shed their long, layered dresses, cut their hair and enjoyed the fast-paced party life, society slowly became more accepting of women baring slightly more of her shoulders, back, and legs. The coveted silhouette of the era was generally very slender and youthful.
First introduced in 1926, black was previously considered to be a color reserved for funerals and periods of mourning. Truly simple and sexy, Chanel’s design was a sleeveless sheath cut just above the knee. She could have never predicted the immediate and lasting love women would have with her simple, chic black dress.
As Chanel was quoted, “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.” Whether a woman’s little black dress cost $50 or $2,000 her intention is the same: to look effortlessly classic and appropriately sexy in just seconds. While most of us cannot afford to buy Chanel’s breathtakingly beautiful pieces, we can certainly wear our trusty black dresses with the modern, sophisticated attitude she possessed.
Anything that encourages attitude must be a good thing. If it makes you feel confident, good, or powerful then wear it! But like Uncle Ben (from Spiderman not Minute Rice) advised, “…with great power comes great responsibility”.
How do I apply this to my whole ode to the black dress (and can you believe I have managed to create a link between Coco Chanel and Spiderman)? The dress should be used in moderation. Wearing it all the time makes it common and reduces its effect on you (and others).
Part of the mystery is having people guess why you are wearing it and the answer shouldn’t be – “because it’s Tuesday – Tuesday is wear the black dress day”.
For the most part, the voices have not let me down – on the days I’ve ignored them and worn the workplace equivalent of a sweat suit I felt drab. I’ll continue to consult them and as long as I can keep Cyndi Lauper buried deep – I should be safe.
Posted by BBNB at 8:15 AM