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Is there an alternative to the little black dress?

Is there an alternative to the little black dress?


The little black dress has been considered a fashion holy grail since Coco Chanel championed the concept in 1926, offering it as an alternative to the chicer, more colorful dresses popular at the time. Announced by American Voguewho called the little black dress a high version of the Ford and declared that it would be a kind of uniform for all women of taste, as well as Christian Dior, who called it essential, combining utilitarianism and sophistication.

Anyone who had doubts should simply look to Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys; Jackie Kennedy, who wore one during Portrait of Richard Avedon, 1961 of the first couple; and Princess Diana, whose famous revenge dress was the quintessential little black dress. At this point, the garment has become so ubiquitous that it has its own acronym: the LBD.

The problem is, as you point out, not everyone likes black or looks good in it. Not everyone even likes dresses. So what to do?

Adopt poetic license.

Instead of thinking of the LBD as a little black dress, think of it as a basic little dress. Or even basic little hiccups. The aim is to retain the philosophy of LBD, the idea that a simple, easy garment with a fabulous line can take you just about anywhere, but free you from the restrictions of color and clothing.

This means thinking about what, for you, would be the equivalent. Maybe it's a little navy blue dress. Or a small ivory. Maybe even a little beige. Maybe it's a stunning pantsuit (maybe even a tuxedo) in a jewel tone like emerald or sapphire.

Whatever you come up with, it must meet certain criteria: it must be a neutral material but sumptuous enough to escape categorization, in a color that does not immediately inspire a multitude of associations, and it must be cut with enough precision to have a look all on its own. and free from annoying frippery.

Stay away from linen, which screams summer and wrinkles; denim, more casual; and synthetics. Avoid bright pinks and chartreuse. (Avoid neon in general.) Look for medium-weight wools, silks, or point-and-ponte knits. And remember: simplicity leaves nowhere to hide, so details like necklines, seam placement and finishing matter.

So consider increasing your budget. If you want to have a must-have item, this is worth an investment. You can amortize the cost over the expected number of times you will wear it.

Finally, consider the context. A great dress or pantsuit worn with sneakers, sunglasses and a straw hat makes for a stroll around town or a trip to the farmers market. Add sandals and jewelry, and it can go to cocktails. Swap in some stilettos, a fancy clutch and other gems, along with his black tie. Take inspiration from the OG LBD model, Chanel herself, draped in her pearls and camellias.

Ultimately, the genius of the LBD, however you define it, is that it is, in essence, simply a basic sartorial canvas onto which you can impose your personality as desired. 'occasion. Paint.

Each week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a fashion-related reader question, which you can send to her at any time via E-mail Or X. The questions are edited and condensed.




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