The Little Black Dress
“I own too much black” said no one ever.
The black dress whether formal or flirty, simple or statement, casual or cocktail, should be an item in everyone’s closet. The key to achieving French girl style is to have at least one dress that fits you and makes you feel fabulous. This must-have dress is one that you can style up or down and wear with your fanciest red sole shoes when you are out with friends having cocktails, or with a pair of white tennis shoes when you are on an all day shopping mission in Paris.
Many of us are purging our closets while staying at home. What else do we have to do? Spring cleaning just came a little early this year. The question is, how many of us pulled out five black dresses and thought “ah yes, I can never get rid of you”, placed them in the keep pile, and immediately forgot about any other dresses. We can easily get rid of the 2010s skinny jeans that we can’t button anymore, but a slimming black cocktail dress from that one party a few years ago makes it back into the closet every time.
Our very own Founder and CEO Nancy Flaherty is a champion of LBDs with her own private collection of vintage pieces through the decades. She also publicly admits that three quarters of her wardrobe is black or navy, and proud of it! One of her best travel packing tips is to pack some rotating black tops and bottoms and then accessorize each outfit with vibrant scarves, sweaters and jewelry. (Stay tuned for more on packing for Paris and travel packing tips.)
The best thing about the little black dress is that we can all have one. It is a universal symbol of confidence and elegance. And why stop at one, the more the merrier! If you need an excuse to do some online shopping right now, here it is. And to help you, we’ve put together some examples through history for inspiration. Allons-y!
Be sure to find a dress that fits your body type, made in the material that makes you feel your best, then style it for almost every occasion. Ponte knit, tropical weight wool, wrinkle-free cotton or crepe are all easy care fabrics to look for. From full sleeve to sleeveless, mini to midi, look for the style that suits your body type and your personality and have it fit to your body type. You can style appropriately to wear on several different occasions. Changing the look of the dress is simple with a pop of color in a blazer, a scarf or a handbag. Leopard boots, or anything leopard for that matter, make a great accent to a little black dress. Add a belt, hosiery, or jewelry to dress up or down depending on the situation - or just for fun!
Vintage LBD's with a pop of white from a Paris window
When shopping for that perfect French girl piece, you can always search any major department store’s website, for “black dress” and hundreds of options will come up. Or if you are not comfortable in a dress, a top and skirt in the right matching shades of black will work. A black jumpsuit can be a chic substitute as well.
And of course do not forget Yves Saint Laurent's “Le Smoking” aka the tuxedo for women, which will forever be considered a classic French look as well as your go-to little black ensemble.
Some classic LBD’s:
Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” - who wouldn’t want to have coffee and croissants, and stand in front of the Tiffany flagship store windows on the streets of NYC?
Coco Chanel created a drawing for Vogue 1924 and is quoted as saying “a black dress is like a Model T Ford; everyone should have one”
Grace Kelly wears a dress in Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” that is accented with a white organza skirt. When she lounges in the chair, having a conversation with Jimmy Stewart about the people in the window across the courtyard, she looks so chic and stylish.
Princess Diana wore a strapless black dress on one of her first royal engagements and while the dress might not seem so today, at the time it was considered scandalous because it was strapless and black!
Michelle Obama wore a LBD and classic pearls for her portrait as First Lady. She always looks polished in this classic ensemble and each style she chooses is sure to allow for attention to her, and not the dress.
Jennifer Anniston wears black dresses 90% of the time. Some fashionistas critique that she always wears black, but many applaud her for it because she knows it is a simple formula that always works - who doesn’t want style that always works?