Tim Gunn’s Essentials: the Little Black Dress, Revisited

I’ve written a couple of posts about my very best friend Tim Gunn’s Ten Essential Wardrobe Elements. So far I’ve written about the Trendy Indulgent Item and the Day Dress. Today, as I am lounging in my knit shorts, baggy tee shirt and hair-in-a-bun, I am inexplicably drawn to the top item on Tim’s list, the Little Black Dress.

Being a woman of a certain age, I have a history of various LBD’s. Looking back with loving but objective eyes, I see that most of them fell a bit short of the elegant ideal I had in my mind: Audrey in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Edith Piaf, Victoria Beckham (just to show I’m Not Dead Yet). With my fuzzy hair and wide smile I have never been able to come off as “cool”, which seems to be the prerequisite for these glamorous ladies in their LBD’s.

In my 20’s I went through a period of baggy, shapeless black dresses, in linen or knit, with minimal accessories. This was fun and easy, and, being young I could get away with a lot of rough-around-the-edges.
Later I developed, and still enjoy, a passionate love of black dresses from the 50’s and early 60’s. “Marilyn” dresses, with fitted waists and either slim or full skirts. I found, though, that my lifestyle didn’t often accomodate these beauties and I didn’t want to change my lifestyle too much. I gave some to the Humane Society Thrift Store, and have kept a few for special occasions. They are flattering to my shape and the quality of construction is still superb. I love the old metal zippers.
I’ve owned a couple of this era’s little black dresses
Image via littleblackvintagedress.com
I still love a great black dress and I find my eyes are drawn to them in any photo spread or online store. Here are some I have been watching:
This is denim! From Nordstrom’s
Lauren by Ralph Lauren, so chic and simple

I’d wear these mostly to work, and I’d probably dress them down with cardis, blazers, tights, boots, etc. Special nights out with my husband would also be suitable for these dresses, especially in my dream city, New York. I am learning from my fellow bloggers how to make an LBD more versatile, and I’ll write more about that in the near future. For now, I’ll rest my eyes on this timeless vision:

Do you own/wear LBDs? Do you agree with Tim that they are a wardrobe essential?
Reminder:  Monday, July 18th is Visible Monday, a group posting for anyone who’d like to participate. The simple guidelines are here. Basically, just post something that makes you feel wonderful/visible. Then follow the simple instructions, and sit back to watch the fun.
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  1. I'm pretty sure Tim calls it a "Basic" Black Dress, not a "little" back dress, by which I think he means versatile (work to cocktails, etc.). That being said, I love the selections you have from Nordstrom and Ralph Lauren. I've picked up a couple that can be dressed down, with a denim jacket, for example, or up with an evening shawl.
    I too love Tim's list and have just finished revamping my closet to reflect his guidelines.
    Love the blog!

  2. I have a lot of LBDs too, and just like kbfenner — they all hang in my closet, which is such a bummer, because I love them. I just never know how to wear them. I don't go out, and they just always seem dressy to me.

  3. My jaw dropped to realize that the Nordstrom's dress was denim. That would be my favorite of this bunch…think currently I have three LBDs in the closet in three very distinct styles.

  4. You are lucky to own some fabulus black dresses even if you don't wear often. I only have one black dress and I've made a mild use of it,yet but it has been a great help in situations that I needed to look presentable but I didn't know exactly how .You can't go wrong with a black dress.I like that you always find a little story to say about the clothes you wear through the decades.

  5. I buy them, but so often they languish in my closet–I don't go out in the evening to places or events that aren't rather casual. It's like an LBD can either be dressy or office-y (I don't work in an office) or super casual. I seem to need a business casual look with some power, an effortless social look or grunge-y clothes…

  6. First let me say that you do not have fuzzy hair and you have a beautiful smile. I was thinking just yesterday what a lovely smile you have.
    As to the little black dress–I just realized I have never owned one. Navy yes, but black no. I love the 50's and 60's dresses, but they do not suit my body.

  7. I actually have several. They are my go to piece when I need to dress like a lady.
    For all those other times I just let me be me.
    I'm in fluffy shorts and a T also!
    Have a good weekend!

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