"Why not be one's self? That is the whole secret of a successful appearance. If one is a greyhound, why try to look like a Pekinese?" - Edith Sitwell (as pilfered from Tim Gunn's book, just because)
Back to our "splurge vs. save" list we recently worked on, let's work through those basic wardrobe items we each should have in our closet. First up in this Pretty series is the go-to cocktail dress, which I argue is worth buying in the best quality that you can actually afford. This is too weighty a subject to cover in one mere post - or was my ambition to write such a post derailed by the arrival of my "Mad Men" season 2 DVDs last night??? - so I'm going to touch on the basic dress today & move along to some other greats and accessorizing the next.
Ideally, the go-to cocktail dress can take you from work (in a professional environment, that is, as covered by a cardigan and daytime accessorized as appropriate), to an after-work party, to a dressier date, or to a semi-formal wedding. For those of us residing in the more traditional bit of the US (read: Texas or the South), I'll argue that this dress should neither be in black nor white for purposes of attending a wedding, where that is Just Not Done in certain circles, but I'll include my current LBD faves below.
For purposes of a go-to dress that will last you beyond the season - oh-so-important particularly now in These Difficult Times - I'm a fan of buying something in a very basic cut and pattern (or lack thereof). If you get a classic enough silhouette, in a color unlikely to go out the next season (ie, not chartreuse), you can make it current or dress it up or down with your accessories (again, more on the accessorizing bit the next time).
Just to get the conversation started - again, my breaking this up into parts has nothing whatsoever with my writing life being derailed by a certain DVD set - here are some examples (all images credit to Chickdowntown unless otherwise noted):
Black Halo "Keyhole Ruffle Sheath": In a color & lightweight blend material that would work for most seasons, this is a dress that could easily be dressed up or down; picture it with a blazer and conservative chemise underneath for work, for example. More from this designer in a minute; as SLynnRo recently noted, this line has been everywhere lately and rightly so.
And on a related, recessionista note, look at what I found over at - I know, I know - Forever 21:
Forever 21 "Evangeline Dress": Awfully similar for a literal fraction of the price - if you can bear to walk into the store, that is (as I always recommend you do, vs. ordering online, to assess the quality of this type of budget find). This au courant grey both works for this fall, but isn't so trendy that you would have to replace it soon thereafter.
My two, Santa-please-bring-these-early LBD favorites, which I will try to bargain hunt for you
once I get through these Season 2 DVDs again:
Black Halo "Maureen" Dress, probably the most classic, likely to last cut of all of these, and:
Black Halo "Jackie O." Dress (also available in to-die-for scarlet).
What do you think so far - any requests for Volume 2?