Few garments I own can compete with the absolute glamour of this dress: understated black. A simple shape. An alluring neckline. The most exquisite collar.
I like to believe that this dress delights in a thinking-on-your-feet attitude. It’s a suitable personification, as it was a mad-dash find after an afternoon of shopping with my mom. I’d planned on hitting up a favorite antique store on my drive home, and, knowing I might be close to missing them, I called ahead of time to make sure they’d still be open. To my good fortune, they were.
When I arrived, though, about ten minutes before the expected closing time, they were already locking up. They were happy to let me in, however, and so, graciously, I bypassed all the old Reader’s Digests and Coke memorabilia, the tall shelves of old perfumes and Shrek glassware, the low ones of assorted salt and pepper shaker sets–one, a pair of braying donkeys that I always seem to forget having pointed out the last time. I knew exactly where I was headed.
I flew to my haven of vintage, a little space with an antique mirror decked out in hats, and, opposite that, a shelf covered in purses and gloves, a hand mirror, and a swimming cap. In the center stood the two racks: the round one, filled usually with military pieces and heavy hand-knit sweaters, and the one flush against the wall that held an assortment of dresses. I began flipping through the tight space when my hand ran over the smooth black rayon. There is was: my diamond in the rough; the ultimate Little Black Dress.
It was stunning.
I peered at the label–Elegant Miss of California–and, noting its paper lot and size tag, as well as the shift cut of the dress, quickly dated it to the sixties.
(The shift was a resurgence of the 1920s flapper style, a look that was considered unfeminine in both decades. It caught on after–and in deep contrast to–the nipped waist and full skirt of Dior’s 1947 “New Look,” which set the stylistic tone for much of the following decade.)
By this point, I’d developed an eye for whether a garment would fit me just by holding it up. Still, with the store’s No Returns policy flashing in my head, (and the commitment to buy something from the kind older couple who let me in) I was a bit nervous. But with the clock ticking, I determined that my appraisal was good enough.
When I got home, I quickly tried it on, sending a quick snapshot to my mom of the gem that I’d found.
I adored the way the dress skimmed over me, smartly giving itself its much-deserved attention, rather than the wearer. Can a dress make a person feel like an accessory? If one can, it’s this one, that carries its wearer through lunch, through crowds, through sights. Its slim lining slows down a very breathable, functional garment. It’s as if it’s saying, “Relax, I’ve got this.”
I hung it neatly and placed it in my closet, knowing it’d find it’s time to shine eventually.
And it did–one of the most fun occasions a collegiate media luncheon and awards ceremony. I threw a dusty-rose colored shrug over it to day-time the look up a little, and my outfit was near complete. The rhinestone-set collar makes for such a smashing statement piece that only a simple pair of stud earrings were needed for me to finish accessorizing.
Such compromise, such understanding of the other almost says to the dress, “Let me do the talking.”