Paint It Black
There’s a hell of a lot to be said about the merits of a warm, unembellished LBD or Little Black Dress, especially in these chilly days of March. Everyone is willing the arrival of Spring and despite brief, tantalising glimpses, there’s no getting away from the fact that it definitely ‘aint here yet. All you have to do is go outside for goodness sake and get a blast of that icy wind or experience the white, oppressive sky associated with winter in the UK. For now, the pastels aren’t coming out of hibernation. But on that note, it’s nice to see Insta eagerly awash with pastel outfits and hopeful outfit posts dedicated to Spring. Sometimes though, I feel it’s just not realistic to don these colours in March. For a start I find the light all wrong – it’s still bluish, harsh and coupled with a snap on the iPhone, means a pastel get-up can make you look even more washed out than you already are at this time of year. Well this is the case for me – I need a light tan on my skin for pastels to really ‘pop’. So for now I’m staking a claim for reality and the simple notion of a plain black dress. This is not the first time I’ve sung the praises of the ‘noir’ – many of you will remember my first ode to the the black dress here .
The Shape of You
The LBD in my photos is from Zara current season. It’s suedette and was bought for £25 from the Kings Road branch about a month ago. I loved it on the hanger – oh yes, it definitely had hanger appeal. The way it fell, the feel of the fabric, the shape. It’s a ‘Baby Doll’ cut which means it has a highish neck, a loose fitting waistline, swingy skirt and a short hem. The term ‘Baby Doll’ was first appropriated during World War 2 when the shape started life as a short nightgown (when fabric was in short supply) and then went on to be used in garments for babies and young children thereafter.
The 60s and 70s were the Baby Doll’s heyday. The mere shape of it conjures up images of carefree 1960s King’s Road with all its pep, zip and lust for life. The dress seems synonymous with these kind of images – from Marianne Fathifull sitting coyly on a stage singing ‘As Tears Go By’ to Jean Shrimpton being greedily snapped by David Bailey. Oh how times have changed and thank god. I watched a documentary on Marianne Faithfull on BBC I-player recently and seeing footage of the singer as a 20 year old back in 1964 appropriating a ‘Little Girl Lost’ image did NOT sit well with me. It was unsettling – like watching a deer in headlights. In fact, she went on to describe how a deal was done (regarding her early music career), ‘over her head’ while she was at a party with The Rolling Stones. It was as if she had no agency or input of her own in that situation. I expect she didn’t to start off with. But that was then and this is now. Do I feel slightly unhappy wearing a dress shape that has an infantile association in its nomenclature? A little, but in the end not really. It depends how you wear it and in what context. Think of it as an easy-going look, a very grown up version of the first incarnation, but with all the lighthearted 60s vibes associated with it. Think Alexa Chung and her eponymous label which has featured this dress shape a lot in its past collections.
Take it Easy
No doubt it’s a youthful shape. The fact it’s a mini, sitting above the knee definitely makes it so. Wearing it makes you want to skip (or is this just me?) It’s a ridiculously comfy dress to wear, as you just throw it on with some black stockings and boots and off you go ready to face your fate. No scratchy seams digging in, no uncomfortable waistbands, just a free flowing garment that lets you stride. I didn’t think it would suit me to be honest. I thought the shape would make me seem bulky, shapeless, but because it’s cut so nicely with a decent drape, I think it works well and almost does the opposite. The subtle cut out detail at the front and on the sleeves makes it less blocky and adds contrast. You’re nicely covered but can show your legs if you want. Below I’ve also styled it with a 60s style Zara peacoat to really add to that vintage feel. I think the fact that it’s in black brings it up to date and makes it slightly less girly. It’s not work attire, it’s slightly too short on the hemline for the office or hot desk or wherever. But it’s perfect for a day or night out with your girlfriends, a chic city break or a trip down the King’s Road. Groovy 😉
Photography – www.ashoksuren.com