Why The LBD Still Matters!
Why the LBD is Still Your Best Friend
You’ve got one in your closet. Probably more than one. So does your mother, your sister, your best friend and even your grandma. Heck, I’d venture to guess that your great grandma has one too. It’s likely moved with you from home to home and has survived even the most brutal, recent clear-out you’ve done of your wardrobe. Because it still sparks joy. I’m talking, of course, about the little black dress, an item of clothing so iconic that it even has its own memorable nickname: The LBD.
It’s widely believed that Coco Chanel unleashed the LBD in the 1920s, her belief being that every woman needed a reliable go-to dress. That dress needed to be muted enough in color to be versatile and it needed to be accessible and affordable, those being the depression years. Fast forward to 1961, the year that Audrey Hepburn starred in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in possibly the most famous little black dress to date, and the need for a dress that looks just as good under a trench coat as it does accessorized with pearls and huge sunglasses was still going strong.
Today we live in a world of fast fashion where accessibility is no longer a problem, yet we cling to our little black dresses and we buy more of them, much to the bewilderment of some men.
“But they all look the same to me,” my husband will bravely say when I ask him to help me choose from 6 LBDs spread across our bedroom floor 20 minutes before we need to head out to a black tie function.
‘The same!?” I balk incredulously. “The same? No, see this one has a back zip and this one has a side zip, whereas this one is sleeveless as opposed to this cap sleeved one that has a bit of lace at the collar. Can you not see the lace?” I ask, truly amazed that this otherwise intelligent man can’t see that while all LBDs are fabulous, they are all different and serve us in different ways.
“Ok, wear THAT one,” he finally says, wisely choosing the one that he knows I feel my best in. He’s no fool. We are already running late.
I throw on a chunky rhinestone necklace, silver strappy heels, put my hair in a messy ponytail and we are out the door. And I feel great. Because “feel” is the operative word here.
That’s the power of the little black dress. It’s like the perfect friend, the one who is supportive, cheering you on from the sidelines, but never stealing your thunder. It lets your personality take center stage while it quietly does the heavy lifting, making sure that everything is in the right place, leaving you with nothing but confidence. It camouflages what you’d rather keep hidden and shines a spotlight on the best parts of you.
Recently, while visiting my sister in New York, I witnessed a little bit of pure magic. It was Sunday and she’d spent much of the day attending to the business of her 4 small children in their compact Upper West Side apartment. She moved swiftly and efficiently, keeping them all happy, dry, entertained and well fed, and she did this wearing her normal weekend uniform of a tank top and slouchy shorts, hair in a bun on top of her head and zero makeup. Her petite frame and youthful face made her look more like a teenaged babysitter than the mother with a demanding career that she is.
She had a benefit dinner to attend that evening and the day passed by in a blur of kiddie chaos, leaving her almost no time to get ready before bolting out the door to catch a cab downtown.
“Do me a favor and keep an eye on these guys for a minute, will you?” she asked.
She disappeared into her bedroom while I sat on the floor with the boys who were busy making wrestling action figures fight each other (better than the boys themselves fighting, I suppose). I wondered how my sister would be able to transform herself from essentially a ‘Sunday pajama’ look into ‘benefit-ready glam’ in less than 15 minutes. I’d need triple that time. More, if I’m being honest.
She emerged from her room after what seemed like seconds, completely transformed. She’d swiped on a generous helping of black mascara, dropped the hair bun into a loose knot at the nape of her neck and had thrown on the killer heels of a woman who was going to a place where there would be no sippy cups or wrestling action figures. And in the middle of the hair, makeup and shoes she wore a tight black, knee length sheath that, even though I’d seen her in a million times before, blew me away. The overall effect was simply, “Wow”.
“Wow!” I said as she headed towards the front door.
“Yeah, it’s the dress,” she said, smiling. “I’m really feelin’ myself in this. Ok, bye!”
As she walked out the door, leaving her brood to teach me the rules of flag football, I understood that the LBD was just one of those things that made life better. And it was here to stay.