Close your eyes and picture a beautiful woman in a Little Black Dress – the uniform of New York.
Chances are you conjure Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in the film of the Truman Capote’s classic, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
The iconic opening scene – featuring a pre-dawn, whippet-thin Audrey, dressed in perfectly cut Givenchy, long gloves, dark glasses and a swirling up-do – is seared into our consciousness.
Hepburn/Holly’s LBD is her armor, her art and her artifice.
So what is it about an LBD that demands space in every woman’s closet?
LBDs are forgiving – Slip one on, and you instantly look thinner and taller when it’s well-cut and figure-appropriate. A talented seamstress or tailor is a good person to develop a relationship with.
LBDs are great cheaters – It can be as difficult to spot an inexpensive LBD as it is to detect a cubic zirconia at a glance. With haute couture runway being copied and reproduced for the H&Ms and Zaras of the world within weeks, all you need is your best accessories, good posture and a little attitude.
LBDs are versatile – You can easily segue from day to night, simply by swapping daytime pumps for nighttime Jimmy Choo platform sandals. Leave your tote behind and pull out your YSL clutch, add a pop of bling and you are good-to-go to an event or dinner.
LBDs are good travelers – An LBD looks as chic in L.A. or Monaco as it does in New York. If it’s knit or jersey, pack it well in tissue, and chances are you won’t even need to steam it on arrival.
LBDs are timeless – As an investment, a good LBD is as solid as a savings bond. I still wear a Dolce & Gabbana sleeveless wool turtleneck sheath dress I bought back in 2002. Why would I part with it? It looks as fabulous and stylish as the day I bought it. At this point, it costs pennies per wear.
LBDs are brainless – It may be the one item in your closet you put on with complete confidence that requires no second-guessing. If you have ever lamented the ease with which men get dressed every day, well, the LBD should give you some comfort.
Is there a menswear equivalent to the Little Black Dress? Of course.
A classic navy blazer and gray trousers can gracefully take a man almost anywhere. Since it is a staple in most men’s wardrobes, it makes sense to buy the finest quality you can afford. Originally, most navy blazers were double-breasted, from their uniform origins. Most men prefer the ease of a single-breasted style, because to look their best, double-breasted jackets must remained buttoned.
Optimally, it’s best to have a light-weight wool version for warmer months and a heavier cashmere or flannel for the winter months. Silhouettes are so much slimmer and more refined in cut than they were years ago. You can appear several pounds thinner just by taking the leap. Merely altering your old blazer will not do the trick. The shoulder line will be broader and will not tailor well. It’s worth every penny to update your navy blazer if it is more than a few years old.
Personality can easily be injected with the choice of shirts and ties. Khakis or ivory linen trousers can replace gray wool or flannel in the spring and summer.
A more formal approach would be a perfectly cut dark suit in a midnight navy or charcoal gray with a crisp white shirt, pocket square and a brown slip-on shoe. No tie required. It’s elegant and irresistible and gives every man who wears it the touch of je ne sais quoi that women adore.
If a man were sipping coffee and gazing into a window at dawn, either coming to or from me, that’s exactly what I would imagine he would be wearing.
Holly, meet your match.
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