Why You Need a Little Black Dress

BlogHer Original Post

I am a relentless advocate of the carefully edited closet; I believe that the pieces in your wardrobe should move easily from work to weekend and from day to evening. But I also believe that there are pieces -- yoga pants, for example -- that cannot do multiple duty (yoga pants are not dress up clothes, under any circumstances, ever). Most often, we are willing to buy super casual pieces that cannot be dressed up, but we balk at buying dressy pieces, because they can't be repurposed for the grocery or the office or the sofa.

Well, it's time to get over that, because all of you need a great little black dress -- or it's beautifully shaded equivalent.

Shabby Apple Ruffled Tier DressThe after-five dress is a must-have; you can't go to a wedding or bar mitzvah or cocktail party in your jeans and a tee (no, not even a pretty one). Every so often, life throws you an event that calls for a fancy dress, something that is too nice to wear to the grocery. Rather than making due with what's in your closet and hoping that you're dressed up enough, make an effort ahead of time to have the perfect dress hanging there already. And then you'll be ready to go. Pictured: Shabby Apple Plum Tiered Ruffle Dress, $92.

So what should you look for when you're buying an after-five dress? The LBD is a classic, a blank canvas that you can style a thousand ways. A classic shape -- a sheath or wrap -- is versatile and flattering; change your accessories and you can change the whole look of the dress. But don't rule out color and pattern; if this is going to be your go-to cocktail dress, choose one that you really love. Worried that people will remember the dress from one event to another? Don't -- what they will remember is how terrific you looked, not what specific dress you were wearing. And if they do remember your dress, take it as a compliment -- clearly, you've chosen a great dress.

Don't wait for an event to shop for an after-five dress; shopping when there's no pressure gives you the freedom to focus on what you like, rather than worrying about what you should wear to your cousin's engagement party. Shopping between events also means that you can take advantage of sales. If you're choosing a classic dress, or one that works with your current look, you'll be able to spot the perfect dress when it comes along.

Do you own a great after-five dress? Or are you dressing up your everyday clothes for cocktails? What tips do you have for a night out on the town?

Susan Wagner writes about pragmatic fashion at The Working Closet and chic suburban living at Friday Playdate.

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