Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Dress - the Sheath - the LBD

Chic-est Choice

Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.
- Coco Chanel 
 Closet Content Analysis: the Dress

NICE                   NO THANKS         NOTE-WORTHY            NEED          NEW

The dress must not hang on the body but follow its lines. It must accompany its wearer and when a woman smiles the dress must smile with her.
- Madeleine Vionnet

Of all dress styles, I prefer the "sheath" dress. If you search “sheath dress” images, you will see every possible style of sheath dress ever designed. I have worn the sheath dress at a size 12 and at a size 4 and have been happy with my look at every size between.

Once again, the sheath dress is being touted as a 2012 spring fashion must-have. That reference has been made many times over in past seasons and years – the 2009 fall choice, the design of the decade and so on. The sheath dress is significant because of its prominence in every decade since Coco Chanel introduced the little black dress in the 1920s. We are in the 10th decade of wearing the LBD/sheath!

In the 1990s, I was a size 6 and my little black dress had a boat neck, was sleeveless, and the hemline hit just above the knee. Soon thereafter, I spent a decade being a size 10/12 and the only style of dress I owned was the sheath dress – sleeveless, 3/4 length sleeves, knee-length, just below the knee, v-neck, round neck, deep u-neck, square neck, boat neck. I just wore the black sheath dress (yes the one from the nineties) this last week with the jacket from my Lida Baday suit, (NICE Suit 2) on a work-related visit. 

One is never over-dressed or under-dressed in a little black dress.
- Karl Lagerfeld 

I have never watched the classic movie Breakfast at Tiffany's from beginning to end, but the LBD became a fashion icon for the 1960s and there came a cult following of the Audrey Hepburn look from the movie. Consequently many "wannabes" appeared, insofar as the look went and Hepburn apparently said, 
My look is attainable. Women can look like Audrey Hepburn by flipping out their hair, buying the large sunglasses and the little sleeveless dresses.
- Audrey Hepburn

NICE: It has to be the LBD that I still wear as I move into the end of the second decade of ownership.

NO THANKS: I'm stumped - there hasn't been a dress I haven't liked. Insofar as other dress styles go, I haven't really owned others, except for the shirt dress and that deserves a post on its own. A NO THANKS, that I wore in my early twenties, comes to mind. It was black with stylized large yellow and white sunglasses swirling below the hips and above the hemline. I was twenty-something; it was ok at that age. I loved it then but now it would be a NO THANKS because of the sunglasses. Analogous to that dress is one (in the pic) I bought just last summer. Same idea but instead of sunglasses, this one has ovals. Funny when you start analyzing your closet you find repetitive attributes.

NOTE-WORTHY: A Max Mara size 10 navy sleeveless square-necked sheath dress that I bought at a consignment shop in Calgary. It was the first time I ever bought Max Mara and I have become a follower since, although not yet a buyer. I keep visiting the Max Mara stores wherever I am in the world but have never hit the lucky place where price and preference meet.

NEED: A bright coloured sheath dress in one of the 2012 Panetone summer colours.  

Vassilios Kostestos dress, pink & orange bodice with black skirt
NEW: I haven’t purchased a dress since the summer of 2011 and so my friend’s March 2012 dress purchases in Athens, Greece will fill the NEW category.

My own memories of shopping in Athens are based in the Kolonaki district and so I was excited to talk to her about her recent experiences. The vibrant shopping district, in my memory, was filled with retail spaces, coffee shops and restaurants with beautifully well-dressed women and men carrying logo encrusted bags. But now, according to my friend, Kolonaki is in a depressed state in keeping with the general economic and political situation afflicting all of Greece.

The Kolonaki shop owners have noted that there are more foreigners than Greeks in their shops. The Canadian with Greek heritage did her part in boosting the Greek economy by buying three dresses from designer, Vassilios Kostestos, who has retail space in Athens and in New York City. 

Vassilios Kostestos Dress 1: My friend will be happy with this dress for a very long time - definitely a timeless sheath dress. I love how she "popped" the orange with her shoes (see Colour Pop in Your Wardrobe).

Vassilios Kostestos print blue & green dress, Spring, 2012
Vassilios Kostestos Dress 2: Perfect for spring and summer wearing. A strappy sandal in the bright blue or green will lighten the look and take her to anything from a summer wedding to an backyard barbecue simply by changing from heeled strappy sandals or mules to flat flip flops.

Vassilios Kostestos green dress with fringe, Spring 2012
Vassilios Kostestos Dress 3: Now here's a sheath dress with attitude! She was being smart and conservative in putting a nude shoe with this colour. However, this dress is prime for colour blocking in shoes and accessories. Stacked coloured cuffs, bangles, and bracelets and a colour pop shoe (what about the orange ones in the first pic?) fulfills the goals of colour blocking for spring and summer 2012.


NEEDED TO BUT DIDN'T: While in Lyon, France one summer, I took a photo of a dress in a shop window. I couldn't stop to explore it further and I thought if I took the photo I would remember how to get back to the shop. It didn't work. I never did find the shop but I still think about that dress, especially when I look at this photo.

Dress Buying Tips: If you find a sheath dress with a side zipper, buy it. One of the most annoying things about most of my sheath dresses is that I need help doing up the back zipper.


  1. I think your No Thanks sunglasses print dress sounds fabulous - doesn't sound like a No Thanks to me. Will you write about evening or cocktail dresses? Is there a difference?

    1. I loved it when I was twenty something but now I don't think it would be part of my wardrobe so that's the only reason it would be a NO THANKS.

      Without giving it too much thought "cocktail" is short and "evening" may be short or long; but both are formal. I shall certainly be writing about both.

  2. Relaxing in Kelowna26 April 2012 at 16:03

    I do not see myself as a dress wearer, per se, so went to my closet to check out the dress situation. Lo and behold I found SIX sheath dresses, two the famous LBD! Didn't know I was so fashionable! These will now definitely need to find a way into my wardrobe choices as the summer progresses.

    1. You see, even the alleged non-dress wearer finds the sheath dress irresistible. I don't imagine you'll be shopping for dresses soon but try this next time - take 3 different dresses into the fitting room, one of which is a sheath style. I'm betting that the sheath will beat out the other two.

      You'll have to make a conscious plan to wear your dresses this summer because it seems easier to pull on a pair of pants or capris and a striped shirt.

  3. Thank you for sharing this article, this is nice one.
    Cute Sundresses


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