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So, first things first – although this post is about little black dresses, or the LDB, they need not be black – they can be any other neutral colour you prefer. I would just recommend staying away from the bright ones as this is meant to be a wardrobe staple for years and it’s really easy to get sick of bright yellow. Or remember bright yellow, for that matter. You don’t want your friends to go ‘aha, I know which one you mean,’ when you say you will be wearing your yellow dress to an occasion.
Machine-wash or dry-clean only? There are cons to both.
In terms of material and look, you need to think whether you would want a dress you could dress down for everyday occasions or something striking that would turn (at least) a few heads. The one meant for everyday occasions, for instance, could be fine at the office, earning (hopefully a few) ‘you look nice today’ comments, while the other would necessitate ‘what’s the occasion?’ The ideal is something in the middle that could be dressed down, or up, by a simple switch from flats to heels or from cardigan to a prominent necklace.
Another decision to make is whether to go for machine washable or dry clean only. Now, a lot of people would look for the fit and the style first and of course it can be excruciating to find that perfect dress, so washing instructions should not be on top of anyone’s list. But it is an important long-term consideration. To put simply, as soon as I get something machine washable, I tend to wear it all the time because I can wash it whenever I like! That means I end up washing my dresses too often, eventually wearing out the fabric.
With dry clean, however, I have had occasions where a dress has been pushed to the back of my wardrobe, only to emerge when I really need it and there is no longer time for dry cleaning.
Not enthused about showing a lot of leg? Go for a below the knee look.
Length is another consideration. Keep your arms straight down on your sides – this is the minimal length you should go for. Of course there are shorts and skirts that are much shorter, but these are better left for beaches and Sundays at the park.
In case you’re not enthused about showing a lot of leg, you can go for a below the knee or even mid-calf look. Now mid-calf is something a lot of people would recommend you to steer clear of. However, the most important point here is that the length of your dress is in an inverse relationship with the height of your heels. If you go high, you can go longer; if you short, you can go flatter.
And finally – zipping it up. Whether you prefer a back zip, a side zip or buttons, it’s always best to go for the option that enables you to get dressed on your own. So if you’re finding it impossible to zip yourself up in the changing room, think twice. Even if nine out of ten times you would have a zipper-upper readily available at home. And definitely ask shop assistants’ help as only then can you assess the fit and make sure the zip works without copious amounts of Vaseline and tears.
Would you like to know how to dress like a catwalk model for one millionth of the price? Talk to Helen.