Tag Archives: sewing

Is the Little Black Dress Still a Must Have?

Does the little black dress continue to be an essential wardrobe element for the woman of 2015? Do you own one?  According to Wikipedia the little black dress is “an evening or cocktail dress” that is simple and often cut short.  This definition fails to recognize the scope of the little black dress.

Prior to the Victorian era brides wore their best dress, whatever color it was, for their weddings.  Often that was a black dress, especially in Scandinavian countries.  During the Victorian era, and continuing into the 1920’s, the black dress was reserved for mourning.  It was even considered disrespectful to wear black if not in mourning.

According to Style List all of that changed in 1926 when Coco Chanel published a simple black dress in Vogue.  Vogue described Chanel’s designs as the shape of the future and the concept of the little black dress as a must have was born.  Chanel’s 1926 version was a simple black dress with long sleeves, featured with pearls.  It soon became a woman’s go to dress for any occasion.

The little black dress retained its popularity throughout the depression.  It became a symbol of simple elegance.  A woman could own a little black dress without spending a lot of money.  When she wore it she always looked pulled together.  It retained its popularity through WWII due to textile rationing.

During the 1950’s the popularity of the little black dress took a bit of a hit when it became associated with the more risqué woman, think Marilyn Monroe in a plunging neckline.  Audrey Hepburn revived it in the 1960’s when she wore a more sedate version in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Throughout the next several decades the little black dress went through multiple incarnations.  In the 1980’s it featured bits of lace or ruffles at the neckline.  In the 1990’s Kate Moss wore a leather jacket to add a bit of edge to her mini skirted, little black dress.  By 2000 the little black dress was still considered a staple for every woman’s wardrobe, but by then it was anything you wanted it to be as long as it was black and a dress.  The little black dress now includes dresses with lots of glitz.  One version is even a baby doll dress that would have been considered lingerie in earlier decades.

Today Tim Gunn of Project Runway still says every woman should have a classic little black dress.  I, however, think times are changing.  The MBA blog says a simple black dress is nice to have, but does not describe it as a must have.  The AARP Style Guide for women over 50 lists a black pencil skirt as part of a woman’s basic wardrobe but not a black dress.  Instead AARP suggests that jewel tones are much more flattering for the skin of AARP age women.

I own a basic black dress.  The last time I wore it was in 1991 to my husband’s 50th high school reunion.  Do you own a basic black dress?  When did you last wear it?  I propose that we give up the notion that every woman should have a little black dress; or even a dress at all if you don’t wear them.  I, myself, like dresses.  But this year I think I will make a new classic dress, but it will be blue or gray or maybe brown, but definitely not black.



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Chapter One – Sierra

Chapter One

It was that late evening time of day in Florida during early spring, when the mist settles over the water, the sun disappears rapidly behind the hotels, the beach is empty and loneliness wraps itself around you.  Sierra ran allowing the tears to fall until her anger turned to sadness.

She hadn’t left town yet and Bret had turned his attentions to another.  He had dismissed her as easily as he would dismiss an inept housekeeper.  Was she wrong to want a career or was she wrong to have believed that she and Bret had a future together?

  Watching the sun set during an evening run on the beach should be a time of joy, but there was no joy in Sierra this evening. It was her last evening in Florida and the longer she ran the sadder she felt.   “I really don’t care,” she said to Barnaby as he ran behind her.  She glanced back at him as if she expected him to answer, but he just gently wagged his otter-like tail as he followed her along the beach.

Barnaby stopped and sniffed at a shell, just as any brown Labrador is likely to do.  Then he ran into the water, splashing about until he came out ahead of Sierra.  He stopped briefly and shook the water from his coat, spraying Sierra as he frolicked in front of her.  Sierra continued her tirade without noticing.  “He’s a jerk.  You know it too.” Although she wanted to believe it, Sierra hadn’t quite convinced herself that she didn’t care that her fiancé had broken off their engagement.

Sierra had been running long enough that she was winded, but as she slowed down her thoughts did not.  I knew I shouldn’t have come back to Florida, she thought.  I should have looked for work in California as soon as I graduated.  Sierra had earned a degree in French from the University of Florida, but then decided to pursue her dream.  She had gone to Manhattan and had recently graduated from Manhattan’s School of Fashion Design.

She could still hear Bret’s words.  “Fashion design is such a frivolous choice for a career,” he said.  “You need to settle down so we can get married.  You’ll make a great hostess. Together we’ll make a lot of money.”

Money. That is all that matters to him.  What I want is unimportant.  The more she thought about it, the more she realized she really didn’t care that she wouldn’t be marrying him.  It hurt that he had decided to break up but she couldn’t image a life as his wife.  They had dated on and off ever since high school.   He had always expected her to do what he wanted to do.  It had always been about getting together with Bret’s friends, or going hiking where Bret wanted to hike.  It had always been about him.  

Now, totally winded, Sierra stopped, bent over and grasped her knees.  Her long dark braid shifting over her shoulder as she took several deep breaths.  The sun, now no more than a strip of yellow low in the sky, no longer cast shadows on the sand.  “Well Barnaby, we better get back.  Mrs. Browne is going to think I’ve stolen you.”

Barnaby stopped in front of her, held still, except for his wagging tail, and waited while she hooked the leash onto his collar.  “Let’s go.” And she headed toward Main Street and Mrs. Browne’s cottage.

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Frustation–Memory gone amok

There are days when it seems everything is against you.  My practically new embroidery machine keeps losing it’s memory.   My machine starts the embroidering just fine.   Then somewhere along the way it decides to do a little dance and takes a detour off the planned route.   It runs across the fabric willy-nilly  untill it finds a place it likes better than where it is supposed to go.  Then it resumes the pattern  several inches from where it started.  I love having machines that can do wonderful things, practically on their own, but I want them to do what I want them to do.  I want the results to be my creativity, not theirs.

I’ve taken the machine to the sewing machine hospital and left it in the mental ward.  Unfortunately it is County Fair week and the owner/repairman/physician/psychiatrist  is on his way to set up for the Fair this afternoon.  It may be a week or more before I know how sick my poor machine really is.  I hope its memory isn’t completely gone.

My plan yesterday was to do some embroidery on some cushions I am making for a granddaughter.   If the day had gone as planned I would be displaying them on the blog today, but life does not always go as planned.  Perhaps another day…. 


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