Making a Statement: How to Style a Basic Black Dress
I think it’s fitting that I end May with a major statement piece after spending the month, well, making a statement about postpartum depression (I plan to keep it up, so bookmark this page to read the latest stories or to go back and check out our whole series). This dress is a little like PPD in that it’s true potential is hidden by the standard of a black dress. At first glance, it looks like a simple, basic piece. It’s simplicity is beautiful in and of itself but it’s a different kind of beauty than the unlocked potential created by a few well chosen accessories. Like the face of motherhood, this dress can be many things but none of them are simple, basic, or insignificant.
Let’s take a look at the un-enhanced lines of the dress. It drapes beautifully and cascades down the leg giving a little peek of skin beneath a knee length slit. The skirt is not full so the slit allows for an amazing amount of movement. Also, it has pockets. Have I mentioned how much I like pockets? If pockets are your thing you need to check out this new online boutique. Almost all of Gozon’s dresses have, you guessed it, pockets.
Here’s the thing. The dress is made of a stretchy jersey material- think yoga pants in a dress. Out of the box, you might think it’s a casual piece and it can be. It’s beautiful and comfy and did I already say it has pockets? I could have easily throw this dress on for a day at the pool and it would be perfect. Give me a straw hat and a margarita and some sun and I’d be set. But, the forecast was rain, rain, and more rain, and when I saw this dress the drama hit me. All I needed was a belt (from my closet), some great shoes (from zappos), and some subtle jewelry. I checked the weather hoping for clouds but grabbed my umbrella just in case.
“Last week, I featured a shirt that emphasizes hope after the storm. But, sometimes, you just need to throw your hands up and dance in the rain.”
How to turn any dress into a statement dress:
1. Choose a solid color and a simple design. It doesn’t have to be black but keep it solid (no pattern, stripes, or lace for this look). If you love red or pink or pale blue: go for it. The cut and flow of the dress are more important than the color. For my base layer you’ll note three things: the rounded edges of the skirt which give the dress interest and a unique shape, the dramatic slit that creates movement without the excess fabric of a full skirt (though full skirts are beautiful too), and the surprise cut out in the back that balances a little skin with the modesty a maxi dress provides.
2. Add accessories. The accessories transform this dress from pool side to oscar ready. The belt, I had chosen for another dress and threw it on almost as an afterthought. I mean, it’s brown. When I think glamour I don’t think brown on black, but it worked. Which brings me to another point: experiment. You can never be sure how things will look just hanging on a rack.
3. Pick a theme and go with it. This dress could have easily gone edgy with a spiky belt and some large reflective earrings. I’m a vintage girl so my first thought was to romance it up with antique clip on earrings and vintage inspired heels (yes, I’ve traded in my flats- but I still keep it at a knee-safe 2 inches or fewer). Keep in mind that shoes in a funky color can add visual interest and help dress up your basic wardrobe items.
4. Hair and makeup. You can take any look (yes even yoga pants or a graphic tee) from blah to wow with the right hair and makeup routine. I’ll be honest, I spend less than 10 minutes on my makeup on any given day (see my routine here). My hair here may have taken about that long here as well (one quick tip for hair styling, save your curls for day old hair, it holds shape and syle much better than freshly washed locks). I wanted to go for romance, glamour, and drama with this outfit, so I paired a red lip with tousled flapper-esque hair.
There you have it. Making a statement doesn’t have to be about straying from the basics. It just takes a little effort and some creativity.