Thursday, May 23, 2024 May 23, 2024
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Alternatives to the Little Black Dress

WHEN IT COMES TO HOLIDAY SOIRéES, the little black dress gets thumbs-up approval as a fashionable no-brainer. Quick. Easy to accessorize. Always correct. What more could a party girl want from an outfit? Plenty. Particularly this season, when evening options abound. So before you reach for your old black standby, vow to check out the latest looks-from sleek tuxedos and mod, flirty frocks to romantic ball gowns. Who knows, you might even find a new favorite.


OSCAR DE LA RENTA KNOWS NIGHT-RIGHT dressing. In addition to three decades spent stitching up festive frocks for the social set, the soft-spoken designer and his wife, Annette, are veterans of the global party circuit.

A favorite of Dallas divas, the Latin-born designer sees the holiday season as one stripped of excesses. ” In the last 10 years, fashion magazines, journalists, and designers have come to realize that for a long time, we as an industry advocated a way of dressing that was not necessarily the way women wanted to dress,” says the designer, who was in town in September for the 22nd Crystal Charity Fashion Show and Luncheon at Neiman Marcus downtown.

“Now fashion is all about a simple way of dressing. Women are not in the mood for gimmicks. Clothes must fulfill the true need in their lives. After all, as fashion becomes more of a uniform, we must all strive as individuals to portray ourselves with different manners.”

For evening, de la Renta likes the idea of a little dress and jacket in a wonderful color. “I think that is a great look,” says the designer. “We have been killed to death with the suit, but it still works. The colors I love are clear pastels…and white. I love winter white. “


Don’t take a pregnant pause from holi-day festivities just because you’re expecting. This season, ready-to-wear, party-hearty fashion sense trickles into maternity garb as well.

“Being pregnant is no reason to not look glamorous,” says Dana Rosen, co-founder of Mumsies, a Dallas maternity boutique that recently opened on Lovers Lane. “Just about anything fabulous that you see in fashion, you can find for pregnant women, too.”

To create a holiday wardrobe with staying power, choose separates that mix and match. A lace camisole, a flippy damask or velvet skirt, a chenille tunic, and velvet pants or leggings offer a variety of clever combinations.

By choosing the shapes that draw the eye away from the stomach area, moms-to-be can wear many of the same styles as non-pregnant party-goers. “Short dresses are great-they really accentuate the legs,” says Kyndra Ray, assistant manager at Pea in the Pod in Dallas. “Big flowing tops worn over velvet or satin pants are another good look. “

While black may be slimming, don’t avoid the season’s sharpest shades. Forest green, chocolate, purple, red, and blue rank as more trendy tints.

Finally, if you’re worried about your balance, bypass high heels in favor of more foot-friendly flats. Add a decorative shoe clip for added flair.

HOLIDAY OPTIONS: Advice from the Experts

NOTHING CAN REPLACE the little black dress, or LBD, as some fashion folks lovingly call it. Like pearl necklaces and diamond studs, die simple sheath, as dark as the night in which it dances, reigns supreme in every woman’s evening wardrobe.

However, the season offers other exciting alternatives. Here’s what some of the industry’s style-savvy have to say about holiday dressing-and how we should supplement our love of the tittle black dress.

LEONARD STEINBERG, Dallas-based designer for Julie & Leonard: Women are looking for something more special than just a black dress for the holidays. Every woman already has a black dress. For festive times, you want something special and unusual. Rich brocades or novelty fabrics with surface interest offer an alternative this year. Red is always a good alternative as the new “basic” shade.

BILL DODSON, president & CEO of Lilly Dodson: The understated, nothing little dress has never been a big hit in Dallas. I have never seen a woman who wanted to go to a party and not be noticed. Women want drama and glamour, which can be achieved in a variety of ways. Customers aren’t tending to ornamentation or froufrou anymore, so color is one way to get attention. Wellcut dresses with a little shimmer and shine also do that. For those who don’t want to move away from black, there are still many wonderful silhouette options that shade.

KAY GLATTER, vice president, women’s division, Stanley Korshak: The pant look is very strong for evening this season, particularly with the new shorter, narrower trouser. The look is wonderful and elegant, much more figure conscious and very chic. It’s a great option.

MICHAEL BALLAS, Dallas-based designer After a while, all those little black dresses look the same. Women should opt for something equally as sensual, but a little bit more outspoken. I like the unexpected combinations-like chiffon and leather.

JOAN KANER, fashion director, Neiman Marcus: Holiday options, while they include the little black dress, focus on choices. There is the return of the tux look, which is new in white or metallic. Capri pants in satin can be worn with a cashmere sweater set or beautiful beaded top. Long slinky evening dresses, particularly those with fishtail bottoms, are glamorous. Or a woman can pull out all the stops with a ball gown. The best advice I can give, however, is to wear something in which you will be comfortable. If you aren’t comfortable, you will feel like you’re wearing borrowed finery and you’ll fidget all night.