Sometimes we need to show up to a cocktail party, a luncheon where we need to be presentable, or dinner and the Opera. We want to look pulled together and pretty, but without too much flash and theatricality. And please God, if we are sitting through 5 hours of Wagner, we need to be comfortable as well. For such occasions, the archetypal shape is the A-line, with the nipped in waist and flared skirt. The neckline varies, from bateau to boat neck, scoop neck and V-neck. This look is flattering on EVERYONE, and harkens back to the feminine silhouettes of the 50's. You can imagine Liz Taylor wearing one of these out to lunch with Monty Clift. This would probably NOT be the look if you intend to audition for the Real Housewives, not near enough cleavage. (How do I know? Yeah, I'm a reality ho' who has seen every episode of every series...). You can wear a variety of shoe styles with these pretty pops of color, from flats for a more casual look, to medium high heels, to sky high Manolos with rhinestones for a more sexy and festive vibe. For fun, mix and match different pastels in the same family. Or, go completely matchy matchy if the mood strikes!
If you want arm coverage for whatever reason, top off the dress with a cashmere bolero. These are easy to extract yourself from in the midst of a hot flash or a schwitz.
Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera do this style like nobody's business, often combining beautiful silk fabrics with vibrant flattering colors and embellishments for extra visual interest. You can always jazz up these dresses with rhinestone encrusted strappy sandals or a sequined scarf. There will always be an apropos pair of Manolo's to throw on with these dresses as well.
Oscar and Carolina are the standard bearers when it comes to this look, but Lela Rose is another designer you can always count on to include the perfect little frock amongst her usual selectons.
Dolce & Gabbana, one of my favorite design houses, always includes the conservative feminine entries along with the the jaw droppingly gorgeous and splendiferous items. And yet there is always a hint of allure in the mix....for contrast, put on leopard print flats or high heels.
As a variation on the above theme, I've included these beauties from Bottega Veneta and Stella McCartney!
BLACK PATENT MARY JANE MANOLO BLAHNIK..............It isn't just lore anymore!
The Mary Jane Manolo is just a great staple piece you can wear on pretty much any occasion, it can put a sexy and coquettish spin on a more conservative dress, is just plain smoking hot with skinny leather pants, or completely at home with a Dolce and Gabbana or Akris suit. Allpurpose. Ever since I heard Carrie Bradshaw's sqeal of delight when she stumbled on the black patent MARY JANE MANOLO'S in the "Vogue Closet", in the fourth season of Sex and the City, I've been obsessed. I found the same sky high pair at Neiman Marcus circa 2003, just to have them in my shoe stable, since they were higher than my clumsy ass should wear. Alas, they were stolen before I could ever wear them. Thank goodness NM had a similar MJ when I came to the sad conclusion they were gone. (Note to self, don't give too many people keys to the kingdom). The new pair has a slightly lower heel, which is probably just as well. If you can't find some patent MJ's on line or in the stores, you mght have luck on eBay. This is what you might refer to as a no brainer.
Here are some shoes from my own archives that would go in a slightly different direction than the Manolo's, more casual.
I'd throw on the yellow LV kitten heel pumps with the green or blue Oscars, for some feminine funkitude!
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