The “LBD” or Little Black Dress is ubiquitous in Western culture today. They’re everywhere; a uniform for every woman’s night out. They can be worn, dressed up with fancy jewelry, to even very high end venues and events. They’re often a little less “little” on the red carpet, but they’re still present. Look around the office, the LBD is there, too, dressed down with a blazer or a sweater. You probably even see your barista in an LBD occasionally.
I can get behind owning a nice multi-purpose dress for those fancy occasions that come up; it’s good to have something in your arsenal just in case. And black looks good on basically everyone, and it’s appropriate for basically every occasion. Here’s the thing, though. I really hate seeing black dresses at celebrations.
With New Year’s Eve coming up, I’m plotting my party dress (I should be clearing off my studio cutting table right now, actually), and I’ve been thinking about what I want to make. I had originally planned to use this lovely charcoal gray silk I picked up to make a 50s-ish dress; it has these adorable teeny metallic silver polka-dots and I thought it was reasonably festive… but I can’t do it. Gray is too close to black, and I really really hate wearing black for NYE.
On Winter Solstice, I’ll be wearing all the bright colors I own to celebrate the turning point. The short, dim days full of watery sunlight when they’re not full of fog or clouds bring me down; my mood is characterized by apathy and I spend my days wanting to sleep through until Spring. I occasionally thank my lucky stars I didn’t move even further north. I need a reason to celebrate; I’ve been wearing the same Navy blue and dark green and gray and burgundy sweaters for months and I really need to see some color. I have a small pile of rhinestone trim and some red yarn I’m working with sitting on my desk; I keep meaning to clear them off and put them away, but I enjoy seeing them and being reminded that it’s not always going to be dark.
It’s easy to wear bright colors in Summer. Everyone wears them; bright t-shirts, floral sundresses, colorful hats. We match our surroundings. In Winter, we match, too. Grays, dark blues, black; muted colors dominate. It’s difficult to get Winter clothing in bright colors, even. I found a fuchsia overcoat at a thrift store, and I snatched it up because it was so unusual. Gloves are almost always black, especially the heavy duty kind. Scarves get colorful, sometimes, but I don’t (often) wear Winter scarves in my office. My Mom and Sister have taken up knitting, and the gifts they’ve made me are bright colors; I wear them often, even when they don’t go with my outfit, because they’re pretty colors, and because they’re like wearing a hug; someone loves me enough to spend hours and hours on this gift for me. And in Winter, I need all the hugs I can get.
In Winter, when we haven’t seen cheerful colors in months and the weather is cold and horrible it becomes so important to celebrate something. Holidays like Christmas offer a good excuse for splashes of color. To me, though, celebrating the turning of the year, the close of all the experiences, good and bad of the old year, and a chance for a new start is the most important. It’s why I’ll celebrate Solstice, and it’s why I love New Year’s Eve parties. To be with my friends and welcome in our new experiences and pay respect to the past and to each other; to celebrate the coming longer days, to set goals for ourselves. None of these things are dark, or glum or somber. None of these go well with black.
The fashion industry, too, is to blame here. It’s really difficult to find brightly colored party dresses for New Year’s. The cursed LBD is everywhere, and it’s used as an excuse to play it safe. Black is such a popular color! Everyone looks good in it! And it sells. Bright colors are a risk; some people will dislike them, others don’t dislike the color, but do dislike how it looks on them. Still other people won’t want to risk buying a dress that will be hard to wear again; lime green isn’t really the thing at most office parties, for example. And if the bright colors won’t sell, they won’t get made.
I tend to purchase my NYE dress at thrift stores for this reason. That lime green dress that someone fell in love with 5 years ago? It’s at the thrift store for $15 this year. I’ve found bright dresses at the thrift store that I would never have expected to wear, and they’ve become my favorite dresses. I go down the rack and pull out every dress that might fit me that isn’t black, regardless of whether or not I think I’ll like it. I try them on, and more often than not, I’m surprised by how many of the dresses I *do* like. It’s a fun exercise in getting out of your comfort zone, too.
TL;DR: Wear a bright color for NYE; black is a boring and lazy choice for a celebration.