Little Black Dress

Angela - St. Louis, Missouri
Entered on August 20, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

It is hidden in the back of my closet, behind the frumpy dresses and wrinkle-resistant blouses, behind black pants and corduroys, behind dry-clean-only sweaters. When I open the door, I can’t see it; all my teacher clothes are in the way. But it’s there, waiting for the next special occasion.

I know it’s been said that every woman needs a little black dress, but I didn’t believe it until I got mine. It was for a particularly-hard-to-dress-for wedding, a friend of a boyfriend getting married in an art gallery. Nothing I owned seemed classy enough for the occasion and so I headed off to the mall in search of the only thing I was certain would be suitable.

I am not a shopper. I hate going to the mall, trying things on and feeling inadequate. I hate store clerks who are the perfect size, wear the perfect makeup, have the perfect hair, whose livelihood requires them to tell me that I look “gorgeous” no matter what I tentatively step out of the dressing room wearing. Above all, I hate the way I feel when I see myself in clothes that weren’t made for a normal-sized person anyway.

On the day I went on my quest, I was determined to get in and out of the mall as quickly as possible. I wasn’t looking for perfection, just something that didn’t make me look terrible. And so, with these low expectations, I entered the first store I came to and headed for the dress rack.

And there it was. The little black dress.

This dress wasn’t much to look at on the hanger. It was little. It was black. It was a dress. I found my size, asked the hovering salesgirl for a dressing room, and crossed my fingers. Inside, I pulled off my normal clothes—baggy jeans and a t-shirt—and slipped the dress on over my head. Before stepping out of the room to look at myself in the mirror, before answering the overly-perky salesgirl’s question “Is everything all right in there?”, I shook my hips from side to side and felt the fabric swirl around me. I hadn’t seen myself yet, but I already knew that this time I just might look gorgeous.

And I did. Maybe not fashion-magazine gorgeous, maybe not red carpet gorgeous, but me gorgeous. In that little black dress, I felt like someone else, someone classy and confident. I bought it on the spot.

I’ve had the dress for almost five years now. That’s the beauty of the little black dress—it never goes out of style. And even though I don’t have a lot of opportunities to wear it any more, it still comforts me to know it’s there, in the back of my closet, ready to transform me one more time.

This is what I believe in. I believe in the power of the little black dress.