Tag Archives: little black dress

Style by Lauren Conrad

Lauren Conrad celebrated her 26th birthday earlier this week, so we thought it’d be appropriate to write a review of her fashion guide, simply entitled Style.  This editor had seen the book in Urban Outfitters about two years ago.  It looked halfway decent, but didn’t get around to borrowing it from a friend until last November.  Honestly, I was pretty skeptical when I started to read it…  Don’t get me wrong – I have loved “LC” since my college roommate and I stayed in the dorms instead of going home for our Fall Break freshman year, and watched an entire Laguna Beach marathon.  Ever since she stated that she wore her eye makeup according to her mood, I have been on Team Lauren.  But we know she didn’t get a coveted internship at Teen Vogue because of a unique sense of style, or dedication to the subject.  She looked like every other teenage girl in the US at the time – slim-cut jeans, flip-flops and straightened hair.  We know, because we saw her sport these outfits every week on the TV show that followed around her high school clique.  BUT, she was one of the few American teenagers with her own reality show at the time.  Conrad went on to work for the magazine (whose sales doubled, following her hire), and eventually for the fashion PR firm, People’s Revolution.  Despite her career origins possibly stemming from a stunt, she obviously has true dedication for the subject, otherwise she still wouldn’t be working in the industry; she would have accepted other ridiculous reality show deals and movie offers her tacky co-stars have indulged in.  My other hesitation about taking LC’s fashion advice seriously, is the fact that she continuously thanks her stylist, makeup artist and hairdresser throughout the book (she even dedicated it to them); while it’s lovely she thanks the people responsible for her “look,” shouldn’t they be the ones writing a style guide then?  Despite that, it seems Conrad has picked up quite a bit of knowledge working in fashion, and living as a television celebrity.  The book is divided into three sections: Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle, and their subsections: Building Your Wardrobe, The All-American Uniform: Jeans and T-shirts, The Hunt: How to Shop, Mastering Your Closet, Accessories, Getting Dressed: The Fun Part, Makeup, Hair, Work and School, Travel, and Events and Parties.  The basics sections of these guides tend to all sound the same, promoting the same exact items every woman should have in her wardrobe: a little black dress, a pair of well-fitting jeans, a button-down shirt, a blazer and so forth, and Conrad is no different listing the same items with a few of her own additions.  Kind of a “been there, done that” feel.  (Seriously, was there some kind of Procrustean fatwa issued to fashion authors from clothing companies that makes them all repeat the same things?)  Although, this list is notoriously repeated probably due to the versatility of each item.  It’s the starter kit for any American woman trying to reform her wardrobe.  (Note: Let it be said, due to Conrad’s background, this guide is more of a how-to look like an upper middle class girl from southern California.  It’s got some fantastic tips, but Lauren did grow up in Orange County, which heavily influences the way she dresses.)  Conrad does do an excellent segment on the LBD (pictured, above right), showing how it can be worn five different ways: bohemian, evening, preppy, casual and edgy.  People often write how a little black dress can be easily changed with accessories, but rarely demonstrate how many ways the same dress can be worn.

Throughout the guide, Conrad gives makeup advice, how-to hairstyles, and what to buy and wear.  It’s similar to a lot of basic fashion books, but LC does give this one her own edge.  The absolute best statement Conrad makes is, “Style Is Lawless” (on page 108).  She explains that she doesn’t believe there are any rules in fashion, saying that people can wear white after Labor Day and that black and navy can definitely be worn together if the materials differ (like black jeans with a navy blazer).  We agree with her 100%.  While there are guidelines of what to wear to work, weddings, churches, funerals, interviews, and other social events, there’s no reason people shouldn’t be adventurous in their own down-time with their own clothing!  How else are you going to take risks and learning what you like?!  Conrad also lists some excellent discount fashion websites, including Gilt, Rue La La, HauteLook, and Editors’ Closet, which I highly recommend.  There are truly unique items at real discount prices on these sites, which people could lose hours looking at!  Conrad promotes the use of cobblers, which we also love.  Our editors are descended from Italian shoemakers (which probably accounts for our stiletto passion), and we rarely hear people esteem this dying art.  Every pair of shoes, no matter the price, eventually does get scuffed, scraped or worn down.  We have our favorite pairs fixed often (mostly getting the taps replaced on our well worn “skinny stilettos”).  It’s a great investment, and much cheaper than buying another pair of shoes!  Conrad mentioned that she gets boots that are too tight stretched out at her cobbler to make them more comfortable, and noted that shoes can be stretched in width, but never in length, so it’s important to buy the proper size.  (Two things this editor did not know footwear!)  Miss LC had some other very cute ideas.  She discussed several guidelines for buying vintage, and showed a very dated 1980s prom dress that she had bought – and how adorable it looked when she just removed the puffy sleeves on it.  In one simple move, she showed what could be perceived as garbage, and made a brand new cocktail dress!  Genius.  Conrad also likes to use shoe clips to dress up simple pumps, instead of buying multiple pairs of fancy heels.  We thought this was such a creative idea, because how often do people use shoe clips anymore?  Plus it saves money!  It gave me a reason to finally use the decorative white barrettes from my First Communion that have been sitting in my sock drawer for 18 years!  The last piece of Lauren’s advice we loved was the idea to buy pins with pearlized ends from a craft store to hang necklaces from.  It sounds basic enough, but makes a lot more sense than using nails and flattened staples (like I did as a teenager…) if you’re looking for a pretty way to store jewelry other than in a box.  Other than my original hesitation, the only complaint I have with the book is the advice given in the Work and School section.  Conrad has really only worked in the fashion industry, so the rules for appropriate work clothing is different for her than the majority of the world.  She mentions wearing tights and cardigans to work, which seems harmless enough, but it also sounds like she’s outfitting a little girl from the 1950s.  While American men dress for the job position they’re already in, American women actually have to dress above their own position if they hope to get promoted (i.e. If you’re a secretary, you should dress like an executive.  So no sweater-sets if you want to move up in the world!)  The fashion world has completely different rules for office clothing, because they’re under the pressure to look edgy, as well as professional.  This advice is explained in better detail in the classic Dress for Success by John T. Molloy, one of the most important style guides ever written.  (Guess it would have made sense to review that book before any others – especially since we’re always referring to it!)  LC has come a long way from the quiet teenager on Laguna Beach and it’s nice to see her have a passion for fashion, when so many of her counterparts seem like they want to make a quick buck off their 15 minutes.  Despite my initial reservations, Conrad put together an entertaining and lovely style guide for young American women.  We’re proud to still be on Team Lauren, even 8 years later! ❤


What About Breakfast at Tiffany’s?

Breakfast at Tiffany’s celebrated its 50th anniversary this month, which is the reason every article this week has been about the famous film.  Based on the novella of the same name by Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s tells the story of a seemingly glamorous party girl named Holly Golightly in New York City and her new neighbor, Paul Varjak, who she nicknames “Fred.”  While the book is certainly different than the film (Holly is blonde, Fred is gay – as made famous on an episode of Seinfeld), but the story of a lost Manhattan party girl laid the groundwork for many famous pieces of fiction with the same premise including, most notably, Sex and the City.  Directed by Blake Edwards, both he and Truman Capote preferred Marilyn Monroe for the lead role, but her agent thought it was a bad idea.  (We personally think the movie would have lost much of its charm if Marilyn was the star – while playing a well-dressed call girl is all Miss Monroe actually was, we feel it  just would have been a sad commentary on the troubled actress’s real life.  Plus, we’ve always preferred the elegant brunette over the blonde bombshell…)  Audrey Hepburn is the epitome of taste and elegance, so it made more sense to have her play against type in this romance.  While Holly Golightly seems like she’s always having a good time, she’s actually dying inside – and beautiful clothing is the perfect disguise.  The costume supervisor on the film was Edith Head – the 8-time Academy Award winning film costumer who outfitted Audrey in many of her movies.  The majority of Holly Golightly’s wardrobe was designed by the legendary Hubert de Givenchy.  The French designer and Hepburn met in their early 20s while they both worked on the 1953 film Sabrina (another Audrey flick with fantastic fashion).  The film went on to win an Academy Award for costume design, for which Edith Head received all the credit for (which also kind of happened on this set…), which Hepburn was not happy about and swore would never happen again.  It’s no surprise the two became lifelong friends, and Audrey became the elegant designer’s #1 muse.  (Fun Fact: Givenchy’s first perfume, L’Interdit, which means “forbidden” was made for Audrey!)  His gorgeous creations included the pink cocktail dress, orange coat, and several little black dresses.  Although Coco Chanel invented the LBD, the sensation of this movie and the stir it created with its opening scene, the little black dress became de rigueur for cocktail parties everywhere.  After 50 years, it still constantly makes it onto the fashion “must-have” lists of taste gurus, fashion designers, magazine editors, etiquette experts and even romance websites.  The costumers were quite clever in reusing Holly’s clothing throughout the film.  As a struggling city girl, it would make sense that she would have limited options, but each piece she wears again usually looks different do to her accessory changes.  For example, her little black dresses are seen several times, but she is usually sporting different accents – one LBD appears in the beginning complemented with a big black hat when she’s on her way to visit Sing Sing; it reappears again when she’s wearing a small black hat with a white muff and feathers attached; again at her party she highlights the outfit with sparkly earrings and a huge statement necklace; and another time she comes home from a date with a long, white silk scarf flowing from her neck in the same LBD.  Holly’s famous Burberry trench coat also makes an appearance twice.  Miss Golightly’s penny-pinching shows up in her apartment, too.  While there’s hardly any furniture, the single piece she does have in the living room is actually half a bathtub with some decorative throw pillows.  (Perhaps a metaphor for Holly herself?  A damaged piece searching for her other half that’s easily disguised with pretty accessories?)  Although Holly’s wardrobe is supposed to be “low-end,” she still looks damn good in every scene.  Even her nightwear is even super glamorous!  A pretty peach robe, tux shirt and eye mask with half-up, half-down hair and she still looks gorgeous!  Her accessories, including Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses, long black gloves, strands of white pearls and huge black hats, are legendary and have been associated with the film ever since.  If you’re donning one of those items, people inevitably ask you if you’re channeling Audrey.  (Well, of course we are!)  And even though the movie surrounds and constantly describes the allure of the most famous jewelry store on the planet (Tiffany & Co.), Holly cannot afford anything there.  She famously states, “I think it would be tacky to wear diamonds before I’m 40.”  It’s not age – it’s probably due to the fact she can’t buy them herself, and no man has ever bought her real jewelry.  The only piece she does receive is a Cracker Jack ring from Paul, but Tiffany’s does engrave it for them! ❤  In short, Breakfast at Tiffany’s has one epic wardrobe that still influences fashion half a century later.  It cemented Audrey Hepburn as a style icon and made several chic items as famous as the movie itself!  Its influence on costume design and classic style is legendary.  It’s theSkinnyStiletto‘s all-time favorite film wardrobe, and it forever changed the look of women everywhere.  Just as Paul said, “You’re a stylish girl, can’t we end this stylishly?”  Yes, we can.


“Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s.  Calms me down right away.”  Earlier this week we described how Breakfast at Tiffany’s made the “little black dress” the essential go-to cocktail party outfit and showed the knee-length black frock Audrey wears several times throughout the movie.  Although the shorter dress is what many picture when they talk about the LBD, it is actually this stunning Givenchy gown that Hepburn famously dons in the opening scene of the film that created the sensation.  This dress went to auction in 2006 at Christie’s and was sold for a record-breaking $923, 187.  (Fun Fact: At the time it was the most expensive piece of clothing ever sold, until Marilyn Monroe’s white dress from The Seven Year Itch went for $5.5 million this past summer.)  Made of Italian black satin, the gown has cut-out décolleté on the back and is fitted at the waist.  The accessories in this scene are just as famous as the dress; Holly Golightly’s big black sunglasses, long black gloves, elegant cigarette holder, miniature tiara and multi-layer pearl necklace have forever been affiliated with Audrey’s natural glamour.  If you’re wearing any of those items, people will comment that you’re channeling the majestic Ms. Hepburn.  Although the movie revolves around Tiffany & Co., none of Holly’s jewelry actually comes from the famous New York store, because she’s a struggling downtown call girl, so even though she looks like a million bucks, it’s all just an illusion (actually the dress did go for a million bucks – only 45 years later!)  This look is the definition of ultimate elegance, and our editors’ absolute favorite movie costume.  We could write about it for days, so we’ll keep it to a minimum.  We only wish we could look this good on a Sunday morning after a night of partying!


In this iconic picture of our “Tuesday Twosome,” Audrey is wearing the dress that made the LBD (“little black dress”) famous.  Here, she pairs her knee-length, sleeveless silhouette with her usual oversized sunglasses, black gloves, and matching hat with a soft, camel colored sash around the top.  George Peppard looks smart and meticulous in his fitted wool blazer, white oxford, cranberry tie, and camel-colored sweater vest that matches Audrey’s sash.  The two look put-together, and complement one another beautifully (better than they realize at this point in the movie).  Audrey’s dress was designed by Hubert de Givenchy and chosen by the film’s costume designer, Edith Head.  As a struggling call girl, you see Holly reuse this dress later in the film.  This outfit not only made the LBD famous, but forever associated big black sunglasses and large brimmed hats with Audrey’s eponymous style.  It’s also the costume Audrey has on in one of the most famous photos of her ever taken (pictured, left).  This scene gave birth to appropriate cocktail attire everywhere, making it one of the most revered outfits in motion picture history!


To continue our celebration of moms for Mother’s Day, we’re showing mother-and-child combinations all week for “Look-of-the-Day!”  Today’s is none other than our favorite living icon, Victoria Beckham, with her youngest son, Cruz.  Posh looks, well… posh, in her fitted black dress, black Christian Louboutin heels and Giambattista Valli Handbag.  Little Cruz looks adorable in his white Lacoste shirt, jeans and own little rolling luggage!  On their way to (or from) the airport, Posh is dressed the way people used to fly when commercial airlines were first invented – in style!

The Audrey Hepburn Obsession

“I never think of myself as an icon.  What is in other people’s minds is not in my mind.  I just do my thing.” – Audrey Hepburn.  As we’ve mentioned in our Look-of-the-Day today, it would have been Audrey Hepburn’s 82nd birthday, if she had lived to 2011.  Our editors have loved her as long as we can remember, watching Roman Holiday and Sabrina as little girls.  She is THE fashion icon, plain and simple.  Here are the top ten reasons we’re in love with Audrey Hepburn:

  1. Motherhood:  However messy Audrey’s love life might have been, she did produce two adoring sons; Sean, with first husband Mel Ferrer, and Luca, with second husband Andrea Dotti.  Sean Ferrer has said, “She really was like those characters you saw in the movies, emotional, courageous, delicate, and romantic.”  He went on to write a biography about the famous actress, but he told the story of a mother, not of any of the characters she portrayed. “The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.”
  2. Humanitarian:  Audrey retired from acting while at the top of her game in the 1960s, to devote her life’s work to being a mother and later as a UNICEF ambassador.  She remembered that UNICEF was responsible for bringing her food and medical relief when World War II ended and she wanted to do her part in helping starving children around the world.  Audrey took field trips to Venezuela, Ecuador, Turkey, El Salvador, Thailand, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.  She became a voice for people who didn’t have one.  She testified before Congress, launched UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children reports, participated in benefit concerts and tirelessly gave speeches to the media, sometimes as many as 15 interviews a day in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  In December of 1992, Audrey received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award given in the U.S., by President George H. W. Bush.  Although Audrey was stricken with cancer that year, she still continued her work with UNICEF, and even travelled to Kenya and Somalia. “Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: the first is to help yourself, the second to help others.”
  3. Dutch Resistance:  Audrey wanted to be a prima ballerina and studied ballet throughout her childhood.  When she was in German-occupied Netherlands,  Audrey would perform for groups of people to collect money for the Dutch Resistance (anti-Nazi efforts) and she volunteered as a nurse in a Dutch hospital.  At 16, Audrey was tending to a young injured soldier, a British paratrooper, who would one day become the famous director of her Oscar-nominated performance, more than 20 years later, in Wait Until Dark: Mr. Terence Young.  “It’s that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second.  This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up.  Others matter more than you do, so ‘don’t fuss, dear; get on with it.'”
  4. Wonderful Friend:  Apparently there isn’t a co-star that didn’t fall a little bit in love with Audrey… except for Humphrey Grumpy.  Gregory Peck has said, “There is no doubt that the princess did become a queen – not only on the screen.  One of the most lovely, one of the most skillful, one of the most intelligent, one of the most sensitive, charming actresses – and friends in my life – but also in the later stages of her life, the UNICEF ambassador to the children of the world.  The generosity, sensitivity, the nobility of her service to the children of the world, and the mothers of the world, will never be forgotten.”
  5. Unlimited Capacity for Love:  Audrey was in love with being in love.  She was deserted by her father as a child and longed for someone to fill that void.  Although she was married twice, and had a third partner until the time of her death, Audrey managed to spread love in her trails like Tinkerbell with her fairy dust.  Audrey loved her sons, she loved her friends, she loved her co-stars, and she loved every child in the world.  “Your heart just breaks, that’s all.  But you can’t judge, or point fingers. You just have to be lucky enough to find someone who appreciates you.”
  6. Self-DepricatingAudrey was never the one to shy away from poking fun at herself.  She had sworn time and time again that she couldn’t act, couldn’t sing, and could never make it to the big screen with her perfectly “funny face.”  To this day she is still voted as one of the best actresses, and one of the most beautiful women ever.  It’s not hard to see why – her beauty certainly wasn’t skin-deep.  “I never thought I’d land in pictures with a face like mine.”
  7. EGOT Winner: Audrey is one of only 12 people that have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony award.  She won them for the following: Emmy for “Flower Gardens” episode of Gardens of the World Outstanding Individual Achievement  for Informational Programming (she won this posthumously); Grammy for Audrey Hepburn’s Enchanted Tales for the Best Spoken Word Album for Children (won posthumously); Oscar for Roman Holiday for Best Actress in 1954, and she also won the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993 (posthumously); Tony for Ondine for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play in 1954 and then she won a Special Tony Award in 1968.  “The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.”
  8. Vast Intelligence:  Audrey was bilingual in English and Dutch, but she was also fluent in Italian, Spanish, German, and French, which helped her travels immensely with UNICEF.  “A quality education has the power to transform societies in a single generation, provide children with the protection they need from the hazards of poverty, labor exploitation and disease, and given them the knowledge, skills, and confidence to reach their full potential.”
  9. Animal Lover:  Audrey was known for loving people, but she was also very kind to her pets.  The animal handler on the set of Green Mansions insisted that Audrey bring home the baby deer, named Pippin and affectionately called “Ip,” so that it would naturally follow her in the movie.  She also featured her Yorkshire terrier, Mr. Famous, in Funny Face in the train scene.  After Mr. Famous died from being hit by a car, her first husband, Mel Ferrer, gifted her with another yorkie.  During her later years, she owned two Jack Russell Terriers named Penny and Missy, whom she called “my little hamburgers.”  “I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it.”
  10. Fashion Icon Forever:  Audrey loved fashion even as a young girl.  She didn’t have much when she was fighting for her life during World War II, and still didn’t have much when she and her mother moved to London with very little money.  But, Audrey had one colorful scarf that she could wear twenty different ways.  As Audrey was exploding onto the big screen, she would epitomize the revolution of Coco Chanel’s simplicity and love of black.  In a film adaptation of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Audrey donned a LBD by Givenchy.  From then on, the LBD has become an essential garment in a woman’s wardrobe.  That same dress would later be auctioned off for $920,000 in December of 2006.  That same year the GAP released their “skinny black pant” and used a clip of Audrey from Funny Face wearing skinny black pants dancing all over the place!  “My look is attainable.  Women can look like Audrey Hepburn by flipping out their hair, buying the large sunglasses, and the little sleeveless dresses.”

People should keep in mind that while it’s important to incorporate Audrey into your everyday wardrobe, it’s mainly important to maintain her outlook.  Always a positive thinker, she said, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible!'”