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How To Accessorize A Statement Piece, Or, We Can All Wear A Little Black Dress For New Year’s Eve

Let us acknowledge. New Year’s Eve, and the New Year that follows, will be a combination of things you can, and cannot, control. In some cases you will have planned everything, and your plans will materialize. Congratulations. In some cases, you will have planned nothing, and life will come at you like wind around a Manhattan street corner. Cold, large, and in your face. Most often, plans will be made, and shifted, and forgotten. Realized enough. Life is more than the attainment of goals.

You can, however, reign as queen of your Little Black Dress. Assuming sufficient financial resources and the absence of true emergencies, life rarely insists on our accessories. Maybe that’s one of the enduring roles of style.

If I go out, I will be wearing my little black dress. As a Sturdy Gal, here’s how I choose my accessories.

  1. Shoes in my closet that don’t hurt my feet. They happen to be black Dolce & Gabbanas. Luck.
  2. A necklace of sentiment. I would remove this only for a serious fashion moment. Maybe one involving photo opportunities.
  3. Pearl earrings rather than diamond studs. I’ve been brought up to think too much matching is a sign of weak character.
  4. My Rolex Cellini man’s watch. Because I love it and because I don’t want to have to find reading glasses and pull out my pink-encased iPhone to see when the clock is about to strike twelve.
Why yes, those are shoes photographed in my brand new lightbox. I got the idea from Jan at Jan’s Sushi Bar. A smart woman.


The book is “Wordy Shipmates.” I got the recommendation from Meg at A Practical Wedding. Another smart woman.

As a Sturdy Gal, I will be quite happy in this getup. However, as a style analyst, I suck air in between my teeth and give a quick shake of my head to the left. The Grande Dame and Artsy Cousin would make other entrances. They are both quite clear on these key principles to Accessorizing A Statement Piece.

1. Assess the cumulative impact of surfaces.
2. Understand the roles of consistency and contrast.

My Narciso dress has got all kinds of stuff going on. It has seaming and a tight bodice and a sweetheart neckline. It has visual texture. My accessories, while perfectly appropriate, fail to collaborate. Fail to enhance the impact. Consider how our friends might approach this.

The Grande Dame would go all smooth on us. She will match if she wants to, goddamn it. (High WASPs say this in genteel exasperation.) Pearls around the neck. Very large round ones. Pearls at the ears. Encircled in diamonds because she can. Even a pearl bracelet. With 3 strands, the audacity of Too Many Pearls overturns any idea that matching is not the Done Thing. Worn with smooth, classic Louboutins that in their sheer lack of detail focus attention on the dress itself. Naked legs, waxed. (Sturdy Gals hate depilation.) Pale lips. Winged eyeliner. Perfume. Layer upon layer of smooth. Oh yeah, she’s pulling out all the stops.

The Artsy Cousin would take it the other way. Texture everywhere. Wrapped and strapped booties. Textured stockings. No necklace at all, to contrast the decolletage with all that other, you know, texture. Delicate but irregular platinum bangles up and down the wrist for a global reference, modern locally-made earrings for the, you know, refer globally act locally thing. Would powder her skin and wear dark red lipstick. The current, you know, obsession with blood and the consumption thereof.

But the Sturdy Gal, despite her sartorial approximations, will have a good time. Once you hit 50, with any luck, a certain It Is What It Is peace descends. My shoes shouldn’t be suede. They contribute either too much or not enough fuzz, given the knit dress. Oh well. My watch neither reinforces nor contrasts with my necklace. Oh well. My earrings aren’t bold enough for Narciso. Oh well. The dress fulfills any social contract. Beyond that, we can, in fact, all do as we like.

I will be in the company of those I love. I will have happy feet. I will know what time it is. Sentiment, comfort, function. Oh, and a killer Little Black Dress.

It’s possible there’s a lesson for the New Year in all of this. If so, it hovers just beyond my grasp.

Happy New Year’s Eve to all.

Updated To Shop For New Year’s Eve 2014

31 Responses

  1. Happy new year, wonderful Lisa. Happy, happy new year to you, black dress, things that do not match too much, and all.

  2. Wow…you are going to look smashing. I really adore those shoes…they actually look comfortable.
    I haven't even started to think about what I am going to wear tonight. But at my age I've learned that subtle and tastefull jewelry just gets lost on my sturdy gal frame so no pearl studs and diamond pendant for me. I've worn so much serious jewelry over the last couple of months I think that I will go artsy cousin-sih tonight…all multiple bangle bracelets and dangle earrings.
    Enjoy your New Year's.

  3. I think your D&G shoes are fabulous. Isn't part of having personal style knowing what works for you and the hell with the rest? In that case, you have it in spades!

    Have a lovely New Year's Eve, and a very Happy New Year!

  4. Love the ensemble, especially the Rolex with the diamond necklace and pearls….very confident approach.
    Happy New Years, whatever you do and wherever you go I am certain that you will be noticed. Understated, elegant….evidence of a wealthy upbringing…restraint and a keen eye for detail.

  5. I have orders from my husband to spend the whole day deciding what to wear and getting ready. When it is time to go, he does not want to hear me wailing "I don't know what to wear!" Maybe a cross between Sturdy Gal and Grand Dame with a little Artsy Cousin thrown in!

  6. Love the earrings, love the shoes, love the watch – love it all! Enjoy yourself this evening. Happy New Year!

  7. Love your shoes. And what you say about controlling life and the new year. And being 50 and it is what it is.
    Yes, I love it all.
    And looking forward to more in 2010…
    Happy New Year Lisa!

  8. Oh, I've been going the "oh, well" route for YEARS now. I like that I've reached an age where I don't have to be a slave to fashion if it means I'm going to be uncomfortable (the D&G shoes are adorable, too!).

    And don't you love the lightbox? I know I do – it is my mission this year to learn all I can about food photography; you already to seem the knack for fashion photography. Great pictures!

  9. Happiest of New Years to you and your's, LPC!

    I'm a failure at accessorizing. I *almost* wore my diamond solitaire necklace this morning, but was wearing pearl stud earrings and while I hate the matchy matchy, I was all judgy judgy about it. ~sigh~

  10. i have no laboutains… perhaps when the children leave the nest…

    I'm a classic girl who loves a touch of whimsy. I'll wear a Simple black dress, sleeveless. Clean lines. Sheer black hose (Cannot stand my legs pasty white)simple and elegant black pumps. Boring? But A-ha… I will pile on all my pearls… strands and strands of them in all lengths and sizes. I will mix real and faux. It is whimsical and fun. I will have small pearl earrings and my hair will be pulled back neatly, in a simple ponytail. Since my necklace will be over the top everything else has to be very understated!

    But with my shoulder we'll be home with the children. We'll relax in front of the fire and feast on hors d'eouvres and champagne all night. Perhaps next year I will have the chance to play dress up!

    Wishing you and your family a very Happy (and healthy and safe) New Year!


    Of course my friends will comment… "How fun! How festive! How YOU!"

  11. My new year's eve outfit involves flannel, wool, and more flannel. And a hot water bottle.

    Have the most wonderful time in your beautiful dress and I look forward to your year ahead and all that you choose to share of it.

  12. oh dear, i just deleted my comment! well, Happy New Year, LPC! Your Smooth Grande Dame outfit is just fabulous–my kind of style! Wish you all the best in this coming decade. I know you will look lovely tonight.

  13. Another stellar post, all of it spot-on. Especially happy feet, as they can compensate for a lot. Especially at our age. And that Narciso dress has all kinds of good stuff going on Miss LPC, seriously.

    We send you a hug and hopes that you have an excellent evening bringing in the New Year. We also hope that 2010 brings your dreams closer to reality (for you), and continued upscale WASPish reading for us.

  14. Here's to too many pearls, suspending all judging (but not judgment), happy feet, hot water bottles, and hugs.

  15. Happy New Year Lisa and best wishes for a wonderful 2010. I've thoroughly enjoyed your blog and your patiently answering all of my questions. Love your outfit for tonight, (I'm staying home). Only comment is that I wish I knew 25 years ago, that my 'closeup eyesight' would eventually disappear. If I had, I know I would have opted for YOUR Rolex instead of the one that I have now. I only glance at it out of habit (heaven knows that I can't read the little lines that mark the hour). I put it on out of habit and find a large clock where ever I am to find out the real time. (I travel with a Mickey Mouse watch bought in 1975 – it's great as I can still read it). Thanks so much for a fun year. Here's to a great 2010.

  16. Hope you're having fun where ever you are tonight. And I would load on a ton of pearls if given the opportunity ;D Happy New Year!

  17. The Artsy Cousin got to come out to play tonight. I attended a benefit for a local non profit with a masquerade theme. My black dress was fringed with gold sequins, I wore a black velvet capelet fastened with a burgundy silk rose pin and garnet and onyx vintage style jewelry. Black patent pumps. Feathered headband and black and gold mask. When it came time to leave, I changed into my LLBean gumshoe mocs and walked to my car in the fresh snow. (There is a bit of Sturdy Gal in all of us.)

  18. love love love your nye ensemble and how lucky are you that those are the shoes you *have* to wear?! I think I'm a sturdy gal/grande dame mix- I can't wait 'til I'm in my 60's so I can just throw on gobs of pearls and not need to apologize, but when it comes to shoes- comfort counts!

    happy 2010 LPC- can't wait to see all the fabulocity that it holds for you!



  19. Happy New Year Lisa!
    Your post is stylish as usual :-) I was wearing a little black dress with a few artsy ornaments for the New Year's and it's really the best dress in my wardrobe!
    Have a great 2010!

  20. You were be 'bien dans sa peau' and therefore beautiful! The theme of our dinner pary here in frigid Toronto was "New Years' Eve in Palm Springs' (ca 1970) so I wore palazzo pants, a japanese silk kimono, lots of long pearl strands and kinetic art earrings found in London in 1980.
    Arty grandmother!

  21. Happy New Year, Lisa! I hope you have a 2010 that is as fabulous as you are.
    Question: Would you wear simple pearl earrings with a simple pearl necklace?
    I think it's so cool to wear a man's watch with a very ladylike outfit. So chic. I can't, though, because my hands are absolutely tiny!
    I hope you had a nice time, where-ever you were.

  22. I love the sound of your outfits. Palazzo pants. Capelets. You all are so adventurous. And Joyce, methinks you have given me an idea for a future post. I thank you.

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