Time to Shed Your Little Black Dress

Don't fear color: Six outfits that fight LBD boredom

Women somehow got it into their heads (I blame Coco Chanel) that the only way to look chic, thin and pulled together is to wear black. And not just any black, but black in the form of a knee-length (give or take a few inches) dress, a style so ubiquitous its acronym was added to the Oxford English Dictionary last year: the LBD.

I’ve got nothing against the LBD. It’s timeless, classic, mostly slimming, and easy to wear. The thing is, we’re all just giving it too much credit, because it’s also incredibly, mind-numbingly boring. A friend of mine, when I mentioned this topic to her, instantly pointed out Jennifer Aniston, she of the impossibly toned and tanned limbs and the steady, yawn-inducing stream of strappy sandals and fitted LBDs. Ladies, life is not a perpetual funeral. Let’s add some color back into our lives, shall we? Fashion is supposed to be fun, to reveal our personalities, to show the world what we’re all about, and unless we’re a bunch of zombies stumbling around, I think we can all do better than a freaking LBD.

Let’s start with color. There’s a veritable rainbow of options out there, from refreshingly bright citrus hues to rich jewel tones. Mix it up! Pair hot pink with orange (a to-die-for combo) or emerald with yellow. Just anything, anything but black.

While we’re at it, let’s forget the dress altogether. We fought for the right to wear pants, remember? Let’s break ’em out. Nothing is more sophisticated than a well-tailored pair of trousers with a sleek top. See this? And this? It’s outfits like these that make a party. So come on: Bring back the pants.

And then we have pattern. You need not drape yourself in screaming prints reminiscent of tacky wrapping paper (er) but a sweet polka dot or a muted abstract is infinitely more festive than black. (Hear that, Jen?)

But we need not all be sartorial peacocks, I suppose (when everyone tries to stand out, no one does). There is a time for restraint (a funeral, for example—I once mentioned a terrific black fascinator I bought just in case I ever had to go to a funeral and a friend chastised me for thinking more about fashion than the deceased), but we also needn’t be so dreadfully serious either. What’s holiday dressing without a dash of whimsy and the potential for getting something just a bit wrong (which inevitably happens once in a while when you break out of the LBD box)? Make mistakes, wear bold colors and bright patterns—hell, wear a pair of pants!—but please, for the love of Chanel, give the LBD a break.