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the stylist’s notebook | the little red dress

30 December 2008

We all know that the little black dress is essential, if not a completely crucial piece in every girl’s wardrobe. From the LBD comes a myriad of outfits and looks that use the dress as a base; or, a girl can always turn to the ever so classic ensemble: red lips, stilettos, and a clutch for that knock-em-down sophistication. I do believe, however, that there is yet another little dress essential for every woman: the siren red LRD. Perhaps not a must-have item like the LBD, the little red dress is still, nonetheless, an indispensable piece. The LRD makes a woman feel like, well, a woman. She feels unstoppable, sexy, bold, beautiful, and a bit naughty in it – something a girl needs to be on occasion. Not to mention, the color red has been scientifically proven to boost self-confidence. So why not take advantage of that extra shot of endorphins?

I received an email from a lovely girl, Beatrice, requesting my help: (I really am so flattered, darling!)

I have been reading your blog (and loving it!) for some time now, and I’ve decided that I definitely trust your fashion instincts. So, when I began fretting about what to wear with this Jill Stuart party dress that I bought at Kitson for my school’s winter dance, I immediately thought to ask for your advice. I have not been able to make any concrete decisions concerning hair, makeup, shoes, clutches…

Since you have a fabulous sense of what-works-for-parties… help, please!! Thank you! ~ Beatrice

And here’s the Jil Stuart dress:

Can I first rattle on (just for a bit, I promise!) on how much I adore your choice, Beatrice? It’s classy, girly, and just adorable (kudos on a great find!). I’m in love with the silhouette of the dress; the sweetheart neckline and the slightly poufed skirt makes for the perfect knee-length dress. The details are perfect too; the pleating and rosette add just the right amount of detail whilst remaining simplistic and versatile.

So the first thought that came to mind when I saw this dress was Gossip Girl. Totally Blair Waldorf, I might add, in its sophistication. Thus said, GG is indeed my inspiration!



Since this dress is quite classic, there are two routes you can go with accessorizing. You can either 1) keep it classic as well with simple silver jewelry (a lovely cocktail ring, a link bracelet, and a little pendant) or 2) add some fun with bolder pieces! With bolder pieces, however, I would just add a bold bracelet; though the neckline is quite simple, the presence of the rosette already acts like a decoration in itself (a statement necklace could clash or take away from  the design of the bustier portion of the dress). Back to bold jewelry; adding plastic/resin/lucite pieces in black would pop against the color of the dress whilst adding a bit of playfulness! A strand of pearls that falls right where your collar bones are would elevate the entire look! As for earrings, you can go simplistic with a pair of studs, or don a pair of wondrous chandelier ones for your statement pieceAdding elbow-length gloves are just for fun; a bit much for a school dance in all honesty, but if you’re up for it darling, why not go all out like the Gossip Girls? Personally, I would opt to leave your decolletage and simply accessorize with earrings, a bracelet, and a great cocktail ring. In a nutshell, a few equations (because we all love mathematics so dearly):

black hoops + resin bracelet + a bangle or two = fun/eclectic

black studs + pyramid bracelet + a few chains = eclectic/punky/rock-ish

statement bracelet (chains+charms) + simple pendant = classic rock-chic

pearl bracelet + simple necklace = classic

silver bracelet + chandelier earrings + cocktail ring = La C.’s way, for lack of a better adjective

… & etc!



Simplicity for shoes is best for this look. Definitely go of a high heel (say, 3-4 inches), in black. Patent black pumps are perhaps the easiest to work with; they’re basic, yet they add a touch of texture and dimension with the shiny material. A peep-toe would be perfect in continuing the classic style of the dress; a bit of toe exposure or cleavage reveals in the inside of the foot so that you won’t seem completely conservative! I’m also quite in love with the d’orsay heels! Strappy heels are also a great option, though be sure to keep it as simple as possible. Platforms add playfulness, and if you really are the more adventurous, rock-chic type girl, opt for a pair of ankle booties! Just to inject a bit of personal preference: I’d pick the  d’orsay heels!

{hair & makeup.}


These are the two hairstyles I personally would opt for: beautiful curls and a teased updo. Both are elegant and classy, perfectly reflecting the style of the Jil Stuart dress! The first, inspired by Gucci Fall 2007, is reminiscent of the forties movie-star glamour with side parted hair. To achieve these curls, use a medium sized barrel curling iron to curl 1 1/2 inch sectios of hair. After each section, release the iron whilst maintaining its on-the-iron shape & pin! After say, half an hour or so, take out the bobby pins, brush through very gently with a large brush. Use a bit of gloss or serum to help the curls maintain a bit of shine!

The updo is fairly easy; prior to pinning your hair into a chignon (a bit messy is more sophisticated than perfectly pristine!), tease the hair along the crown, and spray with hairspray. Leave a bit of flyaways out like Coco Rocha (Oscar de la Renta Spring 2009). Or, pull a Blair Waldorf meets Valentino circa 2007. Add a thin, black headband with a tiny bow on it to imitate Blair’s girlish vibe, or simply use an elastic (in either red or black) for a easy and chic finishing touch. I love the double banded ones!

And now, the makeup. My favorite part of the entire preparation process, possibly because I don’t wear makeup on a daily basis (just the lipgloss!). I love, love, love the first and third look. I’d definitely suggest keeping your face fresh; a clean palette, so to speak. Start by using a liquid foundation as your base; for a more natural application, spritz a bit of water onto your sponge/wedge and “blot”, in a sense, around your face. For this particular dress, keep the focal point of your makeup balanced between the eyes and the lips. Meaning; a few coats of mascara to bring out the eyes and neutral beige/brown shadow to keep it au naturel. Choose a bolder lip color; matte lips would be a bit too mature/conservative for a school party, so opt for gloss! I love the pinkish red gloss from the Valentino show – its girly and super sweet. A red gloss would be perfect too (I do suggest Covergirl Wetslicks in the red with shimmer – it’s the perfect shade of red that’s not too overwhelming yet gives that subtle hint of color!).

{the bag.}


The finishing touch. Once again, a simple shape and design would be the perfect accessory. Avoid oversized ones – all you need are the essentials! I would also stay away from the clutches with a sharper shape (read: rectangular shapes, envelope bags, etc.) since they look a bit out of place with the soft silhouette of the dress. I love the somewhat oblong-ish (for lack of a better adjective) with rouching like the ones above – they’re more formal and sophisticated than the other shapes. A bit of ornamentation is fine; but be sure to keep it simple.

I do hope this helped! Best of luck, and I am sure that you’ll look gorgeous that day no matter what you decide to wear!


La C.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. 30 December 2008 8:10 pm

    Great blog! Love the advice… you really thought of everything!

  2. 30 December 2008 8:12 pm

    I agree. The dress is a pretty amazing pick. I have a few red dresses floating around my wardrobe and I agree with all your suggestions, La C. A strong black pump with red is always a winner!

  3. kristine permalink
    30 December 2008 8:54 pm

    once again, what helpful advice! you really should consider being a stylist or something, La C. i think you have the talent & the eye for it (obviously!)

  4. thebaglady permalink
    30 December 2008 8:56 pm

    i totally agree with kristine! your suggestions on how to wear the red dress are so thorough, down to the last details. i think i will go out and get a red dress now!

    wishing you a happy new year!

  5. 30 December 2008 9:28 pm

    Ooo I love those bags!

  6. 30 December 2008 9:55 pm

    Great tips! I think a nude colored shoe would work well with this too, if she finds black too big a contrast against the red. This dress is great, so versatile in how you can go either classic or rock.

  7. 30 December 2008 9:59 pm

    Love this idea of the LRD! It totally reminds me of Clueless when she goes to that party in that great red dress! Love your blog!

  8. 30 December 2008 11:47 pm

    All great choices! I agree with what you said about avoiding bold necklaces. They would only detract from the rosette and the sweet little pleats at the neckline.

  9. 31 December 2008 12:23 am

    Your competly right about read and black! It’s my favorite color combo! It’s very punky and playful like you said…very me!

  10. 31 December 2008 12:31 am

    Ooooh I love that red dress. It’s so adorable. The accessories will go so well with the dress. I love it!

  11. 31 December 2008 1:54 am

    Excellent picks! So many to choose from…even I have a problem choosing 🙂

  12. 31 December 2008 3:32 am

    That first dress is beautiful…great blog!

  13. 31 December 2008 3:56 am

    Hi there-great style advice and lots of lovely choice accessories to choose from, well done!

  14. 31 December 2008 3:59 am

    What great advice!! You covered all the style bases flawlessly! Wonderful job. I would not hesitate to come to you for style advice!

  15. 31 December 2008 7:08 am

    I love the way you write all these fab tips. I like the colour of the dress and The make up from the 2. face is awsome!

    have a great new Year and hope in 2009 you will give me some new Tips for looking good after hard Party! 🙂 you understand? hope 😉

    love everything!

    xoxo miss k. ❤

  16. 31 December 2008 7:33 am

    Great tips, she can´t go wrong with any of yhem 🙂

    Hope you have a lovely new years eve!

  17. bellefantaisie permalink
    31 December 2008 8:31 am

    That dress is gorgeous! And your shoe choices are wonderful!

  18. 31 December 2008 11:50 am

    I’m loving some of those shoe picks.

  19. 31 December 2008 3:32 pm

    You nailed it with the hair and makeup. In fact, I plan on doing Coco Rocha’s messy chignon tonight!

    Nothing like a little red dress.

  20. 31 December 2008 4:13 pm

    thanks darling!

    to natalie: oh my gosh, i didn’t even think of that! clueless is definitely one of the best movies ever 🙂

    to karen: understood, darling! 😉

    La C.

  21. 31 December 2008 4:14 pm

    Excellent selections. I especially like Coco’s updo. It’s elegant without looking stuffy. And that dress is gorgeous!

  22. 31 December 2008 5:18 pm

    i love your picks! you’ve got great taste 😀

  23. 31 December 2008 6:05 pm

    love the hair and make up choices, will prefer the first one. great picks!!! happy new yr!! xo

  24. beatrice permalink
    31 December 2008 6:40 pm

    Thank you very much for your divine advice….I definitely appreciate it!! Your blog continues to brighten my day!
    Happy New Year’s Eve! Here’s to fabulous outfits for tongiht 😉


  25. 3 January 2009 3:14 am

    love the black items you chose! the hair n makeup is so pretty too
    just realised, i dont own any red dresses !

  26. Barbie permalink
    6 May 2009 12:36 pm

    How about gold strappy show with simple gold necklace and danging gold earrings?


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