WIW: paired orphans, midi LBD & scarf

A lot of the garments I make would fit the description, "It seemed like a good idea at the time. . . ." I made this black dress thinking it would be a great canvas for accessories, footwear, and jackets that I wanted to get more wear out of. After all, a little black dress is supposedly a wardrobe workhorse, right? I made this black midi shift dress with sheer sleeves some time back (a year or more), and I'm not sure whether I've actually worn it. I think I might have worn it once. When I finished it, I felt like it looked a bit like funeral wear. Nice to have in case the occasion arises, but not something I reach for. I have more fun things to wear for just about any occasion, even if someone invites me to the symphony or a play.

Today I decided to wear the dress with a scarf that I think was part of the inspiration to make the dress. I bought the scarf because I really liked it, even though I wasn't sure how I'd wear it. Clearly it would go with charcoal, and I do have quite a few charcoal things in my wardrobe. And it would go with black. I have worn it and even taken it on a trip or two, but it doesn't get a whole lot of wear.

The outfit (worn to work): black polyester crepe-backed satin midi shift dress (crepe side is out, satin side in--very comfy) with mesh-knit sleeves (made by me); ivory tissue weight wool scarf with sketched floral print in charcoal, pale green, and rouge (Asian Eye); black tights; black heeled booties with turn-down cuff (Munro, Grace); taupe trench (Calvin Klein); black satchel (Elliott Lucca).

I didn't feel fab in the outfit and probably won't wear it again. But it was serviceable. It got me and these two near-orphans out the door today.

I welcome your thoughts and suggestions! Thanks for looking.

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Debbie replied 6 years ago

    The dress is beautiful and you look gorgeous in it. The scarf is beautiful with it. If you are not happy with this combination have you tried swapping out the scarf for a necklace or two and maybe some lighter hose. I love the way it looks here but just a couple of ideas.

  • Firecracker replied 6 years ago

    Debbie, you are so kind! I wondered about lighter hose, too--a sheer black would echo the sleeves. Thanks for the ideas.

  • Suz replied 6 years ago

    I am with Debbie. The shape of the dress is lovely and what a clever idea to add sheer sleeves -- that kind of detail is so characteristic of your projects! It gives everything you make a true designer feel. 

    I think Debbie's suggestions to lighten up the hose might help you feel more at home in the dress. And while I love the scarf on you and think it does work with the dress, I share your slight scarf irritation (oh, darn, is it that time of year that I have to be covering my neck endlessly? NOOOOO!!) and wonder if it contributed to how you felt? If you could stand it, maybe a gorgeous silver necklace would be a nice alternative. 

    Even then, you may not feel fab in the dress, though, and this might be a case of the "essential that is not an essential to me." Which, if true, at least is good to know. Maybe everybody doesn't need a LBD. 

  • Firecracker replied 6 years ago

    Suz, good point about the LBD--I always think they are going to be more versatile than they end up being. I love the idea of a necklace in place of the scarf, but you guessed it--it's scarf season! (Yup, read: cold-neck season.) Part of my impulse for wearing this dress today is that with the scarf, I figured I could get away with the sheer sleeves, but perhaps not much longer.

    I think there's something unbalanced about this outfit. Lighter stockings would help. But also I feel as if the scarf looks too delicate to hold its own with so much black. It looks a little lonely, the one light spot in a sea of black. It would be different with bare arms and bare legs, I think.

  • Lynne replied 6 years ago

    The dress, and scarf, are lovely on you; it seems strange to me that they're orphans. The sheer sleeves are a statement and super flattering on you and you are very talented.

  • CocoLion replied 6 years ago

    The dress shows off your toned slim figure beautifully.  And the scarf is well-matched with the overcoat.

    I think dress calls for strappy heels and sheer stockings, either nude or sheer black.  Plus glam and sparkly jewels.  I can't tell what kind of neckline it has, but my inclination would be to dress it up.

  • Neel replied 6 years ago

    Great suggestions from everyone! I would have said lighter bottom part too. The dress is lovely with the sleeves scrunched. I think it has potential :)

  • Karie replied 6 years ago

    Oh I hear you on the "it seemed like a good idea at the time" - I often buy patterns this way and then wonder why in the world did I buy them, I never wear this style of clothing! 

    I have a question - was the crepe side the right side or the wrong side of the fabric? I ask because I have some crepe backed satin fabric and I wanted to make a dress with the crepe side out, but I thought I shouldn't because I think it's the wrong side (supposed to be the inside). 

    I think your dress is beautiful, especially with the sheer sleeves. Lighter hose is a nice idea - like you said, sheer black to echo the sleeves. The scarf is pretty, but a long necklace might also help to lighten it up a bit.

  • Carole replied 6 years ago

    Seems like such a great dress to play with....If this were my dress I would try wearing it with my tall cognac boots and add my scarf that has a touch of black but also gorgeous teal, cognac and mustard accents.

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    I LOVE the way the white scarf amps up the outfit in #1. Fabulous. Totally makes the black dress look more easy and "everyday", if you know what I mean. Sheer pattered black hose could be fun too. And maybe some colourful specs. 

    *smiling* xo

  • Tanya replied 6 years ago

    I love the dress, it is a beautiful piece. I actually quite like the outfit as is,  but lighter/more sheer hose would be fun to try as well.

  • replied 6 years ago

    It is a great dress, and I agree, lighter hose would definitely help to lift the look. Perhaps you and LBD's just don't get on? However, I would love to see it styled in other ways though. Perhaps  you could do a mini project to see if you will wear it more or even change it slightly. 

  • Firecracker replied 6 years ago

    Thanks, Lynne, Neel, and Tanya!

    Denise, I think you're right, the dress can go dressy and perhaps would be best worn that way. It's a more elegant fabric (despite the content being polyester; it looks elegant, anyway), plus a simple, elegant type design.

    Karie, I suspected the satin was the right side of this fabric, too, but I knew I wouldn't wear satin. I bought it for the crepe side. And I like that the satin could be used for accents--say, if I had chosen to do cuffed sleeves or to add a satin binding to the neck (which I simply serged, turned under and stitched). Or a satin waistband on crepe pants. I do love a fabric that can be used on both sides, to add subtle design elements.

    Carole, I love your ideas. That's the feel I wanted to go for. I tried on a tall boot as well as the bootie and decided to go with the latter, partly because the olive boots I was thinking about didn't really go with the scarf! I could even layer a long-sleeved top underneath, to winterize the sheer sleeve, warmth- and looks-wise, for even cooler weather.

    Angie, glad you liked it. My intent was to dress it down, yes, for an everyday look. I laughed at your specs comment, since you know I'm in the market!

    Diane, thanks! I do think there's a certain amount of difficulty with the LBD. I am quite ambivalent to black these days, and yet I still find myself wearing it a lot. 

  • catgirl replied 6 years ago

    The dress is gorgeous!  If you were to modify it, a sheer sleeve in a different color (grey or burgundy or one of your signatures) would be kind of cool.  I adore both of these orphans, to be honest.

  • E replied 6 years ago

    Oh you look stunning in it! Those sleeves are the perfect touch. And I love it with the scarf too. I hope you'll wear it more now. :D

  • shevia replied 6 years ago

    Maybe the outfit is darker than you like, although the scarf brightens it up a lot. Sheerer stockings make sense too. The dress looks great though!

  • Sal replied 6 years ago

    I agree that it is a lovely dress and a gorgeous scarf...and I like them together.

    I like the tall boots option, or even a heeled T bar 1930s shoe....even with fishnets.

  • Deborah replied 6 years ago

    I cannot believe I'm saying this, but I think the look is just too dark overall for you:). Each item in itself is rather fab but together it's too much IMHO. I would be inclined to wear nude hose to start with, then I would add a scarf with colour as opposed to neutrals, or so eking of statement necklace that lightens is adds colour. I think those little tweaks would make all the difference.

  • Firecracker replied 6 years ago

    Thanks, Kiwigal and Deborah, for the great ideas. Deborah, I think you're right about the darkness, and it's kind of confounding to me. You, who are blond and fair, look stunning in head-to-toe black, and I, who am medium-toned, am overwhelmed by it. It was supposedly one of my good colors, back in the day--when I had dark hair!

  • unfrumped replied 6 years ago

    The dress is just beautiful. It is " your" dress. I would play around more with the accessories. Sheer hose or polka dots! Thinner scarf worn more relaxed or necklaces as suggested.
    Would you ever make a similar dress in one of your lighter neutrals?

  • Sara L. replied 6 years ago

    The dress looks great on you and I really like those sheer sleeves.  The scarf is beautiful but maybe it's too light for the dark dress?  You could try grey boots to lighten up the dress more, if you have them.

  • jackiec replied 6 years ago

    Laughing because I totally know what you mean about "it seemed like a good idea at the time!"

    This dress looks fantastic on you. I really like it. Sure, might not be what you'd wear every day, but it's great.

  • Firecracker replied 6 years ago

    Unfrumped, I've made this dress in a lot of different fabrics, but I like your idea of a light neutral--brilliant! Here is probably the closest to that idea that I've done.

    Sara, with your grey boots idea, you have me thinking about wearing grays with the dress and trying gray tights, too.

    Jackie, thanks!

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