Thrifted Tales: A $5 Little Black Dress

What does one wear to a performance of Romeo & Juliet that is also a party?

At most theatrical outings, me and my outfit are visible to the public for maybe 10 minutes in between shedding my coat and sitting down in our seats. I like to look nice, and usually any of my party or erstwhile-bridesmaids dresses will do.

Last night I attended a production of Romeo & Juliet by Seattle Immersive Theatre. I had a great time. 

Seattle Immersive Theatre re-imagines the tale of star-crossed lovers for a modern audience, marrying the classic text with a new, edgier interpretation that invites our guests to take part in the Capulet’s masquerade ball as both revelers and witnesses to the tragedy that swiftly unfolds after our Romeo and our Juliet meet each other’s eyes for the very first time.

– Production Description, http://www.seattleimmersivetheatre.org/

For the past week I had been pondering my attire. None of my existing dresses felt right. I am a teenager of the 1990s, so when I imagine “modern Romeo & Juliet” I picture Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in her wings. I’d be freely moving around in the decorated warehouse with the actors. I wanted to find a dress that fit the creative and experimental atmosphere of the event and was true to my personality. I wanted something that felt both timeless and modern, romantic and subtly edgy.

I also wasn’t able spend a lot of money or time on a new dress, ruling out department stores and making something from scratch.

As a last resort, I turned to a black lace dress hanging in my closet. It is something I’ve been meaning to refashion for some time, or at least sew an underdress to pair with it.

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Inspired by the slips-as-clothes fashion trends featured in Vogue Magazine – a style that isn’t usually in my wheelhouse – I ventured into the lingerie and pajama section at Goodwill, hoping I would find a black slip that was long enough to wear as an underdress.(See, already that grocery store impulse purchase is impacting my wardrobe.)

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Success.

It doesn’t matter that the slip itself is a size too big. The lace/crochet overlay holds everything in place and I never feel like anything is gaping. Though, I won’t be wearing it alone.

I liked that the final silhouette has a touch of looseness and freedom, while also maintaining a feeling of formality that comes with being a Little Black Dress.  It has shaping without being too fitted and uncomfortable. The length is just right when combined – the lace overlay is too short for my comfort level. It strikes a fun balance between delicate and mysterious, if I may say so. There is a faint 1920s air to this combo. The lingerie-inspired fashions were also big in the 1990s, so given my preconceptions of a mid-1990s urban Romeo & Juliet, this just feels right.

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Altogether this outfit cost me less than $10. The lace overlay, the shoes, and the necklace were all hand-me-downs from coworkers. The slip cost $4.99 (plus tax) at Goodwill. And the headband materials cost a few bucks two years ago when I made it.

Please excuse me while I kick back and gloat a little.

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4 thoughts on “Thrifted Tales: A $5 Little Black Dress

  1. What a brilliant thrift shop score. Sometimes the simple things are the most effective in a wardrobe. Your dress is really lovely. Glad that you had a good time. It sounds like an interesting take on the original. Xx

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