Like all women, we're big fans of the proverbial Little Black Dress. It's slimming, it's forgiving, and it's easy to accessorize without fear of clashing. There's a reason so many celebs wear black to Hollywood awards shows -- at the end of the day, people just want to look hot and thin.
We hear that.
But unfortunately, it's also all too easy for the safe choice to turn into the dull one. Courtesy of the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, which took place the past two weekends, here's one cautionary tale of Boring Black and three examples of celebs who treated this wardrobe basic like there's nothing basic about it at all. We don't know about you, but we're taking notes.
THE BAD: JEANNE TRIPPLEHORN
Jeanne Tripplehorn doesn't get the credit she deserves for combining foxyness with natural aging (or the appearance thereof, anyway). Unfortunately, she did herself few favors with her Globes ensemble. The dowdy cut and boring hairdo create an aura of real severity, and although the wrist cuffs probably were intended to add spice, they just make it look like she's only wearing this thing because she's shackled to it.
Find a black frock with some joy in it, and if you can't, be sure to add your own -- or risk looking deeply uptight. Looser, more youthful hair would've been a good start in making Jeanne look less like the kind of headmistress who likes to slap your open palm with rulers and make you wash out your mouth with soap.THE BETTER: SANDRA BULLOCK
Sandra struggles with knowing exactly how to handle her hair, but at least she was on the right track here. This updo, though inexcusably messy (unlike the Globes, the SAGs did not take place on a rainy night, nor at the end of a wind tunnel), is the best choice for highlighting the blue sequined neckline on this gown -- a detail that might have been obscured by hanks of hair.
That splash of bling is the major focal point in this otherwise restrained, figure-skimming sheath. The design frames the sexy peekaboo slit, giving a dress with class a little bit of much-needed sass, without overwhelming the overall effect. If you can't find built-in zing, then consider adding your own hint of color via accessories. Just make sure it complements the dress -- and your assets -- instead of competing with them.
This woman always wears black. Seriously, we're talking nine times out of 10. In fact, some tabloid reporter is probably working right now on a story about how Jen's obsession with black really means that she's getting back together with Brad.
But despite the fact that Jennifer could probably benefit from mixing it up now and then, wearing a shift with a slit this high is anything but safe. If you dare to be that bare, flashing your awesome legs is a pretty good way to make sure nobody's bored by your ensemble. Great gams are Jennifer's best accessory, and if you're likewise blessed, work it with pride. Just don't skip the underwear -- or at least avoid standing near any oscillating fans.
THE BEST: LEA MICHELE
Few among us have the cause to wear a dress this major, much less access to one. But the principle that no doubt guided the Glee star to this gown is helpful for anyone who wants to wear black without looking like she's headed to a funeral: It's got flair. The color might not be revolutionary, but the elaborate texture of that skirt certainly is; because her dress is so dark, it can pull off that level of ornate detailing with more panache than if it were crimson (too in-your-face), candy-pink (too Barbie) or green (too Scarlett O'Hara).
Even when faced with the kind of simpler silhouette we're more likely to find in our mortal world, don't shy away from unique stitching and other detailed touches. That way you get the benefits of basic black, with none of the boredom. Everybody wins.