A friend sent me a scan of this fashion advice column from the ‘B-A Commentator’ an employee newsletter for the British-American Oil Co., with fashion tips probably intended for the wives of employees. The columns are by ‘Barbara Jean’, most likely a syndicated writer of fashion columns for small journals and periodicals like this. The B.A. Commentator was in print from 1948 to 1982, but the fashion advice columns petered out in 1952 (according to my friend who has a near complete run.) This column from September 1950 sings the praises of the little black dress and the power of styling via accessories – especially shoes:
B.B.B. – “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” is many a girl’s theme song when it comes to fall fashions. She’s bewitched by the fascinating new shades and styles; bothered by the prices and how she’s going to afford anything; bewildered by not knowing what would go best with what she already has.
B.B.B. could also mean “Basic Black is Back” which is a headline in any up-to-date fashion report.
The little black dress, for years beloved by women everywhere for the versatility, is being welcomed back into fashion again this fall. The 1950 revival version is slim and straight lined, simply cut, often with a loose, easy, slightly lowered bodice – definitely a change from last year’s tightly fitted tops and flowing skirts. It may be in smooth wool, in jersey or in silk but it is usually designed to meet any situation, depending, of course on the accessories with which it is teamed.
Worn with a small silk scarf, chamois gloves, tailored gold jewellery, a polished calf pump and handbag and a little felt cloche, your own little black wool or jersey will take you shopping or to business. Shoes are especially important this year, of course, in a season focussed on accessories and shorter hem lengths. With your daytime accessories fashion leaders suggest a simple, polished leather, suede or reptile walking shoe. There are many graceful mid-heel styles to choose from this fall. And don’t be afraid to wear coloured shoes with your black dress. One of the new dark reds makes a wonderful contrast.
For Sunday best and other dressy occasions, you’ll want to change to a pair of suede or velvet pumps. The Spanish influence in dresses is also to be seen in new shoe styles with their richly encrusted braid and jet trimming. Other softly detailed pumps are cut asymmetrically and piped with another fabric in leather, sometimes in kid, satin, velvet or calf.
Come five o’clock and you’re off to a dinner and dancing or just a movie. Your little black dress can undergo a gay transformation with glittery jewellery, long suede gloves, a little feather or velvet cap and a small clutch bag of velvet or faille.
The flattering bare shell or stripling sandal is the perfect shoe to take you partying or off for an evening on the town.
Accessories and a well planned shoe wardrobe to cover all occasions do the trick. It’s fun and it’s easy to be well dressed, just by collecting the right hat, the right shoes, to dress your go-every-where ‘basic black’ up or down.