By Robyne Young
Its shape and colour whispered seduction. The classic rounded neckline at the front that would reveal her smooth décolletage and just a little cleavage – sensual – while the back dipped slightly lower and would show off her well shaped upper back. Its curves would follow hers – bust, waist and hip – while the length to the top of her knees would be perfect. It was sitting right at the front of the rack. Did she really need another little black dress? No, not really, but this wasn’t any little black dress. This was THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS: the Audrey Hepburn, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” little black dress, or as close as she was ever going to get to it. She could see herself in it and her hair in a French roll, subtle make up and just a single strand of pearls. But, there was no special occasion on her social calendar in the near future where she might dress like this. Even though Christmas and New Year were just around the corner, her dance card was empty.
She didn’t quite know how this had happened. There had been promise in the air last summer, cosy nights in the autumn and winter and then in spring, when she believed something might blossom and warm, a cooling; from him an “I’m not sure I’m ready for this type of commitment.” But she hadn’t asked or even hinted at commitment, she had simply asked for friendship and perhaps the occasional satisfying of physical needs when it suited them both. Not just sex, but a companionship of bodies and minds. Nothing complicated. It had seemed they could continue like this for as long as it suited them. They’d been so comfortable with each other, but now she thought of it, they had shared very little of their real lives and she really knew nothing of him. Probably best, she thought. She had minimal, no had absolutely no maternal needs to be met. Friends of her age were marrying, buying houses, having babies. She cherished her independence and lifestyle where she could do what she wanted. “Ah,” but her friends asked “Are you really happy?” Really, she had no idea because surely anyone’s state of happiness was relative. But to placate them she answered: “Yes.” Firmly, with no “but” implied. Even he had known that. Maybe it was her reluctance to commit that had lead to his unwillingness to stay and eventual leaving. As it turned out, she could take him or leave him. Her independent status meant she did not have to think twice about this little black dress or any other piece of clothing that might take her eye.
She took the dress into the change room. She thought of herself as neither beautiful nor plain. She believed her eyes and hair were her best features – deep blue eyes that contrasted with her dark brown hair which she wore shoulder length. An easy length for wearing out, or sweeping up. She pulled the dress over her head, down over her body and zipped it up. She turned as much as was possible in the tiny fitting room, (maybe that’s why it was called a fitting room), but found it almost impossible to get a complete view of herself in the dress. She thought about stepping outside the room but didn’t believe she could trust the opinion of the boutique owner. (“Oh, it fits you perfectly!”) But rather, she did sense, even though she couldn’t really see, that this dress did fit her perfectly, and because it was not so much a dress but a costume to lose her daily identity in. She saw herself wearing it in all kinds of situations, out, elegant and charming, or in a more intimate setting with someone special. Pathetic really! Here she was, the modern woman with everything she needed and she was fantasising about the man who would be her escort. Well for this dress she needed an escort. A debonair one (Did anyone use that word anymore?). Tall, dark, handsome, definitely suited and preferrably Yves St Laurented. She laughed at the thought that that man still existed in this century. Life was so different to that now. It seemed men had jumped upon equal opportunity and feminism as a sign that women shared their sexual wishes and would go to bed with them after the first date. Maybe all men weren’t like that, but her experience of them lately had been so. What had happened to the sweet dance where a respectable distance remained between the dancers until they knew each other better?
She unzipped the dress enjoying the way it slipped to the floor. Now that held promise! She managed to get herself back into her suit and took the fabric of her dreams to the counter.
“Gorgeous choice,” the boutique owner said. “Now are you right for jewellery to go with this?”
“Oh yes. I’m calling in at Tiffany’s on the way home.”
She couldn’t wait to get the dress home and try it on again, this time with the sheer stockings – yes stockings (This was not a pantyhose dress) and jewellery she knew would set it off perfectly. She wasn’t going out this evening, but wanted to have a dress rehearsal ready for the time when it would carry her into that fantasy world.
She layed everything out on the bed and began to undress. She kicked off her shoes and removed her other clothes. It was then she saw something about the dress she hadn’t noticed before.
It was blue!
Being Audrey Hepburn features in Robyne’s short story collection The Basket and the Briefcase. Read more from this collection and other fiction by Robyne on her blog, Robyne with an ‘e’.