This simple yet sophisticated off-the-shoulder dress is the only new piece in this look, making it a stunning example of how one fashion find can bring new life to the wardrobe you already have. And when it came to shooting this post, I knew the perfect Jersey City mural to be our backdrop. It was almost as if this spot had been waiting for us.
I didn’t buy this off-the-shoulder dress specifically for Cinco de Mayo, but it would be the perfect dress to wear to a CDM party. Or any summer soiree for that matter. In case your history is as rusty as mine, Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration of the hard-fought Mexican victory over French forces at the battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Today, especially in the U.S., Cinco de Mayo has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture. And despite some of the seriously negative and damaging political positions being taken in our country, I hope everyone takes a moment today to focus on, and yes celebrate, the unique and positive relationship between our two countries.
The moment I put this outfit together I did have a fashion “ah ha” moment and felt as if there was a teeny tiny bit of famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in me. Often described as a surrealist or magical realist (love that!), Frida Kahlo’s paintings entranced and moved me from the moment I discovered them. Her work has been celebrated internationally as emblematic of Mexican national and indigenous traditions, but she is also revered by many (especially women!) for what is seen as an uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form. Disabled by childhood polio, then gruesomely injured in a streetcar accident, Frida Kahlo turned to her childhood hobby of painting and embraced the idea of becoming an artist. No easy feat for a woman in Mexico in the 1900s. Without turning this post into a history lesson, I’ll just say that despite a lifetime of tremendous physical and emotional pain, of artistic struggle to be recognized, Frida Kahlo pursued her art with vision, tenacity and grace until she physically could no longer create it. While she achieved modest success during her lifetime, it’s really after her death that her reputation and recognition as an artist grew to cult status. The term “Fridamania” has been coined to describe the phenomenon. All I can say is count me in! I’ve never been to Mexico, but I hope to visit La Casa Azul, her home that is now one of the most popular museum’s in Mexico City. Can you say Bucket List? (Here’s a link to the museum in case you’re interested in learning more. It looks fabulous!)
Now…back to fashion. One of the obvious reasons why this off-the-shoulder dress is so versatile is that black is the one color that goes with EVERYTHING. For my look I kept it simple and in the same palette, but I would also wear it with a mix of metallics or bright colors (Cinco de Mayo!). And while this dress could be the life of the party, it would look equally poised on a workday or a low key Saturday afternoon. And it would be great to travel with!
Because this off-the-shoulder dress makes quite the statement on its own, I kept everything else pretty understated: studded gladiator sandals (a girl needs a little bling!), a must-have basket bag and beaded tassel earrings. (I didn’t change out the sash belt that came with the dress, but I have a wide black-and-white one that I think will accentuate my waistline. Also a silk rainbow scarf that’s been hanging in my closet would bring a pop of color to it, too. Next time!) I love all these pieces on their own and have them in regular wardrobe rotation, but together something like magical fashion realism happened.
And last but not least, while it looks high style, this dress is priced to be budget friendly. I love it when I score something that looks like “a million bucks” but no sticker shock is involved. Viva la Diva!
What dress is going to be your “go to” this summer?
Photos and video by Kristin Moore-Gantz and MP Allegaert.