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NOW CLOSED

Little Black Dress Shop

Contributed by Robyn Urback

It's never been so hard, and yet, so easy to find that perfect little black dress. The hard part, at least for me, was getting there.

I made it to Queen and Tecumseth streets. "135 Tecumseth, Unit 7," I read from the scrap piece of paper I pulled from my pocket. Shouldn't be too hard to find. I walked south on Tecumseth. There were houses, buildings, but no retail stores. I passed Richmond Street. Perhaps I'd gone too far? No, I'd keep walking. On the west side of the street I spotted a grey sign. "Little Black Dress Shop, Unit 7," was listed.

I made a left at the sign and turned into a narrow alley. Now I was sure I'd gone the wrong way. I walked down the lane, squeezed on my right by a grey building adorned with graffiti and barred windows, on my left by a row of garages varying in size, colour and degree of degeneration.

I passed an unsupervised burning barbeque, a barking dog and a pile of soiled clothing. I reached Unit 7. Finally. I opened the industrial-looking gray door to find the steepest staircase I had ever seen. Miraculously, I made it to the top, neck intact.

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It was so serene. Open, airy, with soft jazz music playing in the background. And filled with black dresses.

The Little Black Dress Shop is exactly what it sounds like- a shop of little black dresses.

Owner Jay Barriger was inspired to open the store after visiting London's White Shirt Shop. "I remember thinking, 'Why isn't there a little black dress shop?'" she said. "I kept mentioning it and my friends finally said, 'Shut up and do it, Jay. Do it before someone else does.'

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So she did. The Little Black Dress shop has some full-length gowns and short numbers, but mostly cocktail-length dresses. Barriger showed me a great taffeta Suzie Dress for $264, very Audrey Hepburn.

Most customers come in looking for party dresses. A favourite is the Pamela Dress by Narcissist for $186. The jersey dress is adjustable and can be worn in over ten different ways. "People have called me to tell me they've invented new ways," Barriger said, laughing.

Along with the typical party-goer, bridesmaids and even brides have shopped at Little Black Dress Shop. "The brides are usually having alternative weddings," Barriger said. "They're in their 40's, having their third wedding or whatever and just want to look hot." A silk bohemian Michael Kors dress for $175 would likely do the trick.

Little Black Dress Shop also has a great selection of accessories to add a punch of colour. A red embroidered clutch ($65) or a gold heart pendant necklace ($58) would go great with any dress. And at Little Black Dress Shop, it's easy to find the perfect one. That is, if you can find your way there.

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