I love music AND dressing up.

At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, doesn’t it makes sense to put your best foot forward when you’re in the presence of greatness? Having season tickets to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra provides a regular excuse for me to make good on that idea. You can hardly go wrong with a black vintage dress like this one I wore Saturday to a concert of works by Russian composers. If you’re in doubt about what kind of vintage pieces to add to your contemporary wardrobe, go in search of a remarkable black dress that can become a standby.

Dress: vintage 1960s. Notice the metal zipper, a helpful hint to its age. There’s nothing richer than vintage velvet. Cool details: zippered sleeves and a button flap covering a snap closure at the back waist. As a want-to-be seamstress, I admire those details so much. This dress has the most amazing construction: a slim skirt and fitted waist, a bodice composed of six triangular pieces. Its portrait neckline is flattering to nearly everyone.

Earrings and brooch: vintage. The pin belonged to my husband’s great aunt.

Evening bag: Von Maur.

Shoes: Nordstrom clearance rack–my very favorites. Fortunately, my husband dropped me at the door so I didn’t need to walk far in them.

About the concert

Suppose you are a creative genius. How unhappy would it make you if your own government was an official discouragement, preventing your work from being performed or published? Serge Prokofiev found himself in just this position when he was lured back to the Soviet Union after traveling the world as a concert pianist and composer. Soon after his return home, the war began and he never toured again.

If that wasn’t enough to put a good man down, Stalin and his henchmen essentially kidnapped Prokofiev and other artists from their families, banishing them to remote surroundings where they couldn’t be questioned by German spies within the Soviet Union. As foreigners, his Spanish wife and two boys were under constant threat of execution or enslavement. The marriage didn’t survive this hardship. Prokofiev was an unfaithful spouse in exile. Despite these tragedies, Prokofiev continued composing, occasionally groveling in an attempt to retain the favor he once knew. Even in death, Prokofiev was eclipsed by Stalin, who died within an hour of him. Only 40 people attended Prokofiev’s memorial service.

Although many of his works were suppressed and unheralded in life, great art always finds its way somehow. Today you can sit in a comfortable concert hall and contemplate what it cost Prokofiev to express his genius against such odds. That’s what we were doing last Saturday night when the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra performed a Russian program featuring Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 4 and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

If you were near a radio in 1976, you can’t hear the Rachmaninoff piece without remembering Eric Carmen’s pop hit All By Myself, based on the concerto’s main theme. I was a high school sophomore that year. My family had just moved away from all our friends to what seemed like a God-forsaken place in rural Missouri. The longing in that music was a fitting score for a transplanted teen yearning to belong, unable to believe that she would make new friends. When friends are far, music is such good company. What music brings you consolation or stirs your melancholy memories? I would love to listen to your favorites. Share it here!

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.