Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Little Black Dress: Adapting a Classic For Your Style

"When a little black dress is right, there is nothing else to wear in its place." – Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor

Ah, the little black dress. Popularized by the ever-fabulous Coco Chanel and raised to style gospel in the time since, you’ve probably heard so much about the little black dress (or LBD as it is often abbreviated and will here be to cut down on length a little) that it’s as ingrained in your mind as it is in mine. It’s a classic.

The point of a little black dress is that it works as a simple staple that can be styled up, down, or any which way to suit almost any event. The ideal LBD is a quality piece that will work with a blazer for work wear, with lovely jewelry for an evening event, and in a wide variety of different ways for so many situations.

And I really think we should adapt that concept to every style.


I won’t beat around the bush on this one: I have a lot of black dresses. I think, last I counted, I had six or so. Even so, I do not have my ideal LBD yet, and if I find it it may take the place of a few of these existing pieces.

My ideal LBD is retro, a simple sun dress that could be worn on its own for summer looks, under layering pieces for work wear as needed, and even over a blouse for use as a simple, loliable JSK. It’s knee length with a full circle skirt, a square-ish neckline and straps thick enough that they will cover the necessary undergarments if it’s worn on its own.

As I said, I haven’t found that dress yet. However, I have found a pattern that would be perfect for it and am eternally on the hunt for just the right fabric to make it a reality.

What To Do With an LBD

The hardest part of the LBD I have in my head is actually finding one. I have seen very few dresses that fit my vision, and rarely are they in my size. However, in an effort to show off why this is my style, I found one that almost works and pulled together some Polyvore coordinates.

LBD: Classic Audrey

This is the simplest option I could go for, heavily inspired by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. No layering, just a bit of jewelry and gloves, paired with cute shoes and a nice bag.
LBD: Plaid

Super preppy, yes? I love plaid, and this definitely gives me my fix in a hurry. This is all top layers, and depending on the coat it could swing toward retro or lolita. This one is definitely more retro.

LBD: Burgundy Roses

Full tilt classic! I love black and gold together, and adding burgundy makes it that little bit prettier. Roses, a bonnet... This was me playing with OTT classic elements and punching up what is, really, a very simple dress.

LBD: Basic Black

And, while I'm at the dress-as-JSK, here's my take on the classic black and white lolita look. I softened it to ivory because that's what I prefer, but otherwise it's about as simple a color scheme as anyone could manage.

Your LBD

As you can see, my LBD is pretty well tailored to my personal style, and that is definitely the idea. You want an LBD that suits your body, your preferred style, and your wardrobe. The point is to find a dress in a neutral color that works with your wardrobe and can work in a wide variety of outfits with what you like and what you have.

Of course, if your preferred look is sweet Lolita, you may not want to have your dress be black, but Nina Garcia suggested in The One Hundred that a little white dress could serve as a similar staple, and that may be the piece that works better for you.

And, really, I think everyone should have that one piece that they can pull out and wear with almost everything.


  1. Your ideal LBD is almost exactly my ideal LBD. Cool!

    1. Hopefully one of us will be able to find it or the right fabric to make it. :)