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The little black dress or the LBD for short is the number one staple of anyone looking for a versatile wardrobe. It doesn't matter what style you're into, whether it be Steampunk or Pastel Goth, a little black dress is the perfect basis for any outfit. By definition it's versatile and classic, can be dressed up with accessories or dressed down, and is the utmost base for any outfit.
But what makes a little black dress so useful? Don't go pick up any old dress, this dress is not a one size fits all! In order to get the most out of the LBD it has to be a conscious choice. Keep reading to find out exactly how to pick the perfect little black dress for your shape, style and lifestyle!
Part 1: Know the Styles that Look Good with Your Body Shape (And Don't Settle for Less)
When looking for the perfect dress that's endlessly stylish, fit and shape is massively important. Even if you're wearing something that's super trendy at the moment, it'll look outdated and off if it doesn't fit right.
There are so many shapes and sizes out there! You could have round shoulders and a fit body, or square shoulders and a round body. You could have huge hips and petite legs and a long torso. There is no such thing as one size fits all. So, your best bet is to try as many different styles as you can in order to see what you think looks best!
Here are the questions to ask yourself when trying on a LBD.
Is it too long?
Does the waist sit at your true waist?
Do I feel comfortable?
Does it make you stand up taller?
Is it forcing you to stand up taller uncomfortably?
Can you breathe?
Can you dance?
Is it too large?
When you find the right size and shape, your body will know! There won't be any need to struggle with seams or any need to add a belt.
If you find a dress that's almost perfect in size and shape, and you find yourself saying things like "I'll hem it higher" or "I'll just take in an inch around the waist". Don't buy it! Nine out of ten times, you'll buy it, bring it home, and it'll sit in your closet instead.
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On "Problem" Areas
Problem areas isn't a term I like to use (every part of you is perfect as it is!) but it's a useful term when talking about what you want from a style. For example, I have very round shoulders, which means that structured garments like blazers don't fit me well and always look off. But by using princess sleeves that follow the roundness of my shoulders, while gathering at the edge of the shoulder blade make it appear to be higher. This way I can get a more structured look and appear to be standing taller without being uncomfortable in, say, shoulder pads!
For arms: pay attention to the sleeves!
If you're worried about larger arms, you don't need to cover them completely with long sleeve dresses all of the time. Instead opt for three quarter length, or sheer sleeves that meet an inch above the elbow, to slim the entire arm.
For legs: pay attention to the waist line!
Who knew that adjusting your waistline could do so much to change the way your legs look? If you're a tall girl and are hoping to look shorter, opt for a dropped waist line, or no defined waist at all with something like a seamless shift dress. For girls looking to make their legs look longer, opt for higher-waist styles. This is a bit of an illusion as it makes your legs appear to begin higher.
For breasts: pay attention to the neckline!
Whether you're worried about looking larger, smaller or undistinguishable all together in this area it's right to look at the neckline. It's generally a rule of thumb that to look larger in this area opt for a higher-neckline with more fuss (pin-tucks, lace across the check, a bib-like look, pussy-bow, etc) and for those looking to keep things smaller in that area keep it minimal.
Image from Ash-Artfashion.com
Part 2: Stay True to Your Personality!
What's the use of having a hopelessly versatile little black dress, when you don't actually like it? Just because it's a staple, doesn't mean it has to be boring! The point of a LBD is that it fits seamlessly with your wardrobe so you can wear it with anything! Without further ado, let's think personality!
Here are some of the biggest styles to consider bringing to your LBD.
Retro - the retro dress should be a staple itself. This style is perfect for larger girls if you're still thinking about body shape. While the printed retro dress can be a lot of fun, a plain black style is glamorous and old-school either in a pencil style or even with a big circle skirt! Or dress it down with some cute kitschy accessories.
Minimalist - you might be thinking, who can you get any more minimalist than black on black? Oh, I promise you can! Minimalist styles opt for clean lines - like straight style maxiskirts - with little embellishments. But when they do incorporate embellishment it's often thing utilitarian like belts for shoulder straps, asymmetrical cuts and O-rings. It's a quiet statement, but hints to lots of personality.
The Maxi Gown - This isn't quite a "style" but it is a shape of dress that calls forth the bohemians and the beach girls. For unique accents to your cute maxi dress, think Grecian style slits, long layers and ruching!
The Baby-doll - a babydoll dress is a younger looking style, great for lengthening legs. Wear it plain for an everyday look, or fancy it up with pin-tucking, princess sleeves or a lace collar. Even though this style screams youthful, don't forget it is also a staple in grunge fashion - Courtney Love style!
Texture Makes the Best Statement!
When working with a simple black dress, utilise the material it's made from as well! For the eco-friendly girl you can opt for ethically friendly organic cotton, the punk rocker could go full leather or add smaller hints, and for the witchy bohemian we'd suggest a breezy chiffon gown would fit just right.
Image from the White and Denim blog
Part 3: Stay True to Your Lifestyle
This section sounds similar to the last section, doesn't it? Just as much as we have to stay true to our personality when shopping for a little black dress, we need to be realistic about the kinds of events and the formality of them. What's the use of buying an Oscar-worthy dress, when you're a busy art student who comes home splattered in paint every day? (Apart from framing it to drool over.) The point to buying a LBD is to wear it!
Let's get real. Even though a little black dress is the most versatile piece in a wardrobe, it's only oh-so versatile in the right hands. As mentioned earlier, if you're a full time student, it might be better to opt for something shorter and easier to wear on the everyday. On the other hand if you have to dress for your corporate career, look for something that you might be able to throw a blazer on top of for a casual Friday and then wear for drinks afterwards!
The little black dress is a staple. So, it's the kind of piece where quality should be a huge factor! It would be disastrous to spend so much time finding the perfect dress, for it to fall apart or lose color after a couple wears! But, while saying that, what's the point of spending a lot of money on clothes that you aren't going to wear? The LBD is all about looking your best without having to shell out loads of money, month after month of Alexander McQueen trend pieces!
Ah, the perfect little black dress is a staple, but it didn't get there just by sitting around on a shelf waiting for someone to notice! it's a lot fo work to find the perfect dress, but we promise once you find it you'll never look back. Let us know when you've found it! We'd love to know all about your LBD!