The Little Black Dress Guide
From its genesis at the hand of Coco Chanel in the 1920s to Audrey Hepburn’s luxe breakfast, the Little Black Dress is to wardrobes what cake is to icing – essential. Here’s a guide to the new shapes and five ways to style them for the party season.
This style riffs on the traditional ice skater silhouette. Look for styles that cut in at the shoulder for a leaner look through the arms. If you’re curvy, choose a shape that sits flat across the front and back – avoiding extra fabric from pleats or puckered lines.
Buys To Try: New Look Zuzi Zuzi Black Textured Skater Dress, £19.99 ($30,72). T by Alexander Wang Sleeveless Neoprene Dress from My Theresa, €275 ($342). Victoria Beckham Belted Dress from My Theresa, €1,789.
Long, fluid and always elegant, a maxi gown is the ultimate summer shape. If you have a smaller bust, try a style with thin straps or a scooped neckline and a one shoulder or halter style if you’re more ample.
The Forties Pencil
This shape is perfection if you are tall and lean or Kardashian curvy. Balance out the pencil with a strong shoulder or deep V-neckline and opt for fabrics like neoprene or reinforced jersey that suck and smooth.
When you think of LBDs, you think of the shift. The classic has been reinterpreted this season in sports fabric and leather with a round neck and cap sleeves. Remember you don’t want it to cling to your body – a gentle skim is the look you’re after.
The shape of the year, the peplum is a flatter-all provided you buy a style that hits your waist at the right height. The shelf effect only works when it sits below your belly button – any higher and it has the reverse effect and will make your hips appear wider.
Five Ways To Style A Black Dress
Belt It Up: It’s amazing what one little accessory can do. Skinny, thick, neutral or bright, a belt can make a dress look completely different. Try belting just under your rib cage not on your actual waist. This is the smallest part of your torso and creates the illusion of a tinier waistline and longer legs.
Dress It Down: Make a classic dress casual by adding a denim jacket, flat sandals, a straw hat or ankle boots. Careful with the fabric – shiny satins, sequins and silks can look a little bit ‘walk of shame’ during the day.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s: The shot of Audrey Hepburn wearing pearls and a crown eating a croissant outside the Tiffany store in New York remains one of fashion's most enduring moments. Why deprive yourself? Pearls, crown, black shades – just do it.
Statement Shoes: Nothing is a better backdrop for stop traffic shoes than a black dress. Jewels, sequin, feathers, colour – no shoe is too embellished or too high. Think Dorothy on a night at Les Cage Aux Folles and go out dancing.
Take Everything Off: One of the biggest mistakes you can make with a black dress is over-accessorising. For a truly elegant, classic finish, try wearing it on its own. No jewels, no colour - just a black clutch, black shoes, slicked back hair and a red lip.
Images: Jennifer Lawrence, Miranda Kerr and Bella Heathcote in their LBDs. Top, Victoria Beckam skater LBD, middle, DKNY peplum LBD, bottom, Acne maxi LBD.