Famous for wearing the noir shade, it was none other than Coco Chanel who established the little black dress as a fundamental fashion frock back in the 1920s. Now a quintessential wardrobe staple, the LBD has since been reinvented a million times over, with shapes and silhouettes available to suit every woman.
From a casual lunch to a black tie affair, this simple garment transcends time and trends, and will get you where you need to go in style. Bobbie Thomas, TODAY style editor and author of The Buzz for In Touch Weekly, shows you three different ways to wear the little black dress.
The power dressA traditionally tailored dress in an hourglass or shift shape is not only sharp — it's versatile. While you can pair this dress with a blazer for the office, the “power” LBD will easily transition into an appropriate and appealing after-work ensemble. Pair this classic look with pearl earrings and red lips, and you'll demand respect while looking drop-dead gorgeous. Fashion has never felt so empowering.Bobbie's buzz: Conservative doesn't have to mean boring. Jackie O. is the perfect example of a fashion icon who looked extraordinarily sophisticated and stylish, without being over-the-top trendy. She kept her look clean, and used gloves, glasses and hats to make a strong statement. Black Halo Jackie O. dress, $305, shopintuition.comThe play dressGo from day to play in a soft, flowy black frock. A loose-fitting jersey or cotton dress is perfect to pack for a trip, and can transition from bathing suit cover-up to dinner dress. Keep it casual for daytime with flip-flops and a tote, or pair it with bejeweled strappy sandals and bold bangles for an evening out. While simple and subtle, you'll find that the “play” LBD is a fun solution for carefree fashion.Bobbie's buzz: The LBD doesn't have to be just for play, it can also be perfect for everyday. Pair black leggings (yes leggings, ladies) with ballet flats and you'll be good to go whether you're running errands or shopping the city streets. Norma Kamali Timeless shift dress, $59, spiegel.com; bejeweled shoes, StuartWeitzman.com
The party dressVersatile and flirty, the “party” LBD is a style that every woman has to have. As a matter of fact, you may want to own more than one! Whether it's stretchy, slinky, strapless or seductive, your little black “party” dress is a save-the-day evening staple. There are ions of styles out there, so be sure to experiment with interesting silhouettes and necklines. And while you can certainly score an inexpensive LBD, this is a piece that you can feel comfortable investing in since it will never go out of style.Bobbie's buzz: The LBD has become such a classic that Web sites like jcrew.com and nordstrom.com now offer the option to search by this category alone. You can look through all different shapes and styles and then choose the one that suits you best. J. Crew Holly Halter dress, $265, jcrew.com
Remember, the little black dress is your backdrop. The epitome of elegance, the LBD is a great canvas to showcase you — or an amazing accessory! The simplicity of this look allows you to stand out, and will help keep the focus on your features, while still making an effortlessly chic style statement.
A few details can make a difference, so use accent pieces to help change the utility — dressing your garment up or down depending on the occasion. This is a great time to try bold accessories like a fun shoe, colored pashmina or flower brooch. But be careful not to pile on too much. After all, if we learned anything from the godmother of the LBD, Coco Chanel, less is more!Bobbie's buzz: Reinvent your own LBD with a long slip underneath for a colored or textured hemline. Or even try a lace, sheer or crocheted slip over a modest dress. And to really turn around your tired LBD, slip your dress on backwards — a plunging neckline can bare a beautiful back. Slight tweaks can make an old item into a new favorite!
** All accessories from Macy's. **