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Flattering Little Black Dresses for Every Body

Highlight your favorite feature with an LBD suited perfectly to you


spinner image Lauren Ralph Lauren Tuxedo Faux Wrap Dress in Black; Petite Dotted Mock Neck Flounce Dress in Black; Off The Shoulder Knit Maxi Dress in Black Onyx; Calvin Klein Women’s Chiffon-Sheer-Sleeve Velvet Dress in Black
(Left to right) Lauren Ralph Lauren Tuxedo Faux Wrap Dress in Black ($245, bloomingdales.com); Petite Dotted Mock Neck Flounce Dress in Black ($159, anntaylor.com); Off The Shoulder Knit Maxi Dress in Black Onyx ($55, eloquii.com); Calvin Klein Women’s Chiffon-Sheer-Sleeve Velvet Dress in Black ($68, macys.com)
Bloomingdale's / ANN INC. / ELOQUII / Macy’s / Getty

By now, you must already know that every woman should own at least one little black dress. Why? Because they are elegant, slimming, versatile, timeless and don’t need to be dry-cleaned that often. And, for some reason, everything looks more expensive when it’s black!

As we pass the mid-century mark, women still want to look alluring, but sometimes showing too much skin can come off as tacky or trying too hard. It’s best to focus on your favorite physical feature, whether it’s your shapely legs, long neck, sexy shoulders, toned arms, generous cleavage or hourglass proportions — and to keep the spotlight there.

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You don’t need to be all covered up. In fact, showing some skin somewhere is more flattering than showing none. And if you choose your black dress wisely and accessorize strategically, I guarantee you will look and feel great for any upcoming occasion.

With the holidays fast approaching, this is the perfect time to shop for the perfect LBD. So, let’s go find yours!

spinner image Pleated Halter Midi Dress; Oversized-Fit Wool T-Shirt Dress in Black; Plus Size Sheer Sleeve Dress in Black
(Left to right) Pleated Halter Midi Dress in Black ($160 whitehouseblackmarket.com); Oversized-Fit Wool T-Shirt Dress in Black ($135, cos.com); Plus Size Sheer Sleeve Dress in Black ($158, karenkane.com)
CHICO'S DISTRIBUTION SERVICES, LLC. / COS / Karen Kane

A right to bare arms

If you love your arms, perhaps you are comfortable going sleeveless? If so, keep the length of your dress at or below the knee to keep the focus on your upper body. Another nice option is a bracelet- or half-sleeved dress. I don’t know any woman who worries about displaying her forearms or wrists! And let’s not forget the magic of a sheer sleeve. Showing just a hint of skin can be as seductive as completely baring arms.

Pleated Halter Midi Dress in Black ($160 whitehouseblackmarket.com)

Oversized-Fit Wool T-Shirt Dress in Black ($135, cos.com)

Plus Size Sheer Sleeve Dress in Black ($158, karenkane.com)

Key accessory: Bracelets are a no-brainer: a bold cuff, some bangles, perhaps a chain-link or charm bracelet? With sheer long sleeves, consider wearing a dramatic “cocktail ring” or rings on multiple fingers. The point is to draw the eye to your arms.

spinner image Style & Co Women’s Mock-neck Sweater Dress in Deep Black; Crepe Midi Dress in Black; Willow Jersey Dress in Black, Petite
(Left to right) Style & Co Women’s Mock-neck Sweater Dress in Deep Black ($35, macys.com); Crepe Midi Dress in Black ($70, zara.com); Willow Jersey Dress in Black, Petite ($98, bodenusa.com)
Macy’s / ZARA / BODEN US

Get a leg up

If you love your legs, keep the length of your dress just a few inches above your knees or go for a longer dress with a slit hem. Leave the thigh-high minis behind. Been there, done that! By wearing dresses with long sleeves, you can truly highlight your gorgeous gams.

Style & Co Women’s Mock-neck Sweater Dress in Deep Black ($35, macys.com)

Crepe Midi Dress in Black ($70, zara.com) 

Willow Jersey Dress in Black, Petite ($98, bodenusa.com)

Key accessory: Go all in with an attention-getting shoe. It doesn’t have to have a high heel: Sexy straps, pointy-toes, slingbacks, jeweled or bow details will all draw the attention to the right place.

spinner image SCOMCHIC Women Plus Size Maxi Dress Short Sleeve Wrap V Neck High Low Split Ruffle Long Dress; Dress the Population Cataline Fit & Flare Cocktail Dress in Black; Donna Karan New York Deco Channel Knit Midi-Dress in Black
(Left to right) SCOMCHIC Women Plus Size Maxi Dress Short Sleeve Wrap V Neck High Low Split Ruffle Long Dress ($48, amazon.com); Dress the Population Cataline Fit & Flare Cocktail Dress in Black ($182, nordstrom.com); Donna Karan New York Deco Channel Knit Midi-Dress in Black ($350, saks.com)
Amazon / Nordstrom, Inc. / Saks Fifth Avenue

Be a bit bodacious

If you love your cleavage, V-necks are your best friend. It’s up to you how low you can go. You can try sleeveless, short-sleeve or long-sleeve dresses, but make sure you have a supportive, low-cut bra to maximize your assets.

SCOMCHIC Women Plus Size Maxi Dress Short Sleeve Wrap V Neck High Low Split Ruffle Long Dress ($48, amazon.com)

Dress the Population Catalina Fit & Flare Cocktail Dress in Black ($182, nordstrom.com)

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Donna Karan New York Deco Channel Knit Midi-Dress in Black ($350, saks.com)

Key accessory: A delicate lariat or pendant necklace will subtly attract the eye to your beautiful décolletage.

spinner image Reformation Jamen Knit Midi Dress in Black; Sweetheart Fit & Flare Sweater Dress in Black
(Left to right) Reformation Jamen Knit Midi Dress in Black ($148, anthropologie.com); Sweetheart Fit & Flare Sweater Dress in Black ($169, talbots.com)
anthropologie / The Talbots LLC.

Go neck and neck

If you love your neck and shoulders, strapless, sweetheart and off-the-shoulder necklines were made for you. Again, best to keep the hemlines relatively modest. You want the eye to travel upwards. 

Reformation Jamen Knit Midi Dress in Black ($148, anthropologie.com)

Sweetheart Fit & Flare Sweater Dress in Black ($169, talbots.com)

Best accessory: Long, dangling or drop earrings will further elongate your neck. Since the dress’s neckline has already framed your face, no need for a necklace.

spinner image Eliza J. Fit & Flare Sweater Dress in Black; AQUA Short Sleeve Lace Midi Dress in Black; Long Sleeve Matte Jersey Shirtdress with Satin in Black
(Left to right) Eliza J. Fit & Flare Sweater Dress in Black ($138, nordstrom.com); AQUA Short Sleeve Lace Midi Dress in Black ($118, bloomingdales.com); Long Sleeve Matte Jersey Shirtdress with Satin in Black ($80, whitehouseblackmarket.com)
Nordstrom, Inc. / Bloomingdale's / CHICO'S DISTRIBUTION SERVICES, LLC.

Find the middle ground

If you love your waist, belted styles and “fit and flare” silhouettes show off your hourglass proportions. Look for flowy fabrics and shapes that gently skim your hips.

Eliza J Fit & Flare Sweater Dress in Black ($138, nordstrom.com)

AQUA Short Sleeve Lace Midi Dress in Black ($118, bloomingdales.com)

Long Sleeve Matte Jersey Shirtdress With Satin in Black ($80, whitehouseblackmarket.com)

Key accessory: Even if the dress comes with a belt, sometimes adding a special one in grosgrain or with a jeweled buckle can elevate the entire look. And the volume of these waisted dresses is definitely complemented by a low to mid heel.

Last word: When I was in college studying art and design, I was introduced to the concept of “negative space”—which basically means the empty space around a dark object. When it comes to a little black dress (a dark object), the negative space is a positive! It’s where the eye focuses on your body. So let the shape of your new LBD allow your light to shine wherever you want it to!

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