The little black dress — aka the “LBD” — is about as ubiquitous in wardrobes these days as a pair of blue jeans. The concept behind the design is simple enough: an easy black dress that can work in almost any scenario, mastering the art of never being under- or overdressed. Of course, it’s not all that simple. Practically everyone has a LBD hanging in their closet, but not everyone’s go-to looks exactly alike. (That’s where the fun comes in.)
“The power of a great black dress is that not only is it appropriate for almost any occasion, but at its best, it should make you feel like the most outstanding version of yourself every time you wear it,” La Ligne co-founder and Chief Creative Officer Valerie Macaulay tells TZR. For one individual, the ideal option might be a ’90s-inspired slip dress, while for another it could look like a puff-sleeve mini. The only common denominator here is the color, which instantly communicates an understated, refined quality that has given the piece its staying power. In short: Rather than look for the best little black dress in general, you should be searching for the best little black dress for your personal style.
This season, the search is a little easier thanks to several designers who have introduced refreshed takes on this classic piece. At Alaïa, creative director Pieter Mulier revisited and reinterpreted the LBD with a collection dedicated to the iconic piece, offering simple-but-elegant options that can be worn from day to evening (think: fit-and-flare mini or a long-sleeve swoop neck midi). On the runways of Bottega Veneta, Chloé, and Khaite, leather was key to the LBD, with each brand’s respective designers crafting creations in the bold texture. Meanwhile, Christopher Esber and Nensi Dojaka both recreated the iconic item with plentiful cutouts and strappy details that will indeed be well-suited for the party season ahead.
Off the catwalk and IRL, the little black dress is a chameleon that goes straight from a gala to the office or a dinner with friends. “I like a dress that can lead many lives in your closet,” Macaulay says. “I love our Sarah Dress that is midi length with a slit, which I wear with over-the-knee boots, back seam tights and heels, or ankle socks and loafers depending on the mood and how much skin I want to show.” Following a similar script, Le Point founder Pauline Montupet leans on her LBDs for versatility, too, specifically, this mini shift dress by Sandy Liang. “At first glance, it reads sexy as it has a super short hemline and a lower balconette style neckline, but because it is simple it can really take on the personality of the wearer,” Montupet says. “For me, I tend to be very practical and live in a city where if I’m not in jeans and sneakers, people ask me why I’m so dressed up. So, making it a little bit more casual made it feel like me.”
Find and shop the LBD best suited to your style sensibilities ahead.
Want an outfit that delivers on the romance and drama? There’s a LBD for that. This style of dress can manifest in several silhouettes and with many delicate details, from elegant lace to bell sleeves. Think: what Holly Golightly would post if she had a Tik Tok account.
An understated but elegant design is your answer to all those “I have nothing to wear” moments in your closet. Take your pick of fabrics — knit, jersey, or silk — and stick to streamlined silhouettes and versatile shapes. You’ll know you’ve found “the one” when it works equally well with rugged boots and teetering high heels.
Feathers! Fringe! Lace! Ruching! A fun and flirty little black dress is a closet MVP of epic proportions. The kind of piece that you can rely on in a pinch, this category of LBD is perfect for last-minute soirées when the dress code calls for festive attire you can take for a spin on the dance floor.
Cottagecore, artsy, whimsical — however you want to describe it, this aesthetic leans on loose fits and flowy shapes with a feminine, free-spirited vibe. Style yours with cowboy boots or even a pair of Mary Jane flats for a sweet and simple take on this voluminous LBD.
One of the hallmarks of a streetwise, downtown look is the LBD, usually made in a textural leather or with suggestive details like harnesses, straps, or cutouts. Perhaps it’s even a coat worn as a dress. Whichever way you take it, an edgier LBD is a perfect for the weekend and pairs well with layers like a beautifully draped trench or shearling-trim duster.
For those with a proclivity toward this aesthetic, a boudoir-inspired LBD plays particularly well — it’s both sultry and sophisticated. Look for pieces with with lacy trims and corset or bustier motifs. To finish, strappy sandals with a low heel or a simple mule should do the trick. (The moto boot pairing above, too, is a fantastic way to make the look work for the day.)