Little Black Dress: How to Style an LBD Like a Fashion Icon

Check the items in your wardrobe. If there’s no little black dress staring back at you, you’ve been missing out on a whole level of style.

lady raising a glass in her sequin little black dress

Black has always been one color full of symbolism. From luxury to elegance, sophistication, and formality, black has become one of the pillar colors of fashion. And when you rock a short dress with this color, you can only imagine how much class you’ll effuse.

lady rocking little black dress in the street

That’s what you want for yourself? Good.

If you read this piece to the end, you’ll see how to style a little black dress to achieve different looks for any occasion.

lady wearing a black jacket on her little black dress

Let’s get started.

What’s a Little Black Dress for a Fashionista?

lady wearing little black dress at the beach

Also known as its acronym (LBD), a little black dress is any dress made with black fabric. But as the name implies, the dress is little. In other words, it’s short or skimpy enough to flaunt a woman’s legs or thighs as the case may be.

LBDs come in fabrics such as crepe, sequin, chiffon, duchess, silk, lace, etc. They also come as different types of dresses ranging from bodycon dresses to A-line, flared dresses, mini, sheath, shirtdress, T-shirt dresses, wrap dresses, etc. 

lady wearing little black dress with strap heels

Furthermore, these dresses feature any type of neckline. While some may plunge to reveal your cleavage and chest, others are modest enough to conceal the deets on your chest. Also, some feature cut-outs around the waist, tummy region, or back. This adds more sex appeal to the dress.

lady wearing backless little black dress

In addition, these dresses come in handy when attending casual events like birthday parties and (semi)formal events like weddings, cocktail parties, red carpets, black-tie events, etc.

lady wearing one sleeve little black dress

And that’s to say you can rock them as birthday outfits, wedding outfits, or dinner gowns as the case may be.

Like everything that has ever existed, the little black dress didn’t just appear on earth magically. Someone birthed it. To find out who was the brain behind this classic wardrobe staple for women, let’s see…

A Brief Origin of the Little Black Dress

We have the iconic fashion designer, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel to thank for inventing this dress in the 1920s.

It was born of the need to create dresses in colors best suited for couture.

lady wearing LBD with a purse and heels

Cheryl Anderson, Content Writer at Classic Chicago Magazine, wrote:

“Chanel did not think all the bright colors she saw were suited to couture as did her rival at the time, couturier Paul Poiret.  He had flooded the market with flashy colors and flamboyant designs.  She felt they were more suited for the stage.  In direct reference to her thoughts about Poiret’s fashions that she found distasteful, were that they were not chic saying: ‘…the richer the dress, the poorer it becomes.’”

Cheryl Anderson
lady wearing little black dress with hand bag and heels

Chanel found elegance in black. Little wonder one of her quotes goes:

“Nothing is more difficult to make than a little black dress.  The entrancing tricks of Scheherazade are much easier to copy.”

Gabrielle Chanel
lady in little black dress drinking from a wineglass

While Chanel invented the LBD, Audrey Hepburn popularized the trend in the 1961 classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Ever since then, the LBD has become a top choice for iconic women in history and this present moment.

Though every woman can have a little black dress, not all know how to do what matters most—style it.

And that makes the heading below necessary:

How to Style a Little Black Dress

Princess Diana rocking a Little Black Dress
Princess Diana in a Little Black Dress

1. Layer Your LBD

lady wearing leather jacket on her little black dress

If the sleeves are too thin for you, layer your dress with a nice denim jacket, leather jacket, blazer, suit jacket, duster, kimono, sweater, cardigan, etc.

lady wearing denim jacket on her little black dress

Layering helps to switch up your look. It’s a great way to restyle your outfits without looking like you repeat your clothes too often.

2. Dress Up with Statement Jewelry

lady LBD with matching hat and gloves

For an evening look, wear nice, statement jewelry. This adds a chic feel to your look and helps you exude class.

lady taking a mirror selfie wearing little black dress

3. Wear Shoes that Match Your Style Intent

lady wearing little black dress with white sneakers

Your style intent is how you intend to look for the occasion. If you want a casual look, dress down with a pair of kicks, sandals, flip-flops, or ballerina flats. If you want a smart casual or semi-formal look, rock a pair of knee-high boots or heels.

lady wearing little black dress with heels

Any type of shoes for women suit an LBD. It just depends on the look you wanna achieve.

4. If It’s Sleeveless, Turn it Into a Pinafore

lady layering a white T-shirt with little black dress

If you don’t wanna layer your sleeveless or short-sleeved LBD, transform it into a pinafore by using it to layer your shirt or tees. Whether it’s a sheer shirt or an opaque one, you’ll love the result.

lady layering a sheer top with little black dress

5. Wear Leggings or Pantyhose Underneath

lady wearing little black dress with pantyhose

Don’t wanna show off your thighs? Not a problem. 

lady wearing little black dress with leggings

Just wear a pair of leggings or pantyhouse underneath your little black dress. It gives people something elsoe worthwhile to stare at.

6. Add Some Color with Your Add-ons

smiling lady wearing sequin little black dress with red handbag and heels

Try wearing colorful jewelry or adding a bright-colored handbag to the mix. You can also contrast your little black dress by rocking a pair of colorful shoes, tying a multicolored scarf around your hair or neck, or wearing a bright-colored hat.

lady wearing little black dress with green handbag and shoes

This helps you add a pop of color to yur black outfit.

7. Cinch Your Waist with a Belt

lady wearing little black dress with a waist chain serving as belt

This option is a great smart casual outfit when layering your LBD with a nice blazer. A belt makes your dress more fitted and snatches your waist to reveal your curves.

lady wearing little black dress with belt

8. Make it a Black Ensemble

lady wearing all black outfit with little black dress

Who says you can’t rock your little black dress as an all-black ensemble

Create a monochromatic look by pairing your dress with black shoes, black outerwear, black handbag, and/or black leggings. You can stick to gold or silver accessories to add a little flash of subtle color.

lady wearing long black leather jacket on a little black dress with knee-high boots

For more inspiration on how to pull this off, check out our guide on how to style all-black outfits.

lady wearing little black dress with matching handbag and knee-high boots

Don’t have an LBD? Create one for yourself by pairing a black mini skirt with a black top (tank, turtleneck, or any simple top) and apply all the tips we shared above.

lady wearing all-black outfit

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Victoria B. Willie

Writing has always been a part of me. From writing stories as a young child to studying Communication Arts in the university, it has always been more than a medium of expression to me.

And then one day, I found myself toeing the path of an entrepreneur and becoming a fashion enthusiast. This made me develop an interest in content marketing and copywriting which I've been chasing alongside my fashion career.

That aside, when I'm not sharing style articles, selling with stories, or sketching fashion-forward pieces for Ria Kosher, you'll find me telling wild stories that always come with a twist.

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