little black dress
Photo: Diego Uchitel
A little black dress is a wardrobe essential for a reason: It's slimming and seasonless, and works on every body.

Every woman needs an LBD—a perfectly fitted, well-made garment that emphasizes your best features (and camouflages what you're less crazy about). Nothing beats a black dress for instant drama, and a simple style functions as a blank canvas for shoes, accessories, and makeup. Bonus: It's so versatile that no one will notice if you wear it a couple of times a week for years, and it truly is a piece that can take you from day to night. Dressed up or down, the LBD always lets your personality shine through.

Above: Katherine dress, $275; ProjectGravitas.com. Cardigan, L'Wren Scott. Earrings, Ben Amun. Clutch, Topshop. Flower bangle, Joan Boyce. Bracelet, Kenneth Jay Lane. Shoes, Monique Lhuillier.


How to Find the Right LBD for You


Look for a fabric that works year-round, day or night. Ponte, gabardine, and jersey are all good options.

Classic, clean silhouettes are best. Keep the length at or just above the knee.

A scoopneck or V flatters bigger busts. Consider short or three-quarter sleeves if you're self-conscious about your arms.

Spend the most you can afford on this dress. Choose well and you'll wear it for years.


3 Ways to Wear the LBD


The glam way. This look is all about mixing jewel tones and luxe textures: Go for an old-Hollywood vibe by using the dress's shapely silhouette as a backdrop for high-voltage accessories.

The edgy way. How to wear the rocker-chic trend in a grown-up way? Colored leather and silver accents hook up for an uptown-meets-downtown vibe.

The polished way. Always-in-season metallic and rich brocade fabrics make black even more sophisticated.

Plus: Lipstick ideas to go with any style


Spotlight: This LBD is by a new label I'm crazy about—Project Gravitas—whose dresses feature built-in bust-to-thigh shape wear that instantly makes you look 10 pounds lighter. Available in ten styles (and sizes 0–14), each well-constructed piece is made with fine Italian stretch fabric and sold only online, keeping prices attainable. ($195–$295; $30 credit toward your first purchase with code OPRAH; ProjectGravitas.com)


More Flattering Looks