The little black dress (LBD) probably gets more play in magazines than anything else, and with good reason. As you will see here, there are almost endless ways to style the piece. In order to breathe some fresh air into this classic staple, I’ve called upon two of my favorite fashionable professional women to share how they would style an LBD for work. I chose this dress from Kate Spade because it is particularly versatile and will transition well from summer to fall thanks to the thick material. I kept things quite basic by adding a crisp white shirt underneath, a great cuff (also here) and simple patent leather pumps. Hope you enjoy Leslie and Jenny’s picks!
Leslie, New York, NY Nonprofit Assistant Director | Style Setter
To style this LBD, I pictured a look I would wear to work and then out to dinner or an event in the evening. A few of my choices are a little pricey, but I am a firm believer in quality over quantity, so I know I’d wear the dress and everything with it again and again.
Shoes- Emerson Fy Thin Strap Heel: I’m a recent fan of this small, independent, and conscious clothing company known for their simple designs that are anything but basic. These shoes hit a few right notes – thicker heels look more modern than a stiletto at the moment; the nude straps lengthen legs (being 5’2, I’ll take all the help I can get); and the block heel adds visual interest, to punch up the LBD without being loud. They are also incredibly well priced considering they are made (well) in Italy with good leather.
Earrings – Melissa Joy Manning Opal Earrings: I’m not a big jewelry wearer. I stick to the same watch, bracelet and rings everyday, all of which have sentimental value. That being said, I think a plain black dress calls for earrings. Lately, I’ve been favoring very dainty ones with chain details. These feel elegant, but not precious.
Bag – Balenciaga Le Dix Shoulder Bag: This bag has been on my wish list for quite some time. The shape and hardware are so chic and timeless, and I like that it can be worn on the shoulder or as a handbag. As I mentioned, I’m very petite, so proportion is important, and the size wouldn’t overpower me like a tote might. I have this Balenciaga Le Dix style in a clutch, and I love it more every time I use it, so I know this would be a worthwhile investment.
Sunglasses – Celine Thin Preppy Sunglasses: No explanation needed for Celine sunglasses, but they are cooler-than-your-average color and I’d like to add this shape my shade repertoire!
Perfume – Byredo Oud Immortal: Though perfume doesn’t visually enhance a look, this scent is so sophisticated that it feels like a necessary addition. I prefer deep, almost masculine scents, and this is the first perfume I’ve purchased in years. Byredo is a Swedish company only available in the U.S. at Barneys and their new NY flagship shop, so it still feels like a “cool girl” secret.
I love how versatile the dress is. You can do so much with it. I visualized a sophisticated and polished look that is appropriate for the most starkly conservative business environments but also conveys personal style and creativity.
Shoes – I knew immediately that I wanted to go with suede pumps. I like the soft and rich texture of suede. My pick is Manolo Blahnik BB suede pumps in nude. Did you know you can custom make your own BB pumps and choose the color, heel height, and material? If you’re not comfortable walking in 105mm (4in) you can order it in 90mm (3.5in), which I think is a great option. A less expensive alternative is Kate Spade Licorice pumps, which also come in nude suede.
Bag – Requirements: must be able to fit 8×11 documents, a bottle of water, some makeup, and maybe a pair of flats but cannot look like a diaper bag. Should be able to stand on its own. I have a Fendi 2jours bag and love it. It carries a ton of stuff and I actually travel with it on the plane, so it can withstand a little wear and tear. It’s beautiful but doesn’t scream “I have a designer bag”. The 2jours bag would go beautifully with the dress. I’m also a huge fan of British designer Sophie Hulme and her structured tote bags. The hardware is stunning and the leather is gorgeous. They’re minimalist but also make such a statement at the same time. They’re a major covet item for me right now. I would go with black, just so you don’t get too precious about using it.
On a lower price scale, I would not hesitate to style this dress with the Michael Kors Hamilton tote. I carried one for years and I think it’s one of the most practical yet also stylish bags ever made. I like that they come in saffiano leather so they stand up on their own. Great bag.
Belt – Ann Taylor belt. I love accessories that give the illusion of longer legs. A belt that cinches the waist does just that. The Kate Spade dress has a waist but adding a belt would accentuate the waist and bring out the flare of the dress more.
This blog is designed for women who are serious about their professional lives and spend time thinking about how to present the best version of themselves. Here, I seek to balance between fun self-expression fashion and unattainable high-fashion. This is about everyday fashion that makes you feel good!