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retty much every book, article, and blog post about fashion must-haves talk about the little black dress. You just HAVE to have one, or your wardrobe is sadly lacking.

Sigh.

You see, the little black dress used to be the height of chic. Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel, probably the chicest woman who ever lived, popularized the little black dress decades ago. And in her day, it wasn’t truly little (it left a LOT to the imagination), was of VERY high quality, and extremely versatile. It could be changed up so much with accessories, jackets, sweaters, etc. that it would be almost unrecognizable as the same dress.

 

Now, so-called little black dresses are very specific, not at all versatile garments that don’t deserve to be in the same category as Gabrielle’s creations.

 

Yes, they’re little. They’re black. They’re dresses.
But most of them are not at all chic.

If you search carefully, there are true little black dresses available today. They’re just REALLY hard to find and will require something of an investment. Seriously, good ones aren’t to be had for less than a few hundred bucks. HOWEVER, they are absolutely a good investment, as they last for years and (when carefully selected) never look dated.

The Demise of the Little Black Dress and What to Wear Instead

Here are 5 ways to choose a true little black dress:

1. The right fabric is ESSENTIAL

Cheap gauze, woven cotton, rayon jersey, polyester… yuck!
Ideally, you’re looking for a seasonless wool crepe, silk or wool jersey, or good quality shantug. In an inconspicuous place, rub the fabric against itself. If it pills, move on. Crush it in your hand. If it creases, move on. If it looks in any way cheap or has a bad feel to it, move on.

 

2. Don’t compromise on quality

Check the seams. Are the edges sergered (those overlapping stitches that keep the fabric from fraying)? Are the seams straight? Is the hemline even and sewn with a hidden stitch (visible hem stitching is not chic)? Is the dress lined? Not in polyester, rayon, or anything like that. But a good quality satin that feels lovely against the skin. Are there any loose stitches or threads? Move on.

 

3. Fit is EVERYTHING

If the dress doesn’t fit perfectly move on. Well, if it needs a tiny nip or tuck and is on super sale at a place like Neiman Marcus, grab it and run to the tailor. Otherwise, nope. You can do better. When you put it on does it zip easily? Does it skim your body without creases or pulling at the seams? Can you move in it? Do you need shapewear? If you need shapewear, move on. Needing shapewear means it doesn’t fit well.

 

4. Go for a simple design

In a true LBD, simplicity is best. Simple means versatile, and that’s the whole point of this dress investment.

A lovely sleeveless A-line is a great option, as well as a semi-fitted sheath or or Diane Von Furstenberg type wrap. I recommend sleeveless for versatility, as it helps with a smooth look under sweaters, jackets, etc.

 

When you’re wearing a little black dress, the point is to be chic and for the focus to be on YOU. Not the dress.

 

5. Do you FEEL chic in the dress?

If not, move on. A LBD may not even be something you need or want in your wardrobe. And that’s fine. Remember, fashion “rules” completely bend – and are breakable. I consider them vague fashion suggestions.

If you can’t find an LBD that makes you feel amazing, who cares? Not a dress gal? Fine. You won’t look chic if you’re not comfortable sitting with your ankles crossed like Kate Middleton. So go find something that DOES make you feel chic.

 

May you always feel chic, no matter what you’re wearing.

Leila Signature