Wardrobe 101

Why You Don’t Need a Little Black Dress

Style Heresy!

Happy day, dear reader!

I have one of the most interesting jobs in the world. No two days are ever the same, which I love! (I understand that stresses lots of people out.) There is one thing I can count on. When I help a woman with a Wardrobe Audit, she will apologize for the state of her closet. Usually when she feels that her wardrobe is a hot mess… (It’s never as much of a mess as she thinks!) Another count-on: As we go through her clothes piece by piece, we will find a Little Black Dress. Some women have an entire collection of LBD’s. Some have only one. It may or may no longer fit. I can only recall one closet without one. The pronouncement from on high (from the fashion and style gods) that a Little Black Dress is de rigeur is still in full force.

It’s impressive when a piece of clothing is so ubiquitous that it can be found in practically every woman’s closet. Jeans would be another. Not even tennis shoes or tee shirts can make the same claim as jeans and the LBD. How many kinds of clothing are known by their own initials? Just the LBD. Seeing that I am all for flying in the face of conventional wisdom, I can think of three reasons why a woman doesn’t need a Little Black Dress. Let’s think outside the LB Box…

It’s not the Black that counts. Or the Little. Or the Dress. The thing about the LBD is its versatility, and the fact that it is appropriate for many of those “difficult” circumstances in life. The events for which you don’t want to think about what to wear… Going to court. Meeting a lawyer. Maybe an accountant. Going to a funeral. Meeting your S.O.’s boss. An interview. I get it. Here comes the heresy: There are other colors and clothes in which you can do all those things, just as easily and possibly more comfortably, and definitely more flatteringly. Is flatteringly even a word? It is now!


In spite of the fashion world’s passion for black, it is not a color that flatters many! Black is a lot of things. It is easy, it is simple, and the dye is cheap. There are a lot of myths about black out there. But black is a hard color to wear unless your personal coloring is cool and deep. So let’s talk about some other options! If your coloring is light and warm try a little olive dress, or a little rust dress. If you are dark and warm, try a warm navy dress or a little chocolate dress. Mmmmm… Chocolate… If your coloring is light and cool, a little grey dress will suit you better. Medium and cool? Try a little navy dress.

Remember, it’s not about the color, it’s about the purpose. Keep it simple to keep it versatile. Try on a sheath if your body shape is an 8 or an H. Think about a fit and flare if you are an A or an X. A shift or swing shape works well for an O. V’s and Heart shapes should look for a flared skirt, and I’s who want to create curves should look for a belted dress with gathers or pleating to create more volume.

All images from nordstrom.com.


Maybe you are a woman who wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress. Or maybe you have foot or leg issues and so you only wear trousers. That doesn’t mean you don’t need something that plays LBD; yours just won’t be a D! Every woman needs a default that makes her feel fabulous and put together in no time flat. And let’s add boss. Your LBD might be a pantsuit. (Don’t worry about Hillary, if you like it, and it works for you, go for it!)

All images from nordstrom.com.


Other women are at a point in their lives, maybe baby laden, maybe retired, or maybe struggling with health issues, that make an LBD and/or anything that requires dry cleaning a non-starter. That’s fine too! Let’s think suit alternative. That might be trousers and a cardigan, or trousers and a dark blouse. Or a skirt and cardigan or dark blouse. Anything that creates a column of color will have a suit effect. Dress it up with some nice shoes and jewelry, and you will be armed to take on most of the above situations.

What do I mean? My mother used to be an LBD woman. For any occasion. But Mama doesn’t wear skirts or dresses any more, and only knit tops for her tender skin. What to wear for our son’s wedding? Her coloring is light and warm, so we found her cream colored tapered stretchy trousers, a shell, and peplum cardigan with a little ruffle. Gold sandals, a gold wristlet, and some gold jewelry finished off her outfit. (We even found her a festive swirly patterned cane in her signature red!) She was perfectly appropriate for the occasion, and still comfortable and perfectly “her.” With these it’s especially important to pay attention to the accessories. That will take them from one level of refinement to another!

All images from nordstrom.com.


So there are three reasons you may not need an LBD! I can actually think of more than three, but this doesn’t need to be a book! How about you? Are you a die-hard LBDevotee? Do you have no reason for one? What LBD alternative would be your favorite? Would you love a Le Smoking (tuxedo) or are you at a more relaxed season of life? Let me know your thoughts! I love to hear from you…

Stylishly yours,

Many thanks to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb and Shelbee at Shelbee on the Edge for the Link-Ups!


  • Mica

    These are good tips! I definitely don’t wear a little black dress as much as the ‘advice’ suggests I would, but I have a few in my wardrobe that get worn now and then 🙂

    Hope that you are having a lovely weekend 🙂 We are enjoying the warmer summer-like weather!

    Away From The Blue Blog

    • closetplayadmin

      Thank you for visiting, Mica! Glad you found them helpful… It makes me sad when women and men have unworn clothes in their closets; I’m glad your LBD’s get a little fresh air!

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