Finding the Perfect Little Black Dress


Even if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool “separatist” and love putting together your own unique ensemble, dresses can be the perfect solution to holiday fashion. For this holiday season, you can’t go wrong with a “one-hit-wonder,” especially if it’s in black.

“When you need to make an impression, nothing disguises pounds or adds height and general allure like the little black dress,” says fashion expert Paula Reed, creative director of the luxury etailer, “Clearly, the little black dress is not as simple as it looks. Any old one will not do.”
In her highly touted book, Style Clinic, Reed offers some suggestions on choosing the perfect little black dress to flatter your figure’s best attributes.

* Have a great neck and shoulders? A wide V-backed dress could be a stunning alternative to those strapless or off-the-shoulder staples, says Reed. Focusing the attention at the nape of your neck will have major impact. Put long hair up to maximize your style advantage.

* Boyish figure? You’re one of the few who can get away with a simple shift. Create curves with a belt or seaming at the waist. A sleeveless dress that’s slightly cut away at the shoulder line will also strengthen your look. You can also get away with ruffles and frills, which are figure-killers on just about any other body type.

* Large bust? A V-neck will balance your curves. Make sure there’s good support built in. You also need to keep the overall silhouette under control and avoid billowing fabrics.

* Great legs? A mini-length dress is not necessarily the most versatile LBD. A hem that hits your knee with a flippy little detail or a floaty fabric that plays when you move (such as chiffon) is way more seductive.

* No bust? Reed recommends choosing a pleated, frilled, beaded or corseted bodice that will define your top half.

* Voluptuous curves with a waist? A corseted dress is likely to look delicious on you, she says. Don’t be afraid to bare a shoulder. A wide V-neck that skims your collarbone is enough. And, if you want to disguise hips, too, keep the fabric fluid and the skirt silhouette soft.

* Voluptuous curves and no waist? 
A tailored A-line is the most flattering shape, according to Reed. Go for a length just below the knee to get as much height as possible. And, once again, drawing the eye up to an exposed shoulder is a great balancing trick. If you don’t want to bare a shoulder, a great piece of jewelry at the neckline (either a brooch or necklace) will be effective.

* Full hips? A figure-skimming A-line with a plunging neckline (doesn’t have to be too deep) will draw the eye up and give you good camouflage. Choose a fabric that moves. Anything too stiff will undermine your best effort.

And remember ... finding the perfect little black dress for the holidays means having a “one-hit-wonder” always ready to party at a moment’s notice.

Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association.


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