15 Ways to Wear Your Little Black Dress

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Wondering what to wear with your little black dress?

Getty Images / Kirstin Sinclair

There are few items more critical to a stylish woman's wardrobe than a little black dress—also known as the LBD. In fact, we'd argue that having just one LBD is probably not enough. Having a small selection—so that you can dress up a little black dress or make it casual—will lend even more versatility to your wardrobe.

The LBD is a bit like a blank canvas. You can accessorize, add details, switch up your jewelry and layer it in unique ways, all of which allow you to wear that one staple dress a multitude of ways. Whether you own one LBD or 10, don't be afraid to get creative with your styling. We pulled images from the red carpet and from our favorite fashion week street style stars to inspire you to make the most of this wardrobe essential.

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A basic LBD can have surprising details

Getty Images / Jeffrey Mayer

There's a very good reason that head-to-toe black is favored by fashion insiders, editors, buyers and models: It's chic! Here, Elsa Pataky shows off how to wear head-to-toe black in a sophisticated, youthful way. Her sleeveless mini dress has a slightly a-line skirt, but with the addition of a belt and some shimmering detail, her look is anything but basic. To keep it sleek, she paired the dress with classic pointed-toe black pumps, which gives her overall look timeless appeal, like a modern take on Holly Golightly.

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A little black dress can by ultra-sexy.

Getty Images /Michael Tran, Stephen Lovekin

A little black dress doesn't have to be basic! Here, Diane Kruger and Gigi Hadid show how pretty details like lace, cutouts, sheer panels and strappy necklines can turn a little black dress into a serious statement.

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Wear a statement coat with your little black dress

Getty Images / Kirstin Sinclair

Let your outerwear do the talking, and try wearing a statement coat with your little black dress. This classic sleeveless dress with a feminine skirt gets a little bit punk and a little bit ballerina when you layer it with a furry pink coat and white pumps. 

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Add a Leather Jacket to Your Little Black Dress

Model Taylor Hill in a leather jacket and black dress. Getty Images / Robert Camau

An easy way to make your cocktail dress a little edgier is by adding a leather jacket. We love how Taylor Hill's oversized, moto jacket gives her mini dress and barely-there sandals a little tough girl appeal.

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Wear Nude Shoes with a Little Black Dress

Getty Images / Neilson Barnard

Want to make your legs look miles long? Wear nude shoes with your little black dress, as Emma Stone is here. With the addition of a hidden platform and a pointed toe, these pumps make her legs look even longer. This is a great trick to keep in mind for weddings and special events where you can rock bare legs and you know you'll be having your photo taken.

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Wear your little black dress with black tights this winter

Getty Images / Mark Robert Milan

When the chill of winter sets in, a pair of black tights are a woman's best friend. We love the streamlined look of a pair of black tights worn with your favorite little black dress this time of year. This sleek look is perfect for holiday parties and the office—and can be equally dressed up or down for day and night.

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Flaunt your curves in a tight little black dress

Getty Images / James Devaney, Bauer-Griffin

If you've got curves—whether they're from a baby bump or just good genes—they will always look amazing in a fitted black dress. Take a page out of Kim Kardashian West and Chrissy Teigen's book and look for a little black dress made from a stretch cotton or jersey fabric. If it feels ​too fitted, slip a pair of ​spanx on underneath for a bit more coverage and smoothing.

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A little black dress can go below your knees!

Getty Images / Merilyn Smith

The constraints on just what defines a 'little black dress' have become increasingly wider as fashion itself has become more inclusive. A shiny midi dress like this is still very much an LBD in our book—just an unusual and unique one. We love this daring neckline and pleated skirt combination because it's equal parts sassy and sophisticated.

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Dress up your little black dress in satin and strapless styles

Dakota Johnson / Robino Salvatore

The answer to how to dress up your little black dress isn't all that simple—there are many ways you can do it, with accessories, shoes and your hair. However, sometimes the easiest solution is to have a dress that is just inherently dressy—like a satin, strapless style cocktail dress with a full skirt. Since it doesn't come close to skimming the ground, we think this still counts as an LBD—just a very glam one! 

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Try a little (lace) black dress

Getty Images / Kirstin Sinclair, Jeffrey Mayer

Little black lace dresses are perhaps our favorite take on this iconic frock. Lace adds an element of femininity and whimsy, which we love. There are plenty of ways you can dress a lace dress up (like Diane Kruger with a tuxedo jacket and lace-up heels) or down (with a mini crossbody bag and shades, at right).

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Try a little black dress in an unexpected silhouette

Getty Images / James Devaney

Just because the idea of the little black dress has been around forever doesn't mean it can't feel fresh. We love Margot Robbie's cold shoulder dress above, that also has dramatic ruffles and fluted sleeves. A dress like this might look garish, wild or a little crazy in another color, but in black, it's sophisticated and cool. Look for black dresses in silhouettes you might not normally try or with details that really pop—and suddenly your LBD is the most stylishly unusual thing in your wardrobe.

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Try a little black long-sleeve mini dress

Getty Images / Jason Meritt

Take a cue from Nicole Kidman and add a little black dress with long sleeves into your rotation. Not only is this a great choice if you want to be a little more covered, but it's also an incredibly sophisticated look. 

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Dress down your little black dress with sneakers

Getty Images / Pierre Suu

Leggy model Karlie Kloss knows the perfect formula for dressing down a little black dress. Her knit dress with a zipper up the front is already inherently casual, so she embraced that everyday look by pairing it with white sneakers, a backpack, and aviator sunglasses. This is the kind of outfit that's perfect for errands on a Saturday or lunch with your girlfriends any day of the week.  

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Break all the little black dress rules!

Getty Images / Timur Emek, Melodie Jeng, Kirstin Sinclair

The best thing about being a fashionable woman? There are no style rules anymore. Not ones you can't break, anyway. The little black dress has always been a symbol of grace, elegance, and simplicity. It's the dress you turn to when you have nothing else to wear, it's the one that never lets you down. That's not all that it is, though. Remember that whole blank canvas thing? Don't be afraid to put your own, highly personal spin on the little black dress. Wear tulle on your shoulders. Wear your dress over a button-down shirt. Dress your favorite cotton dress ​way down with a leather jacket and beat-up sneakers.