Is there any wardrobe staple more iconic than a little black dress? The little black dress is more than just a stylish piece to wear to a party. It’s an icon of fashion history and a wardrobe essential for anyone, from Audrey Hepburn to the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Whatever your special occasion may be, whether it's a wedding, prom night, or date night, a black cocktail dress is a perfect fit. An LBD is a closet must-have to give you the perfect reliable look for just about every occasion.
The experts we consulted differed on what counted as an LBD, but they universally agreed that it should be a dress that makes you feel like your best self.
So choose a cut and fabric that appeal to you, and make it your own. In the end, we selected 5 classic designs for each body type.
Struggling to know your body type?
There are a number of reasons for why it's hard to categorise bodies:
- Firstly, everyone's body is different. It's hard to standardise something that is unique.
- But also, our bodies are changing over time, and weight gain or weight loss may distort your figure.
- We are not static objects.
- And finally, there is no scientific way of measuring body shapes and sometimes it’s just simply hard to judge one’s own body.
Below you will find the characteristics of the five basic body shapes commonly used in the fashion industry.
Each of these basic body shapes has a prominent characteristic, and they have been chosen for a reason:
- The rectangle looks more or less like a column, i.e. the body is straight with little to no definition.
- The pear has a bigger lower body compared to the upper body.
- The hourglass has a wider upper and lower body with a narrow waist in the middle.
- The inverted triangle has a bigger upper body compared to the lower body.
- The apple is wider in the middle and upper body with a smaller lower body.
Discover your body type and find the best little black dresses from the below:
Rectangle Body Shape:
A great dress for a rectangle body is balanced on top and bottom whilst pulling in the waist. One thing to look out for in dresses is thus high waist definition. Empire line dresses, princess seam dresses, and wrap dresses are great choices for the rectangle body. A belt is a must-have and can change the shape of any dress (even shapeless ones).
Wrap dresses are especially nice since the draping falls nicely over the straight body frame and creates the impression of curves.
While you want to stay away from baggy or shapeless garments, a shift dress is the one exception to the rule. Thanks to its clean lines and tailoring, a shift dress will sit nicely on a rectangle body with a small bust and flat bottom.
If you opt for dresses that flare quite a bit at the hem, make sure you balance out your top with details or big sleeves, such as ruffles.
You can also achieve the same illusion through the colours you wear. With strategic colour-blocking around the waist, the eye will naturally narrow that area of the body without physically adding more to it. Opt for dresses with darker colours around the waist, or add a dark belt to a dress.
Avoid boxy and baggy styles and dresses that flare out too wide at the bottom. These will make you look bottom-heavy.
Pear Body Shape:
Dresses should draw attention to the waist while concealing the lower body. Counterintuitively, dresses with a wider shape at the bottom are more effective in balancing out the hips. That is because tight-fitting dresses accentuate the hip area, whereas looser fits neatly skim over it. Great dress choices are A-line or X-line dresses. The latter will also balance out the upper body and is therefore excellent for a pear-shaped body.
Avoid dresses in thick fabrics as well as dresses with a dropped waist. Any dress with a straight cut will make you look heavier as it hides your waist.
Inverted Triangle Body Shape:
The right dress for the inverted triangle body adds volume at the hips to balance your shoulders. To achieve this, look for dresses that flare from the waist or hips. Simple, straight lines, shift dresses and A-line styles are great.
Details on the lower part of the dress, such as patterns and pleats and lighter colours, will draw the eye downwards and away from the shoulders.
If you opt for nipped or belted dresses, you can also add some definition to your waist.
Strapless dresses are a great way of showing off your shoulders. But make sure you balance them out by adding volume to the hips.
Avoid dresses that emphasise the shoulder area and upper body - either through the wrong neckline or through details on the upper body. And steer clear of dresses fitted at the bottom, which don't add any volume to the hips.
Hourglass Body Shape:
Dresses for the hourglass body shape should draw the focus to the waist without adding extra volume to the bust.
Nipped and belted dresses are excellent. Wrap dresses are great too, as they create a nice silhouette, accentuate the waist and tailor the midriff without making it look boxy.
Opt for voluminous skirts on dresses such as a full circle or tulip skirt as they make the waist appear even smaller. But make sure they are in a simple style. The hemline should be no shorter than knee length.
If you want to appear more curvaceous, add volume both to bust and hip through ruffles, embellishments or pockets. If you want to downplay your curves, look for a dress in dark colours or vertical stripes.
Avoid dresses with straight lines or boxy cuts since they cover your curves and make you appear heavy. And steer clear of embellishments or pockets in either the hip or shoulder area.
Apple Body Shape:
The right dress for the apple body shape skims over the midsection without clinging to the body.
A-line dresses, empire-line and bias-cut styles are great examples of dresses that take attention away from the mid-riff.
Wrap dresses are also great, as they tailor the midriff by visually lifting the bust.
Shoulder, neckline and sleeve details on dresses will ensure the eye is drawn upwards and away from the torso. Patterns (especially diagonal lines and big prints) and textures will distract and disguise a bigger tummy.
You can use a belt to draw in the waist. Usually, the thinnest part of the waist on an apple-shaped body is above the natural waistline. Medium to wide belts tend to work best – they pull in the weight nicely without bulking.
To narrow the broad shoulders, the hemline should flare outwards.
Avoid fine jersey, and steer clear of dresses made of delicate fabrics as they might create unwanted volume around the legs.
Don’t reach for the first dress you find on the rack. The little black dress is a wardrobe piece that will outlive any fashion trend, and we think it's worth investing in a high-quality piece that will last for years.