How To Style It: The Little Black Dress

By   /  January 7, 2013

Guide to the Little Black Dress by Kemi Olaofe.

1920s Flapper Girl against the iconic Audrey Hepburn

Kemi Olaofe is the chief stylist at menswear site- Monsieur Man. As Butterboom’s style contributor, she tells us how to update the little black dress today.

One of my favourite quotes is by Karl Lagerfeld, he said “One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a Little Black Dress.”  I believe it a “rule of fashion” that every woman should own a simple, elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion, from leather and lace to embellished with bows and studs.

The origins of the little black dress, dates back to the 1920s, when Coco Chanel published a picture of a short, simple black dress in American Vogue. One of my favourite black dress moments was Audrey Hepburn in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in my eyes she epitomized the standard for wearing little black dresses. Its silhouette has changed over the years, but the LBD remains supremely chic.

In 1927 the style was a narrow silhouette and shorter hemline teamed with a layered creation with a semi-sheer top. Step forward 30 years to 1961 and we see Audrey Hepburn in what might be filmdom’s most famous LBD, designed by Hubert de Givenchy for Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Powerful Women: Princess Diana & Obama’s First Lady

In 1994 Princess Diana raised eyebrows with this stunning LBD, her so-called revenge dress. The low-cut black gown she’d worn in her public debut as Prince Charles’ fiancée verged on the scandalous for its serious décolletage.

In 2009 Michelle Obama wears a lovely, ladylike Azzedine Alaia dress with a modernized ’50s silhouette.

In 2012, the LBD still stands for one colour, endless styles, and infinite versatility. Long or short, sexy or restrained, glamorous or basic, a legendary garment that designers the world over have adapted to their fashion vision. For 2013 winter, the preferred styles graze the knees and reveal the arms. From simple to ornate featuring gentle accoutrements: empire waist, bows, flounce’n’flair silhouettes, organdie inlays, layers, ruffled detailing, and elements of lace and leather panelling.

Update your 2013 LBD by styling it in five different ways:

1. Team with a lace bolero and heavily laced tights to add gothic element.

2. Add a brightly coloured tweed jacket, ideal for work.

3. Insert leather leggings or a jacket, teamed with biker boots, for the urban styled look.

4. To make this dress boho-chic, add a burgundy floppy winter hat, a matching snood, and a fringed cropped jacket.

5. Add faux-fur and hunter boots to create that winter chic attire.

Stella McCartney & Calvin Klien’s execution of the LBDs

Brands to look out for this season when adding a new black dress to your wardrobe include Celine, Stella McCartney and Calvin Klein.

Should you need help in finding the trends, and styles that suit your personality and shape, contact KemiStyle for a style and shop consultation at


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