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How To Refresh A Little Black Dress

Last updated on : March 21 2019

Little black dress and black shoes. Wooden background

Updating & Styling Your Little Black Dress

Refreshing a little black dress, or LBD can be a fun and creative way to complete a new look or reinvent one without having to buy something entirely new. 

Ideas abound when it comes to livening up these dresses, mainly because they’re adaptable to almost any look or fashion situation, whether it involves updates for seasons, more involved accessorizing, or different looks altogether.

Here are a few ideas that will help renew your look in these iconic dress styles. 

Use Accessories

Tights and patterned hosiery

Hosiery items are a budget-friendly way to accessorize your dress. Tights and hose add textural and visual aspects, while patterns of dotted Swiss, diamonds, cable knits, argyles, chevrons, even sheer black, and opaque hosiery, provide them with new dimensions.

Tinges of color in tights and hose patterns can lift this simple clothing item to a new level, particularly when it comes to shorter, more traditional black dresses. Pattern mixes can transform an entire outfit.

Collars

A detachable collar with embellishments or jeweled treatments can add significantly to the look of an LBD, particularly for those who have higher necks and could use a touch of color at the neckline area. Collars made of lace and raised fabric prints are also good choices as they add a layer of texture to a black dress.

Handbags

Purses that coordinate well with black and can refresh an entire look include box-like clutches, narrow-to-flat shoulder bags with a thin chain and leather shoulder straps, as well as wristlets with sparkles for party wear.

For work or everyday looks, hobo bags and more structured designer-style handbags will uplift a black dress. Look for purses that can transition from everyday casual and business to on-the-town looks. Interspersed pops of color, sparkle and real leather will add a touch of elegance and allure to any handbag accompanying your look.

Shoes

Everybody knows that the perfect shoe choice for an occasion can enhance a little black dress. Shoe selections that are the most impressive and suitable for both day and evening-wear include:

  • jeweled or studded pumps
  • brightly colored pumps with chunky heels (fuchsia, coral, royal blue and forest green as well as inky black )
  • glitter heels (gold and silver)
  • sequined, velvet, leather or fabric ballet flats
  • leather or smooth, colorful fabric ankle booties
  • platform or flat sandals with metallic finishes
  • updated sneakers and slip-on's in various textures and color

Jewelry

Nothing intensifies and refreshes the look of a little black dress more than jewelry. The dress is the backdrop, and the bling is the beckoning exacting touch.

Jewelry alone can make or break the look.

Silver, gold and gem-embedded jewelry add glamour to earrings, ear cuffs, rings, cuff bracelets, chokers, chains, station necklaces, tassel necklaces, layered necklaces, and longer statement necklaces.

Colorful costume jewelry and real gems add to the dramatic nature of an LBD and further intensify any fashion statement. Vintage designs in bold earrings, necklaces, pins, and brooches are definite pluses. Jewels arranged in varying shapes and sizes all add to the look.

There’s no doubt that real diamonds and quality fakes will take a black dress to another level with a simply styled pin or necklace. Another jewelry standard, pearls, are excellent additions that leave you appearing genuinely feminine.

Add Clothing & Layers

model wearing little black dress with accessories

Jackets, Cardigans, etc.

An easy solution to any little black dress refresher dilemma is, of course, the addition of another clothing item, such as:

  • a blazer
  • jacket
  • open front cardi wrap
  • open front cascading wrap
  • wrap sweater
  • moto jacket
  • jean jacket
  • shrug
  • cropped cardigan
  • shawl
  • butterfly shawl
  • poncho
  • kimono open front cardigan
  • oversized scarf
  • duster
  • overcoat

A beautiful gold or silver sequined eye-catching lace shawl styled with scalloped edges is the perfect addition to an evening look.

Printed silk bomber jackets are perfect additions to off-the-shoulder versions and can go in either a casual or dressy direction.

Achieve more casual looks can with embellished jean jackets or leather jackets. For business attire that goes beyond the office look, a white blazer can quickly transform your LBD from work to a late night dinner with friends.

Pants, Jeggings, and Leggings

You've seen slim capri pants, cropped pants, jeggings and leggings used under almost any kind of mini or shorter black dress. The pants help elongate the dress and create a casual to dressy evening pajama look.

Imagine a pair of black velvet narrow-legged capri pants under a bling embedded tunic top that creates both a casual and dressy look. Embellish this look further with shoes and other accessories. There’s virtually no limit as to how far you can downplay this look to casual or elevate it to a dressy mode

Adjustments with Shirts, T's, Sweaters and Tunics

Most little black dresses, particularly those that are sleeveless, strapless, deep v-necked, narrow spaghetti strapped, halter styled or off-the-shoulder can be easily adjusted and enhanced with the addition of a shirt, sweater, t-shirt or tunic look.

Who says you can't add something underneath to update your dress. 

A button-down shirt in a quirky print layered underneath a sleeveless, halter or spaghetti strap style can give it a preppy appearance, while a t-shirt under the same kind of dress can bring a casual fun look to it.

For the tunic look, all that’s required is to pull out that almost-too-short LBD in the back of your closet and adjust it for use as a tunic. Just belt it with a narrow leather belt with a bright buckle and dare to wear it short or add a Capri or tight cigarette pant below the dress.

These ideas give you two looks with one dress. Achieve the same effect with a black wrap dress cinched at the waist and also paired with pants.

Adapting To Changing Seasons & Holidays

lace front black dress and accessories for summer

Changing seasons and holidays can prompt fun ways to revamp a little black dress.

For December holiday fun, add tasteful metallic items to your list of fashion to-dos. Stilettos, as well as chunky or high-heeled sandals in bronze, gold, silver, and copper,  are great holiday additions, as are small metallic clutches in the same finishes.

Shoes and small handbags can do wonders for these dresses, as can statement necklaces in light golden metals with crystal tiers that fill the portion of a scoop or V-necked dress. Along with metallic shoes, red satin heels can undoubtedly be a winning ticket to holiday glamour, while an open-toe satin bowed pump also certainly fits that bill.

Red is one way of adding to black, no matter the season or holiday. Other enchanting holiday fashion accessories can include anything faux-fur or curly faux fur, like a warm, stylish, comfy open shrug or bolero jacket in cream, white or metallic pewter or platinum.

Spring and summer seasonal elements can be intertwined with mostly any black dress. Some of the simplest ideas to bring new life in warmer seasons are through accessories which complement them, including:

  • western belts, braided leather belts, colorful floral stretch buckle belts, leather flower fashion hollow belts, and bright print fabric belts
  • scarves and bandannas in festive colors and geometrical, paisley and floral designs
  • mules and slip-on's in bright colors or striped espadrilles and colorful sandals
  • drawstring and shiny straw handbags
  • flower collar choker necklaces and tassel earrings in citrus colors
  • geometrically-designed jewelry in bronze, gold, silver, and copper
  • large-faced watches in pretty pastel colors
  • wide-brimmed hats with colorful ribbon bands, floral headpieces, and thin gold or silver headbands

Summary

Knowing how to refresh an LBD is essential, but equally important is the art of knowing how to wear one to your best advantage.

A little black dress doesn't have to go unused or saved for once-a-year special occasions. Pull it out of the back of your closet and create your possibilities with some of the ideas provided here.

Accessorizing and interjecting compatible clothing items and preparing for seasonal looks shouldn't be a fashion nightmare. See it more as a pleasant dream of all the fashion and styling ideas that come from mixing, matching and coordinating elements to arrive at the many combinations possible with these iconic dresses.   

classic black dress with leopard print bag and red shoes

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