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Take it from Coco Chanel, who popularized the little black dress, or LBD: “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”
Before considering embellishments, pleats or other accessories, take into consideration the natural contours of your physique. “Our bodies, personalities and careers are all so different, [so] clothes should enhance our innate beauties and also be appropriate for the occasion,” says Mariane Perez, a former Preview Magazine staffer and currently a fashion designer and stylist of her namesake brand, ShopMariane.Multiply.com. Here, she offers suggestions on finding the perfect LBD for different body types and matching accessories that make sense. Plus, she reveals how to carry your clothes with confidence.
Creating a shapelier silhouette entails offsetting larger parts of the body -- such as the torso, shoulders, or hips -- that may create a “visual imbalance” next to leaner parts. “If your hips are big, draw the eye upwards with voluminous details on top like ruffles or a structured shoulder,” suggests Perez. “If your bust is big, focus on creating volume in the bottom with a fuller skirt. Add a belt to cinch the waist for a sexy finish.” Perez says architectural shapes are also good for this category.
“Petites are based not on weight or size, but on proportion,” says Leah Feldon, author of Does This Make Me Look Fat? The Definitive Rules for Dressing Thin for Every Height, Size, and Shape. “So don’t be fooled by the word petite; it doesn’t really mean small. There are even plus-size petites!” she explains.
Look for black (or any solid color, for that matter) shift dresses that create a lean line or even flouncy numbers featuring shorter hemlines that visually elongate legs.
Tall and Boyish Frame
“Tall women are great canvasses for black, and they can pull off long gowns effortlessly.” (Charlize Theron and Miriam Quiambao come to mind.) If you’re worried about being too tall or too “straight,” Perez says you could opt for an empire-cut dress or simply add a waist-cinching belt. “This will create the illusion of an hourglass silhouette.”
Perez favors showing off a little skin for voluptuous women because being too covered-up can actually make one look bigger. “Scoop necks and V-necks are great, as they show off a beautiful décolletage and draw the eye upward,” says Perez, who encourages plus-sized women to take quality and fit into consideration. Simple, tailor-fit LBDs create a leaner and longer line on your body.
Make the Most out of Your LBD
“Go classic in a smattering of pearls or really go for it with a statement necklace or cuff,” suggests Perez. “In the case of the latter, keep other accessories to a minimum or better yet, nix them.” To avoid overdoing it, Perez goes by Chanel’s advice: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.”
Buy the most expensive little black dress you can afford; it’s well worth the splurge as it will last you a long time and will practically pay for itself by the nth time you put it on. Go for quality, noting that this needn’t be ridiculously expensive. You just have to look in the right places and befriend a tailor who can do alterations on dresses you buy off the rack.
Launder With Love
As much as possible, hand-wash your LBD in cold water, using the gentlest detergent you can find to keep the color integrity and to get the most mileage out of this dress you’ll wear many, many times.
Mariel Chua is the managing editor of The Style Glossy. She is the former beauty editor of Seventeen, Cosmopolitan and OK! Magazine Philippines and has contributed to print and online titles including Marie Claire, Lifestyle Asia Travel and Yummy.ph.
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