How to Dress up a Black Dress
A little black dress is a versatile wardrobe must-have. If you've found yourself in a rut styling your ensemble the same way every time, you need new ideas for wearing a black dress. No matter how simple or detailed your dress is, you can combine different wardrobe staples to dress it up for work or formal occasions. Learn how to dress up a black dress with different wardrobe pieces below!
Bundle up in style with outerwear to layer over your little black dress. A formal piece over your black dress enhances your look, and all you have to do is slip on your favorite jacket, sweater or coat. Function and fashion combine with these outerwear styles.
A Moto Jacket
Add a bit of edge to your outfit with a stylish moto jacket. This outerwear often features metal accents and an asymmetrical zipper. Wear it zipped, unzipped or draped effortlessly over your shoulders. Find options that accentuate or enhance specific features, like jackets with squared shoulders or belted waists. You'll also have an array of colors to choose from, and while neutrals are a popular choice, you can always find unique colors that show off your personality. Any of these would enhance a black dress:
- A black moto jacket adds a sleek addition to your black dress.
- A tan moto jacket creates contrast with the dark dress.
- A gray moto jacket in suede makes a soft, yet stylish, addition.
- A light pink moto jacket is another feminine option in a trendy color.
Consider your dress' silhouette before you select a jacket. If your dress emphasizes your natural waist, choose a jacket that hits the same area. If your dress is fitted or bodycon, you can wear a moto jacket in almost any length.
A Printed Coat
Layer a printed coat with your little black dress for pattern and warmth. Outerwear doesn't have to be a strictly practical addition to your outfit. Choosing a patterned coat adds a touch of personality while making your black dress outfit feel put-together. And, you'll find lots of prints to choose from!
- Houndstooth: This subtle black-and-white pattern looks polished and professional when layered over a black dress. It's great for anyone who wants to wear patterns, but isn't quite ready to be bold with them yet.
- Plaid: You'll find plaid coats in countless colors and styles. Choose neutrals in subtle designs for a simple addition, or something more colorful to show off your personality.
- Geometric: Patterns with straight lines and angular shapes add a unique touch to your black dress. Find anything from modern to retro inspiration with geometric coats.
- Animal print: This bold trend often features neutral colors that work perfectly with a black dress. Choose your favorite print for a dramatic statement touch over your dress' solid, neutral color.
- Paisley: Enhance your black dress with a vintage twist. Paisley patterns add color and a retro touch, especially in oranges and blues.
When it comes to your outerwear's length, your options are flexible. A coat that falls to the hem of your dress will feel cohesive and clean. A coat that falls past the dress' hemline looks dramatic and stylish. And if your coat is shorter than the dress, it can help balance attention between the dress and the outerwear.
If the weather where you live isn't quite cold enough for a coat, consider a cardigan instead. You'll find similar patterns and lengths in this outerwear style, but in lighter materials.
An Oversized Sweater
Dress up for colder seasons, but stay cozy once you see how to style a black dress with an oversized sweater. The possibilities are endless for this combination, since sweaters come in so many styles, patterns and colors. If you want to know how to dress up a black dress, consider solid and neutral sweaters. They should be oversized enough to fit over your dress, but not so bulky that they look too casual. Whether you wear a white, black, gray or another color sweater over your dress, consider styles like these.
- Turtlenecks: Feel cozy and cute when you layer a turtleneck over your black dress. Turtlenecks can also provide a professional feel for your black dress outfit.
- Mock necks: A mock turtleneck is a bit sleeker than a traditional turtleneck. It will give your outfit a cleaner, dressed-up look.
- Cable knits: A cable-knit sweater is textured and fashionable. It's perfect to layer over a dress with smooth fabric to add contrast.
Be sure to consider your dress' neckline when layering a sweater. Avoid dresses like halter tops if the straps will be visible under the sweater, for instance.
Your footwear can take your outfit to casual or dressy levels, depending on what you select. Of course, you should keep practicality in mind and choose shoes that suit the weather or how much walking you'll be doing. But from there, the right styles can elevate your black dress to a fabulous, styled outfit. Consider pairing shoes like these with your little black dress.
Boots and dresses are perfect for fall and winter, so don't leave them out of your black dress outfits. Choose black boots for a sleek addition to your look, or consider patterns like faux snakeskin in gray, white and black to enhance your look with your personality. Whichever color or pattern you select for your outfit, get it in boot styles like these.
- Over-the-knee boots: If you need to keep your legs warm, but aren't ready to pack up your black dress for the cold weather, wear over-the-knee-boots. These bold styles can go up to your thighs for a daring, stylish look.
- Booties: Opt for a short boot if the weather isn't too bad. You can then either show off your legs or cover them, depending on what dress style and accessories you wear with your booties.
- Mid-calf boots: These boots are classic ones that rise somewhere between booties and over-the-knee options. Dress this enduringly trendy style up or down, depending on the rest of your look.
Consider the material and accents in your boots when you match them to a black dress outfit. A textured dress in a sweater material or with lace may go with smoother, shiny materials for contrast. If your dress is sleek, consider contrasting that with suede boots that provide a textured, matte finish to your outfit. With a dress that has metallic accents, you can either match them or contrast them in your boots. Wear other contrasting metallic details to mix metals intentionally.
Heels of almost any variety will add a dressed-up twist to your black dress. If you're ever unsure how to take a dress from casual to formal, prioritize your footwear. You even have a few options to consider if you select this shoe style to pair with your little black dress.
- Skinny heels: A stiletto or similar type of heel will take your outfit to a formal level. Heels come in everything from classic neutral shades to fun colors, prints and materials. Choose what suits your style and your personality.
- Chunky heels: If you'll be on your feet a lot but still want to look formal, consider a wider heel than a stiletto. Chunky heels can add a dramatic, yet formal, touch to your black dress outfits, and they can feature more texture or details in the heel.
- Wedges: These shoes are easier to walk in for many, so if you have trouble with heels, try wedges with your little black dress. They come in as many colors as traditional heels, and you can even play with contrast between the wedge and the shoe.
When the weather is warmer, you can dress up your black dress with stylish sandals. These will be comfortable and easy to put on, but they'll also tie your outfit together and elevate the look. When you add this footwear to your black dress outfit, consider these styles.
- Slides: These trendy sandals feature straps over the top of your foot toward the front. They come in an array of styles and colors, from solid black options to braided details in fun shades. Select an embellished pair for a fashionable touch.
- Gladiator sandals: For the height of mid-calf boots or booties without the coverage, wear gladiator sandals. These are strappy styles laced throughout the whole shoe that can rise just to your ankle or to your mid-calf. Select a your-nude color to elongate your legs, or choose black for a stylish addition.
- Ankle-strap sandals: Get a more subtle sandal with an ankle-strap style. These will feel more secure than slides, but feature fewer straps and laces than a gladiator sandal. The straps on sandals like these can be thin or wide for a bolder shoe style.
With the essentials of your outfit covered, consider adding accessories to dress up your look. You'll be surprised how one small accent or simple addition to your black dress outfit can take it from cute and stylish to stunning and dressed up. You should ultimately pick accessories based on your personal style and preferences, but consider adding these accents to your black dress outfits.
A Statement Necklace
While delicate accents add a simple formal touch, statement necklaces make your black dress dressier and show off your personality. Statement necklaces can feature anything from bold pendants to unique shapes, long lengths or thicker accents. No matter your preference, consider your dress' neckline to pick the perfect necklace. You'll want the right necklace length and style to go with your outfit's neckline.
- A halter dress: If you have a halter dress where the straps wrap behind your neck, consider a necklace that falls around your collarbone. You may not need a statement necklace if this area of your dress has beading or other embellishments.
- A V-neck dress: Mimic the neckline in a V-neck black dress with a V-shaped necklace. Lariat styles often create a pointed look that will complement the shape of your dress. Choose a necklace length that falls above the dress' neckline for a stylish touch.
- A strapless dress: With a dramatic strapless black dress, try a choker necklace. These short accessories sit on the neck without hanging below it. Wear a sparkling choker to contrast a matte black dress.
If you aren't into wearing necklaces or the weather is cold, consider swapping a scarf for the jewelry. Wear a solid, neutral color for a refined addition to your outfit, or consider a pattern like plaid to combine style and a fun touch.
You can show off your legs in a little black dress, but you could also dress up the look while covering up a bit using tights. Use these functional accessories to enhance your outfit. Tights come in countless colors and styles, so you're sure to find the perfect match for your dress and your tastes from options like these.
- Solid: Solid black tights create a cohesive look for your outfit. Because they're opaque, you can pick fleece-lined styles for frigid weather or classic solid tights for a more lightweight addition.
- Sheer: Sheer tights in black or a your-nude shade give you coverage without compromising your overall look. Sheer tights can easily transform a shorter black dress into a work-appropriate or formal outfit.
- Patterned: If your black dress has no texture or pattern, bring some into your ensemble with patterned tights. You'll find patterns ranging from geometric and plaid to stripes, floral and lace. Choose what complements your personality and style to enhance your black dress outfit.
Whether you're heading out in the sunshine or need to keep your head warm, a stylish hat can transform your little black dress look. A black hat or a neutral one with black accents keeps the outfit simple and more elegant, while a colorful or patterned hat is anything from cute to trendy. Consider wearing hats like these with a little black dress.
- A cloche adds an old-school vintage touch.
- A beret is chic and stands out.
- A Panama hat is trendy.
- A floppy hat is bold and keeps the sun away.
If you want to accessorize from head to toe, but aren't into hats, consider headbands instead. They add anywhere from a preppy to a trendy touch when you style them or other hair accessories with a little black dress.
Put It All Together
Combine pieces that go with your black dress to create a fashionable outfit. Take your dress from a simple piece you throw on to a dressier level when you create full outfits. Here are some different ways to wear a black dress that combine the additions above:
- A black mini dress, a long coat, over-the-knee boots, a scarf and a hat
- A black maxi dress, a moto jacket, strappy sandals and a statement necklace
- A knee-length black dress, an oversized sweater, heels and tights
No matter what you combine, try complementing patterns, colors and textures. Consider contrasting your dress with the rest of your outfit to make it stand out or become a neutral canvas for stylish touches.
Shop Little Black Dresses and Outfit Essentials With Perfectly Priscilla
If these ideas for how to dress up a black dress have you in need of wardrobe essentials, shop with Perfectly Priscilla! Since 2014, we've been providing fabulous boutique accessories and clothing in plus-size options. Today, we still specialize in plus-size clothes, but also offer a full range of sizes. No matter your size or your tastes, you're sure to find pieces for dressed-up outfits, comfy, casual looks and everything between at Perfectly Priscilla.
Shop our exclusive styles and sizes, from dresses to outerwear, shoes and accessories, today!