Accessorize a Black Dress: A Style Guide
A black dress is one of the most versatile clothing pieces you can own. While it’s chic and simple to rock on its own, accessorizing your black dress is the perfect opportunity to show off your style. With so many possibilities, you might be asking yourself: Where do I start? Look no further than this guide on how to style your favorite black dress for any occasion.
For Casual Styles
Whether it’s a loose-fitting t-shirt dress, spaghetti strap number, or a breathable maxi dress, the black dress can be mixed and matched endlessly for everyday wear. Here are a few thoughts on how to get the most out of yours:
Layering is Key
Layering with a black dress adds texture to your outfit through the combination of different textiles. A black or brown leather jacket is always a welcome addition because it works well on any dress and offers a bit of an edge. Layering is also a go-to cold weather styling method.
For warmer weather, a sweater or flannel tied around your waist is a great accessory. Not only does it add some color, but it also cinches the fabric at the waist and flares out the hips, creating a flattering form. And don’t forget two ever-versatile pieces: the denim and bomber jackets. These pieces can add bright or muted color contrast to a dark garment and make your outfit sporty.
Switch Up Shoes for the Season
You might gravitate toward heels, but there are lots of other shoes that can look great with a black dress. In the winter, brown or black boots are the way to go, while ankle-high booties are ideal for autumnal maxi or midi-dresses. In warm weather, gladiator sandals are a subtle way to add some fun beachiness. And black combat boots look great in any weather; they instantly add an edge, and there’s something about the extra bit of height these boots provide that is a confidence booster.
Add Some Color
Especially in the summertime, you can use light or colorful tones to balance out plain black. Sneakers are a great way to do this. Whether they’re all white or multicolored, platform sneakers create heightened interest in any outfit. Add a color-coordinated baseball cap for a sporty look. Alternatively, try a cute pastel bucket hat with a sweatshirt of the same color. Color-blocked pullovers are great for this because they maintain the simplicity of the monochrome black dress while still adding pep.
For a More Professional Look
Black dresses are adaptable to almost all situations, and that includes a professional environment. Though workplace restrictions on outfits are trending to relax, just be aware of your job’s guidelines on sleeves, hem lengths, and the like.
Stick to Single-Tone Shoes
You may want to stray away from excessively bright or flashy pieces, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing style. Black, brown, gray, and beige are go-tos. You can’t go wrong with a pair of black heels, although if you’re interested in comfort a thicker heel might be the way to go. Nude or white pointed pumps are slightly bolder while still remaining appropriate. They also carry a bonus: Shoes that closely match your skin tone can have a leg-lengthening visual effect.
You Can’t Go Wrong with a Blazer
Women in the workforce have been rocking blazers since the women’s pantsuit was introduced in 1930s women's fashion. With a black dress, it’s a must-have. A form-fitting black piece that buttons at the waist keeps things sleek and poised. For something slightly different, try an oversized blazer and roll up the sleeves to just below the elbow (or look for one that comes with the sleeves already scrunched upwards).
This kind of blazer also pairs great as a lighter tone––pastel pink, powder blue, beige, or gray are all solid choices; however, you may want to avoid white so it doesn’t look like you’re wearing a lab coat.
Heels are far from the only professional shoe option to choose from. Ballerina flats, for example, will never steer you wrong. For something more casual and comfortable, black loafers or even two-toned oxfords are a great option. Blend them into a professional look a bit by coordinating them with whatever jacket you’re wearing. Another staple accessory not to be overlooked? Black or nude tights. They come in handy when it’s chilly or when you’d simply feel more comfortable with a bit of extra coverage.
For a Formal Event
Black is always welcome at any formal event. Elegant, mysterious, and classic, you just can’t go wrong. Depending on the nature of the event, you can go as big or as subtle as you like with accessories. A long black gown might be more suitable for a black-tie event, while a short and flirty piece can be worn to a cocktail party.
Make a Statement with Jewelry
Dazzling jewelry is encouraged on this kind of occasion. It’s best to stick to one statement piece. Long diamond or sparkling silver earrings go great with black, but bejeweled bangles or necklaces are just as flattering. If your style is a bit more muted and elegant, go for low-contrast accessories. With a black dress, that means dark items. If you’re looking to make your accessories pop and add a bit of daring, go for something light, bright, and colorful, which will stand out beautifully against the black backdrop.
Sparkle is Encouraged
This is a great time to bring some sparkle into your look. A small glitter purse or heels can be a beautiful addition. Just make sure to keep it to two or three pieces and try to stick to silvery or complementary colors to keep competing elements from overwhelming each other.
Pearls Are a Girl’s Best Friend
One way to never go wrong? The classic pearl earring and necklace combo. No matter the formality of the event, this is a timeless and universally flattering look. This accessory calls to mind iconic looks of bygone eras, from Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Jackie Kennedy’s famous pearls. With a small clutch and simple black kitten heels, you are good to go. If you like to do something extra with your hair, add a pearl pin or two, or swap out either necklace or earrings for a pearl headband.
One of the best things about a black dress is that it’s a blank canvas. Try different things, explore your style, and pick accessories until you paint that canvas to your liking. No matter what the occasion, a black dress can be whatever you need in the moment.
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