You may have seen my Instagram post recently about breaking up with dresses. I feel good about it and I pretty much have, but a gal still needs a good Little Black Dress, it seems. I do think I could make a strong case for a Little Black Jumpsuit superseding the need for a dress these days in my closet, but since I already ordered a bunch to try, we’ll stick with dresses for now. And I have to admit, I’m opening up a bit more to dresses again after finding some killer LBD options that make me feel almost as badass as wearing a great pair of pants. 

When I think ‘little black dress’ for me, I think a versatile short-to-knee-length dress I can wear for a few occasions, like a cocktail event or wedding, or whenever I need a go-to last minute dressy, but not formal, option. The styles I tend to find most flattering on me are sheath dresses and wrap dresses that have an interesting neckline, zero to very few ruffles, are typically sleeveless and are not off-the-shoulder (with one exception — I can never make an off-the-shoulder work without feeling like a linebacker…some of it has to do with the short hair, some has to do with all those planks in barre3, I tell myself).

The Search For The Perfect Little Black Dress

Fit Info: For reference on the fit of these dresses, I’m 5’4″ and have a shorter torso, especially above the bust, but petite sizing only works for me part of the time. I wear a 32DD in bras and I have a booty (#thanksbarre3). I also have more of a straighter than super-nipped in waistline. (#thanksyummyfoodandchildbirth) Anyway, let’s check out the options.

The Donna Karan Wrap Dress

This was the first dress I tried and I was really impressed. The shape is great and flattering and makes me appear taller. The wrap at the front hemline helps with that, as does the belted waist. I’m adoring this collar, too! It’s one of my top picks, but it is a little snug in the waistline, and the back length a leetle bit too long. I’m still loving though. It’s super-chic.

Little black dresses never get old. We're shopping for a year-round LBD... LOFT, Calvin Klein, Theory, Donna Karan...4 date night, girls' night or whenever.

Little black dresses never get old. We're shopping for a year-round LBD... LOFT, Calvin Klein, Theory, Donna Karan...4 date night, girls' night or whenever.
 

Donna Karan Wrap Dress (6) // LOVE this. Definitely a contender. Fits pretty true to size, but maybe just a bit small in the waist, and the seaming there doesn’t give. This is super-flattering with the front hemline showing a bit more leg (good for us shorties), but I’m thinking it may be juuuust a bit long from the back view. I’m not sure how hemming this would be with the scooped hemline. 

Halogen Calf Hair Mule // Adorable, low heel, stays on your foot. TTS. 

Two Reasonable LOFT Dresses That Are Solid Finds

The Sheath Wrap Dress

This first dress is super-cute, and nice and lightweight for summer. The fabric is so light (Tencel-like) that I thought it would be unflattering, but it isn’t. Alas, the plight of the short torso…you can see how the upper body is too long on me, and the darts don’t hit in the right place, making it gape in front. Womp womp. If you don’t have a short upper torso this is definitely worth a try! LOVE the asymmetrical hem.

Little black dresses never get old. We're shopping for a year-round LBD... LOFT, Calvin Klein, Theory, Donna Karan...4 date night, girls' night or whenever.

Little black dresses never get old. We're shopping for a year-round LBD... LOFT, Calvin Klein, Theory, Donna Karan...4 date night, girls' night or whenever.

Little black dresses never get old. We're shopping for a year-round LBD... LOFT, Calvin Klein, Theory, Donna Karan...4 date night, girls' night or whenever.

Wrap Sheath Dress (6) // So soft and light and lovely and reasonable. They didn’t have a petite in my size, hence the long upper body issue, but I also think that might have been too short. It also comes in red if you need a pop instead of an LBD. On sale! Use code TREAT for 40% off.

Halogen Calf Hair Mule // Adorable, low heel, stays on your foot. TTS. 

The Strappy Wrap Dress

This second LOFT find was also a good one. It’s SO soft and lightweight, too. It might just make the cut for my summer option. The back view isn’t super amazing or as dressy to me as some others (sorry for the bra straps too — doh, I should’ve grabbed my strapless), but if I need a summer option (aka for an outdoor wedding or event), I’m pretty sure this would be it.

Little black dresses never get old. We're shopping for a year-round LBD... LOFT, Calvin Klein, Theory, Donna Karan...4 date night, girls' night or whenever.

Little black dresses never get old. We're shopping for a year-round LBD... LOFT, Calvin Klein, Theory, Donna Karan...4 date night, girls' night or whenever.

Strappy Wrap Dress (6p) // This is SO soft and comfy and flattering. It’s a little more summery/casual than a real go-to yearlong LBD, but it’s a solid option for right now. And on sale! Use code TREAT for 40% off. 

Halogen Calf Hair Mule // Adorable, low heel, stays on your foot. TTS. 

The Rad One I Adore But Isn’t Quite Right

OH this dress. “Try the Theory faux leather dress from the #Nsale” Shana said. “You’ll love it!” she said. AND, of course I do. BUT it’s so unforgiving. I need to size up and they’re out of an 8, wouldn’t you know it. This is the one that feels most ‘me’, so I’ll have to stalk the site for the 8. But I guess it wouldn’t be as versatile as my only LBD. Oh, but to throw this on with a long coat and high tops. It’s my dream…for another day. Le sigh. (Did you buy the 8 and are thinking of sending it back? Hit me up ASAP! Omg thank you thank you)

Little black dresses never get old. We're shopping for a year-round LBD... LOFT, Calvin Klein, Theory, Donna Karan...4 date night, girls' night or whenever.

Little black dresses never get old. We're shopping for a year-round LBD... LOFT, Calvin Klein, Theory, Donna Karan...4 date night, girls' night or whenever.

Theory Faux Leather Sheath Dress (6) // Sadly, this size ‘fits’ but doesn’t lay well when I move at all. It wrinkles up and the lining even shows a bit at the bottom after moving around. Do you feel sorry for me yet? Haha I’m only joking. But hop on it if your size is left to snag it during the sale!

Halogen Calf Hair Mule // Adorable, low heel, stays on your foot. TTS. 

Three Classic Calvin Klein Options & Maybe A Winner?

Ruffle Collar

This first CK option has a really cool neckline and a soft scuba fabric, but whew. Not forgiving here, especially in the mom-pooch area. Look away. I think the regular instead of petite might have helped me here. And yes, that’s my child with headphones on playing a game so I can #survivesummer. Working with kids at home is for the birds. How quickly I forgot the luxury of THE SCHOOL YEAR. Haha. Can I get a hell yeah?

Little black dresses never get old. We're shopping for a year-round LBD... LOFT, Calvin Klein, Theory, Donna Karan...4 date night, girls' night or whenever.

Little black dresses never get old. We're shopping for a year-round LBD... LOFT, Calvin Klein, Theory, Donna Karan...4 date night, girls' night or whenever.

Calvin Klein Sleeveless Sheath With Ruffle Collar (6p) // Runs slightly small I’d say, or maybe this fabric just requires Spanx. Love the collar. The rest I can leave. The other two were made of more flattering fabric.

Halogen Calf Hair Mule // Adorable, low heel, stays on your foot. TTS. 

Asymmetrical Neckline

This next CK option is currently my top choice. I’ll have to try it on a couple more times to be sure, but I felt great in it and it is forgiving and comfy, AND still has a rad element in the neckline that is super me. Also, I’m wearing a regular bra here and it’s not showing, so…#winning. Also? Under $100!

Little black dresses never get old. We're shopping for a year-round LBD... LOFT, Calvin Klein, Theory, Donna Karan...4 date night, girls' night or whenever.

Little black dresses never get old. We're shopping for a year-round LBD... LOFT, Calvin Klein, Theory, Donna Karan...4 date night, girls' night or whenever.

Calvin Klein Sleeveless Sheath (6) // Super-cute and I think my top contender. It’s comfortable, doesn’t show every bump and detail, and is well-made. The rad asymmetrical neckline is my jam for sure, and I love the exposed zipper. It’s heavier than the LOFT dresses or even the Donna Karan, but not wool or anything wintery. It’d be great for year-round for dressier events. 

Halogen Calf Hair Mule // Adorable, low heel, stays on your foot. TTS. 

Capped Sleeve Dress

This last one is the same fabric as the previous, but just a simpler neckline. I like it a lot as far as fit and feel, but it’s just a little plain for me. 

Little black dresses never get old. We're shopping for a year-round LBD... LOFT, Calvin Klein, Theory, Donna Karan...4 date night, girls' night or whenever.

Little black dresses never get old. We're shopping for a year-round LBD... LOFT, Calvin Klein, Theory, Donna Karan...4 date night, girls' night or whenever.

Calvin Klein Cap Sleeved V Neck Sheath (6) // Super-cute. A tiny bit long on me. Well-made. True to size. I like the cap sleeve here but it may be just a tiny bit plain for my taste. A solid option nonetheless.

Halogen Calf Hair Mule // Adorable, low heel, stays on your foot. TTS. 

 

Shop Little Black Dresses


 

I’m sure a few of you have found your favorite LBD. DO share your finds with us! It’s a closet piece that makes sense to spend a little time finding, and can be changed up with fun accessories for a different vibe each time you wear it. 

xo,

L

Hey, friends. Hop on over to follow me on Instagram @laurajansenstyle to see more of what I’m up to in Portland, Oregon. If you want to shop my current pieces I’m loving and wearing, head over to My Closet!

16 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you **so much** for this post! We share similar body details and I just ordered the black LOFT sheath dress (currently on final sale, so even with shipping was only $28!) and have a few others to check out! LBD’s forever!

  2. I think I’m going to order it too.Ok two issues that I need help on—

    – 99% of the time I would wear a dress it would be to a work event or to work itself. I don’t feel comfortable wearing sleeveless at the office. What would you wear on top? I particularly like the first dress on you, but I can’t think of what would go on top?

    – Secondly, as a never dress wearer my legs are butt white. I tried a super expensive organic self tanner with an Italian name that I’m spacing on right now – it left major streaks on my feet and ankles. Any ideas how to apply, suggestions???

    • Hmm. Good question. Yeah, the collared wrap dress might be tricky to add something on top for work. You’d lose the cool factor of the collar, but maybe a ballet wrap sweater would work over it for the office and still leave room for that cool collar? Or perhaps a collarless blazer? I think I’d love to see a white one with it…

    • Oh and self tanners. Omg. Besides the Jergens kind that builds up over a few uses gradually I get streaks, too. I say for an event go for an airbrushed tan. I’ve gotten a few over the last year and they’re so worth it for trips or events. But yeah, the after shower Jergens gradual tanner is a light glow but seems to work best!

  3. Thank you so much for the detail on your body shape. It helps so much to know if the fit would be similar or not. Sounds like I have the same shape, just umm… fluffier 😉

  4. I love that Theory dress! But I honestly think each of them looks good on you, just in different ways. I’ve recently started getting back into wearing dresses again.

  5. Honestly, I love all of these, but you might have saved the best for last. The lines on the capped sleeve dress are so flattering – I could see wearing this dress over and over again!

  6. So interesting to read about the plight of the short torso – I’m a long torso person and we run up against our own set of problems when it comes to dresses. I’ve more or less said goodbye to dresses, opting for a skirt and a blouse out of the need for comfort and proper fit. I do wonder if that Loft wrap dress would be good for long waisted among us… but it’s probably workable for regular length torsos. It was fun to read your reviews!

  7. I love that all your LBD picks have something fun about them- strappy, exposed zipper, fun collar, etc… I agree, the asymmetrical neckline is my favorite on you!

  8. OMG you look great in ALL of them and so nice to see your little one in the background but where is Camper (LOL)?

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