One of my biggest style inspirations is the legendary Elle Magazine editor-in-chief, Project Runway judge, Nina Garcia. She is an icon. Nina is proof that style is ageless and that fashion rules based on a woman’s age need to not just be thrown out, but that the trashcan they are tossed into needs to be set on fire.

In her Little Black Book of Style, Nina stresses the importance of the Little Black Dress (LBD), or more specifically, the importance of finding your Little Black Dress (YLBD?). You know the one – The special black dress that makes you exude confidence, walk taller or sexier (maybe even strut a little), command a room – That one.

Other style advice she gives is the following:

  1. You need to invest in some good essential pieces
  2. You need to know what you like and what looks good on you

I realize that none of this is groundbreaking. Nobody will argue that an LBD isn’t an essential piece in a woman’s wardrobe and you need to know what works for your body. But, let’s face it, an LBD in the wrong silhouette isn’t going to work its magic on you simply because it happens to be little…and black…and a dress. Nina stresses that there are certain sartorial choices that are worth the time, patience and research it takes til you find the right one, and the Little Black Dress is one of those pieces. I could not agree more.

This LBD ticks off both of Nina’s principles above. This is my Little Black Dress. Every time I have worn it to a job interview, I have been offered the job – including the one where I met my blog partner in crime, Jennifer. I firmly believe it is because of the reasons Nina lists in her book. This dress highlights what I want highlighted and elongates what I need elongated. When I wear it, I know I carry myself differently, walk differently.

Besides being my professional lucky charm of sorts, there are a few things I love about this LBD:

  • I am extremely short-waisted and this dress makes my waist look long! #miracle
  • It is the perfect length that is somehow suitable for both job interviews and cocktail parties.
  • The mix of fabrics gives the dress visual interest and allows me to keep my jewelry minimal – also good for more professional occasions.
  • This dress works with a variety of footwear from kitten heel or sky-high stilettos. The overall vibe of the dress changes with the shoes so wearing it never feels repetitive.

This dress is one of the best scores I ever made on The Real Real and is made by another one of my style obsessions, Diane von Furstenberg. I bought it on credit that I had from consigning other items with the site, so while not free per se, I did not need to actively spend any money in order to add it to my closet. That makes this dress beyond a win in my book.

Here are some tips to finding YLBD

Determine Your Budget – This is a piece where you want to be able to splurge, so I would do some cursory internet research (AKA online fantasy shopping), determine at what price point you are finding the most options and come up with a savings plan. Since this is such a quality over quantity purchase, it is worth the extra planning.

Weigh the Important Factors – see below for three important factors you should consider when shopping for your Little Black Dress: Style, Shape and Fabric.

Style – What kind of vibe do you want to give off? Professional, sexy, romantic, sophisticated, retro, edgy or minimal? Picture the dress in a variety of scenarios and consider whether you already own the accessories to dress it up or down, wear to a wedding or networking event. This will help you get creative with style.

Shape – What silhouette best fit your shape? Is your body pear shape, petite, apple shape, curvy, or plus size? A basic fit and flare tends to work on a variety of body types. If you are unsure of your best silhouette, having the budget to shop where a Sales Associate can help guide you is very important.

In addition to shape, I would pay close attention to the length of the LBD. Since you will be wearing this item on many occasions, you don’t want anything too short or too long. The length should be just right for your height. This is a simple tweak that is always worth a visit to the tailor.

Fabric – When are you going to be wearing this dress most? Think about where you live and where you might wear the dress. My work sends me all over Texas with regular trips to Las Vegas and California. My LBD is made of fabric that works in warmer – sometimes sweltering – climes. If you live in the dessert, you will want to select a fabric that isn’t too thick and hot, as opposed the other end of the spectrum. If you deal with snow, wool, tweed, boucle, etc. is your friend.

Where to Shop – As much as I love me the secondary market, this is one of the few purchases where you might want to consider new. You need to be able to try this on before taking the plunge (or be ready, willing and able to deal with shipping back and forth). If you are trying to find an LBD on eBay or similar, be sure the seller takes returns. The less tailoring you must do the better. Places like Nordstrom offer different quality at different price points and you can always wait for one of their sales. If your live near a UAL, a Nordstrom’s Rack, an Off 5th, Last Call or the like, I would start there. Just because you are buying new, doesn’t mean you can’t get a bargain.

Cost Per Wear – one of the great things about finding your Little Black Dress is that you will have it for years, wearing it repeatedly, so your cost per wear shrinks quickly giving you a greater return on investment. The Penny Hoarder wrote a great, in depth article on cost per wear.

This post features photos taken about two months apart. In the first photos, I am wearing the little black dress in photos for my company’s new website. My #dayjob has me busy with developing a new company website and rebrand. Since these photos are supposed to show some personality, I paired the dress with a fabulous set of 4” heels and had fun finding interesting nooks to pose in at our shared working space in downtown Austin. The second set of photos shows the dress styled more realistically. They are taken in my kitchen a few weeks ago where wanted to feel effortlessly polished for a typical workday. I paired the LBD, with my new laptop bag from Cataleya London, my animal print hair tie from J Crew and a great pair of vintage Ferragamo’s I scored at Goodwill a few years ago. Whether for the ‘gram or IRL, this dress looks great either way.

Here are some other LBDs I am eyeing at different price points for a variety of different occasions. And stay tuned for an exciting announcement regarding The Real Real. We will have a blog post featuring our local rep very soon!

Pricy, but would seamlessly go from the office to cocktails. I do not see it going out of style anytime soon. The detail in the front would be very flattering to a variety of shapes. Plus, it’s Reiss and Kate Middleton wears Reiss, so there’s that. Worth the investment because cost per wear would be low.

For a less expensive option, I love this Asos number with the great belt detail.

Another great belt option but in a body con silhouette.

Can you do a roundup of dresses – any dresses – and not include a Reformation option? #askingforafriend Because I am stalking this dress.

Timeless and elegant. Girl Meets Glam’s fit and flare dress with sweet pearl detail is a classic addition to any closet.

Eyeing (and saving for) this DVF to add to my collection. It’s crepe de chine and I am sure it is impeccable, making it a worthwhile investment in my book.  

Lace, in a classic silhouette, for under $100….. What are you waiting for?

This fun strip of white might be cheating, but I do not even care. This dress is too cute and too affordable not to include!

Photography by http://Breezyritter.com