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Category Archives: Wearing Classics

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PERFECT PANTS

By | Wardrobe Savvy, Wearing Classics | 4 Comments

Comfortable and highly practical, pants are worn by almost all women.

Within most corporate environments tailored pants are now accepted business wear for women and we owe it all to Amelia Bloomer. In 1850, this outspoken and brave feminist encouraged women to follow her lead and abandon their horsehair crinolines and voluminous skirts in favor of more practical knee-length trousers. As expected, she was savagely criticized but by 1890 women had taken up her suggestion with gusto thanks to the advent of bicycle riding becoming an acceptable leisure activity for women.

However, pants can also be one of the most difficult garments for women to find a flattering fit and style in. The female form is more complicated than a male’s having many variations in hip and bottom curve and position, causing finding the right style often a matter of trial and error if you are not aimed with knowledge of what will suit your shape.

Pants and trousers have five important fit criteria:

  1.  A comfortable waist.
  2.  A rise length that is right for your torso and butt depth.
  3.  A length suitable for the wearer’s leg length and shoe.
  4.  The correct width for the wearer’s leg length, height and shoe.
  5.  Sufficient room to move

Key Elements

Signature Features

  • A great style: pants or trousers made with sound design principles and the female form in mind.
  • A great cut: one that is not too tight or shaped to allow the pant/trouser to fit smoothly over the hips and fall neatly to the floor.
  • Good quality fabric: the most classic being, wool, linen and cotton blends.

Pleats or Flat Front?

Without a doubt, flat front pants flatter more women than pleated trousers ever will. While trousers provide extra comfort and freedom of movement it’s at the price of extra bulk that sits in the hip and thigh region.

The most flattering trousers have the following style elements:

  • A single front pleat
  • Double back dart
  • Knife edge crease down the front
  • Side pockets that lay flat and closed

When considering pleats, the main thing to keep in mind is their direction. Inward facing pleats are best for slender to underweight women as they have a tendency to add bulk top the hips and attract attention toward the stomach. Outward facing pleats attract attention away from the stomach while still being flattering to larger hiplines. This advice also is true for skirt and dress pleats.

Pants (no pleats/flat fronted) while being the more flattering of the two choices must fit perfectly as they do not have the extra fabric to hide any fit issues.

Pant group

Width

Fashion trends alter the length and width of pants constantly however, few of us have a classic model’s figure and need to take care that we do not get hooked into wearing a style just because it’s the ‘in’ thing.

As a general rule, you can assume that the wider the pants the shorter and heavier you will appear and it’s always more flattering not to hem anything at the widest area of any part of your body – in this case, your thighs or calf. The adverse effect can be countered by adding high heels to add length to the legs and elongate the overall height to the wearer. High heels will also elevate the look to ‘dressy’.

Pant WidthSource

Length

Each season designers introduce new lengths. No matter what’s ‘in’ only adopt styles that will enhance and flatter your figure. 

Long pants work for all women and all heights while cropped styles need to be slimline or straight to flatter most women. Very few women can successfully carry off wide, short pants regardless of their ‘in-fashion’ status. This is especially true if the wearer has short or heavy legs.

The classic hem length for long pants or trousers is where the upper of the shoe meets the heel. One way to get the most versatility out of long pants is to hem them so they just touch the floor when you are barefooted. This length will then work with low and medium height heels.

For those blessed with long slender legs the world is your oyster as almost any length and width will work for you. For the rest of us, long pants need to be worn at least to the point where our shoe upper meets the heel. Longer is even better when teamed with high heels and will dramatically elongate and slim your legs.

Team width and length and you’ll find the best pants for women who are not blessed with height and/or long legs are widths that are skinny to straight and those that are hemmed at the top of the heel or longer. Cropped wide leg pants are very hard to pull-off successfully.

Width

Pattern, Texture and Surface Interest

Wide checks or plaids, loud patterns, and florals all need to be approached with caution and the same applies to texture.

Fine and/or tight, matte weaves create a smooth texture and are very flattering while pants and trousers made out of fabrics such as wide corduroy, tweed, chintz or satin are best left to slender and thin women.

Excessive texture and shine will always increase the perceived weight of the wearer and should be therefore worn with caution by those who are anything more than moderately over their ideal weight.

Most women will look their best in solid colored, matte, medium-dark to dark pants and/or those that have subtle patterns.

ThisforThat

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The Trouser Suit

Wearing a trouser suit signals contemporary thinking and in the right shape, and with the right attitude, is far sexier and slimming than a skirt suit. This may be one reason why it was taboo in so many business environments for such a long time. A well-fitting trouser suit in an understated, current style and color will serve you faithfully for years. They’re a far cry from the traditional male suit and the pinstripe suits when in fashion have an appealing and professional appearance while also being incredibly slimming.

Perfect Fit

  • Pleats should lay flat.
  • All closures, pockets, and vents should lay flat.
  • Pant legs should not curve under the buttocks. When viewed sideways the trouser leg should fall vertically from the buttocks to the floor.
  • Lapels should lay flat against the chest.
  • You should be able to pinch 2.5 – 4 cm (1”1½”) of double fabric at your hip-line.
  • Panty lines should not be visible.
  • There should be enough waistband allowance for two fingers to be inserted into the waistband.
  • If the pants have belt loops a belt is required to complete the look.

Key Points to Remember

  • Legs can be made to appear longer and leaner by removing the cuffs from trousers.
  • When purchasing ready-made pants and trousers, assume that you’ll need some form of alteration for a perfect fit.
  • It’s essential to get the crotch depth right. Pants that are excessively baggy or tight in the crotch look hideous!
  • Correct fitting underwear is a must. A visible panty line will ruin even the most expensive outfit’s appearance.
  • Zippers always sit best when placed in the centre back or front. Side zippers do not suit women with a rounded hipline.
  • Iron pleats in wool pants with an ironing cloth to prevent shine.
  • Do not iron creases in jeans or linen pants. In jeans it’s frumpy, and the fibres in linen pants are too fragile to be continually creased.
  • Lined pants give the most flattering appearance as they cause the pant to fall more smoothly over curves and make the pants last a lot longer.
  • To dress up your pants add a shoe with a medium-high to high heel and pointed toe.
  • Wear jeans, leggings, ski pants or jodhpurs with low heels or boots.
  • The material that you choose for your belt and shoes will either dress-up or dress-down your pants. Plaited or punched leather, canvas or cloth will give you a casual look while smooth or shiny leather with a metal buckle will give you a dressed-up look.
  • To hem pants that will be suitable to wear with flat and low heels have the hem pinned at floor level when you are standing in bare feet.

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If you enjoyed this week’s feature
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Ann Reinten AICI CIP
Author


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MAKE WAY FOR SKIRTS

By | Coordination, Figure Flattery, Wardrobe Savvy, Wearing Classics | 7 Comments

“A good sermon should be like a woman’s skirt:
short enough to arouse interest but long enough to cover the essentials.”
~Ronald Knox~

Skirts like pants are a great wardrobe expanders. The wide variety of shapes, styles and lengths; coupled with an almost limitless array of fabrics, colors, patterns and textures means there’s a skirt for every occasion, personality, age and body shape.

Fit is Paramount

Great fit is just as important as buying the right style for your shape.  Ignore the size on the label as there is no consistency of size between labels – correct fit is what matters most.  If the number on the label worries you – cut it off.

Constant creasing is often blamed on poor fabric quality when often poor fit is often the culprit.

When you are in the fitting room go through the following fit checks:

  • Expect that the skirt may need to be altered to fit you perfectly.  Alterations can make all the different to the look and comfort of the skirt. If they are required, have them done without delay. I’d go so far as to say, do not to take them out of your car unless they are going into the alteration store. 
  • If the skirt is fitted or straight, fit the hips first; generally everything else can be altered to fit.  
  • Bend, stretch and move – if you feel the need to pull-down or rearrange your skirt after sitting or walking, select another style or go up one size.
  • There should be enough ease for you to be able to place two fingers comfortably in the waistband and be able to slide the skirt 360 degrees around your body. 
  • Panty lines should not be visible.

Two Basic Shapes

There are three basic skirt shapes:

  1. Straight
  2. A-Line

From these basic shapes all skirt styles arise.

Basics_StraightAline

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Straight

Seen every day in every situation straight skirts  and their derivatives classic and timeless. Their clean shape co-ordinates easily with a multitude of tops and jackets and when the hem is at, or just above the knee. As long as they are not too fitted/tight they are unobtrusive and appropriate for most business environments and flattering on most women.

Each can be transformed by fashion into many different looks through the use of fabric, fit and embellishments. From casual in a chunky knee length tweed, to elegant and formal in a calf length silk to a sensual number if a thigh high split is added.

The longer a straight skirt is the more it will restrict movement. To compensate for this vents or side-splits are added or they are styled as a wrap.

Classic styles derived from the straight skirt are pencil and contoured styles. As they becomes more fitted the look becomes sleek and sexy and as such are best reserved for non-business occasions.

Some straight styles include: tulip, wrap, sarong, tiered, fishtail, peplum and pleated.

Straight Skirt SetSource

A-Line

Named after their shape, A-line skirts allow unrestricted movement. They are more feminine and friendly than the traditional straight skirt. 

The wider the A shape the shorter in height you may appear and this visual shortening in turn can result in making the you appear wider/heavier.

The taller, more slender and long legged the wearer is the more flattering a full A-line skirt will appear. If you are not blessed with height, long legs or a slender figure opt for subtle A-lines and add medium to high heels and you’ll look every bit as good as your long legged friends.

Some A-line styles include: gathered, inverted front pleat, circle, wrap, kilt, godet, bubble and dirndl.

AlineSet

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Key Elements

Hemlines

Today skirts can have many different shaped hemlines.  Straight remains the only shape that is classic – everything else will eventually fall out of fashion.

If your legs are not your best asset fancy hemlines will not be a good choice for you as they are often become the focal point of your outfit – highlighting your legs.  To counteract this add hosiery in a color that will minimize the color contrast between the hemline and your legs.    

hemlinesSource

Waistbands

Like hemlines, waistbands are best plain or not present as in the case of waistbandless skirts.  If you have any mid torso challenges only the plainest of waistbands will be the ones to choose. Ties, belts and fancy waistbands all require short or tucked in tops and will add awkward bulk if any tops are worn over them.  

Waistbandless skirts give a clean line and elongate the torso however; they do have a tendency to stretch over time.

WaistbandsSource 

Length

Your best skirt length will depend on:

  • the length of your legs,
  • if you have any leg challenges i.e large calves, knobbly knees etc.
  • the style, toe shape and height of your shoe
  • the color contrast created between your hemline, legs and shoes.

Long skirts look best on tall and long legged women. They can work for almost everyone else if medium to high heels are worn.

Skirts which skim the top of the knee are always current, appropriate and flattering on almost every woman. If you are concerned about the look of your knees or legs, wear for hosiery that blends with the color of your hemline, legs and shoes.

When mini shirts are in fashion, for modesty opt for skirts that are longer than they are wide. By adding opaque hosiery a short hemline can be made to appear more modest and flattering.

Experiment by combining different hem lengths and shoe styles, heel heights and hosiery colours. A multitude of challenges can be camouflaged with skillful coordination. 

hosiery

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Color

While skirts can be any color it is only the neutral range of colors that are truly versatile. Colour affects both your apparent proportions and weight. A light or bright coloured long skirt will focus attention on the lower half of the body making the wearer appear shorter and wider. Darker colors recede and visually slim the hips, thighs and backside.

Short skirts in light colors appear to be shorter than they really are and are best worn slightly a little longer to compensate, while dark colored short skirts have the opposite effect and thus can be worn slightly shorter. The more color difference there is between your skirt and legs the more attention will be focused on your legs, especially at the hemline.

neutralcoloursSource

Pattern and Texture

Skirts with bold patterns, particularly checks and wide stripes can be difficult to pull-off if you are not slim or tall. If patterned skirts are your thing and you have a full lower body for opt colors and patterns that are subtle and match with a top that carries one of the colours upward, or wear white with a statement necklace.

The use of evening fabrics will transform a skirt from day wear to evening wear.

Texture tends to increase perceived weight and in most cases immediately places the skirt into a new image. For example a straight skirt in high quality, lightweight wool can move freely from the office to home to evening wear, whereas if it is in tweed immediately it will take on a country, casual air relegating it to the weekends. Shiny textured surfaces in the same way render the skirt too glamorous for most work environments.

Pattern Coordination_Skirts

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Final Points

  • Choose lengths that best suit you; do not be persuaded by a designer’s whim or a girl friends nagging to wear anything else.
  • Lined skirts last longer and look better – buy them whenever possible.
  • Wear jackets/sweaters and skirts that are well proportioned to each other. Long over short or short over long. Skirt and jacket combinations that are exactly 50/50 are in most cases uninspired and boring.
  • Shoes with low vamps (exposes lots of foot), fine to medium soles and heels, and slightly pointed shoes will all make legs look slimmer and longer.
  • Discover what styles suit your shape and you’ll find shopping and looking great everyday easier than you ever imagined.
    Need Some Style Advice? My Private Stylist is the only online style program that will teach you about all the aspects of all garments and accessories that will best suit you.
    Shop Online Effectively with PrêtàStyler, the world’s first and only personal curated fashion mall. It’s a mall filled with styles perfect for your shape.

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If you enjoyed this week’s feature
please like it on Facebook or Instagram
or leave a comment/question below.
Thank you.
Ann Reinten AICI CIP
Author


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HOW TO FIND YOUR PERFECT PANTS

By | Figure Flattery, Wearing Classics | 6 Comments

Do you have a favorite pair of pants that you feel you can’t live without. A pair you know you’ll be devastated to lose when eventually they wear out? 

What makes them so special? Is it because they fit like a glove, or make your behind look like you’re J. Lo, or maybe they allow you to move freely without the fear of hearing a tear? There could be an endless laundry list of reasons as to why you love your pants, but in the end those were also the factors that influenced your purchase decision.

The reason why so many women wear their favorite pants until their practically fall apart, isn’t because of laziness, or financial frugality but because of effort it took to find a pair that looks and fits so well.  

Pants are without doubt the second most difficult garment to shop for.  What’s the first? Swimwear – but that’s a feature for another day.

It probably took you at least an hour trying on all kinds of pant styles trying to find that elusive pair that met all the standards you set for yourself.  Or did you luck-out, and don’t really know what about these pants you love so much, are so right for you? 

Knowledge is power, and when you’re armed with the knowledge of what style elements suit you best, you’re search for that perfect pair of pants is made so much easier.  

Style

The best pants are without doubt classic, tailored styles; from flat front pants to pleated trousers, a straight or tapered leg, classic tailored styles are your closet staples and everyday workhorses. In a solid, neutral color they will stay current for years and can easily transition from a windy winter day to a steamy summer night. From formal occasions to work, and onto dressy casual activities. 

Your body type, personal style and lifestyle should also play their roles in your purchasing decision.

If you have a short body and long legs you will not necessarily look good in the same style as someone who has a long body and short legs. Likewise if you have the challenge of a full tummy, flat bottom or wide thighs your style selection needs to be one that minimizes the trouble area and directs attention elsewhere.

pantsandtrouserslongerlookinglegs

Fit

Fit and style go hand-in-hand.

The most flattering trousers for women should be well-fitting at the hips and either smoothly contour over the buttocks, or fall vertically to the floor from the apex of the derriere in the case of straight or wide legged pants. Pockets should lay flat and close – they should not gape. 

When it comes to fit, make sure the waist is neither too loose or too tight. It should circle your waist without any fabric gaping out from your body, or being so tight you feel like you’re being squeezed. If you can’t easily slip two fingers sideways between the waistband and your body, try the next size up – you can always take them in at the waist.  A tight waist can cause the dreaded “muffin top” which is unsightly and will make you appear larger. 

If you’re heavy in the torso aim for pants with a slightly higher waist as these will slim everything down while also visually elongating your legs. I also suggest torso slimming camis to eliminate rolls and bra bulges.

When you are in the fitting room test how you look and feel while moving around in the pants – bend, sit, squat and take a little walk. Denim and leather can be relied on to stretch some while cotton and man made fabrics will not.

Try to shop with someone you can trust to be completely honest with you, or keep things real with yourself when deciding on a new pair of pants.

If you have a generous derriere, this might also cause fabric to bunch a bit in the back.  Try going up a size and don’t forget the crotch area; we’ve all heard horror stories of camel toe, moose hoofs, etc. Look at where the pants are pulling as the lines usually point to the source of the problem: a smiling crotch is cause by a rise that is too short to accommodate for your bottom and horizontal pulls at the thighs indicate there is not enough width in the leg.

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pantfitting

Comfort

In my book comfort reigns supreme, and is the result of wearing the right size and having any necessary alterations made. Too many women focus on the number on the tag. Style and fit are far more important, especially when you remind yourself that there is no consistent sizing anywhere, except within an individual brand. So aim for a flattering style and comfortable fit, rather than a size.  Then when you’ve found the perfect pants, if you don’t like the number on the label simply cut it off!  That way you’ll be able to focus on how the pants make you feel, rather than the fact that you had to go up or down from a certain size. 

fitandcomfort

Fabric

The list of fabrics and blends for pants could go on and on for days. If you want pants that will stretch yet hold their shape, look for less than 5% of lycra or spandex in the fabric. Sturdy, medium to thick stretch fabrics give the best appearance if your leg is not as firm as it used to be.  Flimsy or light weight stretch fabrics will only highlight every lump and bump.

Wool holds its shape, is comfortable to wear and has a quality appearance, making it perfect for a professional wardrobe. Leave leggings, linen pants and jeans for weekend wear since they tend to be on the more laid-back side of bottoms.

Pants that are lined can be relied on to give a superior appearance as they allow the outer fabric to flow past the skin, increases the comfort level and the longevity of the pants as they reduce strain on the seams.

Stretch

Rise

The rise of you pants is important to how they will ultimately look and feel. Low rise pants require a firm, flat stomach to pull off, while high waists are flattering on fuller figures, and can work wonders at concealing tummy problems. A mid-waist length sits just under your navel and tends to be universally flattering.

While in the fitting room do the squat, bend, kick dance to help you decide if your rise amply covers your behind.

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Width

Your best leg widths depends on your height, weight, and shape. Shorter women can rock wide-leg pants as long as they flare out more toward the knee or lower. If they flare out any higher they can consume a petite frame and substantially reduce your apparent height.

While a straight fit can seem a bit boyish on a less curvier frame by working some heels and a cute belt into the look you’ll soon create femininity and shape.

A ‘skinny’ fit can look great on countless body types, as long as they fit well, the fabric is sturdy and they are comfortable. Remember, bunching at the crotch or digging into your hips is always a bad sign. Adding boots either under or over the pants will add variety to the look.  Boots in the same depth or color as the pants will elongate your legs while in a different color will add interest.

Cropped pants and trousers tend to look best on tall women and generally speaking the closer the hem is to the leg the shorter the pants need to be to look good and vica-versa. How short you can go will depend on your leg length and the style of shoe you choose.

Widths

Length

Bunching or frayed hems and pants touching the ground all indicators that your pants need taking up.

Heels can solve the problem if you can find the right height. For a length that will work with both medium height heels and flats stand bare footed and have your pants hemmed at the point where they touch the ground.

Thanks to some Parisian inspiration, rolling up your pants is very chic right now; it’s an effortless and free way to control the length. Usually a relaxed fits look best when rolled up once or twice, but lately celebs like Sarah Jessica Parker have taken to one long fold on skinny jeans. This really depends on your personal style, and how much leg you want to show.

Hemming

Creativity

Color, pattern and texture are all up to personal preference. Solid colored pants in neutral tones will be the most versatile. Medium dark to dark colors are the most slimming.

Vertical stripes elongate the legs while prints look best when they are neither too large nor too bright. Printed pants have lately become a staple in any fashionista’s wardrobe! They add some fun and edge to every look.

For women worried about having thin legs, a textured pair of pants can visually help add a little weight. Satin sheen is also becoming a popular option for pants but can add extra visual weight so be sure to add heels and attract attention high on your body with your accessories.

printsandpatterns

little black dress

5 REASONS TO OWN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS

By | Wardrobe Savvy, Wearing Classics | 2 Comments

The little black dress, 4 words that hold so much meaning for any red-blooded fashionable woman. Otherwise known as the LBD, it is a closet must-have that has been the goal of many a shopping trips and the solution to many ‘what-to-wear’ dilemmas. Just like finding a perfect pair of jeans, the search can take years. Once found, however, the little black dress becomes valuable and even irreplaceable at times.

Here are 5 reasons to fall in love with this style staple.

It’s Iconic

The beginning of the LBD’s rise to icon status can be traced back to the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This movie along with Audrey Hepburn quickly became a pop culture and style phenomenon. Audrey Hepburn and designer Givenchy are often given credit for popularizing the elegance of the little black dress. From Old Hollywood style icons like Maria Dietrich, Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner and Audrey Hepburn to Jackie Kennedy and Princess Diana to today’s style icons such as Victoria Beckham, Dita Von Teese and  the little black dress has been embraced wholeheartedly. You’ll find yourself in the company of stylish women every single time you don your little black dress of choice. 

A little black dress is timeless. It’s always in style. It’s an investment piece that will hold you in good stead for years to come. This much-coveted closet piece is what makes a woman’s closet, and more often than not it signifies the very essence and elegance of a woman’s beauty, confidence and style savvy. These are precisely the reasons why this closet piece is so iconic. By owning a little black dress that you can call your own, you are becoming part of the LBDs storied and continuing history.

LBD Hollywood Icons 2

It Pairs it With Everything

The classic feeling that a little black dress exudes combined with its perennially chic color make it the perfect fashion piece to get creative with. The simple yet sophisticated characteristic of an LBD makes prints, colors, jewelry, and accessories stand out. This same attribute also makes it ideal for pairing it with trends. You won’t look like a fashion victim when you pair a super trendy item with something as traditional and understated as a little black dress. It is, simply put, the perfect fashion canvas. Even a more detailed and tailored LBD, like one with laces or ruffles, is still classic enough and straightforward enough not to be a distraction to other details of your ensemble, like your accessories for instance. Maximize the chic potential of your LBD and get creative when styling it. It is your opportunity to test the waters with a particular trend, or to take a major fashion risk.

LBD Magic 2_ Accessorize itSource:  Image 1,   Image 2,   Image 3,   Image 4

It’s Versatility Can’t Be Beaten

The LBD can go from day to night, from casual to formal. It is always appropriate for any occasion since it looks sexy in an understated way. A simple footwear swap accompanied by a purse upgrade, can take your little black dress from a day of downtown shopping and afternoon coffee to a night of all-night partying after your fancy sushi dinner. Change from ballet flats to heels, and from a cute canvas tote to an embellished clutch, and you’re all set.

Play up the versatility of the LBD in the styling. Your little black dress can take on so many looks; you have no idea. Don’t be limited on wearing it as a cocktail dress. Experiment with trendy athletic slides or with more bohemian earthy boots; the possibilities are endless when armed with wardrobe inspiration and a little black dress.

LBD_Glamup or Down

Source:  Image 1,   Image 2,    Image 3,    Image 4

You’ll Always Look Polished and Effortless.

As Karl Lagerfeld once said, “one is never overdressed or underdressed with a little black dress.”

When in doubt, a little black dress always looks elegant and appropriate. Whether you want to look a little bit more pulled together for a casual day, or when you want an office appropriate work look that you can take to cocktail hour, the LBD will come to your rescue. A style cure-all, the little black dress will work overtime to make you look your best, it doesn’t matter if its for a quick coffee date or a big meeting or presentation, a sleek LBD always impresses.

LBD_Polished and RefinedSource:   Image 1,   Image 2,   Image 3,   Image 4

It’s the Ultimate Glam-it-Up Color

A little black dress is a foolproof way to look your best and most glamorous at any party or evening event. It’s any woman’s go-to date dress too, and a no brainer party dress. Whether it is embellished, armed with a dangerously sexy side slit, or covered in lace, there is an LBD out there with your name on it. If you do choose to go with something a plain LBD, just add some bling and seductive stilettos to up your style quotient for the evening. Otherwise, there is a wealth of glitzy little black dresses out there to choose from. Some are even so fabulous that no accessories are needed; the dress is a major style statement that speaks for itself. 

LBD_Instant GlamorSource:   Image 1,   Image 2,   Image 3,   Image 4

Thinking You Can’t Wear Black?  Think Again – Click Here

Here’s a smart little video on how to coordinate a black dress.  Take note that the LBD the model is wearing is a clean, classic sleeveless style – the most versatile of all the LBD shapes.