The 13 Best Little Black Dresses to Wear All the Time in 2023

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Everyone needs at least one, but we’ve got over a dozen recommendations that belong in your closet from brands like Staud, Reformation, Target, and more.

<p>InStyle / Kristin Kempa</p>

InStyle / Kristin Kempa

When the contents of half of your closet are on the floor, and you’re already five minutes behind schedule, a little black dress (also known as an LBD), will be your Hail Mary that rarely (read: never) fails. Few other clothing items can transfigure your style into a put-together, head-turning look like a simple silhouette of a solid-colored LBD can.

But, perhaps the quality that has given them the armor to withstand every trendy cycle and make for legendary looks on everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Beyoncé is their versatility. “Can I dress it up or down? Can I wear it on multiple occasions? And that is what makes it such a fun and exciting staple piece to have in your closet,” says fashion and lifestyle influencer Achieng Agutu.

And while the impact of an LBD is unflinching, designers evolved styles throughout the years to incorporate high slits, midi-lengths, sweetheart necklines, and more to present us with options for every occasion. To help you shop, we searched high and low for all the best ones to shop right now thanks to the help of our experts and our own shopping expertise.

Best Overall: Staud Black Paityn Midi Dress

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What We Love: The fitted silhouette, mid-length, and square neck offer ample opportunities to wear this dress.

What We Don’t Love: There’s no zipper.

If we can only wear one dress for the rest of our lives, we’re wearing this Staud midi dress. We know this sounds dramatic, but fashion stylist Audree Kate López backs us up — she recommends that if you’re looking for a dress that can work for every occasion, choose one with a square neck that hits below your knees.

The Paityn Midi Dress hits those marks and does one better by featuring a classic fitted silhouette with a low scoop back and a slightly flared hem for an admirable mix of flirty and sophisticated that will outlive every trend cycle. And since the brand makes it from durable, midweight Lurex yarn, the garment is warm enough to wear in the winter layered over a turtleneck but not so hot you’ll overheat in the summer.

Strap on a pair of knee-high boots, pile on the chunky gold jewelry, or throw an oversized blazer over it — the dress has endless potential and zero rules. Our only suggestion is to do your makeup after you’ve pulled it over your head because there’s no zipper.

Price at time of publish: $225

Size range: XS-XL | Material: Viscose, nylon, lurex | Care: Dry clean only

Best Budget: BTFBM Party Tiered A-Line Mini Dress

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What We Love: The tiered hem, criss-cross details, and back bow add interest to the dress without limiting it to one space or place.

What We Don’t Love: It runs large.

This sweet dress has a lot going on: It features a three-tiered hem, ruched straps that crisscross at the waist to reveal a sneaky cutout, and a V-neck pull-on closure back secured with a sizable bow. But intermixing attributes aside, they still work together harmoniously and create a dress you’ll reach for often.

Stylist Samantha Brown tells us its strong shoulder, defined waist, and ruffled hem “give this a feminine hourglass shape,” which helps pull off the versatile design. Paired with slip-on sandals or sneakers, its mid-thigh length makes it easy to throw on in more casual settings if you’re not dressing it up for formal ones with wedges. It does sit a little loose on some frames, though, so we recommend sizing down for the best fit.

Price at time of publish: $40

Size range: S-XL | Material: Polyester, elastane | Care: Machine Wash 

Best Splurge: Aje Amour Ruffle Mini Dress

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What We Love: This statement-making dress uses tiered layers of organza to create a stunning design.

What We Don’t Love: It’s not the most versatile choice.

An LBD’s ability to serve as a blank canvas and highlight other accessories is certainly part of its draw, but “sometimes the LBD can be the statement,” says Agutu, who presents this stunning 3D flower dress as evidence for her case.

The Australian-born brand crafted a breathtaking silhouette that comes together into a floral shape using three spiral tired layers of organza fabric. The separate sections stop short of intersecting in the middle to reveal an artful cutout under the bust for an added layer of interest. Complete with a full circle skirt, the fit-and-flare shape almost leans into a full effeminate daydream, but the raw-edge hems and jet black gives it enough edge to suit a variety of aesthetics.

Clearly, this dress is made to stand out — we can’t promise it’s something you’ll wear every week, but we can promise it’ll make you feel fantastic every time you dare to don it.

Price at time of publish: $695

Size range: 4-16 | Material: Linen, viscose | Care: Dry clean only

Best Plus Size: Dia & Co Gabrielle Maxi

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What We Love: The midi-length and long sleeves paired with a bodycon fit make this dress adaptable to any situation.

What We Don’t Love: Rayon isn’t the most breathable fabric.

We may not have plans right now, but whatever comes up, we’re going in this dress. Long sleeves and a maxi length juxtapose its frame-hugging fit and side cutouts to present you with a dress that can accomplish anything. Grab your oversized jean jacket and a pair of booties before heading to work or slip into a pair of metallic sandals and wrap your hair in a chignon bun for a head-swiveling dinner date look. The style is certainly adaptable to brunches and benefits alike, but we probably wouldn’t wear it all day since it’s mostly made of rayon, which isn’t the most breathable fabric.

Price at time of publish: $136

Size range: 12-26 | Material: Rayon, spandex | Care: Hand wash

Best Midi: Never Fully Dressed Black Abigail Dress

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What We Love: The sheer, lightweight fabric, puff sleeves, and tiered hem give this dress a dreamy, princess effect that looks formal but is very comfortable.

What We Don’t Love: It’s hard to find the right undergarment to wear with the see-through top.

I always feel extremely regal prancing around in the gauzy fabric of this tiered midi dress that manages to strike the right balance between princess and punk. The drop waist adds an element of casualness elevated by the featherweight tulle fabric, which swishes as you walk for a floating effect. Its puff sleeves feature elasticated ends to maintain a slight poof, but they still hang loosely on your arms for that “can’t be bothered” feel that, along with the sheer top and dark black hue, contribute to the garment’s cool attitude.

Since the skirt comes lined you won’t need to worry about a slip, but the top is completely sheer — I paired it with a v-neck bodysuit similar to this one for an outfit that’s work and play-approved.

Price at time of publish: $135

Size range: 2-20 | Material: Polyester, elastane | Care: Machine washable

Best Button-Down: Reformation Woodson Dress

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What We Love: Featuring delicate lace detailing, flutter cap sleeves, and a mid-thigh opening, this sustainable button-down dress is one of the most romantic ones we’ve seen.

What We Don’t Love: It’s only partially lined.

How can a piece of clothing look so put together and so effortless at the same time? Ask Reformation, who takes the simple, no-fail button-down design and adds charming details like lace inserts and flutter sleeves to redefine what we thought was once basic. The dress doesn’t hang limply at your side but instead, is fitted to your body and has a subtle billowy flare at the hem.

It keeps some of the original button-down blueprint by looking extremely versatile and functional. Brown recommends belting it for work or adding heels before heading out to dinner. We love it so much we’d even wear it barefoot at the beach, and technically, you could — it’s made with 100 percent viscose, a lightweight and breathable crêpe fabric the brand sustainably sources from wood-pulp. Just keep in mind that you may need to throw on a slip under it (we’ve got a few suggestions), or wear a nude thong since it’s not fully lined.

Price at time of publish: $298

Size range: 0-12 | Material: Viscose | Care: Dry clean only

Best Bodycon: Maison Close Bande à Part Striped Midi Dress

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What We Love: Despite its body-hugging fit, this is a surprisingly comfortable dress that accentuates the curves of all body types.

What We Don’t Love: It’s tricky to find the right undergarments for it.

LBDs are inherently sexy, but this one is best saved for any time you plan to have all eyes on you. Agutu says this dress is her all-time favorite because it “falls perfectly on any body type,” due to the flexible polyamide and elastane fabric which feels snug on your body without being uncomfortable. With its transparent sheath and long pinstripes that create an optical illusion, we see some Thierry Mugler-inspired features; however, the brand’s combination of futuristic, retro, and modern makes it truly one-of-a-kind.

Layer a colorful bodysuit or matching lingerie set under the sheer fabric to play with the style and create a look that’s wholly your own.

Price at time of publish: $155

Size range: XS-XL | Material: Polyamide, elastane | Care: Hand Wash

Best Maxi: Free People Allure Maxi

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What We Love: With adjustable straps, a mid-thigh slit, and a square neckline, this dress perfectly marries elegance and a laid-back style.

What We Don’t Love: It runs small.

Impossible to feel undressed in, ultra-comfortable, and celebrity-approved, maxi dresses deserve a permanent spot in your closet. We’re particularly fond of this one, which López says is “the perfect casual LBD” thanks to its adjustable shoulder straps, fitted bodice, and flattering waist detail.

Whether you’re summering on the Amalfi coast or just want to feel like you are, the 100% cotton fabric, mid-thigh slit, and lightweight textured feel will keep you cool and ready to say yes to any plan. In another nod to vacation style wear, the fabric gathers into a knot right at the hip to mimic a sarong, but it deserves more than a permanent spot in your suitcase.

The square neck and black hue are asking to go into the office and out on the town—just be sure to size up before you take it out for a spin as it runs a little small.

Price at time of publish: $98

Size range: XS-XL | Material: Cotton, elastane | Care: Hand wash cold

Related:Ditch The Minis For These 12 Comfy, Flowy Maxi Dresses

Best Mini: Skims Soft Lounge Slip Dress

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What We Love: This dress may feel like loungewear, but it looks beautiful enough to wear everywhere.

What We Don’t Love: It’s a little see-through.

The number of love letters we’ve written (and read) about the long Skims Soft Lounge Slip Dress could fill Kim K’s massive closet, and we’re equally enamored with the short version. “The fit, the texture, and versatility of this dress are fabulous,” says Agutu, and we agree — this is a true LBD in every sense of the word.

Less expensive and more petite-friendly than the longer style, the mini slip dress hits about mid-thigh and hugs your body along the way to enhance your natural shape. Although its soft, breathable fabric feels like your most luxurious sleep set, there’s no way you’ll want to keep it hidden away under clothes like a traditional slip. Instead, you can layer it over tees, tights, and turtlenecks to stretch its number of wears. The scoop neck and thin spaghetti straps are the kind of coy details we look for any time we’re looking to make an impression. It might be a bit see-through, so wear nude undergarments, but its breezy style will keep you cool on hot days.

Price at time of publish: $68

Size range: XXS-4X | Material: Modal, spandex | Care: Machine wash cold

Best Casual: A New Day Women's Sleeveless Dress

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What We Love: Featuring pockets, adjustable straps, and lightweight fabric this dress is as functional as it is adorable.

What We Don’t Love: It doesn’t have a zipper, so pulling it on can be a little difficult.

Dresses may have a reputation for looking, well, dressy, but they’re often the easiest option for casual wear — especially this charming Target brand cotton frock made for all-day comfort. While it incorporates more laid-back elements into its design such as pockets and a sleeveless top, we didn’t miss how the sweetheart neckline and fitted bodice elevate it to wedding guest wear, especially when worn with the right heels.

The pull-over design makes it a little difficult to put on, particularly after we’ve styled our hair and done our makeup, but the adjustable straps and stretchy smocked back earn our forgiveness.

Price at time of publish: $38

Size range: XS-2X | Material: Cotton | Care: Machine wash, tumble dry

Best for Evening: Sandro Fifi Tiered-Ruffled Dress

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What We Love: Thoughtful details like a v-neck tie, cap sleeves, and a full ruffled skirt combine sophistication with fun.

What We Don’t Love: The tie in the front might sit too high for those with larger chests.

Evening wear doesn’t always mean sensible dresses and stilettos—Brown shows us you’re allowed to be a little more creative with your cocktail attire. Toeing the line between preppy academia and Southern charm, you’ll feel like the belle of the ball twiring all night in this LBD.

Although one garment, the dress works in two parts: The top half features a collared neck with capped sleeves that tie together in a v-shape at the waist, where it meets a full, tiered circle skirt. If you’re not smitten with ruffles like we are, Brown suggests  “wearing it with a leather moto jacket over the shoulder or play with proportions by adding an oversized blazer” to give it a bit more edge. We recommend sizing up, though, if you have a bigger chest because the tie might sit too high underneath your breasts, creating an empire waist, rather than hitting your natural one.

Price at time of publish: $370

Size range: 2-10 | Material: Cotton | Care: Dry clean

Best for the Office: Spanx The Perfect Sheath Dress

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What We Love: The knee length and comfortable fabric make it work appropriate, but its sleek fit ensures it doesn’t skimp on style.

What We Don’t Love: The dress is a little large around the hips.

We weren’t surprised when López recommended this ubiquitous Spanx number that’s been in our office outfit rotation since the Oprah-approved line dropped last year. With wide straps and a length, a vertical slit at the bottom of the hem, and a knee-length, the dress offers full coverage and comfort, but don’t mistake that description for dowdy.

The premium ponte fabric is not only breathable and slightly stretchy but it also gently hugs your body to accentuate your silhouette and curves. We envision a pair of pumps or a cropped leather jacket would transform this dress for OOO events, too.

The dress runs a little large, particularly in the hip area, so try ordering a couple of options if you’re in between sizes. Luckily, Spanx offers free returns, too.

Price at time of publish: $198

Size range: XS-3X | Material: Rayon, nylon, elastane | Care: Machine wash cold, gentle cycle

Related:The 15 Best Spanx Products to Buy From The Celeb-Loved Brand

Best Loungewear: Lunya Washable Silk Slip Dress

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What We Love: With thermoregulating silk to prevent overheating, pockets, and adjustable T-back straps Lunya thought of everything when designing this multi-purpose dress.

What We Don’t Love: The fit is slightly boxy on some body types.

Hailing from a college town where big t-shirts reigned supreme, I didn’t see the need to purchase separate loungewear until I realized how the right garments have multi-faceted purposes—namely, making you feel fantastic. Case in point: This silk slip dress from Lunya which I slipped on one morning to lounge in while I worked from home, and ended up wearing to my dinner plans after.

Maybe it’s how it hangs a little draped for an effortless vibe, the bit of added detail the two-toned straps provide, or simply how comfortable it feels, but I can’t think of much reason to ever take it off. Not to mention, there are a ton of benefits behind the mulberry silk fabric. It feels luxurious on your skin, doesn’t require dry cleaning, and Lunya advertises it as “thermoregulating,” meaning you won’t overheat whether you sleep, lounge, or dance in it.

Note it doesn’t provide the slim fit of a traditional slip dress (it is technically sleepwear, after all), and instead fits a little boxy on some frames.

Price at time of publish: $198

Size range: XS-XL | Material: Mulberry silk | Care: Hand or machine wash cold

Related:These Are The 11 Best Nightgowns For A Stylish Slumber

What to Keep in Mind


While LBDs are offered in every type of fabric, all of our experts agree that silk is a good place to start. Agutu loves it because “it feels like a second skin and looks absolutely beautiful on any body type.” Chiffon or cotton blends also make great options since they’re lightweight, breathable, and can be dressed up or down, says Brown. She adds that matte fabrics and shiny finishes can also help you decide between a casual or dressy option.

For the most versatility, López recommends avoiding seasonal fabrics like velvet and wool or more casual ones such as linen and jersey, since these aren’t always appropriate for formal events. However, it all depends on what look you’re trying to achieve and what you feel most comfortable wearing.


It’s important to invest in your dress, says López, and while that can look like splurging on a more expensive option, it also means making sure it fits you well. She recommends sizing up if needed and taking it to the tailor to adjust the sleeves or length for the “perfect dress that you can always grab when you feel like you have nothing to wear.”

In general, Brown tells us a defined waist and a-line skirt are universally flattering, but at the end of the day, it’s what you feel best wearing. “The most important thing is to choose a little black dress that makes you feel confident, sexy, and beautiful,” says Agutu.


Besides the color, there are really no rules when choosing an LBD. Want to rock a bedazzled bodycon style? Go for it. Prefer a micro length over a long maxi? We’re right there with you.

However, if you do want it to remain a closet staple, there are a few aspects that are more likely to make it a forever piece. For example, López says, “I avoid prints, super revealing silhouettes, or super trendy detailing, because the trends may go out of style within a couple of seasons.”

Instead, she suggests opting for a dress in a solid color that hits your knee or just below. “You can easily change the dress with accessories, outerwear, or shoes, and it will really become the MVP of your closet,” she says.

Brown also recommends considering the cost per wear, reminding us that if the higher price point reflects better quality you can wear it more frequently for years to come.

Your Questions, Answered

How can you still show your personal style while wearing an LBD?

It’s true, an LBD goes with everything, but that doesn’t mean they need to follow a monolithic aesthetic. Our experts agree the best way to infuse your personal style into this classic look is with accessories.  Agutu says whether you layer on necklaces, add a scarf, or carry a statement bag at your side, these little details are what take your look to the next level.

“Toughen yours up with combat boots, lean into the coastal cowboy with cowboy boots and a fringe bag, or elevate it for an evening out with strappy sandals,” says Brown. She also suggests looking for an LBD with a special detail or texture, like lace, appliqués, embroidery, or leather that will add dimension while wearing black.

What silhouette is best for all occasions?

The beauty of an LBD is that you can make any silhouette work no matter the event. López says the most versatile fits, however, are slip, fitted, flared, and column styles. If you choose one that also features a scoop, sweetheart, or a small V neckline, you will likely get even more wear out of the garment.

Why Shop With Us

Irene Richardson is a writer covering fashion and beauty trends. For this story, she researched dozens of little black dresses, tried a few out for herself, read reviews, and consulted three experts in the fashion industry —  Achieng Agutu, Samantha Brown, and Audree Kate López.

Related:These Are the 13 Best Places to Buy Dresses Online for Any Occasion

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