mila kunis little black dress
All Hail the Return of The Little Black Dress
11.15.18

When did we collectively declare the Little Black Dress boring? Whenever I browse dresses in search of one to update my wardrobe — one that doesn’t feel, in a bad way, like something I used to own but instead could elevate, simplify, and fill at least one gap — I get distracted by color and volume and weird shapes and baubles. Designers know we’re magpies by nature. Retailers know that I personally am a sucker. Collectively, everyone’s putting their efforts toward the Instagram-able. Designs are designed to grab our attention. As a result, a million cool, fashionable, trendy — what have you — dresses exist on the internet in endless scrolls, so much so that I began to feel lazy or boring for wanting an “LBD.”

Was it the acronym that turned me off so much? Or the ubiquity of the concept and the cliché that surrounds it? Can I blame athleisure here? Maybe an “LBD” feels not-special-enough because it’s so close to my TBL (tight black leggings) that stand-in for pants on the weekends.

I know my own internal monologue sounds like this, particularly as I online-window shop around the holiday season: Shouldn’t I take more risks? Shouldn’t I be more unique? Express myself? Have more of an imagination?

Then I saw photos of Mila Kunis in an LBD to end all LBDs over the weekend, at E!’s 2018 People’s Choice Awards, and I began to reframe my thinking. Suddenly, the Little Black Dress felt important again. Suddenly, I was pissed that I didn’t own one.

Hers is perfect: It’s straight across the chest — a neckline that’s at once 90s-nodding and timeless. Those two delicate black straps, rather than one spaghetti noodle on either side, add interest. The length is mid-calf, so you could wear it to a cocktail party, an upscale bar, and a million different holiday occasions.

Frustrating caveat, but no surprise here: The closest version of the Mila Kunis dress I could find, by designer Alex Perry, is expensive.  $960. It’s also solo-strapped.

Still, it encouraged — if not inspired — me to poke around my usual ecomm haunts for a dress that might scratch the itch.

I found a handful of the slip dress variety:

Like this faux leather Theory slip for $295.

This velvet trimmed silk charmeuse dress by Cami NYC for $280 (one of my personal favorites given its versatility).

And this stretch-jersey mini by Ninety Percent for $160.

I found lots of sexy stretchy slinky options:

This Michael Kors for 11 Honoré body con-with-a-slit dress on sale for $497.

This Wolford tube maxi (that can be turned into a skirt) for $165.

This Bec & Bridge midi with mesh under the bodice’s cutouts, on sale for $160 (but note there aren’t a ton of sizes left).

This Reformation ribbed midi for $118 that could skew a little casual, but the cup detailing ups the ante a bit.

This ASOS Tall strappy mini with a wrap skirt for $45.

This Jonathan Simkhai for 11 Honoré dress with pleated tulle on the bottom for $495.

I found plenty with long sleeves, covered shoulder and off-the-shoulder options:

This Ninety Percent long sleeve (mini-ish) stretch-jersey dress for $100.

This Norma Kamali fitted midi with cap sleeves and sweetheart neck for $230.

This one-shoulder ribbed-knit midi for $250 by The Range (I like this dress but have yet to work out my feelings around one-sleeve things).

This draped velvet Rachel Zoe dress for $395 — this actually may be my top pick, but I’d like for it to go on sale (praying that happens before it sells out).

This ASOS Design pencil dress with one shoulder on, one shoulder off, for $56.

This double-off-the-shoulder Michael Michael Kors dress for $195.

Finally, I found a bunch little black dresses with a little something extra:

The most “fashion-y” is this tiered Rochas midi dress for $340 on The RealReal.

The one I keep coming back to but haven’t yet swiped my card on is this Staud dress with the marabou straps for $275.

Then there’s this velvet Staud dress with a white bow across the top for $195.

This Joie skirted mini with subtle bouquets of flowers (for sure the least “what you think of when you think of an LBD” of the whole bunch).

This satin long sleeve mini with a Victorian neck and sleeve situation by Rotate for $330.

This Ginger and Smart flared midi for $314 (which you could probably also get away wearing in the summer, too).

This La Ligne A-line dress with ruffled straps for $495 (available on 11 Honoré and La Ligne’s website).

And last but not least, this ASOS Design long sleeve skater midi with ties at the sleeves for $51, which also comes in curve, tall, petite and maternity.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, TELL ME IF YOU ARE WITH ME ON THE LBD TRAIN, or let me know if you never got off it, and either way, would love to hear/see what you’re wearing this holiday season? (And if you have any “style problems” you need solved, let me know that too!)

Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images. 

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