Little Black Dresses

Before we get into the guts of today's story, we must first ask your forgiveness for the abbreviation of "little black dress" in the title. We loathe the nerdy-chill inducing, three-letter phrase tremendously, but sometimes you just don't have the room to spell the whole thing out. Grousing complete, now we shall move forward and address that much beloved item-the petite noire frock.

Thankfully, it's not particularly difficult to build an outfit around a little black dress. In fact, the most complicated part of wearing said item is simply picking one out! We suggest selecting a dress with interesting details like an usual hemline or unexpected texture as this will elevate even a subtle style. A few of our favourite stylephiles have recently demonstrated how to do just this, so we gathered illustrative examples of their choices.

Rachel Bilson picked a simple, sleeveless, vintage Givenchy dress for a cocktail party celebrating the adored shoe designer, Christian Louboutin. The slightly shorter hemline balances the austerity of the cut and we also dig the pockets-they're a modern touch. Sienna Miller selected an ebony dress with gorgeous lines for the London premiere of Interview. Her Alexander McQueen choice is wholly chic, from the asymmetrical seaming to the banded hem. Theodora Richards went for a very New York sort of sexy androgyny when she attended a screening of I'm Not There. Maybe it's just us, but it sort of looks like she's wearing a man's jacket with a plunging neckline, in a good way, of course.

Speaking of New York, one of the city's socialites, the lovely Olivia Palermo, smartly accessorized her dress with a studded belt and snug jacket for a Chopard party (both are great additions that don't overwhelm the outfit). Diane Kruger is always impeccable turned out on the red carpet, as she showed at the Conde Nast/Movies Rock event this month. The detail work on her Balmain dress (from the Spring 08 collection) turns the ordinary strapless shape into something extraordinary. Last, but certainly not least, is true fashion original, Erin Wasson. She was a stunner in Lanvin (and Proenza Schouler shoes) at the Karl Lagerfeld Greek Revival Exhibition. Note the sheer sleeves, as transparency is a big trend this coming spring.

Finally, for your inspection we have a roundup of some totally non-standard, little black dresses. We love looking at the pricey, but perfect, Vivienne Westwood Red Label Jagged Hem Dress ($850). It's a feat of tailoring and totally sublime. Cult Australian label sass & bide always has smart and edgy wares an their I Knew You Mini Dress ($438) is a bold choice. Jenni Kayne also has a sophisticated take on the look with her Single Strap Dress ($395).