So many looks and trends have come and gone over the decades, but nothing has had quite the staying power of the black dress. Whether worn as a flirty mini, an elegant gown, or a sophisticated sweater dress, the black dress is as classic as they come, and there are so many options for rocking it.
“We gravitate toward a black dress for many reasons, but specifically its versatility is attractive when it comes to styling,” says Stephanie Valponi of Stitch Fix. Often, black dresses can be transitioned easily from day to night, or from formal to casual settings, just by adding a few accessories or a change of shoes—making them true closet staples. “Fun trends are great to try,” she adds, “but if looking for something timeless,” sleek black dresses are the way to go.
Meet the Expert
Stephanie Valponi is Styling Team Lead at Stitch Fix, the online personal shopping and styling service that delivers one-to-one personalization to its clients through the combination of data science and expert stylist.
While the iconic LBD (aka little black dress) is a common go-to for many people due to how it can be an “investment piece” that can work for many occasions and last years, says Valponi, it’s far from the only black dress option worth checking out.
Below, we’ve rounded up the best black dresses you can buy right now, from a pretty lacy pick to a sexy leather look.
Best Overall: Universal Standard Iconic Geneva Dress
The name of this Universal Standard black dress says it all—it’s truly iconic. The length and T-shirt-like feel of the material make it a versatile piece that looks as good with sneakers as it does with heels, and the asymmetrical hem provides a stylish, unique shape that will catch everyone’s attention. The icing on the cake? You can pick between crew neck, V-neckline, long sleeve, or petite options to create a customized look that’s true to your style.
Material: 93% Peruvian cotton, 7% elastane | Care: Machine wash cold and inside out, lay flat to dry | Size Range: 00-40
Best on Amazon: Cosonsen V-Neck Long-Sleeve Ruffle Dress
Of the many, many black dresses available on Amazon, this pretty long-sleeve option is a standout. It’s super dainty thanks to its deep V-neck and flared ruffle hem, not to mention the tie waist and flowy, elegant silhouette.
Material: 100% dacron | Care: Machine wash cold, air dry | Size Range: XS-XXL
Best Maxi: Elan Sleeveless V-Neck Maxi Dress
Get ready to live in this V-neck maxi dress all spring and summer long, because its soft fabric, side pockets, asymmetrical hemline, and adjustable straps make it ideal for nearly any warm weather occasion. At night, just add on a cardigan or jacket, and you’ll be good to go.
Material: 100% rayon | Care: Hand wash | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Faux Leather: Good American Vacay Dress
For a striking look that will get everyone’s eyes on you, check out this cool button-up black mini dress, made from vegan leather. The top half has a shirt dress silhouette and collared neckline, while the bottom has a rounded skirt with front pockets and a sash tie—and check out those sleeves.
Material: 100% polyurethane | Care: Dry clean only | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Mini: Reformation Christine Dress
A gorgeous black mini with a sweetheart neckline and ruffles at both the hem and neck, this body-hugging dress will be your go-to for date nights, parties, and so much more. The tie straps are adjustable, too, so you can ensure the dress hits you at just the right length.
Material: 100% viscose | Care: Dry clean only | Size Range: 0-12
Best for Work: Karen Kane Artisan Midi Dress
For a black dress that’s stylish but professional, look no further than this midi from Karen Kane. It’s office-appropriate thanks to its crew neckline and long length, and the pockets (!) will come in handy during busy workdays, but the flowy skirt keeps the dress feeling fresh and pretty.
Material: 92% rayon, 8% spandex | Care: Dry clean or hand wash and dry flat | Size Range: XS-XL
Best for Date Night: Lulus Chic Cocktail Hour Black Satin Cutout Midi Dress
Between the strappy neckline and the side slit, it’s a seriously sexy look, but the silky texture and below-knee length add plenty of elegance. The material is stretchy, too, so you can wear it for hours without issue.
Material: 95% polyester, 5% spandex | Care: Hand wash cold and line dry | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Designer: Theory Helaina Wool-Blend Shift Dress
If you’re willing to splurge a bit, this elegant black shift dress from Theory is worth the cost. The classic silhouette means it can pair with practically anything, from heels to flats, blazers to jean jackets. You can even wear it over a turtleneck sweater on a cold day, and it’ll still look great. Also, did I mention there are pockets?
Material: 96% virgin wool, 4% elastane | Care: Dry clean | Size Range: 00-12
Best Timeless: Norma Kamali Strapless Sheath Dress
There’s nothing like a dress that never goes out of style, and this strapless sheath beauty from Norma Kamali perfectly fits the bill. It’s simple but glamorous, with a straight silhouette that can pair effortlessly with many different accessories and looks.
Material: 95% polyester, 5% spandex | Care: Hand wash and line dry | Size Range: XS-XL
Best for Summer: Anine Bing Bree Dress
The best kind of summery black dress can transition seamlessly from a day at the office to an evening full of drinks and fun, and this lightweight option from Anine Bing does just that. Its high neckline and A-line shape make it suitable for work, and you can hide the scooped back with a sweater or jacket. But at nighttime, you can show some skin and pair the dress with heels or boots.
Material: 100% cotton | Care: Machine wash | Size Range: XS-L
Best Active: Reformation x Bella Ecomove Active Dress
Who says you can’t rock a cute dress during a workout? This sleek black mini from Reformation is designed to let you move with ease, and it has built-in shorts for additional flexibility. You can wear it off the court, too, as its low neckline and fitted bodice provide a chic overall look.
Material: 79% REPREVE polyester, 21% spandex | Care: Hand wash and dry flat | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Satin: Significant Other Vienna Satin Dress
A sophisticated halter dress with a large open back, this pick from Significant Other has a smooth satin fabric that’ll feel amazing on your skin. It’s dressy enough to wear for formal occasions, but you could certainly pair it with flats or a jacket if you prefer a more low-key vibe.
Material: 62% viscose rayon, 38% polyester | Care: Hand wash and dry flat | Size Range: 2-10
Best Slip: Cuyana Silk Slip Dress
This gorgeous silk slip dress from Cuyana has a cozy relaxed fit for ultimate comfort, as well as a V-neckline and classic A-line silhouette. The best part, though, is the silk band in the back, which gives the dress a unique, funky touch.
Material: 100% silk | Care: Dry clean only | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Sweater: VICI Collection Funnel Neck Ribbed Sweater Dress
Stay warm and comfortable in this cute ribbed sweater dress, which has a trendy funnel neckline and big puff sleeves. It’s great for those chilly spring days (or air-conditioned offices) but can also work well for nighttime events and outings.
Material: 53% rayon, 32% polyester, 15% nylon | Care: Hand wash, dry flat | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Long Sleeve: Reformation Lino Dress
No, long-sleeve dresses aren’t only for winter. This sophisticated option from Reformation is mini-length, making it perfect for spring and summer days when you just want a bit more coverage. Don’t forget to check out its crewneck, ribbed detailing, and form-fitting silhouette, too. Not bad for the under-$100 price tag.
Material: 88% TENCEL Lyocell, 12% spandex | Care: Hand wash and dry flat | Size Range: XS-XL
Best Bodycon: Good American ‘90s Tank Dress
What makes this Good American pick stand out from other form-fitting black dresses is its midi length, which gives it a sophisticated feel and accentuates the legs. It has wide straps and a square neck, too, plus a silhouette that will hit your curves in all the right places.
Material: 93% rayon, 7% elastane | Care: Machine wash and line dry | Size Range: XS-5XL
What to Look for in a Black Dress
“Cotton is very appealing for its breathability and natural fabrication,” says Valponi. “With that said, dyes typically fade quicker, especially black. Look for blends with a mixed fabrication to prevent premature fading. Anything with a lycra blend will help hold that rich shade longer.” Also, if you’re planning on wearing undergarments that have the potential to show through, make sure to shine the dress in the light to ensure the fabric isn’t too thin, Valponi adds.
Because there are so many different shades of black, it’s important when matching pieces together to “check in the daylight for variances in black, such as a purple or faded hue,” notes Valponi. “This can be especially true as you launder pieces throughout time; washing in cold water is your friend!”
Can you wear a black dress to a wedding?
“Contrary to popular belief, you definitely don’t have to shy away from black as a wedding guest,” says Valponi. “In fact, when styled just right, it exudes class and sophistication.” If the dress code is formal, she adds, a classic black dress is definitely a good option, and even if it’s a more casual beach or destination wedding, “playful” black dresses with fun and unique fabrics and styles can work just fine.
How should you accessorize a black dress?
“A black dress can act as a blank slate in terms of creative accessorizing,” says Valponi, which means that depending on the season and occasion, the options are limitless. For warm weather times, items like a vibrant necklace or neon handbag can add “bold pops of color” to your look, the stylist adds, while for indoor and formal events, go for options such as elegant gold pumps or simple belts. And if you prefer an edgier vibe, consider popping on a bomber or denim jacket, or even going for a monochromatic black-on-black look in your accessories.
How can you wear a black dress casually?
For a low-key look, layering is key, says Valponi. Consider picking out a boyfriend-fit denim jacket, a pair of white sneakers or boots, and a belt to “transition a formal LBD to a casual day option,” she suggests. As a final touch, grab a pair of sunglasses and some on-trend jewelry.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie writer Rachel Simon has covered shopping and style extensively for publications including Glamour, InStyle, Brides, and more. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times and Vice, among other outlets, and she teaches writing with Gotham Writers Workshop and Redbud Writers Project. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College.