The ubiquitous little black dress might be "little," but it's mighty. From Princess Diana setting the world ablaze in her revenge dress to Aubrey Hepburn eating croissants and browsing Tiffany's in a sleeveless satin gown, the style possesses an everlasting elegance. And its infallible staying power—that timeless appeal that makes you reach for the best little black dresses decade after decade—is precisely why the silhouette is experiencing a newfound reverence in 2023.
“While there’s certainly an ethos of over-the-top dressing at play online, consumers are opting for classics in real life,” Kendall Becker, fashion and beauty trends editor at Trendalytics, tells Marie Claire over email. “We saw the resurgence of the white button-down and essential tank top (á la Prada, Tibi, and Christian Dior) on the runways last season, and looking forward, it’s all about the return of the little black dress,” says the expert from the data-driven retail platform, substantiating her claim by sharing that Google searches for “black dresses” are at a 129,000 weekly average, a seven-percent increase from last year. After the past few years of flashy, “please look at me; I’m tired of only being perceived via Zoom” dressing, we’re circling back around to cherish our uncontroversial, forever staples.
That’s not to say that you can’t flex your individuality with a black dress, though. “In particular, the little black dress is the perfect vehicle for showcasing personal style,” says Becker. “Even while all dressing for the same after-hours occasion, one wearer might opt for a sophisticated tuxedo mini; another may try a black down with of-the-moment cutouts; and someone else chooses a simple dark silhouette punctuated with hardware. In short," she describes, "you can never go wrong with a little black dress that embodies your taste—you’ll always stand out and stay in style."
Ahead, find an edit of little black dresses that will hopefully hold the same staying power in your wardrobe and reflect your personal taste. Some of the options on this list are perfect for dressed-up date nights, while others work for an office party or are polished options to wear to work on an everyday basis. Keep scrolling to shop all of our favorite little noir-colored numbers.
The Best Black Dresses
- The Best Overall Little Black Dress: Hill House Home Ellie Nap Dress
- The Best Black Mini Dress: STAUD Landscape Dress
- The Best Black Midi Dress: Mara Hoffman TENCEL Modal-Popcorn Midi Dress
- The Best Long Black Dress: Cuyana Drape-Back Dress
- The Best Formal Black Dress: Lulus Flirting with You Black Tiered Pom Pom Midi Dress
The Best Overall
Ah, the good old Ellie Nap Dress from Hill House Home. When you have a good thing going, why try to fix it? The stretchy top makes for easy wear, and the creaseless fabric means you can literally fall asleep in it if you wanted to. "Best dress I've ever purchased," raves one overjoyed HHH shopper. "The smocking is perfect, the sleeves stay up, and it's lightweight, gorgeous, and perfect for all seasons."
The Best Black Slip Dress
Every dress lover needs a slip dress in their closet, especially one in neutral black. Endlessly styleable, these closet superheroes are worth stocking up on. And Anthropologie's Elyse is a crowd-pleasing favorite, with reviewers referring to it as "the only slip dress I've ever liked" and "the dress to end all dresses." Another satisfied shopper calls it a "wardrobe cheat code," writing: "Have an event? Wear this dress. Laundry day? Belt a sweater over this dress. Throw a moto or jean jacket over it. Wear it anywhere, but wear it."
The Best Black Mini Dress
When shopping for dresses of any and all kinds, fashion girl-adored STAUD should be high up on your list of brands you peruse. The indie label is adored by shoppers for its feminine yet sensible take on ready-to-wear—case in point: its corseted black mini. The basque waist offers a romantic, Victorian-inspired shape, making this fit-and-flared dress an ideal option for date night. Imagine it with sleek slingback heels, silver jewelry, and a handbag in a pop of color, bright lavender perhaps?
The Best Long Black Dress
Cuyana is in the business of making "fewer, better, things." This draped midi dress is made from their unbelievably soft Pima cotton fabric, meaning you'll want to live in it. It's ethically fabricated, too: The brand's signature textile is crafted in a family-owned workshop close to Lima, and it's GOTS and Oeko-Tex certified, so no harmful pesticides or chemicals were used in the growth of the fiber. It also comes in camel, dusty blue, and brick red if you want to stock up on other color variants.
The Best Formal Black Dress
Going somewhere fancy and need a worthy dress? Meet the most affordable party-ready option on this list. This pom-pom frock from Lulus retails for under $80 but looks like it costs way more than that. And it's the ideal dress for a semi-formal wedding. Take it from these Lulus shoppers: "This dress is stunning, and I can't wait to wear it again. It fits perfectly and is easy to move in," writes one customer. Another reviewer says, "the flow, the material, and the look—this truly is the perfect party dress!"
The Best Black Midi Dress
Remember the oh-so-fun, popcorn-textured tops that were across every mall in America during the early 2000s? Mara Hoffman elevates that tactile look to new, unbelievably chic levels with take on the scrunched textile, which has become a recent signature of the New York-based designer. This black midi dress made from a naturally-grown TENCEL modal exemplifies her artful, elevated, and sustainable approach to the technique. As for styling the delightfully puckered piece, slip on a pair of colorful mules and layer a few golden necklaces.
The Best Black Blazer Dress
Drawing inspiration from the golden age of the tuxedo, the 1930s, Reiss' Karin Plunge Tuxedo Mini Dress is the perfect blend of vintage influence and contemporary design. The padded shoulders and sharp, peaked lapels create a striking effect that will turn heads in every room you enter. A cocktail party? All eyes will be on you. A date-night dinner? It's a style-induced reminder to your partner why they fell in love with you in the first place: your statement-making prize.
The Best Black Dress for Work
"This is the epitome of a basic black dress," writes one Nordstrom reviewer on Maggy London's flutter sleeve midi. "The classic silhouette and midi length turn it into a canvas the wearer can paint with added accessories and shoes for any occasion." Another pleased customer praises it as a neutral, wear-anywhere option fit for several dress codes. "I have been looking for a stylish smart casual dress in black for a long time. This style appealed to me as being not too revealing nor too modest," they write.
The Best Luxury Black Dress
If you see an impeccably dressed woman wearing an effortlessly refined outfit while out and about, the odds are at least one thing she's wearing boasts a Totême tag. The Stockholm-based label is known for its straightforward yet inspired simplicity—as perfectly evidenced by this off-the-shoulder knit number in deep noir. Yes, it's the most expensive little black dress on this list, but the brand's philosophy centers on well-crafted investment staples, which means you'll hold on to this beauty for years and years.
The Best Black Wedding Guest Dress
Do you need a wedding guest dress for an upcoming spring or summer ceremony? This Norma Kamali black option is perfect. With its sultry leg slit and sleek turtleneck design, it's the definition of timeless. Hear it from a delighted Amazon customer: "I bought this for a beach wedding, and it was perfect for the occasion. I had numerous compliments and felt it was flattering for my body type. The material was soft and flowing and kept its shape nicely."
The Best Black Cutout Dress
Even if the extent of your going out after hours nowadays is a late-night, emergency snack run at your local corner store, it's worth having a sultry, show-stopping dress in your wardrobe just in case. And if you don't see yourself in scintillating sequins or an eye-catching hue, a going-out dress in black is a more approachable place to start. Case in point: Atoir's Rae Dress. With its intricate knot neckline and keyhole cutout, it offers visual intrigue without being overtly maximalist.
Meet the Expert
Experienced in luxury editorial, trend forecasting, and strategic consulting, Kendall is currently the Fashion & Beauty Trends Editor at Trendalytics as well as a freelance writer for Refinery29, The Zoe Report, LuisaViaRoma, WhoWhatWear, and Coveteur. Prior, she was the Assistant Fashion Director for Women’s RTW at Bloomingdale’s and contributed to global trend forecasting agencies. Plus, she’s a fashion media personality and expert that’s been featured in ABC, Cheddar News, Harper’s BAZAAR, GQ, Bustle, Sourcing Journal, Brides, and Vice.
Emma Childs is the Style Editor at Marie Claire, where she researches up-and-coming trends, curates shopping guides, and gushes about the must-buy items she can't stop thinking about. She previously wrote for TZR, Editorialist, Elite Daily, and Mission Magazine and studied Fashion Studies and New Media at Fordham University. When she's not writing up fashion deep-dives or finding the season's best pieces, you'll find her fiddling around in Photoshop and perusing HBO Max for the next show to base her personality on (currently, it's "Succession").
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