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How to Style a Little Black Dress à la Chanel for Any Occasion

How to Style a Little Black Dress à la Chanel for Any Occasion

Here are five ways to style your favorite little black dress à la Chanel. In 1926, Chanel revolutionized women’s fashion by introducing a simple, elegant calf-length black dress published in American Vogue. This dress, made of crêpe de Chine with long narrow sleeves and often accessorized with pearls, was hailed as “Chanel’s Ford” by Vogue, likening its accessibility and simplicity to that of the Ford Model T car.

Vogue astutely predicted this dress would become a uniform for tasteful women, a prediction that proved remarkably accurate. Chanel’s innovation not only redefined the color black—previously associated with mourning and piety—but also made it a symbol of chic, wealth, and high-class fashion. The little black dress (LBD) has continually evolved over the years, from Christian Dior’s groundbreaking “New Look” in the 1950s, which redefined its silhouette, to the iconic Givenchy dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Today, the LBD remains a symbol of Parisian elegance and versatility, adeptly adapting to changing fashion trends while maintaining its timeless appeal.

In today’s article, we’ll explore five chic ways to style a little black dress inspired by Chanel’s iconic looks. From the understated elegance of pairing a LBD with pearls and ballet flats to the bold statement of combining a tweed dress with knee-high socks and Mary Jane pumps, each look featured below offers a unique interpretation of Chanel’s timeless aesthetic. Keep scrolling to discover how a few accessories can transform a basic black dress into a sophisticated ensemble.

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1. With a Bow Tie

a woman wearing a Chanel long black dress with a bow tie
Chanel Haute Couture SS23. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

For a chic Chanel-inspired look, consider pairing a long, straight, flowing black dress with black leather loafers (like these Tod’s Gomma Basso patent-leather loafers) and a bow tie (I adore this Saint Laurent velvet and silk-twill bow tie). This ensemble masterfully blends masculine and feminine elements, harkening back to the boyish look of “la garçonne” (flapper) of the 1920s. It’s a nod to the rebellious spirit of an era reimagined through the lens of modern chic. I absolutely adore this effortlessly chic look! Combining loafers and a bow tie with a classic black dress creates a modern, elegant outfit that’s perfect for various occasions.

2. With Pearls + White Ballet Flats

a woman wearing a Chanel little black dress with pearls and white ballet flats
Chanel Ready to Wear SS24. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

To achieve a look that embodies the timeless elegance of Chanel, pair your favorite little black dress with a classic pearl necklace and ballet flats. In this ensemble, the pearl choker elevates the simplicity of the black dress, adding a touch of luxury and refinement. For an authentic vintage feel, explore Vestaire Collective’s selection of Chanel pearl necklaces. Complement this ensemble with ballet flats for comfort and chic style. Opt for rounded-toe flats, like the Aeyde Uma Uma velvet Mary Jane ballet flats, to add a contemporary edge to this classic look. Et voilà!

3. With an Accumulation of Sautoir Necklaces

a woman wearing a long Chanel black dress with an accumulation of sautoir necklaces
Chanel Ready to Wear SS23. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

For an elegant and distinctly Chanel-inspired look, consider pairing a sleek, flowing black dress like The Row’s Guinevere silk-satin maxi with multiple sautoir necklaces, a style staple of Gabrielle Chanel herself. These long, versatile necklaces can be draped down the back, wrapped around the wrist, or worn as a belt for a touch of unique sophistication. Alternatively, you could loop a sautoir twice around your neck for a layered appearance or style it in a Y shape to add dimension to your outfit. For authentic vintage Chanel pieces, Vestiaire Collective is an excellent source for long necklaces.

4. With Loafers

a woman wearing a Chanel little black dress with black patent leather loafers
Chanel Haute Couture SS23. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

For a modern twist on the Chanel-inspired little black dress, pair it with feminine-style black loafers, like Gucci’s Princetown or Jordaan loafers. This combination offers a chic, effortless look that blends the timeless elegance of the mini dress with the contemporary appeal of sleek loafers. It’s perfect for those who want to mix classic style with a touch of modern sophistication.

5. With Knee-High Socks + Mary Janes

a woman wearing a Chanel little black dress with knee-high boots
Chanel Ready to Wear SS23. Photo: Launchmetrics Spotlight.

A contemporary take on Chanel’s little black dress involves pairing a black tweed dress, like the chic Sandro short tweed coat dress or this one with a jewelry collar, with either glitter mesh tights or long cashmere and glitter knee-high socks. This combination adds a playful yet sophisticated twist to the classic LBD look. To complete this ensemble, opt for two-tone black and white Mary Jane pumps. A favorite of mine is the Carel Papaya ivory and black patent leather slingback Mary Janes, which are on my wishlist. This outfit blends the timeless elegance of Chanel with a modern, textural flair, creating a look that is both avant-gardiste and classically chic.

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