I need a little black dress!
December 13, 2012 12:51 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a little black dress. I'm in my mid-20s, short (5'2"), and curvy (dress size 4-8, depending on much curvature they allow), and it should look good with black knee-high boots and 'hose. So I'm thinking maybe something that stops at mid-thigh. It should be something dressy enough for a NYE party and classy enough to wear to a work holiday party. Pure black preferred, but different textures and shapes are welcomed. I own a lot of fit & flare dresses, so I'm comfortable with that, or I can get a more sheath like dress...? It needs to be from somewhere (local to Seattle or online) where I can return for free (including shipping). Budget: $20 to $300 for the right dress.
posted by ethidda to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (28 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I recommend checking out Ann Taylor, petite. I'm 5'2" and curvy, almost always a size 6 petite, myself. I particularly suggest these selections.
posted by bearwife at 1:02 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nobody here knows what might look good on you (4 to 8 is a huge size range). Go to Nordstrom downtown and start trying clothes on, they have a huge selection of little black dresses in regular and petite sizes. Remember that if curves are an issue, you can – and always should – have dresses altered to fit you perfectly.

Keep in mind that knee-high leather boots (especially the ones you linked to) are not exactly dressy and not necessarily appropriate for a NYE cocktail party. They're better suited for casual street and office wear, so pairing them with a little black dress that is too dressy might look a bit ridiculous.
posted by halogen at 1:04 PM on December 13, 2012

Shabby Apple has a wide variety of dresses that are not too revealing, depending on what you're looking for, but shipping might be an issue (sometimes they have coupons though!)

I don't know if Nordstroms are out west, but their website has a whole section devoted to the LBD.

Of course, Zappos is the queen of the online shopping experience, but sometimes their selection can be lacking. Doesn't hurt to look, though!

Etsy has several shops that offer custom tailoring, but you can't return it (naturally.)

I don't know if this holds still, but when I'm thinking of black boots with a dress, and given that you're curvy, you might want to pick one body part to be revealed... what I mean is this: If you're going nude hose and black boots and a black skirt, then your legs are the body part revealed, so consider a dress with sleeves. Alternately, if you go black boots with black tights, then the dress can be sleeveless. Necklines are to preference, I think. This way, you don't look like you're flashing a ton of skin, or all wrapped in black, but there is a happy visual balance. I happily defer to fashionistas on this, though.

For cocktail parties, you'll probably want to consider heels, unless it's a casual cocktail party. Those books, while gorgeous!, aren't really party boots; dresses you'd wear with them would probably be on the more casual side (think riding, as those are riding style boots.) If heels aren't an option, maybe some flats instead? Flats or heels, if you choose hose or tights with the same color as either the dress or the shoes, you can visually elongate your legs.
posted by absquatulate at 1:04 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding the above. Those boots are neither dressy nor classy. They are lovely, but definitely not appropriate for the events you describe.
posted by greta simone at 1:10 PM on December 13, 2012

I bought this dress in black from Land's End, who have recently famously retooled some of their clothes to be less frumpy and more current. I was skeptical of how this dress would look in person, but am very pleased. Made in ponte, it is figure-skimming but not clingy, and looks equally wowza with boots or heels. It is both modern and vintage-inspired at once and makes me feel both chic and like a babe (if I do say so), especially with a belt. This may be more casual than you're looking for, but I have gotten tons of compliments when dressing this both up and down. It's also a good price with free returns to any Sears store.
posted by anonnymoose at 1:12 PM on December 13, 2012

I always say this every time, but seriously, Macy's and other "boring" department-store kind of places (don't know Seattle well, but whatever Macy's big competitor is, or the next fanciness-level up) are great for LBDs. (I agree, though - those don't seem like party boots to me.)
posted by mskyle at 1:13 PM on December 13, 2012

Re: the above, I wear mine occasionally with saddle brown riding boots in more casual day settings and it looks great, but I agree that a more formal shoe is usually considered more party-appropriate.
posted by anonnymoose at 1:14 PM on December 13, 2012

Agree with mskyle--check Nordstrom, especially the flagship downtown. Their special occasions department will fix you up.
posted by anonnymoose at 1:21 PM on December 13, 2012

Shabby Apple is a great choice. LBDs are one of the things they do best. Here's a few that have caught my eye at ModCloth (I work there, so I spend a lot of time looking at the dresses) that you can order with free shipping and free returns/exchanges:


I also thing that with tall black boots and a black dress, I probably wouldn't go with black tights/hose. They aren't super dressy, and you're going to look very covered up and swathed in black in a way that could seem rather casual.
posted by mostlymartha at 1:35 PM on December 13, 2012

Zara, maybe? I just saw a great black dress in their window, but can't find it in their website. They have free standard shipping and returns.
posted by hooray at 1:44 PM on December 13, 2012

Calvin Klein dresses
posted by Neekee at 1:45 PM on December 13, 2012

WestonWear is my go-to for little black dresses.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:58 PM on December 13, 2012

Seconding the above. Those boots are neither dressy nor classy. They are lovely, but definitely not appropriate for the events you describe.

Depends on your office culture, region, etc. I trust the OP is a good judge of what's appropriate to wear to a work holiday party or New Years eve party. And I think black dress, black boots, and black tights can work.

Ann Taylor and Banana Republic carry petite sizes in store. I think Ann Taylor is better for the petite but curvy - I find that Banana Republic petites have kind of a boxy fit.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 2:00 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I got a beautiful black dress that fits your criteria at J. Crew this year. I'm also short (4'11") and I'm really pleased with this LBD. They aren't selling the specific style I got anymore, but they do have a few cute black dresses right now - be sure to check out the petites.
posted by k8lin at 2:02 PM on December 13, 2012

Best answer: Here is the exact look you're describing on the White House/Black Market website. Her boots have heels which makes it more dressy but I think it looks good. I just went into the store for the first time recently and really liked all of their clothes. As an added bonus, it's not so overwhelming as going to a big department store. It looks like there is one at Pacific Place in Seattle.
posted by victoriab at 2:08 PM on December 13, 2012

H&M, if they have them in Seattle, has surprisingly good options in LBDs sometimes. I have a short, short-sleeved black dress from there that has seen me through a couple of New Years'.


Not sure about the boots, though. A boot with more of a heel, maybe, or shinier texture...
posted by like_a_friend at 2:21 PM on December 13, 2012

Velvet makes some great and curve-friendly dresses, this is the only black one that catches my eye on Zappos right now, but my favorite LBD is one of theirs. And this is gorgeous.

Also, those boots are fabulous. They'll add a little bit of edge to whatever you wear, which might mean you need a slightly dressier dress to balance things out, but they really are great.
posted by dizziest at 2:27 PM on December 13, 2012

Response by poster: Yes, I'm aware the boots aren't dressy; that's why it's so difficult. But I want to be warm and able to walk for 30 minutes between parties in my shoes, and then dance and not trip while I'm tipsy. (Otherwise, I have plenty of dressy heels--including Jimmy Choos and Louboutins--with the dresses to go with them.)

New shoe recommendations are welcomed, though probably off topic.

People in Seattle are fairly casual in general. I work with software engineers, so we're an especially odd lot when it comes to fashion. I recently went to the holiday party, and had no appropriate dress for the boots, but people were dressed all over the place... and many ended up hilariously drunk. So mid-thigh is not an issue. (Though it's a good point to think about for my partner's holiday party.)

I've tried shopping at Modcloth and H&M, and have had horrible luck. There is absolutely NOTHING that I tried that fits my chest. But I'll check out Nordstrom--probably after the New Year to miss the rush.

White House/Black Market is one of my favorite stores, along with Ann Taylor Loft. But Ann Taylor size chart says whatever I buy will either be 4" too big at the waist or 4" too small at the chest. Is my only solution really to just tailor it?

Thanks for all the suggestions so far!
posted by ethidda at 2:28 PM on December 13, 2012

Anthropologie also has some good LBDs right now. This looks good for curves, as does this, and while this is totally not what you asked for, it's gorgeous. This might be too casual, but is on sale & looks good for curves. This is also nice.
posted by dizziest at 2:42 PM on December 13, 2012

Best answer: Is my only solution really to just tailor it?

Most clothing is not made to accommodate women with a large bust. Either you wear a lot of knits, or buy clothing specially made for large busted women, like Pearberry, or you end up tailoring everything.
posted by crankylex at 2:54 PM on December 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Seconding Calvin Klein -- I'm similar to you (same height, same size, everything the same really except bust) and I've had good luck with their stuff, particularly dresses. I have one black dress from them that's sleeveless, roughly knee-length and pleated down the front with a side zip (this sounds really vague, I know, but I can't find it online anywhere) that's the most versatile thing I own - worn it on job interviews, worn it on dates. Now I really wish I could find a photo online, actually, because it's exactly what you're describing. (I got it about two years ago at an outlet.)
posted by dekathelon at 3:14 PM on December 13, 2012

Just thought I'd add that I recently got a black lace boat neck dress from Kohl's that I'm psyched about. Totally in your price range and while black lace sounds racy, it has sleeves, is decent, etc.
posted by kat518 at 4:00 PM on December 13, 2012

Believe it or not, Target online actually has some pretty decent dresses remarkably cheap. I discovered this when trying to outfit a restaurant full of female servers in fashionable black dresses affordably.
I ended up buying a few random dresses there for myself, and I felt confident enough in their quality to wear them along side the outfits that I paid many hundreds of dollars for. If I recall correctly, the Mossimo and Merino brands were what I bought.
posted by newpotato at 4:31 PM on December 13, 2012

I am always (always!) recommending ASOS for Metafilter fashion questions, but it's just full of thousands of dresses and has a great search feature. Just click on black, body-con, knee length/mini, $50-300, etc. There! 158 dresses. I personally think this one is gorgeous (though also think to get it in black is a bit of waste) and this one looks really comfortable.
posted by zoomorphic at 4:41 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow, I wear the same range of sizes in dresses, and I am also petite. Loft currently has this dress, which I have in teal and really like. I actually wear a size two petite in it, and have 40 in. hips, 27 in. waist and 36 in. bust (the dress is actually a wee bit big in the bust). I saw this dress in black at Loft the other day. It's pretty basic but would go great with your boots and would be really easy to dress up with jewelry and a colorful belt.
posted by imalaowai at 5:37 PM on December 13, 2012

Seconding ASOS, and also Shopbop. Shopbop has labels that are a little more upmarket (read: $$), but I've had great luck in the discount section. I like that they have good quality labels; I've gotten stuff from there for 70% that I'd never be able to afford normally.

Get a tape measure and make sure you have accurate measurements first, though.
posted by Salamander at 5:41 PM on December 13, 2012

Best answer: They're crazy expensive new, but you might want to look for a Shoshanna dress. They're actually designed for people with tiny waists and large busts/hips.

I'm also 5'2" and my secondhand one is the best fitting thing I own.
posted by topoisomerase at 8:20 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, Shoshana looks lovely, but that's just a bit out of my impulse purchase range. I'll put it in my budget for next year.

I just purchased 6 LBD from ASOS (with two day express shipping!). I got things from the ASOS petite line, so they were quite affordable. Here's to hoping I find something.
posted by ethidda at 12:54 PM on December 14, 2012

« Older Put my music in the cloud   |   Cambodia / Khmer Rouge novel? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.