Ping! …The sound of the party invite landing in your inbox.

Or does it trigger a minor panic attack? Do you find yourself mentally scrabbling through your wardrobe despairing that you’ve got nothing to wear except that black party dress …

Closely followed by the ‘oh sod it’ moment of never mind I’ll treat myself to a new dress. Perhaps you start by having a quick look online – hard to be inspired when the choice seems largely to be black. Never mind you’ll pop to the shops, oh what’s that more black…


The good news is that I have some great tips to share with you that will help you to style a black party dress. You can apply this to reviving last year’s LBD or if you’re buying something new.  This can be really helpful if you know black isn’t your colour.

1. Choice of Fabric

If you go for a heavy fabric such as velvet it will look even blacker! No I haven’t gone stark staring mad but think about it for a moment. The density of the fabric and the pile will both intensify the colour.

Alternatively if you choose a black party dress, which is finished with lace or is in a sheer fabric it will look lighter. The colour will be less dense.

If you have a sparkly fabric this too will also look lighter. When the light catches the sequins or whatever is making the fabric sparkle this will lighten the effect.

black party dress

 2. Necklines

What is most important in terms of colour, is the colour is closest to your face. The colour closest to your face can make you look radiant or washed out.

So if black tends to overwhelm you, wearing a lower neckline will have less impact. Whether you should be looking for a V-neck, a scoop or a cowl will depend on your body shape, your neck, your bust and if you have angular or rounded features.  Confused? You needn’t be!  Check out this blog post for guidance on what necklines to choose.


3. Jewellery

Wearing statement jewellery will really help to take the attention away from your black dress.  Be careful that your choice of necklace doesn’t overwhelm you if you are quite small and petite.

You could wear a lovely gold, silver or a highly coloured piece which will offset your outfit perfectly.

This season chokers have really made a comeback.

I used to love chokers and was hardly ever seen without a velvet band around my neck. But this year there is much more choice and the selection includes beaded and embellished styles.  This can really offset a black dress beautifully.

4. Make Up

If you tend to wear muted tones, think about wearing something a bit brighter with your black dress. This will create more contrast. Do practice this in advance, particularly if you don’t normally wear much make up!

You do need to consider your seasonal palette so I’m not suggesting that one shade suits all. But there are red lipsticks for every seasonal palette.

Another option is to apply fake tan. During the winter months I keep my fake tan topped up.   I wear a lot of black and with my natural skin tone I can look washed out if I wear black and haven’t got much colour!

Red lipstick

5. Shoes

The traditional approach is that you that the colour of your shoes should either match or be darker than your hemline.

I am not much of a traditionalist as you may have surmised by now!

So I would advocate livening up a black dress with livened up by a pop of colour in your footwear.   You can do this by

  1. Wearing a single bright colour, such as red or crimson
  2. Choosing a metallic finish
  3. Having a pair of black shoes or sandals that are embellished with beads

embellished evening sandal

6. Handbag

Even if you decide to play it safe with your shoes and stick to black, you could still add a lovely pop of colour with your handbag.

Many evening bags tend to be small clutch bags. Carrying a small coloured bag close to your body is a great way to liven a black dress.

If your bag does have a strap just consider these points:

  1. Do not allow the bag to rest at the widest point of your body.
  2. If you have a long body don’t have the strap hanging very long that will create vertical lines.

    Evening Clutch Bag

7. Belts

Adding a belt to a black party dress, if the style allows for it, will break up the black and is a great way to add a splash of colour.

Many of my clients say that they struggle with belts but the general advice is to ensure it sits in a flattering position.

Any belt will create a horizontal line and this will have the effect of making you look shorter. A wider belt will have a greater effect than a slender belt.

Even if you have a lovely defined waist be careful that the belt does not overwhelm you with its width and size of buckle.


evening jacket8. Coat or Jacket

Think about the colour and fabric of your outerwear.

If you want to make an impact on arrival there’s no better way to do this than with a bold jacket or coat.    Animal print or faux fur is another option.

By wearing a lighter weight jacket you may want to keep this on at least during the early stages of the evening before the party gets going!   This gives you some great options to add colour to your dress.

This gorgeous example from Monsoon proves the point.  Both bold in colour and style this would make a black party dress look amazing.


9. Scarves, Pashminas and Evening CapesCoast Kimono

As someone who loves scarves, I’ll always head to my scarf rail for colour.

It’s not always easy to add a scarf to a black party dress. Think again about the fabric and texture. Keep it light and bright.

Alternatively you might want to consider a pashmina. This may mean you don’t need a coat. It also gives you something to pop round your shoulders if the party is in a hall or marquee and you’re feeling a bit chill.

For a really fun look you could go for a cute little faux fur evening cape or a colourful kimono to finish your black party dress.


I hope these tips to put the colour back into black are useful. If you have any more tips, I’d love to hear them! Please share your thoughts in the comments below.