The Little Black Dress Styled 3 Ways Challenge Complete!

Laura and Marjie styled three LBDs
Can one dress work in many ways? From cocktails to collegiate to culture, Laura and Marjie accessorize their LBDs for fantasy (at least this year) nights on the town.

Marjie and I met on my building’s amenity deck for a photo shoot (thank you Emmie Hine for being our photographer!) to document how we each styled a black wrap dress that was already in our closets for three fantasy occasions that won’t be happening this fall, but that we can dream about. On a practical note, all of these outfits will work for what is going on this fall — small gatherings for outdoor dining and drinks.

We only used pieces we already owned for this challenge. We give links where we can, but some of these items have been in our closets for ages. See what we came up with, below:

Collegiate Night

Laura took her outfit to school with red suede wedges by Pied Juste and a Smythe tweed jacket. Marjie heads to a tailgate party in brown Aquatalia booties, a “classic” Gap leather jacket and Tory Burch sunglasses.

Laura—Exeter College Formal Hall

The above-mentioned Emmie is heading to Oxford University for a year-long fellowship (boo hoo, I mean, yay for her), but guess who won’t be able to join her for Exeter College’s Formal Hall? It takes place in what looks like a Harry Potter set, but is actually the college’s dining hall. Students wear their academic gowns, so it all looks very posh. I decided to add a little scholarly polish to my LBD with a tweed blazer by Smythe and a some bling with a vintage (also known as ancient) pair of Pied Juste suede red wedges.

Marjie—Michigan Tailgate Party

You know what I really miss during this pandemic? College football. Both my kids graduated from my alma mater, the University of Michigan, and a football weekend in Ann Arbor is an annual fall event I really cherish. The real action isn’t even the game, it’s the tailgate party, where I do a little day drinking and catch up with my Alpha Phi sorority sisters, family friends and other old pals. I’ve worn this brown leather jacket on campus for more years than I can count. For my fantasy tailgate I paired it with brown suede booties, sunglasses, a plaid scarf and vintage dangly earrings. Gotta look put together in case I run into an old boyfriend!

Cocktail Party

Marjie wore Rebecca Minkoff sandals, Ippolita earrings and carries a DKNY studded clutch. Laura added mixed metal bling with large diamond hoops by Chicago jewelry designer Jane Berg, a yellow gold necklace by Laura Lombardi and Rag & Bone white boots.

Laura—After Work Drinks and Nibbles

Remember the post-work cocktail party? When Marjie and I were both working for Modern Luxury (and both our husband’s were traveling a ton for their jobs), we’d go to a cocktail party nearly every week. The challenge was how to go from work to event. Enter an easy LBD to wear all day, and accessories stowed in your bag to glam it up. I love white boots year-round. No need to put them away after Labor Day, and mixing metals just keeps your look interesting. My earrings were a splurge to myself for my birthday last year. I love everything the talented Jane Berg designs, and the Laura Lombardi necklace was a find at one of my fave retailers: Space519.

Marjie—After Work Events with Laura

The best thing about those cocktail parties—back when socializing with dozens of strangers was cool—was the people watching. The glittering crowd motivated me to put more effort into my own attire. Luckily, a LBD just needs a little bling to make it party ready. I accessorized with strappy suede sandals, a studded clutch and drop earrings. I even brought out the cocktail ring Liam gave me for our 10th anniversary. Am I overdressed? No such thing for my fantasy bash. When we get back to swanky socializing again, I’m going all out.

A Little Culture

Marjie pulls a Joie sweater over her dress and adds Tamara Mellon booties. Laura added her go-to JCrew jean jacket, a necklace with a bit of antler as the charm, a booty bag by Cape Copra and combat boots by Rag & Bone.

Laura—Crowded Concert

Are we too old for concerts? I don’t think so! Pre-pandemic, we used to go with Val and Mark Haller, the team behind Val’s List to packed live music venues all over Chicago, and I’m looking forward to when those nights can resume. I love a boot for a concert — so my toes don’t get stepped on — and since a concert equals lots of standing, I ditched the heels. A booty bag keeps your phone handy, and a jean jacket toughens up the whole look. I’m thinking we may get lucky this fall and have more live music at our socially distanced outdoor dining, in which case, I’m in!

Marjie—The Play’s the Thing

These days I find myself craving drama. Or comedy, or a musical or any damn show as long as it’s performed by real actors in a packed theater. While I’m waiting for live theatre’s comeback, I still can play the part of audience member. A bright pink puffy sleeve sweater pulled over my dress with suede booties (I love suede) makes for a outfit that I can sit in comfortably for a couple hours without getting too hot or chilly. And in order to peruse the playbill, matching reading glasses are a must.

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