Of all the essential items a closet needs to be well-rounded, black dresses are expected to do the most. As much an idea—the perfect LBD—as an actual article of clothing, the piece is widely considered a sort of fashion get-out-of-jail free card, a catch-all for moments of sartorial brain fart. Got an big job interview but no money for an new outfit? Why not just grab your go-to LBD? How about a first date with someone you really like? That same LBD will get you a second one. A funeral and a wedding in the same weekend? Well, just wear the LBD to both!
In theory it sounds great, owning one perfect piece that can be all things for all occasions—and it’s totally possible as well, if the piece in question is a simple, solid sheath. But as flattering and versatile as those may be, they’re also pretty forgettable. If you really want to stand out in an LBD, it’s going to take something with a striking silhouette, fabric or embellishment that won’t work everywhere, like the five types of black dresses you’ll find in the slideshow above. Inspired by five recent red carpet looks from some of our favorite celebs, each one is worth having around for the right occasion. It’s a little more work, for sure, but aren’t all the best thing in life?
Click through to shop five non-basic black dresses now.