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How to Wear a Little Black Dress in Winter (Without Freezing to Death)

You can style your Little Black Dress to keep you warm and toasty in winter while you still look fantastic and sexy in it. Add layers underneath and over the dress to add warmth without changing its overall style.

This is a woman wearing a little black dress while walking through a wintry forest.

You love your perfect Little Black Dress (LBD), and you probably want to wear it all year long. The only problem is, the little in LBD means it does not cover that much and winter where you live is cold, no make that cold. You need to learn to style your LBD mini dress, so it keeps you toasty.

Keeping yourself warm in a tiny black dress in winter simply requires layers. You can layer clothes without adding bulk. You just have to buy the right layers.

What does that mean?

You need layers of tights made of thin but warm fabrics. Another important option is a long-sleeved black leotard. A black slip, black leggings, a selection of black jackets, cardigans, and other button-down sweaters. Shoes also provide layers. Buy a pair of thigh-high boots and a pair of knee-high ones. You should also have at least one pair of solid black, closed-toe heels. Black socks and gloves round things out and remember to cover your head. Either a hat or scarf works.

Here’s How to Wear a Little Black Dress in Winter (Without Freezing to Death)

This is Blake Lively wearing a Victoria Beckham black dress in New York.

CUTLINE: Blake Lively wears a three-quarter length sleeve Little Black Dress on the red carpet.

You might need a few fashion basics to wear this wardrobe staple this winter. Pieces like tights, leggings, thick socks, boots, scarves, gloves, and cardigans will help you build a stylish look. Here are a few tips to make you look adorable by choosing the right layering for your dress.

Retaining the formality of the LBD remains the most important aspect of winter styling. A little black dress or black cocktail dress should provide a dressy, semi-formal look suitable for most parties, events, dinners, etc. The only place you cannot and should not wear a cocktail dress is to a white-tie formal event.

These events require a full-length ball gown or evening gown. Simply being a black dress does not make a dress a LBD. Your favorite short black dress or mini dress that happens to be black probably is not a true LBD. Only a cocktail dress qualifies as a true LBD, whether strapless or off the shoulder or with an asymmetrical sleeve and one spaghetti strap.

Your layers should not detract from the cocktail dress design. The idea behind the layers, besides warmth, is the updating of the look. Your warmth should not alter the cocktail dress look to a Sunday dress or office attire look. This requires finesse and care in styling. The easiest way to achieve this is to choose thin layers and start underneath the dress where you cannot see the added layer, or it appears natural to the style.

The most essential of these layers include black tights, leggings, slips, and leotards. Your foundation wear can go a long way to keeping you warm while looking fabulous, so let’s start there for outfit ideas.

Tights and Leggings

This is a woman wearing a little black dress with black leggings.

Tights and leggings can provide warmth without bulk and make it look as if you are wearing a hose when you actually have on something much toastier. Shop for wool tights to stay warm and cozy this winter. Also, look for thermal tights and fleece-lined tights. If those all sound too thick to you, try denier tights. Although opaque, they keep your legs warm.

Leggings can also work under some LBDs. Thinner leggings work best, but that does not mean you need to be cold. For example, Under Armour combines 81 percent polyester with 19 percent elastarell to form a legging designed for very cold weather. Its Women’s ColdGear Base 3.0 leggings will run you $70, but you can wear them alone or under a dress and stay warm all season.


Leotards provide a thin enough material that you can wear one beneath a strappy dress like a black slip dress without changing the look of the dress. At a minimum, you need a long-sleeved black leotard. You could also procure a three-quarter length sleeved leotard or a short-sleeved one.

Since you need to balance staying warm with not perspiring in your cocktail dress with its added layers, you need moisture-wicking foundation wear. Fear not! I will share a secret of every model and dancer that makes this easier. You can shop at dancewear stores online for really reasonably priced leotards that are made for keeping you sweat-free.

You can layer them with ease since they are also made for that. Try Discount Dance for black leotards in every sleeve length and neckline cut. The must-have for this foundation wear is the adult, long-sleeved leotard in black. Its scoop neck works with many dresses and it only costs $15.50. Also, try this long-sleeved unitard for all-over warmth under your cocktail dress. Your LBD never felt so toasty until you wore this beneath it, plus it costs less than $32.


Most people think of slips as film nylon liners to keep a dress from letting the woman’s underwear lines show. A slip can be so much more than that. Spanx, long known for its bike pants-style women’s underwear, now also makes slips. You can wear a shaper slip under your dress to perfect your body and remain warmer. Of course, you need a black slip just in case a strap slips out from the dress. You still match and it might seem to be a part of the dress.

If the thought of paying nearly $150 for a Spanx slip puts you off, try Vanity Fair instead. You can get a fitted black full slip for just $26. If you don’t need the shapewear, try the Bardot slip dress slip. You will still benefit from the extra warmth since this slip is crafted of 100 percent viscose with 100 percent nylon contrast.

Jackets and Sweaters

This is a woman wearing a little black dress with her black jacket and bag.

With a large enough selection of black jackets, cardigans, and other button-down sweaters, you can style any cocktail dress, aka a little black dress to keep you warm. This doesn’t have to dress down the dress. Forget about your denim jacket for this outfit. You need a dressy top layer. Choose a jacket with a plunging neckline, so your dress with the same neckline stays the same.

Don a cardigan without buttoning it closed to compliment a dress with a scoop or crew neckline. A sheath dress with boxy shoulders works best with a stole. Black mink, whether faux or real, looks smashing and keeps you toasty. Many people do not realize that cardigans aren’t the only button-down sweaters. You can also style your little black dress with a long ribbed duster, coatigan, or a zip-front sweater.

Shoes and Boots

This is a close look at a woman wearing a little black dress with black boots.

Staying warm means keeping your head, hands, and feet warm. Those areas retain or lose body heat. If you keep them warm, the rest of your body stays warm, too. Buy a pair of thigh-high boots and a pair of knee-high ones. You should also have at least one pair of solid black, closed-toe heels. Wear the longer boots with shorter dresses. Use the knee-height boots with longer dresses. Heels go well with any height dress hem, but in winter, wear them with knee-length to midi-length skirts.

Accessories and Accents

This is a woman wearing a black dress with black gloves.

Your accessories and accents help you keep your feet and hands warm. Never wear socks with your heels. They only go under your boots. Choose thick, black socks made of wool and Thinsulate-lined black gloves. You can also wear sequined gloves or elbow-length gloves. Cover your head with either a hat or scarf. Choose the option that avoids ruining your hairdo.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

You can still wear a sexy LBD in winter. Let’s address the major questions you probably have about this ever-important fashion item.

CUTLINE: Gisele Bundchen wears a long-sleeved Little Black Dress with an assymetrical skirt decorated with fringe.

What are the typical lengths for a little black dress?

These cocktail dresses for semi-formal events typically hit at mid-thigh to knee-length with their hemlines. Anything longer shies away from the typical LBD, but you’ve no reason to be typical. You can find LBDs in midi- and maxi-lengths.

What kind of outerwear or overcoat goes with a little black dress?

All of the layers discussed herein keep you warm indoors and on patios. You still need to wear an overcoat while you travel from home to your soiree and back again. It is winter after all and you could have your car breakdown. You need to stay truly warm and that means a winter coat. You will check it at the door when you enter your party, so you do not need to worry about it clashing too much, but you still want to look fabulous. Choose a fitted coat in the following styles:

  • Duster,
  • Trench,
  • Pea coat,
  • Skirted coat.

You can match it to your dress or choose a color that suits your personality, such as eggplant or emerald green.

Add your jewelry just for bling. Choose some white or yellow ice, knowing that it can’t chill you at all. Diamond stud earrings or a statement ring perfectly complement a little black dress. Take advantage of a plunging neckline to show off a stunning necklace.

Where can you purchase little black dresses ideal for winter?

Start shopping at places most people cannot afford simply to get ideas. Try Versace, Chanel, Gucci, Givenchy, and Valentino for ideas. These designers provide the cutting edge of fashion, but their prices tend toward the astronomical. Their genius allows that though. Once you know what you want, move on to shopping stores all of us girls can afford, like H & M, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Kohl’s, and Belk’s. You can find a dress and accessories to rival those actress Audrey Hepburn wore if you put in the work.

If you still cannot find what you want, try ThredUp. The online personal shopping service provides both new and vintage pieces. You might have loved a classic Chanel style, but it is no longer for sale in stores. You might find that classic little black dress among the tens of thousands of items at ThredUp.

Use the easy route. Make a Pinterest board of your style and include the dress. Provide the link to the dress in your ThredUp request. For a $10 fee, a personal shopper will put together a box for you of items you request. They will do the leg work of finding a dress like the one you want, perhaps the exact dress. They apply the $10 fee to anything you purchase. You send the things you did not want back postage paid.

Winterized LBD with Your Style

Whether you choose a black velvet blazer, a black leather duster, or a cashmere cardigan in black to go over your LBD, you can add further warmth underneath by combining a leotard and tights or leggings or a unitard with your standard underwear plus a slip. You will never have to worry when guests open the door to head out for a smoke break or the caterer needs to bring in a trolley of trays. That’s because you learned to winterize your chic style and you can last the whole night as if it were summer.