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Staple Wardrobe: The Little Red Dress

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We all know the little black dress is a crucial "go to" garment in any woman's wardrobe, but think about it this way: if everyone else is "going to" their black dress, why not throw a curve ball and try a pop of red? It's certainly a surefire way to stand out. And since the color was worn by celebrities and spotted all over the runways at Fashion Week this past February, you know it's particularly au courrant. As long as you apply the same style rules that make the lbd so fantastic, the vibrant color can be just as reliable as your security-blanket black dress and become an integral part of your staple wardrobe.

First, you should know the basics of what makes a dress flattering on different body types. While there is a definite trend right now toward trapeze and parachute dresses, and they look adorable on many people, they can make some women look tent-like -- especially women with serious curves. Any style with a cinched waist however is universally flattering on any body type because it helps to reinforce the feminine figure. Look for a dress that belts, ties, or has a structured waistband. Anything that defines your shape in the middle will do your figure the most justice (which conveniently means you can belt any of those flowing trapeze dresses to make them conform to this "rule"). This Halter Embossed Beach Dress in Bright Berry ($98, J.Crew) has three definitive parts -- skirt, waist, and bust -- which flatters your figure so well. So too does this Polka-Dot Summer Dress ($130, Banana Republic) and this AKA New York Colorblock Dress ($140.40, Shopbop.com). You don't have to completely shun the fuller, trapeze trend like we mentioned before, as long as you belt the dress when your curves don't work with the style. Both this Splendid Jersey Tank Dress and this Karen Zambos Vintage Couture Top Pleat Mini Dress ($99 and $172, respectively, both at Tobi.com) are great options.

Secondly, consider the neckline. Spaghetti straps can look flimsy and precarious on women with large shoulders or chests, while delicate and adorable on more petite frames. If you're the former, try this Pleated Chiffon Dress ($27.80, Forever 21), which balances you with thicker straps. If you're the latter, both this Simple Woven Dress in the blood/red orange color ($24.80, Forever 21) and this AE Wrap Dress ($29.95, American Eagle) are very cute. A V-neckline is a great visual trick to elongate your neck. Think Grace Kelley/Gwyneth Paltrow-grace -- which we would all love, yes? Wrap dresses generally employ this neckline by default, so this Sweet Pea Deep Red Jersey V-Neck Belted Dress ($60, Bluefly.com) is perfect. Some other options include this Velvet Elsy Dress ($59, Tobi.com) and the Design History Poppy Jersey V-Neck Belted Dress ($60, Bluefly.com).

Speaking of grace, a wide, open neckline -- otherwise known as a ballet neck -- similarly makes your décolletage look delicate and sweet. This Velvet Torch Scoop Neck Tunic ($52, Nordstrom) makes you appear dainty with an edge. Try the James Perse Long-Sleeve U-Neck Dress ($88, Tobi.com) if you want something a bit more pared down and basic. Also flattering is the sweetheart neck, which conjures up a retro feel. And who better to embody this retro-inspired look than Betsey Johnson? Her Red Bow Jersey Keyhole Dress ($168, Bluefly.com) is delightful.

Finally, we're firm believers that classic, "staple" pieces are an investment. If it looks good on you, you'll inevitably receive compliments galore and feel fantastic in it. We've grabbed a few higher-priced red dresses that would be fabulous, permanent fixtures in your closet. First, this Marc by Marc Jacobs Raised Silk Twill Dress ($259, eLUXURY.com) is belted at the natural waist in a very forgiving fabric. We also think this Dallin Chase Donald Dress ($214, Shopbop.com) is an expensive-looking take on the hue with interesting details, while this Madison Marcus Eminent Dress in Rouge ($281, REVOLVEClothing.com) is an elegant, chic look. It's worth noting that both of these designer pieces, though pricey, are heavily marked down from their original cost.

We hope that the world of red has swayed your opinion toward the little dress; black is great, but red lets us show a bit more personality. And after all, you can't always blend in with the crowd.

-- Lindsay Sakraida

Note: there may be a way to make the items mentioned above an even better bang for your buck -- remember to search stylenotes for special promotions and coupon codes that may be applied to your order.

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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