Hi there! I’m Kat Depner, personal stylist, and owner of Seven Styling. When most people think of personal styling, they imagine going out and purchasing loads of new clothing that they often don’t need. However, you can optimize your style right now by shopping your closet instead!

Little black dress
Little Black Dress

When you shop your closet, you can transform a few articles of clothing into several dynamic outfits without raiding your bank account. It helps to start with a neutral piece that acts as the foundation for your new looks. Today we’ll be working with an item most women have some variation of in their wardrobes
the little black dress (LBD).

When properly layered and accessorized, the LBD can accompany you to every micro-life event you have scheduled for the week: work, happy hour, errands, play dates, or happy strolls down a frosty farmer’s market. It’s a neutral color and timeless silhouette are durable, multifunctional and universally flattering to all body types. Sheath or A-line cuts tend to work best in creating new looks as opposed to dresses with a frill or asymmetrical hems.

With an LBD at the ready, we’re going to create some new outfits with the following items that you also may have in your closet:

  • Maxi Cardigan
  • Belt
  • Scarf
  • Blazer
  • Button-Up Shirt
  • Denim Jacket
  • Maxi Skirt

You don’t need all these items to get started – just work with what you have and start styling!

The Belted Cardigan

belted cardigan
Belted Cardigan

For each of these looks, I’m using my favorite off-shoulder sheath cut LBD as a base layer. To add dimension to this dress, pair it with a neutral maxi cardigan that generally sits at or just below the mid-calf. The cardigan gives you the comfort of a bathrobe with the finesse and structure of a soft outer layer. To add a bit of visual interest, I have taken a colorful, long, rectangular scarf and draped it across my neck ensuring that either end sits just above my knees. And to ensure this scarf doesn’t float away by a strong gust of wind, I have secured it in place with a thin black belt right at the waistline. Finish this look with a pair of neutral booties and you will be ready to stroll through a farmer’s market or a classy casual happy hour effortlessly. To easily make this look work-appropriate, trade out your booties for a pair of black pumps and cuff your sleeves for a bit of added tailoring.

The Blazer and Button-Up

yellow blazer
Yellow Blazer

The blazer and LBD are a timeless pairing that will always be office appropriate. Since my LBD is a sheath cut dress that sits closely along the leg line, I like to pair it with a boyfriend cut blazer that has a relaxed fit, bringing balance to the LBD’s tighter silhouette. This blazer provides a modern twist with its shawl collar and rolled sleeves for an easy fit that gives you structure without the slightest hint of feeling constricting. When choosing a blazer, go for one without a button closure as the absence of the button removes a sense of formality from the look and makes it seamlessly transition into happy hour after a long day at the office. To offset the neutral LBD, I recommend choosing a blazer that offers a fun pop of primary color – yellow, teal or a playful magenta. To add continued dimension to the look, I like to take a silky button-up, leave the last two buttons unbuttoned, and knot it at the waist as a second layer. With this added layer, no one will be able to tell if you are wearing a camisole underneath or a dress. Making this look evening appropriate is easy – just rock a high ponytail with a gorgeous pair of statement earrings.

The Casual Denim Jacket

Jean jacket
Denim Jacket

For casual Fridays in the office, reach for a medium or dark wash denim jacket. This is a timeless item equally as eager to please as the LBD. It oozes casual while still maintaining a semi-structured silhouette. To master this look, the only thing required of you is to button your denim jacket all the way up to the collar. If it’s a little snug by your neck, give it a few generous tugs and I assure you all will be well. Buttoning the jacket to the collar adds the slightest bit of tailoring to the jacket. It creates a “formal-ish” a fitted neckline that brings balance to the casual jacket. With the jacket in place, your LBD will actually masquerade as a fitted pencil skirt. Finish the look off with a pair of sneakers to rule the playdate playground or a pair of low-heeled booties to become the denim queen of the office.

The Delicate Kimono


For a more delicate look, pair the LBD with a maxi open-front kimono top. The structured sheath cut of the LBD is balanced with the whimsical and swingy draping that the kimono top offers. When choosing a kimono top, reach for ones in vibrant patterns and florals as they will provide a playful pop of color to your neutral LBD. This pairing is also one of the most merciful and flattering ensembles for the mid-section. The black silhouette of the dress disguises any wobbly bits and the flow and movement of the kimono draw the eyes up and away from anything that may be brewing underneath. This is an all-star ensemble that is stylistically transcendent, hitting the mark for work, play, and even a casual wedding guest option.

The Maxi Skirt

Maxi Skirt
Maxi Skirt

For this last look, we will transform your LBD ensemble into a makeshift bodysuit! When you pair the LBD ensemble with a flowing maxi skirt, you now have a casual, all micro-life event-inclusive, ball gown of sorts – perfect for an anniversary dinner or glamorous stroll in the park with the tiny humans. I like to pull the waist of the maxi just below my bustline, creating a flattering silhouette and ample room for dinner. When it comes to the color and pattern of your maxi, you have free reign as the neutral LBD will work to tie it all together. To achieve this look, choose a maxi skirt with a length that hits at the ankles and comes away from the leg line. Top off the look with a neutral necklace to add visual intrigue to your upper half.

Personal Styling Starts In Your Own Closet

You don’t need to purchase bags full of the latest trends to freshen up your style. Starting with classic items that you already have in your closet can be a great source of inspiration once the creative juices start flowing.

How have you shopped your closet to change up your style? Let us know in the comments!

Kat Depner is a personal stylist based in Portland, Oregon and the owner of Seven Styling (www.sevenstyling.com). She produces monthly content on her style blog, Seconds To Impress (www.sevenstyling.com/blog). Kat’s superpower is finding you consigned clothing that requires you to pick your jaw up off of the floor! For style tips and giggles you can follow her on Instagram @sevenbykat.



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