How to Create Multiple Looks with a LBD


Hi, Imogen. I love reading your blog posts. Please use an upcoming post to address this “puzzle” for me–multiple formal looks from one dress.
We’ll be cruising the Panama Canal in February and there will be 3 to 4 formal nights. Being gone 2 weeks, I have to get multiple uses from what I pack. How can I make one black cocktail dress have at least 2 different looks and still pack lightly?

My Level 1 jewelry is small, so it won’t have much impact on changing the look, especially from a distance. Cruise ships are quite cool in dining rooms and theaters. I’d like to take only one pair of footwear for dressy evening, one pair of casual black sandals for day/casual dinners.


The key to making a neutral item like your LBD (Little Black Dress) work for many occasions is that you want it to be neither too naturally dressy (not made of satin or silk) or casual (made from cotton).      Something that is cocktail length (not floor) is also easier to style in multiple ways.

Remember, on a cruise everyone is in the same boat (pun intended) and nobody has their full wardrobe with them (plus, nobody really remembers what you wore unless you’re a celebrity with the paparazzi following your every move and documenting it!).

How to Create Multiple Looks from the Same LBD

How to Dress Up Your LBD for Formal Dinners

Add a touch of sparkle and your evening shoes.

I generally advise against travelling with your expensive ‘real’ jewellery in case of loss or luggage theft!  Instead why not pair some fun costume pieces that have dazzle or sparkle with your LBD to give it a little more eveningwear oomph.
How to take the same LBD and create multiple looks around it with minimal elements

  • Taking some pashmina style shawls in a few colours will give you the option to make your outfits look more different and there are lots of ways to tie them (check out this video for 13 different ways).  By taking different colours (as colour is what we remember most) it will make your outfit appear more different each time you wear it.
  • Add a little sparkle with a sequin shrug, this really dresses up your LBD.
  • Change up the look with different coloured costume jewellery.

Dress Down Your LBD

So for more casual dinners and events, you can dress your LBD down so it feels like a different outfit completely.

Pair with your more casual sandal or espadrille to take it down a level of refinement.How to dress down your LBD

  • Throw on a denim jacket
  • Add a colourful kimono duster
  • Pair with a cotton cardigan and scarf
  • Add a decorative shawl or scarf in a colourful pattern

These are just a few ideas on how to change the look of a single garment quickly and easily.

Been on a cruise?  Any suggestions from your experiences you can share?

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  • Thanks Imogen – I just returned from a trip where I wished I had taken a day-evening LBD that required no ironing! I have resolved to always do so in the future and your post is a timely reminder that I need to firstly look at what I would style it with, inspired by your suggestions and that I already have in my wardrobe and secondly to add LBD it to my shopping list so I am ready to fly off at any time!

  • Imogen, there is just nothing like a picture and you nail it every time! A picture REALLY does speak a 1000 words, as the saying goes. A BIG thank you for all your effort to make these lovely pictures that illustrates your point, it is very much appreciated!

  • My husband and I cruise a lot, and I love to dress up. I have taken a different dress for each night, simply because that’s my opportunity to wear my dresses and get photos taken. That said, I like the idea of packing lighter and using accessories to change up the look. Keep in mind that short cruises only have one formal night, while longer cruises have at least 2.

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