I've always loved the Lucky Magazine feature "Four Girls, One..." and they've recently re-introduced it to their issues. They give four different women the same garment and ask they to show off how they would style it. Its amazing what you can do with one piece.
I've decided to embark on the same task, giving you four different looks using one basic piece. For this inaugural post, I've chosen the piece every woman owns-- The Little Black Dress. Specifically, J. Crew's Alisanne Dress in Cotton Taffeta. Note: the dress comes with a bow on the back, which I would promptly remove because it inhibits layering and gives off a girly vibe you may not want.
I'll tackle four looks here, all centered around the dress. You can use pretty much any basic black dress for these looks, given it isn't too embellished/ruffled/over-the-top. A basic black sheath dress works wonders (though can be surprising hard to find). Look for a fabric that isn't too dressy or too casual, like the cotton taffeta used in this one. It can easily be dressed up or down.
Look 1: Edgy
From left to right: The Sartorialist, Manadrino, and Alexander McQueen
Inspired by the leather black dresses that filled many of the recent Resort 2012 collections, this look features a buttery soft cropped leather jacket. To really complete the look, add in rock-n-roll inspired accessories, like these great spiked heels and Eddie Borgo jewelry. I added a small red clutch for a pop of color.
From top to bottom: Eddie Borgo Cone Studs, American Apparel Small Leather Carry-All Pouch in Red, J. Crew Lambskin Motocross Jacket, Eddie Borgo Bear Trap Ring, and Sam Edelman Lorissa Pumps.
Look 2: Free-Spirited
From left to right: Anna Sui, Chanel, and J. Crew
The free-spirited look is all in the prints and layers. I channeled Anna Sui's work, along with Chanel's Pre-Fall Byzantine inspired collection. If you only shop one place to assemble this look, make it Free People. The free-spirited outfit is about mixing nature and Native American inspired prints, and pairing it with rough-and-tubble boots and natural accessories. Don't be afraid to toss a cami over a dress and maybe a slouchy sweater on top of that.
From left to right: Free People Patchwork Scarf Cami in Midnight Combo, Anthropologie Gilded Link Bracelet, Anthropologie Go-Everywhere Tote in Brown, and Free People Anna Boots in Black.
Look 3: Minimal
From left to right: Gucci, Michael Kors, and No. 21
In minimalism, less is more. Feel free to layer, but make sure the individual pieces are sleek and unfussy. For this look, I pulled inspiration from Gucci's relaxed white blouse, Michael Kors' architectural accessories, and No. 21's basic cardigan and clutch.
From left to right: Anthropologie Clean Break Cuff, Ella Moss for Piperlime Ellassential Cardigan in Black, Gap Sheer Pocket Shirt in Beach Pebble, Anthropologie Sashay Heels, and American Apparel Medium Leather Carry-All Pouch in Black.
Look 4: Preppy
From left to right: Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and DKNY
The preppy look starts with Chanel's classic tweed blazer and is polished off with ladylike pumps, a small chain-strap bag, and the obligatory strand of pearls. Everything in this look is classic, chic, and has a hint of sweetness. Oscar de la Renta is always a great source for "Ladies Who Lunch" inspiration, if you want to look into other ways to dress this outfit.
From left to right: J. Crew Platinum Tweed Jacket, J. Crew Multistrand Pearl Necklace, Talbots Suede Almond-Toe Pumps in Black, and Kate Spade Burnside Avenue Lauralee Bag.
To really finish off each look, make sure hair and makeup play the part. For the edgy look, smokey eyes and messy hair does the trick. For the free-spirited, berry stained lips and braids. For the minimal look, a slicked back pony tail and glowing neutral makeup. For the preppy look, do cat-eyes, soft pink lips, and soft waves.