One Dress, Two Ways

Q I want to buy one dress that works for all occasions. What do you recommend?

A You can't go wrong with a black strapless dress. Not only can you dress it up or down, but it flatters every body type from petite to large-chested. It also draws the eye upward, to the most sensual and elegant parts of a woman's body, her shoulders and decolletage. One of the most affordable options is the silk Ann Taylor "Jillian" dress ($188;, pictured below. It has an Empire waist, so it cinches just below the bustline (the slimmest area on most women) then gently flares out to camouflage a fuller middle or pear shape. Make it casual with a feminine belted cardigan, ballet flats, and a chunky bag, or complement with sparkly heels and eye-catching jewelry for an elegant soiree.

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