How to transform your LBD with glamorous grooming

The little black dress is go-to evening garb for most women. As Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel taught her generation, nothing is as effortlessly elegant. A simple shaped shift is always appropriate and easily accessorised, but when it comes to hair and makeup, what works best with the LBD?

Though black can look super-stylish, it doesn't bring the face to life the way fabric in a well-chosen colour does, so it's best to amp up the accessories and add a little drama to your appearance.

This can range from hard-edged glamour to pared-back polish, from smokey eyes with a punkish edge to the pale pink pout of a 60s starlet.

The bold pops of colour that feature on lips this season are also the ideal companion for an LBD evening, so there's no excuse for not finding a look you love.

Bobbi Brown's director of artistry for the Asia-Pacific region, Kai Vinson, says a sophisticated look starts with fresh, clean skin. "Make sure your foundation perfectly matches your skin with the coverage level you desire. Brighten under-eye circles with a corrector to neutralise darkness, and concealer to lift and brighten."

Elizabeth Arden's national makeup specialist Lidean Erasmus says wearing black can leave some women looking wan, so advises warming up your complexion with a light application of mineral bronzer. "This will give you a subtle glow against your black attire," she says.

Look for a foundation with a dewy, radiant finish, she says, because this will be more flattering and youthful than an overly powdered face, and "make sure you take the time to do your brows as this is very effective in creating an instant eye lift".

Try a neutral matte eye-shadow for a chic look, as too much shimmer can accentuate fine lines. Layer on plenty of clump-free mascara. Keep obvious colour to the lips, which can be as simple as wearing a sheer berry-toned tint. "Finish your look with a spritz of your favourite perfume and head out for a fabulous evening." Mecca Cosmetica's regional manager, Rhian Morris, says, there are many great ways you can liven up your LBD. Her favourites include exploring winter's darker trend using fashion-forward boutique brands, or opting for popular golden tones.

"Go gothic and vampy with a soft smoky eye and a purple/crimson lip. Or go bronzed and soft by using copper and gold on the eyes."

The latter look can be teamed with a pop of pink on the cheeks and lips. And don't forget to bronze up your limbs with streak-free self-tan, advises Morris.

She relies on mousse for a quick hair refresh, and says Bumble and Bumble Thickening Full-Form Mousse is "obsession- worthy", akin to dispensing a blow wave from a can.

Servilles Mission Bay senior stylist Stephanie Bayton is a Londoner with experience working on big UK shoots.

For a modern look, she recommends choosing an evening hairstyle that references fashion trends - think sleek updos, low ponytails, buns and braids, or centre or low side partings.

"For a high-fashion catwalk finish, go for a sleek wet look," she says.

"To create this, use gel on slightly damp hair, apply the product at the roots and slick hair back using a comb." Pair with bright lips.

"If wearing your hair up isn't for you, pull it into a low side part." Blowdry your hair smooth and add a shine serum, or for a fuller look, use a volumising product and after drying add waves with your straightening irons before using a wax spray for hold and added texture.

"Nothing looks better with a little black dress than a great cut and colour," says Bayton.
Get that right and the rest takes minimal effort. Try a sleek, mid-length bob with a sharp outline and textured layers. Colour-wise, warmer tones such as soft honey for blondes will keep your complexion looking fresh during winter.


For a quick evening update, Bobbi Brown's Kai Vinson recommends:

1. Classic Use a vanilla-coloured cream shadow as a soft lid colour for those with fair or medium-toned skin, and apply ivory to brighten the brow bone. Draw a black or navy long-wear pencil across the lash line and use a brush to smudge it for a soft smokey look. Wear a great pop of colour on cheeks and highlight the cheekbones. Then add a bold lipstick.

2. Black tie I love Bobbi Brown's Long-Wear Cream Shadow Sticks applied all over the eyelid. Try Bark, a rich chocolate brown. Use a bone-coloured shade up to the brow. Bobbi Brown's Sparkle Eye Shadows create a beautiful light-reflective sparkle on the lids; apply Sunlight or Gold Star sheer with an angled shadow brush. Add black gel eyeliner and lots of mascara. Pair with a soft blush and pale lip.

3. Mod Start with a neutral bone or ivory base shade on the lids, then use cement or grey for more definition. Or for shimmer, try ballet pink or silver. Then use Gel Eyeliner in Black Ink to create a sexy cat-eye line with an ultra-fine brush, and team it with lots of mascara. A bright pink on the cheeks goes with a classic hot pink lip or red lip, or orange if you prefer coral blush.


By Janetta Mackay Email Janetta