The designers and former child stars rely on one wardrobe staple when it comes to their best outfits.

By Samantha Sutton
Apr 15, 2020 @ 5:00 pm
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Taylor Hill

For many of us who grew up in the '90s and early '00s, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were the ultimate style icons. We binge-watched their movies (back when VHS tapes were a thing), wanted to wear what they were wearing, and even now, as full grown adults, we support their careers as designers, daydreaming about the items from The Row we want in our closet.

In 2020, these twins tend to stay out of the spotlight, but they still manage to teach us styling tricks from time to time. They've dressed up comfy pants and showed us how to style a cardigan. Plus, they always wear black dresses, yet never look like they're repeating outfits. This closet staple is definitely a go-to for both women, and after looking back at all the ways they've worn one, we realized there are a ton of lessons to be learned.

So, we've compiled a few Olsen-inspired outfit ideas for how to jazz up the black dress you have in your own wardrobe. It's just further proof that this piece is timeless, and that you can break it out for every occasion on your list.

Keep It Sleek

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Black dresses are able to make a statement all on their own, so for more serious events, don't go overboard. Stick with same color scheme (black) when deciding what to pair with it and you really can't go wrong.

Focus on the Extras

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If you do want to take things up a notch, choose an eye-catching accessory — like a bold necklace or a shiny pair of drop earrings — and show it off. This is also an easy way to make an old, simple dress seem new again.

Pile on Your Necklaces

Raymond Hall

It's a trick that will especially come in handy on hot, casual days, when you're unsure how to make a black maxi dress seem less basic.

Try Layering 

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Ashley knows that a great way to make a sleeveless dress work for the fall is to layer it over a turtleneck.

Go With a Statement Shoe

Dimitrios Kambouris

A sparkly or colorful footwear choice has the ability to change your outfit's whole vibe and make it feel fancier.

Or, Keep It Simple With Flats

Kevin Mazur

A pair of loafers will give a simple black dress a preppy twist.

Cinch Your Waist

Taylor Hill

Like with most oversized items, a belt will define your waist and make a loose black dress flattering. If you're over all-black everything, try a metallic option for a bit of fun.

Add a Small Pop of Color

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A quick way to do this is with your earrings. It's a trick both Mary-Kate and Ashley have tried numerous times.

Style Long Dresses With Long Jackets

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Choose a contrasting color, much like Ashley's dark green layer (or the white jacket worn by Elizabeth Olsen), which will help your look stand out in the crowd. 

Pull a Kate Middleton

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If you're in the market for a different black dress, skip the ruffles and lace and go with a coat- or blazer-like option. It will look sharp no matter where you're headed.

Dress It Down

Albert L. Ortega

An LBD can feel very night-out, but some sandals and bright accessories will transform this piece into something casual.

Just Throw On and Go

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These ladies are not afraid to rely on a black dress any day of the week, and it doesn't get easier than wearing a breezy maxi with a pair of flip flops (which, yes, have returned as a current shoe trend).

Let the Details Stand Out

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If your black dress features interesting embroidery, embellishments, or ribbons, don't overshadow them by adding too much. Keep your outfit timeless by choosing simple jewelry or color coordinating your accessories.

Remember Hair Accessories

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Even as kids, Mary-Kate and Ashley had the right idea. A black dress is one of the many outfits that look great with a headband