How to Accessorize a LBD: Leopard Pumps + Red Clutch

Welcome back! It’s day 3 of my 27 Days of Spring Fashion with Cyndi Spivey!

I debated publishing this post, and I finally decided to go for it. If you followed my first Trunk Club unboxing, this is the LBD that I almost didn’t keep, and now I wish I hadn’t. I’m not happy with the way this dress fits, and the funny thing is, I was planning to send it back until everyone said how much they liked it. I guess this is a good lesson to trust my gut.

I’m going to go ahead and post the pictures for two reasons. First, we all have hits and misses. I post so many “hits” that it may seem like this fashion thing is easy, and it’s not — not for me, anyway, and not for many of you, from what you’ve told me. So I thought I should go ahead and show you one of my misses and explain how it fell short.

Second, while I don’t like the fit of the dress, I love the outfit! I love the jewelry, shoes, and bag I put with this dress, and when I find the perfect LBD, I will have a smashing outfit. This is a simple outfit formula that anyone can copy, so I thought it would be worth showing for that reason.

Here it is.

How to Accessorize a LBD: with Leopard Pumps + Red Clutch

black ponte sheath $98 | similar leopard pumps $129 | similar red envelope clutch $95
3-disc necklace $70 | Alila Lace Chandeliers $44 | dressy watch $225

Okay, at first glance, it isn’t horrible. I know that. (Mind you, I siphoned through about 55 pictures to come up with four that I was willing to put out onto the World Wide Web.) What I don’t like about the dress is the way it pulls around the waist and chest area. If I were to wear this to an event, I’d be tugging on it all night long.

Overall, the dress is a little too snug, but I don’t think going up a size would help. If I do that, it will be too big in the shoulders and too long overall. I have a lot of experience with sheath dresses. They are definitely the most flattering style for my body, but I am short-waisted, so I have to be careful or there will be too much extra material, especially in the back.

In addition to being too tight, I also think the material is part of the problem. Ponte fabric is thick and stretchy, which is nice from a comfort perspective, but it can also cling to every bulge. Keep in mind, I’m wearing shapewear. I can only imagine what it would look like if I weren’t!! A dress with material that has less give and is more structured would be more flattering. I have actually ordered a few that fit that bill, and I’ll be styling them soon!

I also don’t think the length of the sleeve on this dress does me any favors, even though it is a feature I thought I liked before I saw these pictures. Go figure! The way they end right at the bust line seems to draw unwanted attention to that area.

LBD with Red Clutch

All that said, what I DO like about this outfit is the way I accessorized it. I LOVE the contrast of the red envelope clutch against the black dress.

The delicate 3-disc necklace fills the neckline without competing with the chandelier earrings, although I could probably have gone more bold with my bracelets. I just layered two of my Stella & Dot bangles, but a delicate cuff would work well too.

And can we take a moment to discuss these shoes!?!

How to Accessorize a LBD: Leopard Pumps + Red Clutch

Y’all know leopard is my favorite color (haha!) and these d’orsay pumps are amazing. (A d’orsay pump is one that shows the arch of your foot.) I picked them up on the Nordstrom Clearance Sale last fall. Unfortunately neither the shoes nor the bag are still available, but I’ll link to some options below.

How to Accessorize a LBD with Leopard Pumps and a Red Clutch

Finding the perfect LBD can be a challenge, much like finding the perfect pair of jeans, but it’s definitely an essential wardrobe piece, so I’m going to make it a priority to find one that makes me feel fabulous this spring. Life is too short to wear clothes that make you feel less than fabulous, right!?!

Incidentally, I styled a different LBD with the same red bag and leopard slides last summer. Evidently a red bag and leopard shoes is my favorite way to style a LBD!!!

Fashion Over 40: How to Style a LBD

similar Toad&Co LBD $86 | leopard platform wedges ON SALE for $55.99 + 15% off

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Be sure to visit Cyndi to see the spring outfit she’s styling today!!!

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52 Responses

  1. You are probably way more critical than any one else would be. You look fine in the dress, but if you are uncomfortable, then that shows. I hate my bumps and rolls showing, so usually I will wear a cardigan or jacket. I still don’t own a LBD, so if you ever find the “one”, be sure to let me know. Lol!

    1. I’ve been told I’m overly critical. Haha! I know it’s okay, but life is too short to feel just okay. 🙂 I will keep you posted on the hunt for the perfect LBD!

      1. You look AMAZING in that LBD! I think you are doing so great with your posts and it’s so fun to get your emails. I’m so fashion challenged this is so great to get some help!!! Is there a plus-sized fashion blogger you like that I can follow as well?!!! I’m 49, so would like something that speaks to my age category as well in plus size. Thank you again! And you should keep that dress you look fabulous! Sincerely, Anita in Seattle

          1. Jo Lynne! Thank you so much for the great recommendations and taking the time to reply!!!! Enjoy your evening!!! Love Anita

  2. I still think you look fab in it – but I totally understand if YOU are not comfortable in it that’s all that matters. I think the neckline and sleeves are a super flattering style — and you’re right about the red and the leopard – that goes great with the black. I wouldn’t call this a “miss” per say – it’s just a dress you don’t love but the look is a hit.

    1. Thanks, Judi. Yes, you’re right. The overall look isn’t a miss. Just the dress. 🙂 I think this is a situation where paying more for a higher quality garment would be worth the investment.

  3. I have yet to find the perfect LBD myself. I will say that you and I may be about the same size (5’5 1/2″, 128 lbs., 34D), and that sleeve length has never been flattering on me personally. I find that it makes me feel more “frumpy” and “old”. Most would say that they feel better covering their arms over a certain age, but for me it is not the case. I think if that exact dress had a cap sleeve, it would be perfect! 🙂 You always look beautiful, so please don’t be too hard on yourself. Thanks for sharing with us. Hope you have a great day.

    1. You flatter me. 🙂 I’m a good 10 lbs more than you, and yeah, that sleeve length does NOTHING for those of us who are well endowed. 🙂 I do love a cap sleeve. It’s very flattering. Thanks for the kind words. I really did like how the outfit came out. I just wish the dress fit better. 🙂

  4. I am quite short-waisted, with a very similar build to you, and I struggle mightily with finding dresses that fit! I usually go with true wrap dresses which I can make fit better, or petite dresses, despite being 5’6″. I always think that if I could just cut a dress in half and remove 2 inches and then sew it back together it would be perfect! I can’t wear button-downs or very tailored jackets, either. Too bad the dress didn’t fit better- it’s such a cute outfit!

    1. Yes, it is truly a challenge. When I was thinner, sheaths were easy, but now that I’m wearing larger sizes, I have more trouble getting them to fit just right. This is why I always wear jeans! 🙂

  5. I understand remorse when it comes to clothing….have you tried taking it to a seamstress? I just took out some pants so they wouldn’t be so tight—if there’s not enough material to let out, they may be able to add a little material to that area. I think it’d be worth a try to see what they say. (And shortening the sleeves is relatively easy if you want that also).
    I know sometimes it feels like an added expense, but otherwise it tends to be a total loss.
    Good luck (but in the whole scheme of things, you do look fabulous)—if you hadn’t pointed out the tightness, most of us would have never noticed! jodie

    1. If it cost more, I might, but honestly, I think I’m better off counting it as a learning experience and moving on. It is fully lined, and I’m not sure they could let it out without making a mess of it. I do like your idea of adjusting the sleeves, though. If the rest of it fit well, that would be the perfect solution.

  6. Killer shoes! I agree that perhaps larger bangle bracelets of some sort would look better, but to be honest… the dress looks pretty darned amazing on you!

  7. Jo-Lynne, THANK YOU for sharing a ‘miss’ with us no explaining why you don’t like it. When I look at the photo real close, I see the wrinkled fabric, and totally get why it bothers you. I don’t own a LBD either. As a matter of fact, I own very few dresses. I’ve worn pants for so long now that I am not as comfortable when wearing a dress that isn’t maxi length. In some of the pictures your purse looks orange. I do like your heels even though I can’t wear them.

    I hope your knee is behaving! Have a blessed day!

    1. Yeah, it is an orangey-red on that bag. It’s one reason I love it. 🙂 It’s a great shade. I picked it up at the J.Crew Outlet a few years ago.

      My knees are NOT behaving. It’s actually my other one that’s acting up. I need to call the doc. SO frustrating. Thanks for thinking of me and my poor decrepit body. Haha!

      1. Take care of yourself! I hope you will have that other knee checked out. As active as you are and with the kids you need to keep your parts in good working order. Hang in there!

  8. I’m no fashion expert (it’s why I read your blog, duh) but I think you look wonderful in that dress. But if it doesn’t feel good, or you don’t feel good in it, then it doesn’t matter right?!

  9. HI Jo-Lynne!
    Just wanted to say thank-you for pointing out why you think this outfit is “good, but not great” these details about fit are subtle-but make all the difference!! What you could do is keep that dress as a “place holder” in the closet-in case you need a black dress for some event-while being on the hunt for a better one… then take it to a consignment store once you have replaced it!! I have 3 daughters who are in their 20s, and as they build their career wardrobes, this is a technique that we have used… allowing also for some “fun” things” that will be donated as their trends end!!

  10. Thank you for the honest post! I too have a very difficult time with dresses. I’m shorter than you but on the line with petite/regular sizes. I found a LBD at GAP last summer. It’s simple, nothing fancy, but I’ve worn it to weddings, church, special events and love it. I have very few dresses especially since our church doesn’t “require” dressing up! And, I worked in children’s ministry for years and dresses just.don’t.work!
    This spring it seems all about the chambray/denim dress and I dread the search! I always watch your blog for ideas and am so appreciative of you showing the real side of shopping! It’s not always easy!!

  11. I love this dress… I like it better than the one you posted that is sleeveless. The neckline on you is to die for… The accessories are Great! Also if it is cool out you don’t have to spend extra money trying to figure out what would look nice over it. I feel sweaters, jackets, shrugs, and the like just cover up a dress. There are times we just have to wear a dress. I’m glad you pointed out the Ponte material (I learned something) Also sleeveless dresses and shirts are normally to big under the arms and look frumpy. You always look Great! I can’t imagine anything a miss on you 🙂

    1. You are too sweet. And yeah, that sleeveless one went to the thrift store already. I didn’t like the fit of that either. People ask me why I post so many jeans, but this is why. Most dresses do not agree with me.

  12. Love the way you styled that LBD, though I would have to agree with you on the fit. I often have the same problem myself!

  13. Now that you’re pointing out why the dress doesn’t feel right to you I can see it, too. I never really paid too much attention to the sleeve lengths and the shoulders, but I am now! Lol
    I have a LBD by Calvin Klein that I really like a lot. I’m a little short (and straight down) waisted and this sheath gives me a nicely curved waist line and I feel great in it.

  14. A perfectly accessorized LBD! Hope you find just the right one for you! I know what you mean about the ponte fabric. I ordered one for myself for the winter season with the same style sleeves. Back it went. It just felt too heavy and made my arms look bigger than they are. It’s hard to find just the right fabric. Those leopard heels, just so striking but alas, my heel days are over……
    P.S. saw a 30 something beautiful young woman come into Banana Republic in Rockvale on Wednesday, shopping in her leopard heels!

  15. Years ago when my mom would take teenage-me shopping, and I would try to convince her that a particular item worked on me, she would very tactfully say, “Honey, you can do better.” That is exactly how I feel about about this LBD on you. You can totally do better! You have a lovely shape, and my understanding is that you work pretty hard to keep it, so you need a dress that works for you and that you feel 100% comfortable in. Two thumbs up for sharing outfits with us that don’t work and for thinking “out loud” to explain why they don’t work – I believe you are the only fashion blogger I follow that does this, and I so appreciate it.

    1. Yes! That was such a great point-I haven’t seen too many fashion bloggers share why something doesn’t work! I will have to keep that in mind. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  16. Once again you astonish me with your willingness to put yourself out there in a less than perfect light for all of us to learn. You are truly a one of a kind fashion blogger – so real and down to earth. It is so easy to relate to you as someone who faces the same fashion challenges and insecurities most of us do. Thank you for having such grace along with your great sense of humor.

    As for the LBD, I think the cost to alter it would be too expensive, and in the end you probably still wouldn’t love it, and agree the best choice is to live and learn and move on. If there is one thing you want to feel totally confident in when wearing, it’s the LBD. Great idea to sell it at a consignment shop since the style is easy for most women to wear and it is new so you should be able to get a nice price to help go toward the cost when you find the right one. I think you looked absolutely adorable in the sleeveless one posted!!

  17. My bff tells me that I’m too hard on myself, especially when we go shopping together. Of course, I think the dress looks great on you, but you’re the one wearing it and you’ve got to like it. Your accessories are great with it!

  18. Hi Jo-Lynne. I have to admit, I was one of the people that said I liked that dress on you when you first modeled it. I see now that although the dress is nice, it is not for you. I compliment you for your honesty with yourself. I am also short- waisted and most dresses are too long-waisted on me. It sounds to me that you know your body size and shape well, and therefore know what looks and feels the best on you. Looking polished is all about fit. It has taken me many years to figure out what I should avoid and what I should seek out as far as fashion. And to top it off, it changes as our bodies change and styles change! I do love the way you accessorized the dress and will copy that next time I need to wear a LBD.

    1. Yes, I agree that looking polished is all about fit, and it is hard sometimes to know how you’ll feel in something until you get it all put together. 🙂 And yes… as our bodies and styles change, we have to re-learn everything! I think this is why fashion is so challenging to some of us. I enjoy the challenge, but I totally get why some just give up. Ha!

  19. You look fabulous in the second dress you posted and I like that a lot. But I guess its all about how one looks and feels in the outfit.
    If you have doubts then its not for you, at least that’s how I feel. You are doing a great job and thank you so much for sharing all your
    great fashion ideas.

  20. I love how honest you are, Jo-Lynne! While I think you look lovely in the dress, it’s how you feel that matters. I appreciate how you’ve taught me to look at an item, and think, ” Do I love this item? Or do I sort of like it? ”
    I love your accessories as well. I have a LBD that I love! Unfortunately it’s a cocktail dress. I’m on the lookout too, for an everyday LBD.
    You make fashion look so easy, and it helps when you show that’s it not always easy.
    I love your honesty, sincerity, and fashion sense.
    Thank you for all that you do!

  21. I think the outfit looks great and I don’t think it looks tight. I am short-waisted and shorter than you—5’1″. Don’t dismiss a dress because of alterations. I naturally assume most everything I purchase will need some sort of alterations, even if items are a petite size. When you have that excess fabric across your back area that’s because the dress is not falling longer on you and my seamstress has taken the dress up in the shoulders. Some pieces of clothing that are nipped in at the waist area hit me at the top of my hips, therefore looking tight but that’s only because I’m short waisted and it’s falling in the wrong spot on my body. If I waited for something that fit me perfectly without needing alterations, I would never buy anything. You said the dress has a lining which I think makes a piece of clothing even lay nicer on the body. A good seamstress would not make a mess of it. That is their job and they enjoy their work and want to make the customer happy. Sometimes by just shortening the sleeve length makes a world of difference. I have even paid to have a dress shortened slightly because just that little bit made a difference of being perfect as oppose to frumpy. Take it to a seamstress before you make any decision and see what they have to say–it doesn’t cost you anything but time. The style of dress looks great on you. The length is good and I love the neckline. I would not have thought about the sleeve length but have you tried folding it under a few inches to see if you like that better? That’s a simple fix. Let us know what happens. Take care. . . .

  22. I agree….you can do better. It’s a nice dress but not a “Wow” dress. You don’t look comfortable and that is the biggest problem regardless of the tugging and sleeve length. I do wear dresses to many professional evenings and somehow have fallen into ALYX at Penney’s for my go to sheath dress. They are sleeveless but I can put a jacket or sweater with them and look good. I have several colors and patterns and they always end up my choice for comfort and looking good.

  23. Thanks for sharing why you thought this dress was a miss. I totally understand what you mean about the girls and where the sleeves hit but I didnt see it until you mentioned it. I would have the same issue. I agree we shouldnt keep clothes we dont feel great in. I have done that too many times and I am tired of waisting money on clothes I don’t end up wearing.

  24. Both outfits are very cute!! I love the pumps and the clutch with the LBD. The clutch in the picture looks orange but is tagged red. I think I’d prefer orange.

  25. I think you look stunning in the second black dress you posted – the first one is cute on you too – though I get what you mean about feeling good in it.

    I now have 3 amazing little black dresses that fit well now I just need all the accessories and somewhere to go to where them 😉

  26. Hi Jo Lynne,
    I’m love that you posted this. First, you look good on the LBD as everyone said, but I also agree with what you didn’t like about the dress. I’m finally learning how to say no to apparel that has small things about it that turn into big things when you actually wear the garment –like bunching up or being slightly too tight. Kudos for your honesty and encouragement to trust your gut!


    1. Thanks, Shannon! It’s always awkward putting pictures out there that I don’t love, but I thought it would be helpful to see something that is “just okay” because a lot of times, I think we settle for “just okay” and there’s no need to! 🙂

      1. I totally respect and admire you for putting yourself out there with pics you aren’t so jazzed about! Way to show confidence and dignity-I think we all appreciated that. 🙂 It’s so true that we often settle for “just OK” like you said instead of being patient to find that perfect fit. 😉 I was inspired to take back a spring jacket and wait to see if I can find something better. Thanks for being a role model and inspiration.


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