The Little Black Dress Initiative ~ What Is It and What to Wear

In 2014, The Junior League of London- my favorite city and favorite organization- launched the first Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI). This week-long campaign driven by social media and word of mouth seeks to raise awareness and funds for the less fortunate in communities that Junior Leagues serve. With a focus on voluntarism and a reputation for attracting women who are not only caring but also fun, smart, and driven, The Junior League of Charlotte (JLC) is a community service-focused women’s organization celebrating its 5th year of LBDI. Learn more about joining The League here– recruitment starts March 26th! Past year’s LBDI totals have reached over $60,000 in just one week and these ambitious ladies aim to beat that in 2020.

We’re lucky to not only have a choice of what we wear each day while our neighbors might be restricted to one precious outfit, but also to have food in our stomachs, roofs over our heads, and options for education, work, etc.

LBDI participants will work to raise awareness and funds for the JLC’s initiatives with the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty for Charlotte children by wearing the same clothing for 5 days. Your “little black something” doesn’t have to be a dress (little black scrubs, a little black button-up, etc. are all fair game!), you don’t have to be a Junior League member to participate, and men are welcome to join in on the fun too! Don’t you want to skip the question of what to wear to work for a week? Contact Aisha Thomas at [email protected] to learn how to get started!

The 2020 CLT JLC LBDI will take place from March 9 through March 13

To get you ready for LBDI, I hit SouthPark for some outfit inspo centering around iconic LBD’s. If you’re struggling to decide where to get started, we have everything you could possibly need to wear and accessorize a LBD (or LBJS… little black jumpsuit) from LBDI week to date night to your next grocery run. Everything is available now at South Park and completely on-trend with neon hues, utility accents, and bold prints galore!

J Crew

Don’t be afraid of interesting colors or prints this spring! Think outside of the box and use a skirt over your LBDI to mix up your layering game.


From a gorgeously tailored coat to the literal definition of loungewear, you can wear all of your many “hats” while looking fabulous during LBDI week with these high to low fashion looks. (Kenneth Cole coat, Adidas sweatshirt, Sanctuary tee, Topshop sweater, 1901 button-up)

Banana Republic

Shoutout to my girl that suggested I try this “lewk” with the dress backwards. The button accent down the back is an unexpected twist that totally works! Remember your layers don’t have to completely cover everything- try a tweed vest over your LBD.


Although potentially intimidating at first, a jumpsuit is a functional and easy reinvention of the classic LBD that pairs flawlessly with your wardrobe staples.

Tens of thousands of children in Charlotte alone are living in poverty and studies show that exposure to early life adversity threatens overall health and cognitive development, impeding a child’s ability to learn. Ever tried to concentrate when you’re hungry? What about when your tooth aches? It’s far from easy. Now try to it every single day. We can do better in the Queen City but have previously been ranked 50/50 for upward mobility- that’s the likelihood that Charlotteans can break out of the cycle of poverty. Knowledge truly is power and, for some, a way to break the cycle.

Help the JLC nurture the potential of all of our smallest Charlotteans with support for their community partners like Promising Pages and Second Harvest Food Bank as they feed the minds and bodies of less fortunate little ones in our city. Your participation and donations will fund these and other needed programs with which the JLC partners.

Special thanks to the abundantly patient (and helpful) sales folks at South Park!


Nicole Brantley
Nicole is a native Charlottean that loves the Queen City almost as much as running, writing, and type-A organization.