Forget all those little black dress clichés. It really is important to own a perfectly fitting, stylish dress you can pull out of your closet at a moment's notice. Look for a dress with casual appeal for the office. And one that can dressed to the nines with drop-dead accessories for a social event. Not only should your little black (or red) dress offer this kind of duality, but it should help you look good, too.
If you're shaped a bit more like a circle than you'd like to be, thanks to a few post-baby pounds, search for a dress with an empire waist (pronounced uhm-peer). The seam will cinch right below the bosom, allowing the dress to skim the midsection. When properly fitted, it will emphasize your curves in all the right places -- a fait accompli that doesn't require months at the gym. Structured dresses like this with a fine foundational fit can go from day to evening -- and from season to season -- with just a few quick updates.