fashion, feature

What I Wore: Four ways to doll up a black maxi dress {featuring Lou Harvey Australia}

DRESS: Big W Australia {new season in store} | BAG: Lou Harvey* {exact match} | HAT: Big W Australia | NECKLACE: Kmart Australia {similar here} | SANDALS: Kmart Australia {new season in store} | SUNGLASSES: eBay | LIPSTICK: Boe Professional in “Flutter”

It’s not every day I favour a plain black dress over something bright and playful. To be honest, I probably only own five black dresses, but we all know the rules ladies – every woman should own at least one black dress. Whether it’s an LDB or even just a BD, there is always going to be an occasion requiring a chic black frock. But just because the dress isn’t bright and playful, doesn’t mean your outfit has to be plain and boring. Today I want to talk about accessories making an outfit. The right combo of accessories can turn the plainest of plain into a fashion win in an instant. Enhancing the black dress was the way to go, and guess what, I still felt like me!

It’s starting to really heat up in Perth. We’ve had a few 30+ degree days in a row, and the other day I needed to wear a dress light enough to get me through the day. The lightest dress I own happened to be a new season Big W maxi, and while I loved the details around the waist and the super thin fabric, it really wasn’t me. So I had to pull out the bling and bright lips and make it my own, and it was so easy to do so!



Give me print, give me colour, give me enough size to tote around half my beauty bag. This brightly coloured purse (or in this case a cosmetic bag that is so versatile I am using as it as a clutch) appeared on my door step a week or so back, and its timing couldn’t have been better. Introducing Lou Harvey Australia. The label originated in Durban, South Africa, and has recently made its way over to Australia. Perfect timing people! This ethically made bag is machine washable and easy to clean without scrimping on style factor and looks. With Summer just around the corner, the bright, eye catching print is right up my alley and the perfect pop of colour to begin enhancing your black dress. 

What I loved most about the clutch was the size. Unlike most bags it is wide enough to fit a camera (blogger win) as well as the usual keys, phone and purse. You can tell the bag is made well, the zip is large and hasn’t once gotten stuck, and the bag is lined in a beautiful silky fabric. Made from 100% cotton and coated with laminate, this bag would be perfect for women on the go, kids in hand. You can just wipe the bag clean after use and go on your way. It’s kiddie proof!

The print is titled “Indian Summer” and what drew me to this one was the epic mix of colour. Who needs a holiday when you have a gorgeous ethnically inspired purse? When choosing a statement bag it needs to make that statement, and with a mix of fruity pinks, oranges, blues and purple, you can style this bag so many ways with so many colours to pull from. A bold bag is the perfect accessory to amp up your black dress. It doesn’t take away from the frock, it simply pops against the plain colour palette of your outfit. By adding the bag to my outfit I instantly felt like myself again! Quirky print – tick. Colour – tick. Easy peasy!

Lou Harvey’s range doesn’t just end at clutch bags, they also have beach bags, baby bags, pencil cases, back packs and more in their signature prints to suit every kind of woman. If you’re looking for a durable bag that still looks great pop over to the website. Lou Harvey Australia were kind enough to offer my readers 10% off any purchase with the code Illusivefemme. They also have free shipping, so now is the time to get shopping just in time for Christmas! 



As I previously mentioned, choosing a bag full of colour means you can continue that colour through your entire outfit, and I went with pink for my accessories. This necklace was a Kmart find and I loved the simplicity of the coloured beads on the tan string. This style of necklace has been in for a while and understandably so, as it is a statement in itself without being too bling bling or over the top. A bold necklace is a great way to perk up a black dress. It draws the eye away from the fabric and straight to your colour pop, plus it a sure way to look classy and chic. And it’s so fun!



Hats are huge again this Summer! I opted for a black floppy hat from Big W to pull my look together as I didn’t want to take away from my bag and necklace, but I needed something more to make a statement. Skin protection is so important and this hat shields my face (and nose) from the sun so you know you’ll be protected out in the sunshine. Black hats make any outfit look chic and stylish, and you pick them up everywhere. E’s not a fan of my hat, but as I’ve said it before – she doesn’t have to wear it! 



Lipstick makes a lady, and I wanted to continue the bright look of the bag through to my lip colour when enhancing my black dress. A bold lip is my go to in Summer, and there are so many great colours around this season to bring your outfit to life. This particular shade is almost a coral pink, and is another throwback to the colour scheme of my Lou Harvey clutch. Told you a statement bag gives you a lot of colours to work with! I’m a huge fan of matte lipstick at this present moment as it is highly pigmented, long lasting and a little more me than shiny lips. Plus a bold lip always looks great with statement sunglasses! 

There you have it. Four ways to perk up that black maxi dress. Even if you’re a print and colour girl like me it’s so easy to make a plainer dress your own with a few simple accessories and some bright lipstick. Is this outfit me? Absolutely! Do I still feel like I normally do. Oh yeah!

What are your tips to jazzing up a plain outfit?

E x

* Lou Harvey Australia bag gifted to me for my review as per my disclosure policy. All opinions are my own. 


  1. twenty says

    Another great post. Love the bag which has so many uses and is a great colour. You know how to promote things Em, well done.

    • Thanks T, such a lovely compliment. Love promoting labels. Especially start ups. But I have to keep things my way and stay true to myself. 🙂

  2. Yep, I hear that; some neck detail, a pop of colour, a cute bag and bright lippie! I like to wear my jazzy beaded Nine West sandals too, they give my black maxi some punch!

  3. Love your ideas to jazz up a black frock. Great tips, and that bag is such fun 🙂

  4. I love how you’ve used a cosmetic bag as a clutch. So clever and creative! Absolutely nailed the accessories!! Xoxo

  5. I need to get to Kmart pronto! Loooove that necklace and that Lou Harvey bag is divine. I love adding a statement necklace or earrings with a plain dress. On cooler days, a bright scarf is always my first accessory choice. P.S. That maxi looks fab on you. xox

  6. I didn’t know KMart had such nice jewellery!! I have a couple of black maxis but I never feel comfortable when I put them on so never wear them. Thought I might try wearing with a kimono.

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