Whenever you look in a woman’s closet, no matter age, occupation, or race, you can more than likely find a little black dress.
The hemlines will differ and so will the cuts, but the classic black color and generally more conservative silhouette (a-line, sheath, knee-length) will stand the test of time and continually be a go-to piece because of its versatility. But, where did this classic dress get its start?
The Birth of the Little Black Dress
Fashion historians credit the designs of Coco Chanel in the 1920’s for popularizing the LBD.
The color black was once only considered a mourning color, but when Chanel debuted the simple, short, slashed-neckline dress in 1926, black soon became a sought after color.
1920’s fashion was considered a modern era in many aspects and women all over the country were ditching their corsets and embracing menswear inspired designs, which Chanel credits as inspiration for her designs.
Chanel soon became a style icon and was praised for her elegant and effortlessly luxurious designs.
Chanel has also been credited for helping in the modernization, freedom and emancipation of female fashion in the 1920’s.
American Vogue called Chanel’s LBD the “Ford” of dresses, in reference to Henry Ford’s Model-T car which was also a huge success. Soon, fashion was thought to be functional as well as chic, a concept not previously recognized. Women all over suddenly needed a little black dress of their own and the rest is history.
LBD’s popularity rises
The 1930’s saw the Great Depression and with that came longer hemlines and more feminine cuts, but black was still the dominant color. It was affordable and all women of social classes could wear a black dress and look chic. It became a sort of uniform for women and was seen all over the 30’s.
The war years came upon the United States and effected many industries, especially the textile industry. Rations were in effect, but black fabric was easily accessible and soon more black dresses were in high demand. Silhouettes were minimalistic, boxy and paid homage to military uniforms.
Post-war fashion was a lot more daring than it had been in the past and Christian Dior was suddenly the new designer on the block.
Dior debuted his version of the little black dress in 1948 which had a sense of elegance with wasp waists and full skirts. The next year he debuted slimmer skirts and leaner silhouettes, hinting to what the future of the little black dress would look like.
Hollywood also jumped on this trend creating more buzz and an increased popularity.
Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in the classic fim, Breakfast at Tiffany’s showed just how classic and elegant a little black dress can be. Her slim sheath dress, dressed up with a strand of pearls, a tiara and oversized sun glasses is still an iconic symbol today.
The little black dress today
The little black dress has evolved and grown over the years, but it has and will never disappear from fashion.
Today you can see celebrities wearing black dresses on the red carpet, as well as businesswomen wearing them to the office.
Fashion is fast paced and ever-changing but you can always count on a black dress to be a staple item because of it’s versatility. No matter the hemline or cut, a little black dress will never go out of style and can be something to revisit for many years to come.