LBD – Little Black Dress

AKA: 

How to say it:  el-bee-dee, lit-l blak dress

Traditional Features: 

LBD

  • simple, figure flattering design
  • unadorned
  • black
  • usually short

21st Century LBDs

In a time when a woman knows which shape suits her body, the LBD comes in all silhouettes, all fabrics and all price points, keeping with the original ethos of the LBD, and allowing every woman to get the one that suits her best. Simple, versatile, elegant and flattering, the LBD is the must-have dress for every woman.

Diane von Furstenberg French Connection Diane von Furstenberg, French Connection

J.Crew Lela Rose

J.Crew, Lela Rose

Origins…

…of the style: Despite its status as THE fashion must-have, the little black dress has a relatively short history. Up until the 1920s, women only wore black if they were in mourning, but in 1926 Coco Chanel published a picture of a straight, plain, calf length black dress in American Vogue which was quickly lauded as Chanel’s ‘Model T’ – a dress that was simple and accessible (and therefore desirable) to women of all social classes. The appeal of the style was that it’s simple lines and lack of embellishment meant that it could be worn numerous times, over with different accessories for a completely different look. Vogue even went as far to forecast that the little black dress would become “a sort of uniform for all women of taste”.

It turns out that Vogue was right. Once black became a fashion colour, acceptable for wearing at any time, the Little Black Dress became a staple. Its simple, classic styling has allowed it to transform with the trends and although it took a hit in popularity in the 50s and early 60s (it became connected to Femme Fatales and developed a more sinister reputation), it has otherwise stayed on the forefront of fashion.

As women have begun to follow trends less strictly and opt for clothing that suits their figures rather than the latest fad, the LBD has changed too. No longer is it only available in one style – plain, classic black dresses can now be found in almost any silhouette. From straight sheaths al la Holly Golightly, to flared a-lines or flirty skater dresses, in the 21st century as long as it is black, elegant and plain, and can be worn again and again and again, it is considered a LDB.

…of the name: the style is a short, black dress, hence the name.

Random Facts

  • the Givenchy LBD worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s sold for £410,000 at auction in 2006
  • during the Victorian Era, women in mourning were expected to wear only black for 2 years

For more info on the LBD try Wikipedia, Style List, Elle or check out the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

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