“One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a Little Black Dress.” I believe these words belong to Coco Chanel, a famous fashion stylist and a symbol of French chic.
The “little black dress” had many various incarnations throughout history. Its shape has changed over time, but the little black dress is still considered very elegant.
It can be a great cocktail or party dress or it can be worn as a sheath dress with a blazer for a crisp office look.
Let’s see how the little black dress has been transformed time and time again.
The Evolution of the Little Black Dress
The first LBD that Coco Chanel originally designed 1920s was a long-sleeved black dress that Coco wore with multiple ropes of pearls piled atop the dress. It was a simple yet elegant sheath dress.
The flapper version of LBD in late 1920s was shorter and lighter, it was layered, decorated with sequins and worn with long ropes of beads.
In 1930s the LBD became again long and flowing, below the calf.
In 1940s, during the World War 2 the LBD became simpler and boxier, but more functional, with squared shoulders and a military feel.
After the war, in late 1940s the LBD changed again: Christian Dior’s silhouette was more elegant, it had a smaller waist and a full skirt
The LBD shape that dominated in the 50s was a sleek sheath dress with plunging neckline and a pencil-slim skirt. This type of LBD was worn by Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor and many other famous actresses.
One of the most famous little black dresses was designed by Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn that she wore in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” in 1961. It was a long tight dress that accentuated Audrey’s wasp waste line, sleeveless, with open shoulders. Audrey wore it with white pearl necklace and long black gloves.
This type of dress was also worn by then–first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
In 1960s, during the era of the mini, a short beaded chiffon LBD was popular.
In 1970s the LBD was short and tight.
In 1980s Karl Lagerfeld reinvigorated the LBD with elegant updates. His black dress collection included chic cocktail gowns, a playful ruffled frock, decorated with leather paneling and metallic beading.
In 1994 Princess Diana wore a low-cut above the knee tight black dress, this iconic “revenge dress” (designed by Greek designer Christina Stambolian), the day that her husband, Princes Charles, admitted to having an affair on national television.
In 2002 Kate Moss’s minimalistic interpretation of LBD was very short and edgy.
Madonna’s LBD that she wore in 2008 was almost demure in latter-day Christian Dior. It had a classic look and a longer below the knee skirt.
In 2009 Michelle Obama wore a ladylike black dress with a modernized ’50s silhouette and a full, ruffled skirt.
In 2010 Heidi Klum’s very little black dress was one of the most talked about dresses of the year. It was a sequined bustier bodycon dress with a very short hem.
The Little Black Dress: The Modern Look
The little black dress has certainly withstood the test of time and is very popular now. Its modern look is simple and elegant: sleeveless or short sleeves, knee-length pencil or flowing skirt and round or heart-shaped neckline.
The LBD took on many silhouettes and styles and evolved throughout the years. It is considered an essential staple piece of every woman’s wardrobe. LBD was featured in many Hollywood movies, it serves as a truly iconic piece in the fashion world.
I think the little black dress evolution clearly demonstrates that everything old is new again. This gorgeously simple timeless piece can help every woman create her own iconic moments.
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