A little black dress is an evening or cocktail dress, cut simply and often with a short skirt, originally made popular in the 1920s by the fashion designer Coco Chanel. Intended by Chanel to be long-lasting, versatile, affordable, and accessible to the widest market possible and in a neutral color, its continued ubiquity is such that many refer to it by its abbreviation, LBD.
History of the infamous LBD
The "little black dress" is considered essential to a complete wardrobe by many women and fashion observers, who believe it a "rule of fashion" that every woman should own a simple, elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion: for example, worn with a jacket and pumps for daytime business wear or with more ornate jewelry and accessories for evening. Because it is meant to be a staple of the wardrobe for a number of years, the style of the little black dress ideally should be as simple as possible: a short black dress that is too clearly part of a trend would not qualify because it would soon appear dated.
In 1926 Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel published a picture of a short, simple black dress in Vogue. It was calf-length, straight, and decorated only by a few diagonal lines. Vogue called it “Chanel’s Ford.” Like the Model T, the little black dress was simple and accessible for women of all social classes. Vogue also said that the LBD would become “a sort of uniform for all women of taste.”
The generation gap of the 1960s created a dichotomy in the design of the little black dress. The younger "mod" generation preferred, in general, a miniskirt on their versions of the dress and designers catering to the youth culture continued to push the envelope – shortening the skirt even more, creating cutouts or slits in the skirt or bodice of the dress, using sheer fabrics such as netting or tulle. Many other women in the 1960s aspired to simple black sheath dresses similar to that designed by Hubert de Givenchy and worn by actress Audrey Hepburn in the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's".
The 1970s did see some little black dresses. Some were lacy and feminine, some, like Bill Blass' were simple and normal. Others, like the one Qiana’s one-shoulder form-fitting little black dress, were skimpier. However, colors rather than black were preferred for women's fashion, especially for the disco or jet set.
The popularity of casual fabrics, especially knits, for dress and business wear during the 1980s brought the little black dress back into vogue.