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The little black dress – it is the go-to staple of a woman’s wardrobe. If you don’t know what to wear, on a night out, to the office, or on a first date, then it’s comforting to remember that you can’t go far wrong with the LBD. And if you choose to wear it to a party then there are so many different variations of it around that you’re unlikely to be caught out in the same outfit as someone else and have to spend the night avoiding each other. But who had the first little black dress?
Well black has been around as a fabric dye for a very long time. When it first appeared it was a luxury because it was so expensive so only the very rich wore it, but throughout the 1800s black became more common and was the colour of mourning clothes. It’s association with all things funereal began to fade though as people started to notice that black was practical (good for hiding stains), stylish (it makes any accessories you wear with it really stand out), and slimming.
One of the first designers, and probably also one of the most famous designers, linked to the little black dress is Coco Chanel. In 1926 her simple, calf-length black dress was featured in an issue of Vogue and was called “Chanel’s Ford” (a nod to Henry Ford’s runaway success Model T car) and the magazine predicted that it would be “a sort of uniform for all women of taste.”
More black Chanel dresses featured in the magazine in following years and their popularity grew, but the trend really took off in the 1960s following the debut of Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy dress that she wore while playing the character Holly Golightly in the classic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
There have been many iconic LBD’s since, and many, many different variations created; skater dresses, body-con, 1950s tea dress, cocktail, wiggle; the list goes on. Safe to say it’s a wardrobe essential for all no matter what your size, shape or style, and has become such a widely recognised presence in modern culture today that in 2010 the Oxford English Dictionary included the LBD acronym within its pages.