This is one of the most iconic, timeless and versatile pieces one can keep in their closet. You can’t live without one, but you better have more than one because it’s lots of fun to wear. In 1926, American Vogue coined the term, featuring one of the simple & chic little black dresses Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel was designing at the time. Her successor Karl Lagerfeld also shared the view that “one is never over-dressed or under-dressed with a little black dress.”
It is because, originally, it came either at short or midi length. Chanel’s competitor Jean Patou envied the easiness and universal appeal of the dress. Abbreviated by fashionistas and industry experts as LBDs, styles by Marni, Self-Portrait, Opening Ceremony, MSGM and other SS or FW 2016 collections still pay homage to it.
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A Dress with Character
Famous women and fashion icons instilled that sultry black cocktail dress with strong personality traits including confidence, charm, and elegance. Prior to the 20s, a black dress was either for mourners or for femmes fatales. It wasn’t the same when Audrey Hepburn wore her Givenchy sheath stunner as witty and innocent Holly Golightly in the 60s Breakfast at Tiffany's! Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor who made Prince Edward abdicate his throne to marry her, maintained that “when a little black dress is right, there is nothing else to wear in its place.” Legendary cabaret singer Édith Piaf believed that LBDs made her audience focus in her singing.
The Easiness of It
You can dress it up or down with endless statement accessories. It’s the perfect canvas for Chanel-style strands of pearls, precious or costume jewelry, colorful scarves, sexy tights, fancy high-heels and designer purses. You can layer it under and sometimes over other pieces day-to-evening. Once transformed, it’s a totally new piece. Owning many LBDs is only because few women resist the original’s latest versions by imaginative designers.
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The Ultimate Weapon
In wartime and during the Great Depression the stylish LBD also happened to be affordable. Sophia Loren, Ava Garner, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and other 50s movie stars embraced the femme fatale attitude wearing glam black dresses. Dior’s New Look epitomized the attitude. In 1994 Princess Diana, clad in the so-called ‘Revenge Dress,’ would make a strong statement against Prince Charles’ infidelities. In the office, the LBD under a sharply tailored blazer and matched with mid-heel pumps is ‘power dressing.’ When in a rush, this is your neutral uniform, and when in love, this is your way to seduce!