Fashion Staple: The History of the Little Black Dress

Fashion Staple: The History of the Little Black Dress

Styles evolve and develop over time but some things never change; the “little black dress” (LBD) will always be fashion staple whether between the pages of Vogue, or in all of our closets. The LBD is an essential piece for many reasons; it is versatile, classy, easy to wear, and looks great on just about everybody! The little black dress has become such a fixture in our collective wardrobe that it’s hard to imagine a time when the little black dress was not yet a trend. Here is a quick look back at the history and evolution of arguably the most iconic dress there has ever been, right up there with Tina Turner’s sparkly mini and Marilyn Monroe’s white halter:


Before the 1920’s…

Black Victorian-era gown (

Black Victorian-era gown (

As hard as it is to imagine a time when the LBD was not a fashion staple — before the 1920’s saw the embrace of the dark dress — the color black was reserved only for the most somber occasions. Black was only worn at funerals, and grieving widows were expected to wear the color for at least two years after their husbands’ death.








During the 1920’s…

1920's Coco Chanel little black dress (

1920’s Coco Chanel little black dress (

The roaring twenties saw the drastic evolution of style, and with it came the embrace of the color black as a symbol of style and class. It all started with a woman named Coco Chanel, a name we are all familiar with to this day; she decided to feature the first ever little black dress on the cover of Vogue in 1926, calling it “Chanel’s Ford” because of its versatility and accessibility to women of all classes: a “uniform for all women of taste.”




The WWII Era…

The ubiquitous 1940's little black dress (

The ubiquitous 1940’s little black dress (

The LBD remained popular throughout the 1930’s depression era because of its simple, affordable elegance, then during World War II as textiles were rationed. It also gained in popularity for its utility as women began to enter the workforce.










The 50’s and 60’s…

The 1950's little black dress (

The 1950’s little black dress (

!960's little black dress worn by Twiggy (

1960’s little black dress worn by Twiggy (

There was a lull in the little black dress’s popularity with the tendency towards more modest, delicate femininity in the 1950’s and early 60’s, and then a re-uptake in the mid to late 60’s in the form of the mini-dress, or a more conservative black sheath a la Audrey Hepburn’s iconic “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” dress.



Post-Modern Era…

Jennifer Aniston in a modern little black dress (

Jennifer Aniston in a modern little black dress (

Nowadays, we see all variations of the ever-present little black dress in our wardrobes; A-line, mini, drop-waist, sheath, gown, (we could go on!) but the concept of a utilitarian and universally flattering dress has stayed the same throughout the ages and to the present. The little black dress will forever be a classic go-to dress in all of our closets and hearts.







What is your take on the little black dress? Leave a response in the comments below or shoot me a tweet @JenksUOhMeASoda

Hannah Jenkins

Hannah Jenkins is the genius inventor of the toaster strudel and a compulsive liar. She is a Communications major at Fordham University, an intern at WindUp Records, and is a member of the same club rugby team as fellow blogger and friend Carolyn Ambrosich. Hannah’s area of focus is music/entertainment and fashion. If you enjoy mildly funny observational humor coming from an abrasive and highly opinionated/empowered woman, follow me on Twitter @JenksUOhMeASoda

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