Evolution of the Little Black Dress

During the early 20th century, black dresses were reserved for mourning. In fact, some people think it is unlucky to wear black dresses as widows and women with dead relatives were the only people to be seen wearing black. Then in 1926, Coco Chanel designed the little black dress – a loose, calf-length frock with a pair of diagonal lines forming a “V” at the center. It has a straight silhouette, making it ideal to be worn by all body types and all ages. It appeared in that year’s issue of Vogue and the little black dress drew both praises and skepticism as designers have their doubts whether this “widow’s seeds” will make it into store shelves.

The early part of the 20’th century marked the era when women started to emerge and fill the workplace. During the Prohibition, women started experimenting with clothes and the little black dress evolved with shorter cuts, bared backs and accessorized with frills, feathers, rhinestones or pearls. Little black dresses were worn to the gala, to the park, to dinner, to the office or to the movies. Designers set off on the trend and introduced simple black dresses to intricate little black dresses which appeals to all women with different levels of income. From the working middle class to the First Lady to royalty, all women have appeared in little black dresses.

What makes little black dresses appealing is its versatility and classic design. A little black dress designed in the 1950’s will still look appealing today. Audrey Hepburn’s character Holly Golighty in the movie “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” pushed the movie and Givenchy (who designed the black sheath dress in 1961) to new heights and placed the little black dress to iconic status. Audrey Hepburn wore a timeless little black dress in the movie and women wearing the exact same frock half a century later will never look out of place.

Today, every woman has a little black dress in her closet. Little black dresses can serve as evening wear, office wear or simply going out dresses and can be adorned with just about anything. A scarf, a bomber jacket, a wide-brimmed hat, a pair of knee-length boots, a gold belt, a bolero, a pair of fuschia tights, a snakeskin purse – just about anything goes perfectly well with a little black dress. Thanks to the pioneering vision of Coco Chanel, this universal frock has transcended through time and will forever remain in fashion.