History of The Little Black Dress

MOMA little black dress exhibition
MakersValley

MakersValley

A Timeless Womenswear Fashion Basic

Featured image courtesy of MOMA.org

It's that one staple piece that can’t go missing in any woman's wardrobe. It's the one that gets you out of trouble when you have nothing to wear to a last minute event. You know the one. The one you can accessorize for any occasion.

It's classic, simple, yet elegant, all at once... Yes, we're talking about the little black dress!

Classic. Simple. Elegant.

sketch of Coco Chanel and little black dress

Introduced in the late 1920s and first popular in the 1930s, the little black dress, or LBD as some affectionately call it, is a classic piece of women's clothing. It's a dress that lets you play with how you accessorize it, be it with pearls, diamonds, a pendant, bright colors, you name it! This closet stable can be accessorized it for any occasion and always look good, from cocktails on girl's night to a date night out in town.

But your classic little black dress is more than a simple garment, it has a history. It's not just a piece of clothing, it's a statement.

The Origins of the Classic LBD

Coco Chanel wearing a black dress with a cigarette in her mouth

Which fashion designer comes to mind when you think of "the little black dress"?

Before the 1920s, wearing black was reserved only for mourning. At the time, the fashion industry held fast to tight corsets and oversized hats. All of this changed when Coco Chanel printed a short simple black dress on the cover of Vogue magazine in 1926.

The little black dress quickly became one of the most influential and important garments. It remained popular during the 1930s Great Depression because of its simplicity and affordability.

Chanel revolutionized fashion with a practical yet elegant dress, with straight lined silhouettes, stepping out of the excess, tight corsets, and constricted clothes that had dominated the previous period. 

“Thanks to me, they [non-wealthy] can walk around like millionaires."

- Chanel

The Little Black Dress Hits the Big Screen

Vogue featured Coco Chanel's LBD, or little black dress. | MakersValley Blog

The little black dress grew in popularity when actress Audrey Hepburn wore it with pearls in “Breakfast at Tiffany's” (1961). Ever since, people have been wearing it for all occasions, with a huge variety of accessories. 

Audrey Hepburn wore an iconic little black dress in the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's". | MakersValley Blog

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