Fashion History 101: History of Little Black Dress

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The only letters that I need to mention are “L.B.D.” and almost every woman knows exactly what I am talking about. For those of you feeling out of the loop, L.B.D. is fashion lingo for “Little Black Dress.” This wardrobe essential is such a classic piece that most women have multiples hanging in their closet. Every designer has their own version of it, updated for each season. This single piece of fashion has revolutionized the fashion industry by evolving from a simple idea to something truly magnificent, so the history of little black dress is important for fashion lovers everywhere.

For many of us, our L.B.D is our “go-to” piece for many different occasions and reflects our signature style. In order to really embrace this wonderful creation, we need to understand where it came from, how it has evolved, and the impact it has had on the fashion industry as a whole.

History of Little Black Dress

We owe the introduction of this masterpiece to none other than the infamous Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. She was a woman ahead of her time and literally wrote the history of little black dress.  Even thoughhistory of little black dress  fashion during WWI was going in a somewhat different direction, with skirts paired with button-down blouses ruling the day, along with military and oriental influences, Coco knew what women really wanted, and she made it work! The year was 1926, and women were in need of a simple, elegant, unfussy garment in their life that was devoid of prints, embroideries, and bright colors. Coco came to the rescue! Her original design for her little black dress was long sleeve, made in wool for the day version and crepe for the evening version. (Famous Women and Beauty)

“Chanel’s dress was hailed by Vogue as “Chanel’s Ford,” meaning it’s function would be like the Model T: simple and accessible for women of all social classes.” (Colorado State University) Vogue’s prediction was that, like the Model T, Channel’s dress was destined for  great popularity and longevity. And, indeed, soon after its debut, this dress not only became a fashion staple, but a symbol for women everywhere. Women wearing a Little Black Dress were seen as classy, fashion forward, strong, and of course, chic.

Over the years, the L.B.D. has been picked up by almost every known designer and brand in the world, with each putting their own spin on it – making history of little black dress in their own way.  It has been transformed and revolutionized many times over. You can find L.B.D.’s to suit every possible occasion and in every type of fabric. We have seen this iconic design worn in the form of an elegant sheath dress by Audrey Hepburn in the classic “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. And during the grunge era, we have even seen L.B.D.’s paired with combat boots. No matter how this dress has evolved, enthusiasts still remain true to the foundation of the design elements of Chanel:  elegance, simplicity, and style. (Colorado State University )

Amazingly, a color that was originally appropriate to wear only if you were attending a funeral or in mourning has developed into the go-to shade for every occasion.  For women today, our “what to wear” quandary can be simply answered for us by our L.B.D. Mantra: When in doubt, just get it out! The little black dress has become iconic. Needless to say, Vogue was right on track with its prediction.  As Coco’s iconic L.B.D. keeps trucking along, we are forever grateful!

Fashionably Yours,


P.S. I would love to know which designer has created your favorite version of the L.B.D.! Leave me a comment below!


“Coco Chanel Dress. The Story of Chanel Little Black Dress.” Famous Women and Beauty. Web. 26 June 2011.

“History of Little Black Dress Featured at Avenir Museum Exhibit.” Colorado State University. Web. 26 June 2011.


  1. lorraine somma says:

    I usually read your blogs after dinner. It’s like having a wonderful dessert without the calories!

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