In these days of instant messaging, if a phrase can’t be pared down to three letter, it’s not worth writing. We send each other email that would have been unreadable a mere half century ago bearing letters such as “LOL,” OMG,” “BFF,” and “WTF” to name a few. Could it be that the little black dress was so fashion forward that it foresaw a day in which anything worth its salt would have to be expressed in three letters or less? It seems as if the little black dress, or LBD, has been a staple of the female wardrobe since females had wardrobes. But how much do we really know about the history of woman’s best friend? Let’s take a look at a quick history of a fashion evolution.
While Coco Chanel did not invent the little black dress, it may be accurate to say that she made it ubiquitous. Before the fashion mogul iconized the look, black was strictly relegated to morning as the uniform of the grieving Victorian widow.
According to Coco Chanel: PicardineThe Legend and Life, Picardie, “The little black dress was not formally identified as the shape of the future until 1926 when American Vogue published a drawing of a Chanel design.” The 1926 rendering was described as a “simple, yet elegant sheath in black crepe de Chine, with long, narrow sleeves, worn with a string of white pearls.” Vogue deemed the dress “Chanel’s Ford” because of its marked resemblance to a Model T and deemed it “a sort of uniform for all women of taste.”
The LBD Marches On
The LBD maintained its popularity throughout the Great Depression for its ability to make women look put together without spending a lot of money. LBDs became a fast favorite in Hollywood with the introduction of Technicolor because the black color was kinder to the eyes than more brightly colored fashion choices. When World War II reared its head, the LBD became the uniform of women in the workplace.
The LBD Takes A HIt
In the conservative 1950’s and early 1960’s, the LBD became the dress your mother warned you about. Apparently, the figure hugging silhouette was a little racy for the times, and women were more likely to choose a powder blue alternative. However, when the 1960’s rock and rolled in, the younger generation gave the fashion staple a modern twist. Enter the LBminiD. However, the more dignified set stuck to the classic sheath, such as the one modeled on the lovely Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
AOK and Here to Stay
Fast forward a few years and the LBD has seen a few changes. The eighties brought the shoulder pads and peplum and skater skirt versions. It has been paired with everything from heels to combat boots to roller-skates, yet the flattering color and versatility have made it indispensable to every generation. Short or long, sleeveless or strappy, the LBD will always have a place in every woman’s heart and wardrobe.
What’s your favorite thing about the LBD? It’s versatility, raciness, ability to hide stains? Let us know why your LBD is your BFF.