There, in the distance, surrounded by a sea of people stands a woman, majestic as can be, attracting the attention of everyone around her. Their eyes, not only on her, but completely fixated on what she is wearing and how she is wearing it.

As she glides across the room, turning heads with each subtle step, her confidence is complimented and defined by the effortless façade that her Little Black Dress radiates. Subdued in nature yet classically timeless across generations, the little black dress is a staple that is constantly being recreated, allowing it to be an eternal dress for all seasons. Preceding the 1920’s, the little black dress was only associated with times of mourning and grief. Throughout the Victorian and Edwardian eras, a widow was expected to wear different variations of a mourning dress for at least two years. It wasn’t until after World War 1 that wearing black in public became more common, partially, in representation of the fatalities that took place during this time.

COCO CHANEL AND THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS

Fashion took a turn in 1926 when Gabrielle “Coco Chanel” created a sleeveless, above the knee, black dress that was published in American Vogue. It’s restrained sexiness and enigmatic nature allowed women of all social classes to feel comfortable yet have a sense of authority and style, simultaneously. Little did the world know that this publication would mark and revolutionize a fashion staple for many decades to come. Following this in the 1950’s, popular fashion designer Christina Dior created a “New Look” that took the little black dress one step further by transforming this idea of a simple dress, into a luxurious and extravagant work of art that everyone desired, but only the wealthiest could afford. Relevant to today’s generation, the little black dress comes in a shorter, more “mod” length, taking after Givenchy’s approach in the 1960’s, worn by fashion icon Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

the little black dress

TIMELESS AND ETERNALLY STYLISH

The beauty of a little black dress lays in its shape and cut. Contrary to many beliefs, black can only look slimming and flattering if catered to the right body type. For petite figures, opt for a sheath style dress. The clean, elongated shape creates a leaner appearance and an illusion of longer legs. For curvier figures, a V-neck is preferred. This will open up the chest area and will draw the eyes downwards, making the waist appear smaller. For plus sizes, indulge in a wrap dress. Hugging the body at the slimmest areas and loosening up around the lower half will sculpt the perfect hourglass shape. Through decades of transformation, we can now dress up or down the little black dress for any kind or caliber of occasion. Matching our black frocks with a statement necklace, opaque tights, and classic pumps, creates an immaculate, put together look, perfect for a cocktail party. Or, pairing it with a leather jacket, a gorgeous oversized cocktail ring, and some ankle booties or combat boots, makes for a great girls night out.

Season after season, with new trends taking reigns and old ones being recreated, the possibilities are endless. The idea of the little black dress is actually very large in the grand scheme of things. What was once a color and uniform for periods of mourning, is now a notable fashion essential that marks not only the careers of esteemed fashion designers, but also significant periods in history that are essential to our very being.

 By Carolyne Hoang
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