Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fashion: Little Black Dress

There is something timeless about the Little Black Dress (LBD). It feels so elegant to dress to the nines in a LBD not to mention all the compliments on your outfit and the fashion statement it makes.

Some Links related to the LBD
Little black dress wines
Little Black Dress Shop
edressme - little black dresses
How to buy a perfect Little Black Dress
Blogs about the Little Black Dress






Definition of the "Little Black Dress" (wikipedia)

A little black dress is an evening or cocktail dress, cut simply and often with a short skirt, originally made popular in the 1920s by the fashion designer Coco Chanel. Intended by Chanel to be long-lasting, versatile, affordable, accessible to the widest market possible and in a neutral color. Its continued ubiquity is such that many refer to it by its abbreviation, LBD.

The "little black dress" is considered essential to a complete wardrobe by many women and fashion observers, who believe it a "rule of fashion" that every woman should own a simple, elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion: for example, worn with a jacket and pumps for daytime business wear or with more ornate jewelry and accessories for evening. Because it is meant to be a staple of the wardrobe for a number of years, the style of the little black dress ideally should be as simple as possible: a short black dress that is too clearly part of a trend would not qualify because it would soon appear dated.



History of the "Little Black Dress" (wikipedia)
Prior to the 1920s, black was reserved for periods of mourning and considered indecent when worn outside such circumstances, such as depicted in John Singer Sargent's painting the Madame X. A widow's mourning dress was closely observed at a time when details in fashion conveyed a sophisticated symbolic language. During the Victorian and Edwardian ages, a widow was expected to wear several stages of mourning dress for at least two years. “Deep” or “full” mourning required the woman to wear plain black clothing with absolutely no decoration for the first year and a day of mourning. The second stage lasted nine months and permitted the wearing of black silk. In “ordinary mourning” for three months, the widow could accessorize only with black ribbon, lace, embroidery, or jet jewelry. The final six months of “half-mourning” allowed the bereaved to wear muted or neutral colors: shades and tints of purple were most common. Because of the number of deaths in WWI, plus the many fatalities during the Spanish flu epidemic, it became more common for women to appear in public wearing black.

In 1926 Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel published a picture of a short, simple black dress in Vogue. It was calf-length, straight, and decorated only by a few diagonal lines. Vogue called it “Chanel’s Ford.” Like the Model T, the little black dress was simple and accessible for women of all social classes. Vogue also said that the LBD would become “a sort of uniform for all women of taste.”
The little black dress continued to be popular through the Depression era predominantly through its economy and elegance, albeit with the line lengthened somewhat. Hollywood's influence on fashion in North America helped the little black dress' popularity, but for more practical reasons: as Technicolor movies became more common, filmmakers relied on little black dresses because other colors looked distorted on screen and botched the coloring process. During World War II, the style continued in part due to widespread rationing of textiles and in part as a common uniform (accessorized for businesswear) for civilian women entering the workforce.


The rise of Dior's "New Look" in the post-war era and the sexual conservatism of the 1950s returned the little black dress to its roots as a uniform and a symbol of the dangerous woman. Hollywood femmes fatales and fallen women characters were portrayed often in black halter-style dresses in contrast to the more conservative dresses of housewives or more wholesome Hollywood stars. Synthetic fibers made popular in the 1940s and 1950s broadened the availability and affordability of many designs.

The generation gap of the 1960s created a dichotomy in the design of the little black dress. The younger "mod" generation preferred, in general, a miniskirt on their versions of the dress and designers catering to the youth culture continued to push the envelope - shortening the skirt even more, creating cutouts or slits in the skirt or bodice of the dress, using sheer fabrics such as netting or tulle. Many other women in the 1960s aspired to simple black sheath dresses similar to that designed by Hubert de Givenchy and worn by actress Audrey Hepburn in the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's".

The 1970s did see some little black dresses. Some were lacy and feminine, some, like Bill Blass' were simple and normal. Others, like the one Qiana’s one-shoulder form-fitting little black dress, were skimpier. However, colors rather than black were preferred for women's fashion, especially for the disco or jet set.

The popularity of casual fabrics, especially knits, for dress and business wear during the 1980s brought the little black dress back into vogue. Coupled with the fitness craze, the new designs incorporated details already popular at the time such as broad shoulders or peplums: later in the decade and into the 1990s simpler designs in a variety of lengths and fullnesses were popular. The grunge culture of the 1990s saw the combination of the little black dress with both sandals and combat boots, though the dress itself remained simple in cut and fabric. The new glamour of the late 1990s and into the 21st century have led to new variations of the dress but, like the 1970s, color has re-emerged as a factor in fashion and formalwear again shows an aversion against black.

Andrea Nicole Baker

5 comments:

Michelle said...

Here's a great site for an awesome selections of "LBD"'s, and more!

http://www.elegantmart.com/search.aspx?keyword=little+black+dress

Anonymous said...

you look awesome in your LBD

Anonymous said...

It was certainly interesting for me to read this article. Thank you for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

Anonymous said...

It was very interesting for me to read this article. Thank you for it. I like such topics and everything connected to this matter. BTW, try to add some photos :).

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