Fashions Fade, Style Is Eternal

Every Girl Should Have One

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2010 at 6:03 pm

There is no denying that this item is a key piece in every girls wardrobe and has saved countless tantrums, damsels in distress throwing item after item onto an ever-growing monstrous mountain of clothes to find an outfit perfect for a special occasion – or maybe that’s just me.   Well, we are fast approaching the festive season and what better way than to do it with a clear head, a neat cupboard and looking completely stylish and sophisticated – in your little black dress.

Why has the LBD been such a success and remained one of fashion’s classic staple items?  Well, here’s a little history lesson for you all.

The little black dress is an evening or cocktail dress primarily but it can definitely be dressed down to a more casual chic look.  They are simple and often quite short and should never be part of a trend to avoid dating too quickly.

Before the 1920s, black was reserved for times of mourning and considered indecent if worn outside these  circumstances.  A widow’s mourning dress was closely observed and she was expected to wear several stages of mourning dress for at least two years(!), starting with plain black clothing from top-to-toe with absolutely no decoration or accessories, through the later stages of being allowed to wear muted or neutral colours.

Because of the number of deaths in WWI it became more common for women to appear in public wearing black.  In 1926 Coco Chanel published a picture of a short, simple black dress in American Vogue that was calf-length, straight, and decorated only by a few diagonal lines.  Vogue called it “Chanel’s Ford.” It 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 Great Depression with a few variations in length and texture and was relied on heavily by filmmakers because other colours looked distorted on screen.  After the war, 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.

The younger “mod” generation of the 1960s preferred, in general, a miniskirt versions of the LBD and 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.  The 1970s did see some little black dresses, however, the disco scene preferred colours to black.

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 and into the 1990s, simpler designs in a variety of lengths and fullness 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 led to new variations of the dress but, like the 1970s, colour had re-emerged. In the late 2000s the fashion trends of the 1980s returned which meant the return of body conscious clothing, muted colours, and the return of black.  All these things have brought the LBD back, and as now it is popular as ever.

The End.  Hands up for any questions.

Here are a few of my simple and timeless High Street favorites:

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Black Cotton Satin One Shoulder Dress / Miss Selfridge / £38 – click image to buy

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Corsage Shift Dress / Oasis / £70 – click image to buy

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Sheer Sleeve Tunic Dress / Topshop / £50 – click image to buy

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Marilyn Dress / Warehouse / £45 – click image to buy

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Fancy Pintuck Dress / Warehouse / £55 – click image to buy

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Sheen woven strapless dress / H&M / £34.99 – click image to buy

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