The Big Impact of the Little Black Dress
The little black dress, or LBD, (a trendy little acronym for a trendy little dress) has been a staple piece in women’s style for close to a century. While Chanel did not invent the dress, its fashion trend is certainly attributed to her. It first appeared in the October issue of Vogue in 1926, in which a small sketch was drawn, and a short paragraph called it the “Ford” of dresses. This description was referencing the Model-T Ford, of which Henry Ford claimed, “any customer can have a car painted in any color that he wants so long as it’s black.” The allusion to the reliable car reflected the reliability and versatility of the dress.
However, the small blurb in Vogue was not enough to spark a trend. Women of the Roaring Twenties preferred more flashy styles and colors. It wasn’t until the market crash of 1929, and subsequent years of the Great Depression that the LBD caught on with the help of the film industry.
The movie theaters provided cheap entertainment for America’s struggling people, and due to the unrefined filming methods, the actresses were mostly costumed in the easily filmable, sharp black dress. Capitalizing on women’s desire to emulate the glamorous starlets in movies, American designers began recreating the little black dress that Chanel had championed a few years prior. The term “little black dress” was coined by advertisers as they spun the dress as a must-have for the modern day woman. The style’s comeback was, of course, supported by Chanel, and slowly, the collective consciousness of women everywhere accepted the need for a little black dress in every woman’s wardrobe.
While the LBD remained popular throughout the years, its demand reached extraordinary heights in the 60s after the fabulous Audrey Hepburn wore her Givenchy designed LBD in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Since then, the LBD has had a steady presence in the lives women. Its versatility is legendary as it can be worn at any time of day, in any season, so long as it’s accented by the appropriate accessories. Contemporary styles of the LBD vary substantially, so a comfortable fit exists for any body type. The dress can be seen at many a common, everyday scene, or as a flaunted design on the runway or red carpet. Its fashion influence is extraordinary.
Personally, I’m ashamed to say that I don’t actually own a proper LBD. I have a lovely little dress with a black top and pastel-colored floral skirt, but no tried and true LBD. My excuse (and it is a poor one, I know) is that I have yet to find the “perfect” LBD for me. Sure, some are cute and fit well and whatnot, but are they perfect? No. The LBD carries such a legendary, powerful symbol of womanhood that I feel as though I’m not worthy to wear it, until the perfect one makes itself known to me. The words of Ollivander from Harry Potter chime in my head, “The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter.” Or rather the dress chooses its wearer. And so, I wait, in endless anticipation for that perfect, glorious, awe-inspiring Little Black Dress.
Written By: Mary B.