The history behind the “little black dress”

It’s one of your go-to dresses and favorite pieces to slip into for a night out on town, the little black dress. This iconic piece will forever be a staple in women’s wardrobes across the world for its unprecedented elegance and versatility. It’s no sunrise that the little black dress is one of the most beloved dresses, but, how exactly did it come to be and what is the history behind this sought-after fashion garment? In this article, we will delve into its origins and prominent rise to fame as the most trusted piece in your collection.

The history behind the “little black dress”

The history of black dyes

The history of the little black dress harks back to before the 1920s where we saw its first official introduction into the fashion world. The dress, or iterations of it can be traced back to the 14th century where Spanish aristocrats and Dutch merchants favored black clothing as a sign of wealth and created various elegant garments using expensive materials to concoct the dyes. While the little black dress, or LBD, was never fully realized back during these early eras, the formation of its inception can be pinpointed to these eras as it was during these times that the dyes creating black clothing were produced.

The inception of the LBD

It was in 1920 when the LBD was first introduced to the public eye by the now-iconic fashion designer and world-famous trend icon Coco Chanel, who was a plucky young designer with a lot to lose at the time of her feature. She unveiled what was dubbed “Chanel’s Ford”, a sketch of a long-sleeved, calf-length, black sheath dress in a Vogue feature way back in October 1926. Little did the designer know, this idea would propel her into the world of fashion and jumpstart her career as one of the most influential designers of all time. Furthermore, this would serve as the basis of what we now know to be the LBD.

The power of the LBD

At the time that Chanel’s sketch was released, the LBD was already a dress worn by most working-class women in one shape or form. It was not the tasteful and elegant dress that we now know and love but rather a uniform prescribed to housewives as a symbol of them being kept in their place. When Chanel released her sketch, Vogue positioned the statement as a uniform for women of taste. Back then, this was completely disregarded and few who already donned similar attire could see the benefit of such a dress as a fashion item. Over time, this mindset shifted and the intention of the LBD was fully realized years later when it was accepted that it was a symbol of women’s liberation and modernization. The little black dress would become a badge rather than a uniform and a powerful tool in giving women freedom in the fashion industry, an area that up until this point men had dictated much of what was trendy and in.

The history behind the “little black dress”

The LBD through the years

Since the 1920s, the LBD has been featured as a glamorous statement for women everywhere as well as prominent public figures such as Audrey Hepburn and Diana, Princess of Wales. From superstar to royalty, the LBD became an elegant piece of attire worn by almost all women who realized the power of its symbolism as well as adored the sheer majesty and versatility of this bold look. Years later, women across the world wear their LBDs for all sorts of events and functions, knowing or not yet aware of its powerful statement.

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