The Little Black Dress, or LBD as it is more commonly known, is every girl’s favourite. Whether it’s for a party, for work, a first date or something for one of those *shudder* ‘fat’ days, the LBD really is our fashion saviour.
On my last count I had at least 10 LBD’s in my wardrobe, each with their own style, function and memories attached to them, and I’m pretty certain if you lot did a stock take in your wardrobes, you probably wouldn’t be far off that number, if not more! So, what exactly is so special about the LBD; a simple, classic garment that manages to defy the fickle status of what’s currently ‘in’ and what’s ‘out’ in the fashion world?
Where it all began
Prior to the 1920s, the colour black was kept for times of mourning and was associated with grieving widows, in fact if it was worn for any other occasion it was considered indecent and improper. After this time, however, society began to change, as attitudes began to relax and so too did the connotations of wearing the colour black. And, who do we have to thank for the infamous LBD…? Why, none other than Coco Chanel herself.
In 1926, Chanel published a picture in American Vogue of a calf-length, simple, straight black dress, entitled ‘Chanel’s Ford’ after the famous Model T cars and the editors used their fashion forecast to predict that the LBD would become the “…uniform for all women of taste.” Indeed, it was the one item of clothing that spanned the varying social classes, being both elegant, yet affordable at the same time. Something, which is still apparent to this day; you can buy an LBD for as little as £9.99 or pay well into the £1,000s.
Moving forwards through time, we saw designers offer their own unique takes on the LBD; Dior in the 1950s, Givenchy in the 1960s, Vivienne Westwood in the 1970s, Azzedine Alaïa in the 1980s and Yohji Yamamoto in the 1990s. And celebrities such as, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie O, Marilyn Monroe, Liz Hurley and Victoria Beckham all created iconic moments in fashion with their interpretations of the LBD.
Karl Lagerfield said, “One is never overdressed or underdressed with a little black dress” and indeed it is the one item guaranteed to make you feel confident, sexy, slim, classy and fashionable and is therefore an essential part of any wardrobe.
5 reasons why every girls NEEDS at least one LBD
- It’s versatile – you can dress it up, dress it down, wear during the day, wear it at night, in the summer, in the winter, you name it this fashion bad boy can be worn 365 days and nights of the year and will ALWAYS look good.
- It’s flattering – There’s no denying that the right LBD can literally take pounds off you and that ladies is a dress worth owning!
- It’s timeless – The LBD is NEVER going to go out of fashion, which means if you stay the same shape you will be able to wear it until it is literally falling apart at the seams, which makes it incredibly good value for money!
- It makes you feel amazing – No one can say they don’t feel good in their LBD and if you feel good you automatically look good.
- It’s easy – Running out of time before a big night out? Haven’t had chance to try on outfits, let alone think about what matches with what? Well fear ye not, because if you own the perfect LBD you will know that everything goes with it, you’ll know that it looks amazing on you, even on an off day, and you’ll also know that should you have one too many cocktails later on, you won’t have to worry if your mate accidentally spills it down you, because black hides EVERYTHING!
Ways to style your LBD
To get the most out of your LBD you need to be able to style it in different ways. The last thing you want is to get a reputation for always wearing the same dress, but if you’re clever you can accessorize it in such a way that all your friends will think you have a new outfit every time you go out!
You need to be careful with this one, as the last thing you want to do is go out looking like you’re attending a funeral, but an entirely black ensemble can look incredible if done in the right way. Contrary to what you may have been told at school, there are lots of different shades of black (your teachers would have called it grey, but trust us black can come in different shades too!) and if you try and combine too many of these shades it is going to look messy, worn out and, well, just downright awful. So, the key to wearing all black is to play around with textures, for example, try wearing a black lace dress with a faux fur jacket, leather clutch and metallic jewellery.
If you’re wearing your LBD in the daytime I would suggest wearing it with some neutral tones to soften the look. Tonal colours, such as greys, browns, nudes and whites make a classic combination when worn with black and is ideal for your work wardrobe.
Feeling confident? Want to stand out and be noticed? Then pair your LBD with as bright a colour as you dare. Neons, metallics and bright primary colours all look sensational against a black backdrop and you can have some real fun playing around with different looks. Whether it’s a pair of bright pink heels, a sequined silver clutch, an electric blue jacket or a vibrant red lipstick, an LBD will literally go with any colour you throw at it.
An LBD is perfect for the festive season, especially as Christmas means glitter and sparkle, which is perfect for accessorising a dress you already own or is a perfect excuse for hitting the shops and buying a new LBD with sparkly detailing. Here is the Gowns and Heels round up of some of the best LBD’s available in shops at the moment:
Whistles has this amazing statement Tassel Dress for £160 that oozes sophistication, but with a cheeky touch of flirtiness too. Made up of contrast panelling with asymmetric tassels, a sheer back panel, rounded neckline and a zig-zag hem this LBD is sure to get you shaking your booty on the dance floor in no time.
Wolf and Whistle is one of my all time favourite places to shop and these two LBD’s are high up on my ‘want’ list. Set up by two designers, Emma and Louise, in 2014 Wolf and Whistle aim “to mix creativity and utility to create unique garments that are easy to wear and that you will come back to season after season. All our prints our designed in our studio in London so are unique to our collection. We have pieces that are great for work, special occasions and that you can throw on for a casual lunch at the weekend”. First up is this Lace Top Pleated Dress, which is currently reduced from £55 down to £45. The details in this dress is perfect for a night out with the girls or a fun way to liven up your work wardrobe. The fitted lace top meets the pleated skirt at the waits, which cuts an incredibly flattering and youthful silhouette. Or if you prefer a slightly more tailored look to your LBD, try this Black Tailored Crossover Dress at £55. The structured shape of this dress gives it an edgy look that can be toned down for the office or dramatised for the evening. It is fully lined with a concealed zip on the centre back and I think would look amazing combined with some bold and bright colour pop accessories.
The Kimly Cocktail Dress from Coast is a classic example of the LBD transcending the decades. This dress manages to be timeless, sophisticated and completely and utterly show stopping, which for £169 is pretty much a bargain. The bodice has been contoured to show off the waist and the bow details adds glamour, whilst flattering the figure even more. The statement silver toned back zip adds a subtle detail, which can be accentuated with metallic accessories.
As seen on English actress Jodie Whittaker at the 2014 Baftas, this Embroidery Lace Dress from Yanny London is my personal favourite. With its funnel neck and cap sleeves, this A-line dress creates an interesting and flattering silhouette that is great for parties, dinners and any other special occasion. Priced at £160, which considering the detail is an absolute bargain, it comes complete with attached slip to prevent any revealing underwear mishaps. I love it, want it, NEED it!
If you are one of the small minority of women who don’t have an LBD in your wardrobe, then what are you waiting for? I officially order you to go out and buy one pronto, because it really will be the best investment you have EVER made.