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Tale of the classic LBD - the 100 year journey

One might not fathom the implications of classic fashion inventions in history in relation to their daily life decisions but it is often proved otherwise. This dichotomy is beautifully showcased in the iconic monologue of Miranda Priestly in 'Devil wears Prada' to her assistant Joe about the cerulean sweater she was wearing which she thought is a mere piece of lumpy clothing picked up from a local store.  Miranda points out the lack of knowledge about how exactly the colour cerulean – neither blue nor turquoise was formulated by a famous designer on a fashion show which was then replicated by several others and finally was trickled down to the departmental stores and clearance bins from where Joe most probably found it from.


An LBD is considered as a wardrobe staple for women and is widely popular as a go-to classic fashion piece. When we look back to the birth of LBDs, it’s thrilling to discover that they were in existence for 100 years. It all started in the 19th century when wearing women black was associated with mourning or death. Things began taking a different outlook only when an artist named John Singer Sargent made an attractive painting of a woman wearing a black dress. 

The first modern manifestation of LBD was created by Coco Chanel in 1920s. It was published in a 1926 issue of Vogue and was considered as an epitome of the liberation of women from the corset trend which was rather uncomfortable.

The preceding decades saw the evolution of the little black dress in various forms. The 1930s introduced to us the flapper black dress which is associated with jazz and rebellious culture.

However, the 1940s saw black dresses as a functional yet effortless look which was appropriate for every occasion, especially during a war.

The 1950s welcomed the black dress to Hollywood. It began to be portrayed as a sexy and glamorous piece. Black dresses in full-skirted shapes became very popular after Christian Dior launched it's New Look' collection on the same. 

For the 1960s the iconic LBD look of Audrey Hepburn in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ was the most memorable look. This decade saw two very distinct styles of black dresses – a conservative one for the elders and a fun, shortened one for the young.

The decade of 1970s is considered a punk rock era when clothes became the medium of expression of attitude. The black dresses in this time were quite experimental – involving ripped styles and sheer fabrics. The trend of pairing fishnet stockings with black dresses gained popularity in this era.

The next decade of the 1980s brought embellishments to the black dresses – laces and sequins were added to it. Features like broad shoulders and peplums were also seen.

The 1990s was immersed in grunge culture. The simple version of LBDs gained popularity in this era. They were usually minimalistic, tight-fitting and quite short. The 'Spice girl' look was also prominent which included combat boots with the dresses.

The 2000s were dominated by bandeau and baby doll party black dresses. Celebrities like Jennifer Aniston considered LBDs their staple red carpet look.

The 2010s witnessed a comeback of the 80s influence with mesh embellishments and velvet panelling. Bodycon fit LBDS gained the most popularity.

The current decade of the 2020s is an inclusive one in all aspects. We are witnessing a wide variety of styles in LBDs including loose silhouettes, statement sleeves, knit fabrics, bold necklines, leather etc.

An LBD is alluringly feminine and marvellously timeless. It is endlessly versatile and can be dressed up or down depending on the accessories and occasion. You could consider it as a date night dress, a formal meeting outfit, a fun girl’s night out party or a simple day outfit for chores.

When did you first purchase your LBD or are you someone who still needs to get hands-on one? Tell us about your favourite LBD!

1 comment

  • Anannya Boruah

    Truly said, one’s wardrobe never gets complete without an LBD. This article beautifully explained the journey of LBD’s and a laymen in fashion like me could gather greater knowledge about every girls favourite party wear. Thank you for this.

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