How Did the “Little Black Dress” Become a Fashion Staple?

In Victorian and Edwardian times, simple black garments were worn only by servants, or people in mourning. But in 1926, amid the raucous Roaring Twenties, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel changed all that when her first “little black dress” was featured on the cover of Vogue magazine. Accessorized with pumps, pearls, and a cloche hat, Chanel’s first little black dress made a bold statement -- both because it was black and because it was simple.

Black is the new black:

  • Vogue editors compared the Chanel dress to the era’s black Model T automobile, predicting that the straight, long-sleeved design would "become sort of a uniform for all women of taste."
  • Today, the "little black dress" is considered an essential fashion staple. It can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion.
  • The black Givenchy dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s standardized the wearing of little black dresses with pearls -- together, called “basic black.”
More Info: Smithsonian magazine

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