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Item of the week: the little black dress

By Rachel Douglass

May 18, 2022


(From left) Image: Michael Kors, By-Bar Amsterdam, Hybrid

What it is:

The little black dress, or the LBD, is often considered one of the most influential garments in fashion’s history, widely known for its simplicity, accessibility and timeless appeal. It is regularly regarded to have risen into the limelight during the 1920’s, with many fashion historians crediting Coco Chanel as the pioneer behind the design. Its allure only increased when it was worn by actress Audrey Hepburn in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, lunging it into popularity and pushing it to become the wardrobe essential it is known as today. What actually constitutes a LBD is often quite flexible, but the term is mostly associated with simple, black dresses that are functional and easy to wear. However, hemlines and silhouettes for LBD’s on the runway this season were fairly complex, with many designers offering up a total revamp of the classic dress style.

Image: Wolford

Why you’ll want it:

The LBD is a timeless piece that has remained completely seasonless since it broke into the industry decades ago. The fact that the LBD’s design requirements cannot be put into a specific box means that it can appeal to a broad customer base, with a limitless number of design possibilities available that can bend to personal preferences and retail concepts. Its simplicity and accessibility has allowed it to remain relevant for a lengthy period of time, and will continue to propel it into the centre of fashion year after year. One of the great qualities of the dress is its longevity. Once a shopper owns it, they will likely hold on to it for a long time, giving it an expansive life span and making it a good investment piece for any buyer.

Image: Madewell

Where we’ve seen it:

While the LBD is usually a part of the designer runway season, its prominence throughout AW22 has cemented the design’s place in fashion for the coming months. Amidst the staple bright pink of Valentino’s show, Pierpaolo Piccioli also presented a selection of black dresses, including an intricately cut, off-the-shoulder midi, that bore a structured full skirt. Versace also stuck to the clean cut LBDs, offering up sharp shoulders and form fitting silhouettes that dominated its ready-to-wear line in its entirety. Nensi Dojoka also took on the timeless look, presenting a black dress that utilised her typically complex design style of string constructions and cut out shaping. Meanwhile, Off-White took a more modern, literal approach with a mini sequin strapless number, sported by Kendall Jenner and bearing the words ‘Little Black Dress’ which were encased in Abloh’s signature quotation marks.

Image: Only

How to style it:

As a stand alone piece, a statement garment or a layered look, the LBD’s styling opportunities are endless, with its simplicity making it especially suitable for both a daily look or an occasion wear outfit. For evening’s out, the dress can be paired with heeled boots or strappy sandals, and can be worn by itself with simple jewellery or layered under an oversized blazer or longline coat. To dress the LBD down, pair it with sneakers or mules and a denim or leather jacket for an easy-to-throw-on daywear look that can be donned from season to season. Accessories can bring this simple but classic piece to life, with unlimited options of how to approach this technique. Belts can tie a piece together, while a wide-brimmed hat or silk neck scarf can effortlessly elevate an outfit.

Image: Stella McCartney

The LBD is a seasonless staple, with a rich history in fashion that spans decades and will continue to have an impact for years to come. With its versatility, accessibility and such a broad spectrum of styles available, the LBD has the unique ability of appealing to an extensive customer base and can fit into almost any retail concept.

Image: Superdry

Similar items available for (pre)order can be found in the FashionUnited Marketplace. You can find them by clicking on this link.

Item of the Week