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11th February 2016

The little black dress

Sophie Soar discusses the overwhelming power of fashion’s timeless classic, the little black dress

It seems closer to the untouchable Instagram socialites than your outfit choice from Saturday night, understood as the child of Coco Chanel and Jean Patou, it boasts a century-long career and even its own Wikipedia page. Reliable, revered, revolutionised, reworked, remodelled, renewed, and re-loved time and time again; its status is undeniably and irreplaceably supreme. But what is it that makes the little black dress or LBD, so rigidly solid in fashion hierarchy?

Whilst the most fabulously fun garments overflow from cupboards and wardrobes (or in my case, an expansive floordrobe), the LBD sits smugly on its hanger, oozing its powerful self-awareness. Reverted back to time and time again, whether it is laundry day, a panic outfit choice for a third date, or simply an ego boost—the LBD is a safety net in every girl’s wardrobe.

With the hopes of gaining a gender-neutral opinion base for the cultural significance of the LBD, I sought male feedback. A constant advocate of a raised hemline and arse-enhancing materials, I asked my boyfriend what the LBD meant to him. He simply asked ‘well how little is this dress?’ at which point I simply gave up.

Alternatively, my housemate proudly stated “’cause it makes chicks look good on average”. Somewhat reminiscent of a three-year-old toddler’s brutal honesty, his comment was blunt but remarkably accurate. The LBD is flattering and timeless, never out of style, and never a traitor to its wearer. It does miracles for one’s self esteem, and not to mention its versatility.

From day to night, a shopping trip in town or dinner with the parents—any accessory goes; it’s monochromatic mastery. As Édith Piaf’s uniform of choice on stage and Hepburn’s iconic look as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, paired with sultry shades, pearls and pouts—there is a multitude of examples of its timeless history.

Essentially, the LBD is the silent best friend who will listen to your mood and respond accordingly. It is a malleable item: grunge at times, smart at others, fun, dark, vibrant, gothic… whatever mood the day takes you.

To quote Wallis Simpson, “When a little black dress is right, there is nothing else to wear in its place”. Now and forever, LBD, we applaud you. Long may you reign supreme.

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