How the Little Black Dress Got to Be Black, and Little

Coco Chanel didn't create, just popularized
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2009 3:12 PM CDT
How the Little Black Dress Got to Be Black, and Little
French fashion designer Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel (1883-1971) at a London hotel, 1932.   (Getty Images)

The ubiquitous little black dress can be the foundation of a recession-friendly wardrobe. But Coco Chanel—widely credited with inventing the LBD—actually just brought it from strict and severe to chic and sophisticated. Double X explores the history of this staple in women’s closets:

  • Centuries ago, black was worn by the clergy and aristocrats. In the 17th century, Dutch burghers brought it to the masses.

  • In the 18th century, black was also a color for rebellious women to wear, thumbing a nose at the pastels of the day.
  • The tailor-made women’s suit, introduced in the 1880s, was a precursor to the little black dress.
  • After World War II, the big black dress came on the scene—Dior’s model weighed nearly 7 pounds.
  • By the 1950s, as one woman recalled in an oral history, “if there were 10 women at a party, nine would be in black.”
For more history, click the link below.
(Read more fashion stories.)

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