Fashion's BFF: The LBD (Little Black Dress)

It’s the essential piece, a so-called foundational item in the wardrobe of every well-prepared and oh-so-stylish woman on the planet, and for good reason. Executed well, this ubiquitous presence in women’s closets can be dressed up or dressed down, worn in a multitude of ways for a myriad of occasions, and it’s been a graceful part of fashion since Coco Chanel debuted her Model T dress in 1926.

"Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance." -Coco Chanel

To be accurate, Madame Chanel wasn’t the first to employ simple black dresses. She was, however, the one whose iterations made history, the one who seemed to know and appreciate the female form in a way that would achieve a simple frock with clean lines whose sheath-like shape seemed to empower its wearer with effortless elegance. Unlike so many other pieces, there is no complexity or adornment, no true distraction from the actual construction of the piece—the seaming, the draping, the fabric. The basic components that make it what it is. In that way, it relies on the wearer to become something special. And for that very reason, the little black dress—or LBD as it has become known—will far outlast any trend whose time on the runway is at the mercy of the whims of an ever-changing popular vote.

Despite the fact that times have certainly made their mark on the LBD, it is, at its soul, still very much an important part of fashion. Hemlines, necklines, sleeve length—all have shown the effect of culture’s perception of propriety, but the very heart of it all is still the same as the simple sheath designed so long ago by Chanel. It is still the picture of effortless elegance, a simple piece that transcends age and occasion to offer its wearer the opportunity to shine and walk in her own grace.

Currently trending, the runways are awash in LBDs whose inkiness offer up a variety of shapes, cuts, and fabric ranging from midis in lace to mini sheaths in satin. Among the top designs are tie-front black midis, minis with a sweetheart neckline, even daringly short black blazer-style dresses. Love something a little more modest? Button up a shirtdress with puff sleeves. For a more dramatic look, black fringe spaghetti-strap flocks give a nod to the flapper era, while asymmetric minis show confidence and a willingness to be a bit avant-garde. Ever elegant for evening, strapless styles bring a certain sexiness to the occasion that can be toned down or emphasized depending on accessories like jewelry and shoes.

Whatever your own shape or personal style, there is an little black dress perfect for you, a piece whose presence in your wardrobe will offer you confidence to walk into whatever occasion comes your way. Have fun and be imaginative with the pieces you pair it with. Wear jewelry that’s unique to you and offers a glimpse of your inner flair. Slip into shoes that take your look to a whole new level. It’s your time to shine—and black is definitely your color.