In February I am heading to QPAC with some girlfriends to see Tim Finn’s award winning musical ‘Ladies In Black’. I know it will be a wonderful story based on Madeleine St John’s 1993 novel , full of great music and wonderful acting, but I am also keen to admire the fashion. ‘ Ladies In Black’ is set in the 1950’s and tells the story of the sales assistants working in the Ladies Cocktail Frocks Department of an upmarket store. I know there will be stupendous costumes in an array of colours, as well as that most versatile of garments- the little black dress.
After doing a quick survey of friends I found that most women have at least one, probably several, little black dresses in their wardrobe. My most recent purchase was a lovely , cold shoulder black dress in a jersey material. I wore it to my youngest son’s 21st, as well as on New Year’s Eve. By just changing the accessories it felt like a different dress and this is certainly part of the allure of the LBD. You can wear your black dress to work and then just by changing your handbag for a clutch or adding sparkly sandals and different jewellery you are instantly ready for a night out.
Coco Chanel has been credited with the rise in the appeal of the LBD in the 1920’s. Yet, it became even more popular after Audrey Hepburn’s elegant black Givenchy dress was seen in ‘ Breakfast at Tiffany’s ‘. This movie cemented the beauty of this garment. It screamed elegance and style and Audrey’s look was copied the world over.
I still cannot part with my first LBD purchased at Cue many years ago. The simple shift style in a beautiful wool could be relied on to be just right for any occasion and as young wife and mother was my go to garment. Putting it on I felt taller, more confident and definitely chic and ready for any occasion.
Both Jacqueline Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe knew the power of an LBD although their styles were poles apart. French singer Edith Piaf always performed in a black sheath style dress. She wanted people to concentrate on her singing and not what she was wearing.
Iconic designer Karl Lagerfeld has said, “ One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a Little Black Dress.”
Another LBD that is forever etched in my memory is that of the ever stylish Princess Diana in a black off the shoulder LBD paired with a stylish pearl choker. This look would not be out of place in any of today’s fashionista’s wardrobes , although it was 1994 when she was photographed wearing this flattering dress. This is another good reason for the LBD’s appeal. It never looks dated. In photos you will often groan when you realise you were at a wedding in a lime green suit with shoulder pads and sporting an 80’s perm which instantly dates you. (If any of my friends still have this photo can you please destroy it, right now! ) Yet, in a little black dress you will always look sophisticated and timeless.
Today we are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding the perfect little black dress. Sometimes it becomes too difficult to choose. There are LBD’s from shifts to wrap dresses, fit and flare styles , elegant lace dresses or off the shoulder styles with cutaways. It may take some time to find the perfect one for you but when you do it will become the workhorse item of your wardrobe. Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, was often photographed in her favourite LBD’s and has been quoted as saying, ‘ When a little black dress is right, there is nothing else to wear in it’s place. ‘ A little, black dress is classic, simple, chic and timeless. Perhaps I’ll adopt the 50’s style silhouette LBD after seeing ‘ Ladies in Black’. What are some of your all – time favourite LBD looks?
My new favourite