Tuesday, 01 August 2017

History of style: Little Black Dress

Written by Bicester Village
When a last-minute party invitation arrives, or an important work presentation lies ahead, there's only one garment that will do; the little black dress. As seasonal trends come and go, the little black dress, or LBD as it has become known, remains a perennial style classic. Timeless, reliable and universally flattering, the eternal allure of the LBD spans decades and has become the ultimate wardrobe staple for women.

Cited by many as one of the most iconic garments in cinematic history, Audrey Hepburn's dress in the opening scene of Breakfast At Tiffany's has been called the most famous little black dress of all time. Designed in 1961 by Hubert de Givenchy (and redesigned for the film by costume designer Edith Head), Hepburn's dress cemented her style icon status.

While it may appear simple on the surface, the true power of the LBD lies in its power to transform. The original Sloane Ranger, Princess Diana asserted her fashion credentials when she chose a striking little black dress for a highly anticipated appearance in June 1994. Just hours after her husband confessed to an affair, Diana arrived at the Serpentine Summer Party dressed in a figure hugging silk LBD by Greek designer Christina Stambolian. Low-cut with an off-the-shoulder neckline, it became known as the 'Revenge Dress' and remains one of the most famous LBDs of all time. Ruched to the thigh with a black voile sash, it was a showstopper of a dress that spoke a thousand words.

Unlike many fashion items, the little black dress is as timeless as they come. Both Audrey's and Diana's dresses are a true testament to the lasting power of such a simple garment. When choosing a little black dress, consider your purchase an investment rather than a one-off trend-led choice. Opt for a style that works for your figure and natural style; spending a little extra on a luxury dress means you will reach for it time and time again. For feminine LBDs with an urban twist, look to DKNY who have a core offering of black dresses each season. A little black dress shouldn't be reserved solely for evening wear; consider wearing yours over a shirt and pair with sneakers or pumps for a classic daywear look with a contemporary twist.

For LBDs worthy of a princess, head to Oscar de la Renta, the go-to label for everyone from Hollywood stars to international royalty. Expect tulle layers, 1950s-inspired cocktail silhouettes and intricate embroidery. Take Audrey and Diana as your guides and wear with a Pandora necklace, Rupert Sanderson stilettos and little else. To get maximum wear out of your LBD, experiment with accessories to dress up or dress down. A knotted belt at the waist can take your look from formal to off-duty in an instant. If the occasion calls for a little more colour, amp up your LBD with playful accents; a vibrant Marc Jacobs clutch will rework your look.

Style advice given by Bicester Village in celebration of their partnership with Debrett's and the launch of the Guide to British Style.

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