19 Jun 2012

Coco Chanel and The Little Black Dress

“Elegance is not the perogative of those who have just escaped from adolescence, but of those who have already taken possession of their future.” Coco Chanel

The ‘little black dress’ is a staple in my wardrobe… and as much as I try and break away and substitute a new colour for my ‘go to go anywhere’ outfit, I always come back to the black. For so many reasons I can’t live without an LBD or two in my life.

Black works with my hair… and these days I can’t say that about all colours.

Black is flattering on the body… as much as I adore white and pastel colours… on me they add too many extra pounds.

Black is timeless… I can bring out an old favourite from the wardrobe and feel confident that it will hold its own.

Black can enter any room… when in doubt I always wear black… it can be formal it can be casual… Worn with heels, an LBD can sparkle, with flats the little black dress can work throughout the day… I have even worn my best LBD with flip flops… granted, an unusual combination… but it was for an unexpected and casual lunch, my options were limited… and it worked.

Black is the perfect canvas for jewellery… pearls a la Chanel or more colourful pieces… the LBD can take on so many different looks with the addition of a wonderful necklace or a stunning brooch.

Black is an ideal backdrop for scarves… Any colour and any shape generally works with the LBD… as a shawl, tied short around the neck or draped long over the shoulders.

Black is ‘investment dressing’… I am happier to spend more on the little black dress than I am on any other colour… The LBD is my outfit when I don’t know what to wear or when I am in that frame of mind that ‘nothing looks good’… you know the one? Trying on every piece of clothing in the hope of a ‘new look’, only to reject them all and end up wearing the old faithful… It is my fall back when I suffer from I-have-nothing-to wear-syndrome… which we know is obviously untrue but nevertheless something we women do feel very often… Wouldn’t you agree?

The little black dress, originally intended as an evening or cocktail dress, is attributed by most fashion historians to the brilliance of Coco Chanel in the 1920’s. As Chanel so wisely said, “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” These days the LBD has surpassed the role of evening wear and is a dress that can be worn at any time of the day….

 Coco Chanel speaking about fashion… her first interview… even without a full understanding of French it is fascinating to watch her and see the backdrop of her apartment.

So can you tell from all this that I have been looking at my favourite websites with a view to a new LBD?… My girls tell me I don’t need any more little black dresses… I know that they are right… I don’t need any more little black dresses… but does that mean I am not considering an update to my ‘staples’… Never.

For a Little Black Dress inspiration

The new W.E directed by Madonna about Wallis and Edward… the film sets and fashion styling are very worthy of a watch…

The Little black Dress: Vintage Treasure by Didier Ludot… a little book on the LBD that I love…

Dressed in Black by Valerie Mendes… Chief curator of Textiles and Dress at the V&A in London

***

and these LBD’s are on my shortlist

 Sandro black dress with very pretty sheer neck line here… ( this Parisian brand just gets better and better)

A tempting Theory option from here

A long sleeved DKNY that would be brilliant for travelling… here

and last but no means least this one from Diane Von Furstenberg… here

***

Are you as much of a fan of the little black dress as I am?… xv

VA In Your Inbox

subscribe for updates from vickiarcher.com

40 Comments

Veronique Savoye

Wonderful tribute to the LBD and Coco Chanel, Vicki! Love listening to Mademoiselle while she discusses fashion… You can tell she knew what she wanted :-) Well, this French Girl has made it back to Paris. The weather could be better, but there will be more sun waiting for me in Nice in just a few days. The Chanel boutique rue Cambon is on my list of places to visit before the end of the week, bien sûr. :-) Who knows… There might be a cute LBD waiting for me there, on a hanger… (dream on, dream on, French Girl…) A bientôt. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Reply
Veronique Savoye

Merci Suzanne. Paris is grey, that’s true… as I have so often seen her when I lived here. Nothing surprising here. Nice is coming my way at the end of the week, and there will be plenty of sunshine there. Stop by anytime. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Reply
Heather in Arles

Oooh, that video was brrrillliant! I had never seen it before. She moves like a man! And talks with an assurance that is mind-boggling. All that she had been through…and all that she did to survive including her unfortunate relationship with a German officer during WWII, unless it is true that she was indeed a double spy…who knows? Her efforts “to take away, take away all that is inutile (useless)” and her frank acknowledgement that even the lovely tailleur will be out of fashion in two weeks! Priceless!

Reply
Francine gardner

Such a flash back in time listening to Coco Chanel, priceless interview. I was invited to a rather formal affair on Saturday and after long moments staring at my closets…maoning I had nothing to wear…I grabbed one my LBD…

Reply
Jeanne @ Collage of LIfe

I can attest to the fact that you look fabulous in black Vicki. Love all your selections…I think the Sandro is my favourite as it seems the most versatile. I keep thinking of that gorgeous leather jacket of yours…that goes with everything, especially black. We all need a bit of Chanel in our lives…the LBD is the perfect way to bring it in. xx

Reply
Anita Rivera

Bonjour Vicki!

Oh, I have three black pencil skirts, oodles of black turtlenecks for our cold winters here and about four black dresses! No matter what the season, black is in for me.

Enjoy a wonderful day in PROVENCE! Anita

Reply
Marsha @ Splenderosa

I completely agree with you and CoCo, Vicki. There is nothing more perfect than the LBD for any season, any occasion. Elegance X10.
And, I see absolutely nothing wrong with flip-flops and your dress. These days this is how we dress, isn’t it? Love…..

Reply
déjà pseu

It took me a long time to find just the right LBD. I have one now that’s knit and with an easy fit, still looking for a more tailored version. A lot of people are down on the LBD right now, but it’s been a good piece to have on hand.

Reply
Lizzy

We are having a long holiday in Saumur, and I read just yesterday that Coco Chanel was born in this town, and lived her early years in the next street, which is now a shopping arcade. I wish I knew which house. So appropriate that this post appeared today.
Lizzy

Reply
A Gift Wrapped Life

Sorry, no funds left for any new LBD………..all gone on an orange and red number. I have so many little black dresses that I could open a store Vicki! But I do love them all and wear black dresses……….skirts, pants, shirts, shoes, boots, more than I care to admit. By the way, I loved WE as well, thought Madonna did a great job of intersecting two stories and loved the Duchess dance numbers. Much love XO

Reply
Amy Kortuem

I also have so many black dresses! I wear them when I’m playing the harp at weddings and events and I’m very particular about them. They have to have ample room in the shoulders for moving my arms forward to play. They can’t be too narrow because I have to be able to move my legs and feet around to work the pedals. They can’t be too short because I never know where I’ll be playing – if I’m up on a riser it’s not good to have my “hemline” at guests’ eyelines! And they have to have some overall stretch so I can bend and lift to load the harp into the truck.

I’ve tried to wear other colors while playing, but I feel like I’m standing out too much. So, black it is. I’m glad I’m not alone!

Reply
Katherine

We can all be thankful for the design brilliance of Coco, she set the standard for other designers to follow.
You can never have too many LBD’s in the closet, they work for everything.

Reply
Virginia

That’s so funny, I was just emailing with someone this morning and said that I’d photographed the windows at Didier Ludot for years but never had the nerve to go inside and that if I get back to Paris, I’m marching right in and having a look around! I’ll be sure to check out the LBDs!

V

Reply
hopflower

I am indeed a fan of black dresses and own a couple myself. But I am not so fond of flip-flops and am surprised that you would even wear them in the privacy of your own home. In my opinion, they are ghastly inventions and we see far too many of them. But that might be because I live in California, which sees far too few style rules!

Reply
Janelle McCulloch

Another beautiful post Vicki. I love Chanel and I love black dresses even more. And you can buy such great ones for so little now. Even Zara’s have the quality of Armani’s fabric. S
Sadly, I just missed the exhibition on Chanel and the Little Black Jacket in New York, but loved reading your post. It was a lovely consolation!
Janelle McCulloch xx

Reply
Hostess of The Humble Bungalow

I have quite a few LBD’s and they are my go to dresses for any occasion.
I have just purchased a new silk dress in a grape shade for a summer wedding. It will be interesting to see how I feel wearing colour for a change.

Coco is so unique it’s not surprising that her style has lasted.
Vicki your quest for a new LBD sounds like fun. You may not “need” another one but it’s wise to have one waiting in the wings ready for a future event.

Happy shopping!

Reply
mary

Hi Vicki, I love this post–especially the clip with Madame Coco. She is amazing. Yes, the little black dress!! Which reminds me, I need to go shopping. Thanks. Mary

Reply
Jeanne McKay Hartmann

You can never, ever have too many LBDs. Easy, chic, and they let you shine through – it’s almost always the woman who wears the little black dress, not the dress who wears her. I think Coco Chanel was on to something! Have a chic week, Vicki! XO

Reply
Suzanne de Cornelia

Love your perfect selections and the Coco interview. I was dazzled by my chic grandmother my entire life. Even at 85 she commanded respect saying nothing. Most often in a slim black dress that set off her silver hair…and always the red lips and nails, gold jewelry. Simple and elegant. I prefer spare…so black is great for me too. Another delightful post!

Reply
Mary Jo

Vicki, I love that first Sandro lbd so much–thanks for the Introduction. I also saw that very dkny dress last month and thought how perfect it would be for traveling. I too always want to break away from the lbd, but always come back. This year I added a doo.ri little draped black dress to the mix. It rolls up in a suitcase and I take it everywhere.

p.s. Just saw W.E. over the weekend–loved it!

xo Mary Jo

Reply
rosanna

I have stopped counting mine but LBD is seemingly the only thing which I keep buying
Thank you for sharing the video, Rosanna

Reply
Shell Sherree

I often feel I need to get away from black, but it’s still my go-to of choice. Perhaps I need to let go of the ‘shoulds’ and just enjoy keeping my fashion choices simple! Enjoy your newest search, Vicki.

Reply
Martine Alison

Une très jolie publication… Et comme vous avez raison, rien n’est plus remarquable qu’une belle petite robe noire.

Gros bisous à vous.

Reply
Pamela

Dear Vicki
Can just imagine how fabulous all your lbds are, especially with your blond hair. Sadly I rarely wear dresses now. Because of mobility problems I have to wear very sensible shoes which do not look good with dresses. Hopefully some surgery soon might help that. So if I wear black (and I do prefer colour, especially as black suits for women were almost de rigueur where I used to work for years), it’s pants and jackets. While in St Remy about ten days ago I bought a Souleiado men’s shirt in fine cotton, black and white polka dots with the underside of the cuffs in bright red, a narrow red strip around the base of the collar and on one side of the lapels. With the cuffs buttoned and then folded back the red shows and because it’s a men’s shirt with longer sleves, they puff just slightly and beautifully above the wrist. I love it. Can wear it over a black silk tank top and with black pants. Great fun. Black but with the flash of colour. With it I wear a La Tribu Rigaud necklace, also bought in St Remy at Phenomene, chunky black pendant set in silver. So, love black, but not every day, as I think it can be depressing, especially if you’ve been to lots of funerals as one has by my age. I used to say walking into my department behind all the black clad women was like going to a Mediterranean funeral. Always a bit of a rebel, I used to like occasionally to wear bright jackets, like fuschia pink, emerald or scarlet to shake things up a little. Our politicans etc used to love the colours.
Best wishes, Pamela

Reply
The Enchanted Home

Could not agree more about the iconic little black dress. I have a few I have owned for many years and they are as good as new, fit like a glove and always look chic. They are absolutely my ‘go to’ pieces when in doubt and have saved the day many times!

Reply
Carolyn Bradford

Love the LBD!! I couldn’t do without it either! To me it’s a given in any woman’s wardrobe! I wish we had more designers like Coco Chanel! So timeless!

Reply
Jennifer Beaudet

I love your new blog look! Your choices for the LBD are so classic. It’s hard to choose a favorite. I really don’t wear a lot of black and don’t own a LBD anymore. After reading your post, I think it’s time to shop for a new one!
Jenxoxo

Reply
Colette Nel

Agree 100%…Even in decorating, my rule is, when in doubt, go for black..works ever time. It may be a chair, lamp shade, cushion, even a vase or urn…black is not only safe but oh so elegant. Thank you for sharing,and loved the clip.
Xo Colette

Reply
Jacqueline

Dear Vicki,
If you were to look in my wardrobe, it is a sea of black, black, black with a splash of grey, white and a touch of burgundy !! As I have got older, more and more black has crept into my wardrobe, as it looks the best on me. If you look at designers and models and what they wear on an everyday basis, it ‘s nearly always BLACK !! XXXX

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

powered by chloédigital
Read previous post:
It Isn’t All Mink …Ginette Spanier… and Haute Couture

Close