If you follow fashion, chances are you know the abbreviation LBD. The Little Black Dress is the darling of timeless style. How could it not be? Simple, clean-cut, and popularized by Coco Chanel – it whispers understated elegance.
And yet, the chic simplicity of the LBD doesn’t mean you can’t make a statement. The mystery of a little black dress infused with the enticement of sparkly detail is enough to turn anyone’s head.
As the experts on serving looks, here at Thrilling, we have curated a brief history of the little black dress and given you the inspiration to rock a sparkly number from our collection.
From fashion icons to fashion movements, you’ll have the know-how you need to rock this timeless staple with your own signature flair.
Black Throughout the Ages
While the little black dress was popularized by the fabulous Coco Chanel, it was around long before then. The color black is one of the most contradictory, historically symbolizing mourning, power, wealth, piety, and evil. Like in the Lion King, fashion exists in a never-ending circle and that certainly rings true for black garments.
Recognized as a color of mourning since Roman times, it was later worn by Christian priests as a sign of piety due to its sobering associations. At the turn of the 14th century, however, high-quality black dye made it a color popular with wealthy Italian bankers who were barred from wearing color, which was reserved for nobility.
Ironically, nobility started to notice the fashion of wearing black and started to don it themselves (if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em). Associations between black and nobility remained for some time.
Eventually, this hue became associated with maidservants with the advent of cheaply produced synthetic aniline dye during the industrial revolution in Britain. This was later worn by maidservants in France and America.
Yet once again, the black dress was reappropriated by the upper classes, with early 1900s socialites donning it well before Coco Chanel made it her signature in the 1920s.
This brief, primarily Western history of black in fashion barely touches on its wide-ranging appeal to different demographics throughout time. It is this versatility that perhaps led to Coco Chanel establishing the little black dress as a staple for women everywhere.
After the establishment of Chanel’s drop-waist, long-sleeve, mid-length black dress has come decades of different fashion revolutions. We are at a point in fashion in which the little black dress can be virtually any cut or fabric - as long as it’s black. The only limits are your imagination.
Just Add Sparkles
The rise of club culture and the red carpet has given birth to a new kind of black dress that is at once elegant and bold – and what better way to make a statement than sparkles? Celebrities such as Zoe Kravitz, Jennifer Aniston, and Rihanna are just a few of the stars that have rocked the black sparkly dress.
As ancient as black garments, sparkles have long symbolized luxe and glamour, from the gold disc-like sequins embellishing King Tut to the glittery get-ups of glam rockers like David Bowie – sparkles aren’t exactly subtle. But blend the understated elegance of a black dress and the attention-grabbing glitz of glitter, and you have yourself the ultimate statement outfit.
Making a statement is all about being unique, which is why here at Thrilling, we are obsessed with vintage one-of-a-kind pieces. We took a note from Coco Chanel when she said, "Elegance does not consist in putting on a new dress.” Indeed it doesn't! Our sparkly black dresses have a story.
When you buy a vintage dress from Thrilling, you are continuing its legacy as a special piece of history - that you are making your own!
A vintage dress means you will always stand out from the crowd – that’s a fashion statement in itself. What’s more, opting for vintage is an environmental and social statement. The fast fashion industry exploits laborers and harms our planet just to churn out poor-quality pieces by the thousands.
Supporting small, vintage boutiques through Thrilling is an easy and fun way to reduce your carbon footprint and support ethical business standards.
Make a Statement
A 1920s sheer beaded number harks back to the dropped waistlines and loose-fitting cuts that dominated the roaring twenties in the style of actress Joan Bennett. The relaxed fit of 20s dresses was symbolic of women’s increasing sense of liberty and desire to go out and about the town without feeling restricted by tight corsets or heavy, cumbersome fabrics.
To give this dress a contemporary spin, pair it with your favorite pair of chunky platform boots or a slick of black eyeliner for a 21st-century edge.
If you’re looking for understated elegance with a hint of sparkle, a form-fitting 60s shift dress offers the class of Jackie O and the funky, disco-vibe of swinging sixties icons like Twiggy. For a modern inspiration, look to Taylor Swift’s red-carpet look: the 60s made modern with black stilettos and a mussed-up, casual hairdo.
To dress it down for a work event, dinner, or even lunch, pair this girly dress with some chunky loafers for a more androgynous, youthful day to night look.
Making a statement is all about letting your style shine through. Whether you vibe with the feminine pin-up style of the 50s or the floaty, more ethereal style of 70s maxi dresses – Thrilling has something for you.
Enhance With Accessories
Accessories can enhance or ruin a look, depending on how they are used. For a super sparkly dress, avoid too many clashing textures or colors to let the dress shine through – literally. For a dress that just has sparkly accents like trimming or a button detail, you can afford to be bolder with how you accessorize.
If black isn’t your vibe, adding a sparkly headband or a statement pair of earrings can make things funkier.
Perhaps the best thing about black is it makes a great blank canvas for putting your own spin on an outfit – as Chanel, the queen of monochrome, said: “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.”
The LBD is a secret weapon of fashion icons: it gives you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd, especially if it’s vintage – and what better way to do so than with some eye-catching sparkly detail.
While here at Thrilling we want to give you a little advice to help you pick the best vintage pieces for your style, we also believe there are no rules in fashion!
A sparkly black dress is all about feeling confident and sexy in your own skin.