The Little Black Dress—Top Ten List

 Little Black Dress

My colleagues and I wore our Little Black Dresses to work to celebrate the release of TFCB’s new Fall 2011 Dressing a Nation fashion series.

Above, left to right, back row: Anna, Ashley, Brie, Domenica; Seated, left to right: Sara, Katie, Martha. Not pictured: Danielle the photographer, Amelia the prop girl, and Alison the author of The Little Black Dress and Zoot Suits.

We made a Top 10 List of the reasons we love the Little Black Dress:


1. Alison (author of The Little Black Dress and Zoot Suits: Depression and Wartime Fashions from the 1930s to the 1950s, cover below): I have more than one Little Black Dress in my closet. I just can’t resist their classic charm and effortless chic. And of course, my favorite one has many details I love—a sprinkling of black-on-black jewels at the neckline; a wide, cinching belt; a lightly flared skirt and cleverly hidden pockets. (I am helpless to say no to a dress with pockets.)

As fond as I am of these elements, they aren’t really what keep me coming back to the little black dress again and again. Instead, I return for all the associations that go with the style. The perfect Little Black Dress makes me feel connected to other eras, other places, other lifetimes. It speaks to my inner Audrey [Hepburn]. It lets me imagine that I might be flitting through Rome on a Vespa in 1953, taking Paris by storm in 1957, or coolly hosting New York City’s most talked-about parties in 1961. And any dress that can do all that is a very serious dress indeed.

2. Anna: I love my dress’s combination of light, jerseylike material and a flattering but not constraining fit, which makes it equally perfect for a dressy night out or walking around the Minneapolis lakes on a hot day! Wherever/however I wear it, I feel pretty in it.

3. Ashley: You know how, in public, people expect you to wear clothing all of the time? And how, at certain fancy parties, they expect you to wear a certain kind of clothing? Well, this dress is appropriate for fancy parties, which I go to sometimes. And, more importantly, it’s comfortable, which is my number one criterion for clothing.

4. Brie: I love my Little Black Dress because of the Copyright 1956 tag inside the garment. I feel transported in time and think about the kind of graceful woman who wore this dress before me and the adventures she could have had in this perfect little dress.

5. Domenica: I have several Little Black Dresses. This one I love because of its svelte lines. In general, I love that I can feel like a movie star in my Little Black Dresses. In putting one on, whether it’s a casual linen silhouette for a day at home or an evening dress for the opera, I feel like I’m stepping into a long line of elegant women—Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, among many, many others—who made the Little Black Dress a part of any stylish woman’s wardrobe.

6. Sara: I especially love the distinctive pleated neckline and the clean, simple silhouette of the dress. The cut and length make it extremely versatile, and it has a slender belt that gives it a little extra style.

7. Katie: My favorite thing is the dress’s versatility. By swapping out accessories—muted and simple, or sparkly and jazzed—it’s perfect for any occasion, day or night!

8. Martha: I love that this Little Black Dress can go from casual to classy in an instant. The color makes it dressy, while the ruffles and halter neck keep it from being too stuffy. Add some heels and pearls, and it’s perfect for a night on the town. A pair of sandals, and I’m ready for a stroll through the streets of Florence.  

9. Danielle: The real reason for why I’m taking the photo instead of being in it: I don’t actually own anything I would consider a Little Black Dress. But, I do have plenty of black clothing because dramatic contrast helps make every day a little more interesting.

10. Amelia: Even though my Little Black Dress is MIA at the moment, one of the things I love about it is that it’s always a reliable Plan B—in case the dress I plan on wearing to an event isn’t working quite right. And I never have to question if I look fat in it!


Above: covers of two of the books in the Dressing a Nation series, which includes five titles. Below: an interior spread from Hoopskirts, Union Blues, and Confederate Grays: Civil War Fashions from 1861 to 1865, showing a hoop skirt (right) and a corset (left)


Be sure to check in next week for the Dressing a Nation men’s fashion shoot!

[Top photo: courtesy of Danielle Carnito]

3 thoughts on “The Little Black Dress—Top Ten List

  1. Anonymous

    Now you beautiful ladies definitely need a night out on the town!
    -Erin Lampa

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