Little Black Dress
aka: The Little Black Dress
pretty much what the name implies: a simple, (usually) short black dress, with little to no trimming or decoration. Expect very few frills, ruffles, or sequins. It's also most often sleeveless, strapless, has spaghetti straps, cap sleeves, or a halter-style top. The effect is to make an impression of grand, yet simple style, that could fit the fashion in any decade since the early 20th century. This dress was created during The Roaring Twenties, when fashion was in a big upheaval compared with the decades before. Coco Chanel came up with a dress that would work in any evening or formal occasion, and blend in through any decade since. This versatility and ability to work with any shot made the dress immensely popular with Hollywood costume designers, which spread the dress's popularity around the world. Despite how it seems, this isn't really the opposite of a Pimped-Out Dress (and may rarely even overlap with Happy Holidays Dress). It's just the pimping out is rare, to a lesser degree, and still done in a way that makes the dress last. But not every style of this dress is guaranteed to last. Many such dresses from (stereotypically from The '80s) are more likely to be an Outdated Outfit. Compare Lady in Red, Woman in White, Princesses Prefer Pink, Graceful Ladies Like Purple, True Blue Femininity, Fairytale Wedding Dress, Simple Yet Opulent. Contrast Fashion Dissonance, I Was Quite a Fashion Victim. Not to be confused with Woman in Black (although they can overlap), Launcher of a Thousand Ships (the shipping trope formerly named this).
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Lust from Fullmetal Alchemist.
- Blue/Green (the girl) from Pokemon Special.
- Chane Laforet from Baccano!.
- Nami and Robin wore Little Black Dresses in One Piece Film: Strong World.
- Clare's outfit in the second volume of the Claymore manga probably fits this trope.
- Mio from K-On!.
- Which is funny, seeing as in the fandom she's a "little black dress"...
- Eve from Black Cat.
- As well as her Expy Golden Darkness from To Love-Ru and her sister Mea Kurosaki .
- Kuugen Tenko in Wagaya no Oinari-sama. dons one of these in episode 22. Bonus points in that she fights a wolf woman while wearing it and doesn't even get it dirty!
- One-time villainess Eris from Slayers had a Stripperific variation of this trope.
- Anna Kyoyama from Shaman King
- Yuno Gasai wears one of these in episode 19 of Mirai Nikki.
- Shizuki and Yuzuki from Hekikai No Aion. Shizuki wears a long one and Yuzuki wears a black Mini Dress Of Power.
- Akari from Sangatsu no Lion wears black dresses with full-lengthed skirt as part of her "uniform" while working at Mikako's Ginza bar.
- In the manga of Soul Eater, BJ comes to Death City to find the spy or mole (rather than the anime version, where he came to help build a Magic Tool). One of the people he needs to investigate is Marie Mjolnir, his Christmas Cake ex-girlfriend. She shows up to the interrogation in a slinky Little Black Dress, which has about the desired effect.
BJ: Do...do you teach wearing that?
- Jean Grey has worn a few. One in X-Factor #1 in a scene where she meets Scott again, and then declares she won't stand by with mutant hatred growing.
- Another was worn in #51-53. The dress is obviously not meant to keep warm in winter weather, so she buys a fur coat, a white one, to complement the dress.
- Gwen Stacy wears a jaw dropping version in Spider-Man: Blue.
- Breakfast at Tiffany's has probably the most iconic example with Holly Golightly's dress, designed, like all of Audrey Hepburn's costumes for the film, by Hubert de Givenchy.
- In Mrs. Doubtfire, Miranda has a couple dresses to wear for her date. Daniel in disguise tries to convince her to go with the older, and more frumpy, black dress, and it doesn't work.
- In the film version of The Fountainhead, Dominique wears a dress, with an ermine trimmed neckline, to the opening party of Roark's first major building.
- In the Doris Day film, It's A Great Feeling, Patricia plays herself in the film wearing that dress.
- Nicole Kidman in Batman Forever.
- Kirsten Dunst in Spider-Man 2. And 3◊
- Double Subversion in True Lies. When told to "dress sexy", Helen puts on one with huge frills that seriously date it. Then she looks really hard in a mirror and rips the frills off as part of her impromptu self-makeover, and the dress fit a more timeless style.
- In Shock Treatment, the "sequel" to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, there's a whole song about this trope called Little Black Dress.
- Angela in Angel-A wore one, looked ridiculously good in it
- Audrey Hepburn's little black dress in Sabrina. It was actually designed by Hubert de Givenchy, but in a power grab, Paramount costume designer Edith Head took credit for all of the clothes worn in the film.
- In the first film adaptation, Bridget Jones wears two such dresses in the film, each having to do with Daniel and Mark.
- Subverted in The Duff. Bianca dressed in one to the party with intention to get the guy but exposed her to the concept of "DUFF" and get pissed off instead, and she (and her friends) fired up the sewing machine to mix and match the LBD with her black/red plaid T-shirt and created the dress she really shine in.
- There's an actual publishing company, specialising in Chick Lit, called Little Black Dress Books. Including this trope in some form is probably a contractual obligation.
- Used as a metaphor in Al Franken's The Truth (with jokes). Al quotes a blogger who referred to the 9/11 attacks as "Bush's Little Black Dress" — just as the dress can be slipped on for any social occasion, the 9/11 attacks could be used as the justification for any policy he wanted to pursue.
- Nicci of the Sword of Truth wears one of these all the time. It's symbolic of her unfeelingness and becomes associated with her being "Death's Mistress". In fact, when she's worried she might be recognized when she doesn't want to be, she wears a red dress and relies on her... assets to distract.
Live Action TV
- Several◊ publicity◊ photos◊ of the girls of Sex and the City, in addition to the numerous times they wore some in the show.
- The Little Black Dress is listed as one of the ten must-have fashion items in Tim Gunn's Guide to Style.
- A character attempting to vamp Captain Sheridan on Babylon 5 wears an exact copy of Audrey's Breakfast at Tiffany's classic black dress.
- Delenn does the exact same thing much more successfully. Twice.
- One episode of CSI: NY had a trio of female crooks who robbed a jewellery store while dressed as Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
- In the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy is shown holding up dresses in front of her to decide what to wear to the Bronze. Her comment on the black dress is "Hi, I'm an enormous slut!" Sure enough Buffy wears a little black dress while doing her notorious Mating Dance with Xander the following year.
- Sarah Walker on Chuck wore more than her fair share both in the show, on the DVD covers, and in promotional material. Being played by Yvonne Strahovski, she wore them quite well.
- Almost all the main female characters on Mad Men have worn a black dress at least one time during the series.
- Glee often features versions of the LBD, the best example during the "Rumour Has it/Someone Like You" mashup in Season 3.
- Dean's Crossroad Demon in Supernatural always wears a sexy little black dress.
- Used practically in the first episode of The Lone Gunmen. The heroes run into a bearded fellow in a suit while he's committing a crime. Moments later, before leaving the scene of crime, the guy strips off "his" suit, beard, and wig, to reveal the show's new female antagonist in a LBD - which fit well under her disguise and didn't stand out in public.
- She was a long cool woman in a black dress...
- "Oh, baby, you're a classic, like a little black dress..." - Fall Out Boy, Tiffany Blews
- "Gettin' You Home (The Black Dress Song)" by Chris Young makes use of this trope.
- In the music video of Selena Gomez's "Round and Round", she wears a black dress under her trenchcoat.
- In the chalga song, "Moqt nomer" by Teodora & DJ Jerry "Little black dress next the skin / and hot body underneath"
- The second verse of "Since You Brought It Up" by James Otto:
You been lookin' for that little black dressYou found the perfect one todayYeah it's just hangin' in the closetYou wanna wear it in the worst of ways
- Édith Piaf always wore one on stage.
- Rayna Von Tosh (first graduate of the SHIMMER academy seen in WSU, Chikara and surrounding promotions) has worn a little black dress with red decorations, presumably to go with her pinup girl gimmick.
- Black Rose has wrestled in a little black dress on a few occasions. Besides fashion or fan service, it also doesn't stain much when her(or preferably, someone else's) blood gets on it. (the same reason Lady Demonique, Disiple, Monster Pain, ect wear black)
- The title character of Sweet Charity wears one of these. Exactly how long she wears it depends on the production, but in the original production she had it on for the whole show.
- The first collection of the Barbie Basics was focused entirely on this, all the twelve dolls wearing some interpretation of the little black dress, with fashion packs consisting only on accesories, in order to adapt the dresses to different situations.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic toyline, the Pinkie Pie's Boutique Fashion Style toy has a black minidress and headband.
- Aya wears one when At the Opera Tonight in the first Parasite Eve.
- Leaf from Pokémon Red and Blue. She never got to wear it outside of an official art though due to her not appearing until FRLG due to space shortages.
- Elite Four Karen in Pokémon Gold and Silver.
- One of Dizzy's pre-fight animation in Guilty Gear X.
- A female Commander Shepard can wear two over the course of the Mass Effect series:
- In Mass Effect 2, Commander Shepard gets a leather one that squeaks in Kasumi Goto's Loyalty Mission. Once finished, the dress becomes available as casual wear aboard the Normandy.
- Mass Effect 3 offers a spaghetti strap little black dress as part of her casual wardrobe. This one even includes her N7 logo.
- Rayne in BloodRayne 2 begins the game in a black evening gown. Floor length with long slits up the sides and Absolute Cleavage; the little fabric remaining is thin enough to cling skin-tight.
- Carmelita Fox from Sly Cooper has one that she wears when not suffering from Limited Wardrobe syndrome, most noticeably in the second game when attending a lavish party, and during the ending cutscene of the third game.
- Tales of Monkey Island: Elaine gets one when she willingly becomes LeChuck's demon bride in Chapter 5, and this black bridal dress has all the elements of a Pimped-Out Dress.
- Either inverted or subverted in RosenkreuzStilette, where Luste Teuber actually wears little black underwear, fingerless elbow gloves, and Zettai Ryouiki.
- Lara Croft wears a very Fanservicey one of these during the Japan mission of Tomb Raider Legend.
- An item in Fallout: New Vegas is pre-war singer Vera Keyes's black dress. A female Courier can wear it (and it gives very slight armour, too). Male Couriers end up with it transforming into a tuxedo. Somehow.
- The Boss can get one in Saints Row 2. Appropriate for a tasteful evening cruising downtown..in a sewage truck and firing a filth cannon.
- In The Chapel Chronicles, the main character, Chapel Smith, wears a little black dress in almost every strip. It’s one of her fundamental characteristics.
- In El Goonish Shive, during the Grace's Birthday arc, Nanase gives Ellen a little black dress to wear. It's the first time Ellen, an Opposite-Sex Clone of Elliot, has ever worn anything remotely feminine, and she's quite embarrassed by the ordeal.
- Most of the female cast of Ménage ŕ 3 are good-looking, and several of them carry off LBDs with aplomb at times:
- In Out There, The little black dress is a favorite of both Miriam and Sherry.
- In Wapsi Square, putting one on Monica results in Distracted by the Sexy.
- Kim Possible wore one of these in "Emotion Sickness", to show that she's feeling a bit saucy towards Ron. It has since become a cornerstone in the show's fandom, eventually earning the Fan Nickname "The LBD".
- Frankie from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends wore the LBD in three episodes for separate occasions: a dinner date ("Frankie My Dear"), a red-carpet movie premiere alongside Mac ("Ticket to Rod", although neither of them actually end up going) and a fund-raising party ("Fools and Regulations").
- Also worn by Drew Saturday in The Secret Saturdays episode "Guess Who's Going To Be Dinner" when she and Doc go on an anniversary date.
- As of the website's first update in over a year and a half, Ruby Gloom's heavily-expanded wardrobe (which originally consisted of a medium-sized black dress, which actually seems to have been pushed out of the picture entirely) includes such a dress.
- Several in Batman: The Animated Series, given that Bruce hangs out around affluent people. Even Barbara Gordon has a mini one.
- In one episode of Justice League, in order to get acquainted with society, Wonder Woman decides to attend a formal ball, wearing a new, nice, black dress.
- Jez on Jimmy Two-Shoes wears one at all times as part of her Limited Wardrobe.
- Max from Batman Beyond sports one while posing as a date for Terry during a stakeout. It's fetching enough that he even comments on it.
Terry: (after a long pan up of her in the dress) Never seen you in a dress before. (grins) You look good.
- Betty Boop is iconic for her little black dress, though the Technicolor cartoons dyed it red.