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Little Black Dress

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Some accessories might be outdated, but not the dress.

"There's one thing you just can't beat / And that's a strapless backless classical little black dress..."
— "Little Black Dress", Shock Treatment

The Little Black Dress is 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 '20s, 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. An anecdote on where Chanel found inspiration on the dress is that while she was looking at her maid, she observed upon the simplicity of the uniform and tweaked it by removing the apron and the lace trimmings, leaving only the black part of the dress.


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 each 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 Many such dresses from (stereotypically from The '80s) are more likely to be an Outdated Outfit.

Also, while it's true that the first thing that comes in mind for the dress is the one worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's (as the page image above), do NOT mention it as a Chanel creation made in 1926, like most fashion articles do. Though the concept of the Little Black Dress is Chanel's, the specific one Hepburn wore was created by Hubert de Givenchy in 1961.


Compare Lady in Red, Woman in White, Princesses Prefer Pink, Graceful Ladies Like Purple, True Blue Femininity, Fairytale Wedding Dress, Simple, yet Opulent, High Class Gloves.

Contrast Fashion Dissonance, I Was Quite a Fashion Victim.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Lust from Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • Blue/Green (the girl) from Pokémon Adventures wore one, combined with white gloves, until the FireRed and LeafGreen arcs, when she was given a new outfit to match her game counterpart. She was based on an unused female protagonist for Pokémon Red and Blue, who ended up being revamped for the remake games. Blue is a bit flirty but is a toned down variant due to her young age.
  • 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 Oinarisama 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 Future Diary.
  • Shizuki and Yuzuki from Hekikai No Aion. Shizuki wears a long one and Yuzuki wears a black Mini Dress Of Power.
  • Akari from 3-gatsu 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: you teach wearing that?

     Comic Books  
  • Jean Grey has worn a few:
    • Early into Chris Claremont's run on X-Men, she wears one on a date with Cyclops. Since the date is ruined by Sentinels abducting her, she spends the rest of the storyline in it (forcing the dress to suffer an Action Dress Rip from Wolverine), right up until she becomes / is empowered by / replaced by the Phoenix.
    • 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.
  • The Spider-Man villain Queen wears a beautiful seductive black dress in her debut issue and wears similar ones in the issues after it. She's both beautiful and deadly wearing it, easily able to defeat Spidey several times.

    Fan Works 
  • Silverwingfox has drawn some pictures of Disney Animated Canon heroines in these dresses. Here, here, here, and here.
  • The pro wrestling story, A Ring Of Their Own has a scene where Michelle McCool dons one and tries to seduce John "Bradshaw" Layfield in an effort to find out who her opponent will be in the opening round of the FWF's title tournament to crown their first champion. JBL doesn't bite.
  • Tsuruya in Kyon: Big Damn Hero has one, and she wears it to a movie. With Kyon, his sister and Miyoko.
  • Twilight in Hard Reset 'borrows' one, after stealing the perfect earrings.
    Ew, I got changeling splattered all over my new dress!

  • 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.
  • While it's true that Chanel launched the LBD in 1926 in Paris, the film It, starring Clara Bow in her modified work clothes, that kickstarted the dress trend in Hollywood.
  • 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.
  • Dear Diary: Annie uses this exact phrase when seeing a black dress in a fashion store. At the end when her husband gets a look at it, it helps revive their stagnant sex life.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fuller House : In the third episode, DJ wears a very tiny one.
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Midge's standard outfit for standup comedy is a simple black cocktail dress.

  • 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 dress
    You found the perfect one today
    Yeah it's just hangin' in the closet
    You wanna wear it in the worst of ways
  • Édith Piaf always wore one on stage.
  • Lena Meyer-Landrut won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2010 wearing one.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • 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, etc 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.

    Video Games 


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Betty Boop is iconic for her little black dress, though the Technicolor cartoons dyed it red.
  • Donna from The Cleveland Show wear this occasionally.
  • DCAU:
    • Several in Batman: The Animated Series, given that Bruce hangs out around affluent people. Even Barbara Gordon has a mini one.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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").
  • Jez on Jimmy Two-Shoes wears one at all times as part of her Limited Wardrobe.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In the episode of The Simpsons, "Lard of the Dance", Lisa dons one to get a date for the dance.