This week we've been asking you who your ultimate LBD icons are. If you haven't told us whose LBD style you've loved the most over the years yet, click here to vote and you could win £100! A style for almost 100 years, we wanted to share with you the evolution of the much-coveted dress style. Here Team LBD explores how this classic piece has been reworked and restyled throughout history and why it has remained in our wardrobes (and our hearts!) for so long. Before Chanel deemed the LBD the must-have garment of the century, the idea of wearing black had a very different meaning. Generally worn for mourning, the colour black represented sadness and despair. In the 19th century, John Singer Sargent caused a public outcry when he painted the mysterious ‘Madame X’. His image was of a woman wearing a sultry, fitted, black evening dress and caused controversy as many people had never seen the colour worn outside of mourning; although we wouldn't bat an eyelid if we saw this same black dress on the cover of Vogue today…oh how times have changed.

In the 1920’s Coco Chanel coined the phrase ‘little black dress’. Chanel found fame by introducing the loose fitted dresses and shapes which ultimately freed women from the restrictive corsets worn previously. In 1926 Vogue published a Chanel illustration of a woman wearing a simple, calf-length black dress with only a few diagonal lines for decoration. Vogue called the dress Chanel’s Ford due to its timeless, classic style and its accessibility to women from all different backgrounds and classes (like the Ford car). By the late 20s the LBD’s place in society and fashion was cemented and worn by women at any number of occasions.

The 1930s saw the arrival of the famous ‘flapper dress’. With a loose fit and layers of beaded embellishment, the little black flapper dress became an iconic dress in itself; portraying the fun and rebellious nature of the times with a bit of razzle and dazzle! The flapper dress mirrored the musical changes of the era and was often associated with popular jazz. This twenties fashion is still with us today thanks to the hugely popular 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

Continuing to the 1940s, the little black dress became increasingly important during the war. Rationing and the culture of reuse and recycle meant that the classic black dress was both accessorised for the evening with heels and elegant jewellery and yet could be toned-down for daytime wear. The mood in the 40s enabled the LBD to become one of the ultimate versatile pieces to have in your collection. It was viewed as something you simply could not live without-which Team LBD still believes rings true today!

The arrival of Hollywood Glamour in the 1950s saw a sexy makeover for the shape of the little black dress. Dior’s ‘New Look’ collection was the classic embodiment of the fifties shape, featuring full and flirty skirts with nipped-in waists. Popularised by starlets such as Grace Kelly, Hollywood femme fatales flocked to wear this new alluring hourglass shape, viewed as the perfect dress for on and off-screen style.

In the swinging sixties two very different styles of LBD emerged. The younger ‘mod’ generation coveted sultry slits up the leg, netting and ever-decreasing lengths; the term ‘mini dress’, coined by designer Mary Quant led to the disappearing length of the LBD. The more mature generation still favoured a classic, longer dress such as the glamorous Givenchy number publicised by Audrey Hepburn in the film Breakfast at Tiffany's. Accessorized with strings of pearls and long satin gloves Hepburn’s dress was one of the most iconic black dresses of the era, perhaps of all time.

The 1970s and 80s encouraged power dressing which once again revolutionised the black dress. Striking shoulder pads, peplums and glitzy embellishments were introduced; all of which dramatically altered the silhouette of the LBD. Additionally the wardrobe staple easily morphed into a brooding, rebellious item of clothing, mirroring the new punk rock culture with the arrival of sheer mesh cut outs and lace detailing. PVC, fishnet tights and safety pins helped to transform the image of LBD once again, as did legendary rock chic style icons like Madonna.

The grunge trend dominated much of the nineties with the likes of Kate Moss working the I-just-threw-this-on black dress look. Simple, short LBDs were on-trend too, often produced in figure hugging black jersey. This move towards basic, leisure fashion was a striking contrast from the extrovert designs adopted in the 80s. The causal look was born, and so the laid-back LBD increased in popularity. This new style of dress could be worn with chunky biker boots or even platform sandals (just think of the Spice Girls and you get the picture!) to again prove that the LBD was the most versatile piece a woman could own.

Today, many trends from the past century have resurfaced to create the eclectic mix of fashion in current society. One of the most popular styles of the new LBD is the body-con; often super short, it might feature figure flattering panels to give the illusion of a sexy svelte shape. Cut out sides, sheer mesh and skater skirts are also popular on the modern LBD. If you’re looking for the perfect little black dress for you then choose a shape that will flatter your figure and you can’t go wrong; remember you have almost a century of LBD styles to choose from! Shop all black dresses at LittleBlackDress.co.uk here.