The origins of the little black dress are accredited to the classic designs of the great Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel. Chanel's mantra was to design and produce a range of black dresses that were intended to be wearable, versatile and available to the mass market due to the neutral nature of the colour palette. The Chanel philosophy lives on today as the archetypal model for aspiring little black dress designers to bow down to. Fashion houses to high street designers are all emulating the calf-length, straight cut, uncomplicated designs that were so typical of Chanel collections. Prior to the late 1920s when Chanel was at the beginning of her journey down the road to becoming a universally recognised, iconic figure in fashion, black was considered a colour of mourning, which exuded bad feeling and negative connotations. Chanel managed to change the perception of black and transformed its tainted reputation into one of sophistication and class. Shop the Coco Collection at LittleBlackDresss.co.uk here. THE FLAPPER DRESS The flapper dress, in all of its glittering Gatsby glory, was the next step in the evolution of the LBD. This dress featured the Chanel straight up-and-down cut with clean lines but with an added pinch of razzle and a dash of dazzle. The flapper style was seized upon by people of all ages, and in recent months the hugely anticipated remake of The Great Gatsby has brought this iconic style back in vogue.

 Left to right: Lipstick Boutique Ilaria Dress, was £65 now £25; Lipstick Boutique Pearl Dress in Black and White, was £75 now £25; Rise Fashion Elizabeth Flapper Dress in Navy, £80.

THE 1950s VINTAGE-INSPIRED DRESS The 1940s and 1950s saw women everywhere going back to black as the LBD had a foxy new makeover. Housewives tried to emulate the perfectly sculpted hourglass shapes of femme fatales and sex symbol icons such as Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe. These suppressed women replicated the siren style with cinched waists and capped sleeves to accentuated the female figure, possibly hoping to emulate the male attention that these Hollywood film starlets, the objects of the male gaze, received. Burlesque dancer and 1950s throwback, Dita Von Teese, is the perfect embodiment of this vintage fashion. The divine ensemble pictured below illustrates how specific dress patterns can create that highly sought after physique. Lagom and Kate Fearnley have recreated some fantastic, body-perfecting, 1950s style dresses that are perfect those those looking to emulate Dita's retro look today.

Left to right: Lagom Bellagio Dress, £120; Kate Fearnley Holly Polka Dot Pencil Dress in White, Was £185 Now £129.50; Kate Fearnely Darcy Dress in Black, £190. 

THE SWINGING SIXTIES DRESS The little black dress manifested itself in two very different, very distinct forms during the 1960s. The young Mod followers sported skintight mini dresses with seductive slits and bodice cut-outs. This fashion era saw sheer fabrics introduced into the mix, a trend which has made a massive comeback in recent years. Alexa Chung's much-admired style belongs in the decade of peace and love. She is pictured here wearing the penny collars and long sleeves that were so typical of the garments of the time.

Left to right: Aftershock London Agustin Dress in Black, £116; Scarlett Black London Sleeveless Fascienne Jersey Dress, £110; Louche Bonda Dress, £45.

On the other hand the more mature generation was lusting after the simplistic sheath dresses made famous by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's in 1962. These dresses regressed to the simplicity of Chanel, resurrecting the passion for the sleek silhouette all over again. For similar styles at affordable prices, Team LBD recommends taking a look at our vast selection of Audrey Hepburn-esque evening dresses. THE 1980s STYLE DRESS In the 1980s, the craving for uncomplicated creations soon faded. Sprayed-on micro-minis made a comeback and silhouettes became top-heavy and voluminous. Shoulder pads were vital and outlandish sleeve decoration became a fever that spread like wild fire. When Emma Watson adorned the eighties garb for a Harry Potter photocall in 2011, the LBD icon's modern take on 1980s style made a lasting impression. We must admit, however, that we're glad she went for a flattering pixie crop as opposed to a heyday Madonna perm!

Left to right: Roc and Doll Lace Aphrodite Longsleeve Dress in Black, £129; Geeks and Stitches Smize Dress in Black, £155; Elliott Claire Passion Lace Evening Dress, £255.

Shop all black dresses at LittleBlackDress.co.uk here.