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How the Little Black Dress Became Sexy

‘History Of’ traces the journey of the LBD, from Scarlett O’Hara to Princess Di.

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LBDs may be the simplest, safest outfit option you keep hanging in your closet. But the history of the little black dress suggests they weren’t always so simple: In the west, up until the early 1900s, black dresses were worn exclusively as mourning attire after a woman’s husband had died.

Ironically, that turned black dresses into a signal to onlookers: This woman is newly single, and she’s not a virgin. Oh, and she was respectable enough to have been married in the first place.

Which, at the time, was pretty alluring to men. Thus black dresses became an inherently sexy fashion choice, even when the hemlines and sleeves were long.

Of course, once those hemlines did start rising, as with Princess Diana’s black “revenge dress,” LBDs contained a whole other level of sex appeal.

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