Designer LBDs from Khaite, Chanel, & More

Early in Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s career, she published a single sketch in Vogue: A tubular black shift dress with long sleeves, a crew neckline, and a single strand of pearls to top it off. The magazine dubbed it “Chanel’s Ford”—projecting the impetus it would have in every woman’s closet. This is considered the birth of the Little Black Dress, or the LBD.

In its century-long run, the cocktail silhouette has been reinterpreted and reconstructed by design giants from Cristobal Balenciaga to Hubert de Givenchy, making one thing all but certain: there’s a contemporary style for everyone.

Identifiable by its above-the-ankle cut and jet black hue, the LBD’s greatest strength is that it’s a chameleon; you can adorn it with chunky chains or delicate pearls and it will take on an entirely new feel in both contexts. While you might already have a black dress (or two, or five) in your closet, there’s never a bad time to add a few well-appointed silhouettes to your repertoire—especially as we plan our re-emergence into the evening hours. Whether you’d prefer a shift dress that cuts off above the ankle (à la Chanel) or a waist-hugging silhouette with a more truncated hemline (Dior)—or if you’re unsure, explore the picks ahead to find the LBD of your dreams.