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Little Black Dress

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[Black dress with intricate sleeve head], Digital ID 1599861, New York Public LibraryThe story of black for clothing is a long and interesting one. I tackled the topic in “A Rakish History of Men’s Wear,” but more can always be said. Black as a feminine clothing choice turns out to be a complex decision. 

An excellent publication from the Victoria & Albert Museum, those serious custodians of design history, is Black in fashion. This book focuses, however, on the twentieth century exclusively. In the 1930s, the elongated lines for frocks made black garments appear coolly elegant. And on the dance floor, a dress like the one depicted here went so well with its glamorous tuxedo partner…

p.s. I’ll be following up in a few weeks with more on “fashion victim.” And I’ll broaden my investigations to look at both classically successful and problematic aspects of feminine fashion.

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