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little black dress (plural little black dresses)

  1. A simply cut and often quite short evening or cocktail dress.
    • 2012, Rebecca Apsan, Lessons in Lingerie: Finding Your Perfect Shade of Seduction:
      When dressing up for a night out, let's not forget the sex appeal, allure, and slenderizing effect of ultrasheer black hosiery under that little black dress.
  2. (figuratively) Something simple, versatile, and elegant; something that pairs well with many other things.
    • 2013 April 24, Alexandra Petri, “The peculiar brilliance of that sorority e-mail”, in The Washington Post[1]:
      The F-bomb is the little black dress of vulgarity. Noun, verb, participle, verbal noun — it goes with everything.
    • 2014 August 1, Sarah Hazelwood, “5 of the Best…Fruits and Vegetables to grow this August”, in Buzz[2], page 27:
      Who, excepting fictional fanged creatures of the night, doesn't love a bit of garlic? It goes in anything and is like the little black dress of the food world.
    • 2014 August 10, Karen Crouse, “After Tuneup for Trials, American Swimmers Evaluate Potential”, in The New York Times[3]:
      While Phelps might have been the headliner, Ledecky became the little black dress of American swimming; unpretentious, regal and ridiculously versatile.
    • For more examples of usage of this term, see Citations:little black dress.
    Synonym: LBD