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Little Black Dress: From Mourning to Night
Little Black Dress exhibit logo
Little Black Dress: From Mourning to Night
April 2, 2016 - September 5, 2016

The Little Black Dress—a simple, short cocktail dress—is a sartorial staple for most contemporary women. Prior to the early 20th century, simple, unadorned black garments were limited to mourning, and strict social rules regarding mourning dress were rigidly observed.

Influential French designer Coco Chanel revolutionized fashion by introducing the versatile, affordable, accessible garment. Today, the wearing of black at funerals is in decline, and it isn't uncommon to see black at weddings—even on the bride! Such flaunting of tradition was unthinkable and scandalous to earlier generations.

Featuring over 60 dresses from the Missouri History Museum's world-renowned textile collection, this fun yet thought-provoking exhibit explores the subject of mourning, as well as the transition of black from a symbol of grief to a symbol of high fashion. You'll also see fascinating artifacts—from hair jewelry to tear catchers—that were once a regular part of the mourning process. Plus, you'll have the chance to share your own memories of your favorite little black dress and even get the opportunity to design your own dress! 

Admission to this exhibition is FREE.

Organized by the Missouri History Museum.

Little Black Dress Trivia logo




Generously Sponsored by Caleres

Every Monday we're hosting a trivia contest to find out how much you know about the history of the Little Black Dress! Answer between 9am and 5pm on Mondays for the chance to win Little Black Dress swag, gift cards from Famous Footwear and Dr. Scholl's, and much more! Click to see this week's question.

Little Black Dress Project

Almost every woman has her favorite or a memory of her own little black dress, and we want yours for this exhibit! Now through the end of Little Black Dress, we'll be collecting images of you in your little black dress on Facebook and Instagram. Snap a selfie or share your favorite image of yourself in a little black dress using #LBDProject and tag @mohistorymuseum (that part's important!) or email us your picture at An interactive feature within the exhibit will be updated regularly with the images submitted by you and other visitors!

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