Not sure what to wear to the last-minute surge of holiday parties?

The trendlet

Don't worry. Grab that old reliable - the little black dress. You can't go wrong, because throwback is everything this holiday season. That means the '50s sheath, the '80s one-shoulder, or the '90s exposed-zipper dress nestled in the back of your closet only need airing out and a little statement jewelry. Then, voilà, you're relevant.

Where does it come from?

High-fashion history says a handful of designers may have dibbled and dabbled in black dresses. But it was inarguably the great Coco Chanel who took the unadorned piece from mourning to chic.

She introduced it in 1926 as a silk jersey day frock. But in quick recognition of its potential, Chanel fashioned a long-sleeve version in crepe de chine, fashion journalist Hal Rubenstein wrote in his 2011 book, 100 Unforgettable Dresses.

Since then, the LBD has been behind many memorable fashion moments. Audrey Hepburn was delightful in a tea-length Givenchy in the 1954 film Sabrina. And Hepburn's floor-length evening gown in Breakfast at Tiffany's also was a touchstone moment in fashion.

The Robert Palmer girls of the 1980s were sleek. The minis of R&B singing group En Vogue were alluring.

In 1994, Princess Diana surprised the world in an off-the-shoulder mini. The dress was sexy, and she wore it the day her then-husband Prince Charles went public with his Camilla Parker Bowles affair.

Later that year, Elizabeth Hurley appeared on the arm of her then-boyfriend Hugh Grant in a black Gianni Versace held together with safety pins. Edgy.

During the late '90s, Carrie Bradshaw walked the streets of Manhattan in many LBDs while pining over "Big." In real life, actress Sarah Jessica Parker recently launched her Parker LBD Collection at Bloomingdale's.

Who is wearing it?

Who isn't?

Would Elizabeth wear one?

I'm a fashion writer. Next question.

Should you wear one?

Don't you already?

Deep V mini sheath, Elizabeth & James, $365; gold zipper, Michelle Mason, $622; one-shoulder, Naveda, $255. All dresses available at Shop Sixty Five, 128 S. 17th St., 267-239-5488,

Model: Samantha Grandy.