To assess clients’ style, one of my first questions is “what color dominates your wardrobe?” All too often I hear “black,” and my response, at least silently, is a sigh of despair.
- “Black is easy,” they say.
- “It’s slimming.”
- “It matches everything.”
- “It’s elegant.”
- “Black is a winter wardrobe staple.”
The responses are similar from all clients. I get it. I do. Black IS easy. It CAN be slimming, and it CAN match everything. And it CAN be elegant. But there is more to the color black with regards to your wardrobe.
Consider these points in response to the above:
- Practicality. Yes, black is practical. It’s practical until you get a stain from hair products, sweat, and splashes from street slush. Then the stains stand out. They glare at you and draw attention to themselves and the impracticality of black.
- Slimming. Indeed. Black can work to accentuate your assets and diminish what you wish to hide, but only if the pieces you wear are chosen well. Clothing that is too big will only make you look sloppy, not unlike an ambulatory storm cloud. Don’t fool yourself. Choose differently. There are a dozen other colors that will do the job of slimming and add more excitement. Pro tip: Slimming colors need to be dark and cold, like the color of a sea wave on the open ocean. That color will define you and be more ever more beautiful.
- Matches everything. Yes and no. Black is strong on saturation so paired with many colors, the combination becomes too strong a contrast; too dramatic. Black with red, and black and white are, of course, the classics, yet one screams “formal wear” and the other might be associated with flamenco dancing! Neither reference is necessarily bad, but think about what image you wish to portray before you select your outfit, especially because those color combinations many times are not flattering to the figure.
- Elegant. Black IS elegant. And it is acceptable for any occasion and dress code. But do not sit back and think that just putting on black will fit the bill or satisfy the dress code. Just wearing black does not make it elegant. It’s imperative to consider the quality of the fabric as well as the tailoring, as with black clothes, craftsmanship stands out even more. A poorly made black blouse at any price point will not be elegant. You would be better off choosing white. Pro tip: if you want to look elegant in black, go for the total head-to-toe look in black.
- Winter staple. Yes, winter as a season is challenging enough: the sun is scarce and the days are short, and you might think that bright colours seem “too bright” and out of place. It’s easy to fall back on black as the choice of what to wear. Reframe that mindset! Color will add energy and vitality to the mood, helping you through the long, short days of the season. If bright colors don’t find their way into and then out of your closet easily, try some deep, “expensive” colors of the precious stones (ruby, garnet, topaz), the crimson of red wines or deep chocolate browns. They will warm up your wardrobe, but still not be in as much unbalance with the gray world around you.
Now that I’ve provided so many reasons to not choose black, let’s look at why it IS such a go-to color. Yes, I still think it’s a good idea!
- Black is a strong and stylish color. Wearing it from head to toe, with a splash of color (lipstick, nail polish, shoes, accessories), it can be stunning. Be careful to choose it wisely, though, as it can have a tendency to emphasize the stark contrast that happens with fair-skinned people.
- Black is mystical. Though often referenced with mourning and grief, black is also associated with witches and warlocks and the otherworldly. With the proper accessories, such as feathers, diamonds and bright make-up, black can be the color that changes a look from ordinary to one of mystique.
- Black is versatile. Architecturally sophisticated cuts and shapes look best in black. That’s when a complex or minimalistic outfit will look interesting and refined. So, if you’re like me, a lover of the complex and the asymmetrical, and a minimalist, reach for black.
So, as you can tell, I am a fan of black, but with certain stipulations. It is not always a panacea, or practical as the only wardrobe choice, especially for winter. I find black bags and down jackets rather pedestrian (and do not try to persuade!), but I do fancy black pumps and complete outfits in black - especially if you need to look sophisticated and elegant in no time! Just make sure that the color complements your skin tone and that you add the right amount proper color to your lips.
Don’t make black be the “go to” for the wrong reasons. Don’t hide behind it. Instead, choose to be stylish and self-confident.