Bryian is one of my dearest friends. What bonds us, aside from our quirky sense of humor, is our shared fashion backgrounds that span over a decade. Yes, we get excited about fashion talk like two moms get excited sharing the strides their toddlers are making. Recently, my friend Bryian called me and said, “I have a new fashion term, it’s called a blackcident.” He went on to explain that a blackcident means the mistake of relying too heavily on black in ones wardrobe. “Oh my God, I love it!” I exclaimed, a blackcident. This will make for a wonderful article.”
I know, from first-hand experience that a reliance on black as the most versatile wardrobe shade is a common faux-pas that I find in most closets. I was recently in a client’s closet and as she pulled out seven pairs of black pants and said, “Here are all my black pants because you can never have enough of course.” There was such assuredness in her comment as if I was going to reply to her comment with a, “Duh, well of course.” Instead, my reaction was a very disagreeing upturn of my eyebrows. My gesture was returned by her with a stunned look as if it was 1492 and I was Christopher Columbus trying to convince her that the world wasn’t flat.
I don’t have a fixed agenda to get women off of their black addiction. It’s not like I am the Betty Ford Clinic of color dependency. Giving up the color black, as that one main staple color, happens naturally with little to no effort made by me. All a client needs is an opportunity to actually look at the color black differently, to try other neutral colors, and to see how limiting black is to make their opinion change.
Black is not the most versatile wardrobe color
Contrary to popular belief black is not the most versatile wardrobe color. Yes, it’s an obvious given for most women, but black also has the potential to create a wardrobe that is pedestrian looking, expected and hard to work with.
If you want to embrace style, learn to let go of wearing too much black black or at least learn how to bring in other colors into your wardrobe to balance out the heaviness of black. Here are some ways that you can neutralize your black-heavy wardrobe:
It’s very common for me to open up a closet, look at the floor of the closet space and see a pile of mismatched black shoes resembling a pile of used tires. The best way to spruce up your wardrobe is to abandon the black shoe for other colors.
There are many ways to do this. My first suggestion is a tan or natural colored shoe in a feminine style. This versatile shoe color should be a staple in the closet. Use of this shoe not only makes an outfit look more sophisticated, it makes the wearer look more sophisticated. If your wardrobe is more tailored, use this shoe color with any of your tailored pants, in any color (including black) and watch the level of sophistication in the outfit rise exponentially. When trading out a black shoe for a tan shoe, many clients have gone from looking like middle management to executive status with this one subtle shoe change.
In addition tan shoes make a leg look longer because the shoe color is closer to the color of skin. Tan shoes with any skirt color is a nice alternative to a clunky, stark black shoe. The other shoe color substitution is brown. Brown, instead of black, looks great with brown, grey, navy and denim. In addition to being softer than black, brown adds a level of sophistication that black shoes can’t.
Lastly, use your shoes as the pop focus of your outfit. If you feel dull in black, try a colored shoe worn back with a black outfit. My favorite is red, or an ornate shoe style that can punch up an outfit.
Like black shoes, women seem to also have a strong reliance on black pants. Black pants aren’t versatile, they are limiting. Unlike other softer neutral pant shades like olive, brown, tan, grey and camel, you can’t be as versatile with black as you can be with these other shades. Why? Well black doesn’t it lend itself as well to mixing and matching like other shades can. Let’s say, for example, that you start with an olive shade of pants. You can bring in a soft pink top and a soft tan jacket and all three colors work together and harmonize well. Conversely, if you put on a black pair of pants with a pink top and light tan jacket, the look still works, but the black pants being so much heavier and stark doesn’t harmonize as nicely.
Secondly, you can’t create tones with black like you can with other colors. Let’s take brown. There are so many shades of brown, from light tan to dark chocolate. And the nice thing about brown is that there is usually a shade of brown for every skin type. By having a spectrum of shades in one color, you can play with different tones in one outfit. Black, on the other hand doesn’t have the same versatility. Sure, grey is an option to creating shades of black and if you do decide to stick with black, be sure to bring in some grey to balance it out.
Lastly, I have said it before (gazillions of times) but color works back to any neutral pants shade just as well as it does with black. Treat other colored bottoms like olive, camel, tan, brown, navy and grey as you would a black pant. In addition, pinstripes, checks and tweeds can be treated like a solid pant. If you have a grey pinstripe pair of pants any colored top can be worn with these novelty pants. Adding some other colors will allow you to still keep your black pants while creating a feeling of a more balanced wardrobe. Don’t get rid of black completely, just incorporate in other color choices to create balance.
If you are going to wear black you have to do something creative with it.
When I do wear black I know I have to do something with it and times when I haven’t I have actually had people remark on my lack of creativity. If you start with black as your base, I urge you to get creative. Don’t stop with a black pair of colored pants and a colored top. How much more boring can you get? Bring in a pop shoe, some accessories, a fun jacket, something, anything to liven up the outfit. Additionally, black looks interesting when the cuts and silhouettes of the garments are interesting, or at least tailored well. A dumpy black pair of pants and a ill-fitting black top is much different than a sharp pair of black pants and visually interesting black top. All blacks are NOT created equal.
I am not the black police and like I mentioned, I never force a client out of black. This discovery is one that a client normally makes when she is exposed to other avenues than the black that she has clung to as the only way. Instead of you feeling that you have to abandon black, test out other shades and see how you feel. Black will always be there with open arms for you to go running back to.