Black clothing is so ubiquitous that it seems impossible for a woman not to own any of it in her wardrobe. Being someone who doesn’t wear it, I am a rarity. Knowing I am not the only woman in the world who doesn’t look good in black, it’s obvious there are plenty of women out there who are willing to sacrifice the way black looks on their skin tones for the other benefits they get from wearing the color, like looking slim, sleek, modern, tall, or simply because it is easy.
How to Make Black Clothing Flattering When Black Clothing Isn’t Flattering to Wear
Given this, it got me thinking about how to make black clothing flattering when it isn’t a flattering color to wear, and if there is a way to make black work no matter what your personal coloring is. I decided to put some outfits together to show how to do it. Take a look at my tips below.
When black clothing is too cool
For women who have warmer undertones and who look better in earth tones and neutral shades like camel, brown and olive, black clothing can weigh heavy on the skin, look bleak and make them look ashen and dull. People with this skin tone often need colors with warm, yellow bases, which black doesn’t typically have.
In cases like this, it’s important to surround and complement black with warmer shades, including neutrals. This can be done by pairing camel with black or cognac, adding a scarf or jewelry in flattering shades to balance out black near your face, or to throw layering pieces, like cardigans or jackets over black tops. The key is to see black as a background color for all your warm flattering colors to bounce off of. When choosing jewelry, try wearing gold instead of silver. Bring as much warmth to the iciness of black to achieve balance. Lastly, try to keep black away from the face, like I did in the outfit above.
I styled these black skinny pants from Elie Tahari with a camel sweater from Theory. I accessorized the outfit with a pair of cognac boots from Michael Kors, tortoise L. Erickson earrings, a pecan colored tote from Brahmin and gold cuff from Banana Republic. Finishing the outfit, I used this coat in warm olive and cognac leather gloves.
Black clothing is too stark
There are women out there who can wear cooler, blue based, icier colors but need them to be softer. These women don’t necessarily look bad in black because it is a cooler color, it doesn’t look flattering on them because it is too heavy and stark. When they put black on it just sits on them like a heavy anchor. Typically, these women have softer, lighter coloring to match the colors that often look good to wear. In these cases, bold, contrasting color combinations are too loud and energetic and the combinations needs to be softer and quieter.
Instead of pairing black with colors like white, which just creates a lot of optic contrast, creating a softer combination with a shade like grey works better. Additionally, instead of bright, clear and loud colors, try colors in pastels or have a more muted quality.
In the outfit above, I layered this grey Vince cardigan over this black tunic from French Connection and added these grey leggings from Mango. I finished the outfit with a pair of grey booties from Lucky Brand, Kendra Scott stone drop earrings and a grey tote with colorful tassel from Marlowe.
Black Clothing is too dark
I have worked with some clients where they just look good in color. Typically, these women look amazing in jewel tones, bright happy colors, blue based brights and colors with a lot of energy. While black isn’t necessarily a bad color, these women often just light up when color is against their faces. Pairing brights is the way to go, like in the outfit above.
You don’t need to look like a clown if brights are your colors. There are rich color out there that still have a lot of energy. In the outfit above, I styled this black Lafayette 148 dress with a purple blazer from J. Crew that, while deep, has a lot of energy. To finish the look, I used these bright pink pumps from Sam Edelman, colorful scarf from Ted Baker, jewel tone earrings from Ann Klein and grey handbag from Coach.
Black is too severe
Similar to the outfit in the last look, the outfit above is a situation where someone looks good in color, but in this case they look better in warm, clear brights. They need a lot of color near their face because black just makes them look too severe, too somber and too serious, which isn’t who they are. Black just drags them down.
In the outfit above, I styled this basic black t-shirt with a bright chartreuse leather jacket and deep teal pants from Banana Republic. To finish the outfit, I added these burgundy pumps from Nine West, printed scarf from Yigal Azrouel, long station necklace from Cole Haan and bag from Furla.
If black clothing hasn’t always flattered you it doesn’t have to be off limits. All you have to do is learn how to pair it with the shades that do look good so that black can be the backdrop that your best colors can springboard off of.