Before we dig in too deeply about today’s post topic, I just want to, yet again, clear up a few things about my feelings about wearing black. There is a belief out there that I have something against wearing the color and have been times when members of my Facebook Group have sheepishly mentioned wearing and choosing the shade as if I will shame them for their choices. How absurd. I don’t wear black, but I don’t dislike the color. Why would I wear a color that is so unflattering on me? Does anyone do this? Whether someone enjoys wearing black is of little interest to me.
However, why black annoys me and people likely assume I have some vendetta against the color is that too many women wear black like a cop-out. They wear black because…well, it’s just what you do. Buying shoes? Of course, get the black ones. Black pants? Many women have an ocean full. And don’t get me started on the little black dress. I mean, how many does one person need? It’s the non-thinking of the color, the false truths about how black will whisk away all our fashion conundrums that drive me insane. I don’t like that black has become the hierarchy shade of the color wheel, and really dislike how women just have become conditioned to think black is their only way to fashion mastery.
Yet, black, when done purposefully, with thought, in a way that makes sense for someone’s style is stunning. if a person wears black well, they really wear it well. I love having black to lean on when it is perfect for a client. My point is, black shouldn’t be treated like the end all, be all of life. It’s just a shade in the limitless sea of color options. Just because I don’t worship at the altar of black clothing doesn’t mean I’m against anyone wearing it. So wear your black if it works.
BLACK AND WHITE FOR SPRING: CREATING OPTIC, MODERN LOOKS FOR WARM WEATHER
I bring this all up because today I’m talking about black and white worn together (hence the cutie Zebras), which brings up a whole other topic, contrast level and how it relates to how much contrast you can wear in your clothing, which I have spoken all about before (you can get up to speed here) so I won’t bother getting into it again. And, again, I want to be clear, when it comes to fashion, I don’t believe in throwing out the baby with the bathwater, strict rules, or eliminating things you enjoy wearing. What I do strongly believe in is the ability to make informed choices, which I blather on and on about here. The truth is, black and white combined to create a high amount of color contrast looks good on a small portion of the population, but does that mean if you can’t wear a color combination that is so bold you should never wear it again? No, not at all. Understanding fashion and how it works for you should give you the freedom of choice and when it is or isn’t smart to follow certain advice.
What I like about black and white worn together during the warmer months is it brightens up how heavy black can look. The combination also can create really modern, minimal looks if styled that way. It’s a clean combination that doesn’t ask for overly ornate, or overwrought decorative styling. It makes a statement without needing a lot.
To give you some inspiration on how to wear this combination this spring, I have put together five different looks using black and white below. If you’re not a fan of wearing black, like me, you could easily create similar looks using navy.
I love this look for a spring event or even for a creative workplace environment. I styled this COS dress with the simple ornate hem detail with a pair of M.Gemi heeled clogs, a white shrug from Hobbs, a layered necklace from Kenneth Jay Lane, and a bag from Cuyana. To tone down the high, optic contrast, a cardigan in a wide variety of colors could be used in place of the white one.
Equipment has been running these silk stars blouses since the Big Bang. It’s a fabulous blouse that works for weekends and work. I styled it with a pair of black Massimo Dutti trousers that have a bit of modern interest at the waist to make them less ordinary. I finished the look with a cotton tweed moto jacket from Ann Taylor, Margaux loafers, black drop earrings, and a Demellier backpack.
If you like black and white combined but don’t like the way it drowns you out, a style like this skirt from Nikki Lund where the black and white is on the bottom keeps the bold contrast away from the face. I styled it with a black ruffled top from Finley and finished the look with my favorite M.Gemi platform sandals, a white crossbody from Il Bisonte, and earrings from Julie Vos.
This nautical look, usually done with navy and white, is styled with a black and white striped polo sweater and white bootcut pants from Veronica Beard. I finished the look with black ankle strap flats with white piping, a black crossbody, both from from J.Crew, an enamel buckle bangle from Coach, and hoop earrings from Quince.
Swap out the black Veronica Beard blazer for a navy one and I’d wear this look. The base of this look with straight ankle jeans from Rag & Bone and a white tee from J.Crew (the exact t-shirt I am wearing as I write this), is a foundational look that gives the opportunity to pair just about anything over it. Right now, for example, I am wearing my grey cotton cardigan over my white tee. I finished the look with a convertible backpack, a pair of Adidas Stan Smith sneakers, and a link necklace from Gorjana.
Years ago, someone taught me this phrase, “black and white is always right.” While I certainly don’t agree with that statement, I do think the combination can create very bold, easy looks.
SUBSCRIBE TO BRIDGETTE'S WEEKLY STYLE UPDATES
RECEIVE A FREE WARDROBE CAPSULE BUILDER GUIDE WHEN YOU SUBSCRIBE
Thank you Bridgette for this sage advice. As a low contrast person with pale blond hair, I’ve avoided black for many years. However I can pull off a black dress with an open neckline and a cream jacket and necklace.
I’m one of those people who can wear black and high contrast black and white, but when I was younger, I tried to move away from black. It just didn’t work, went back to black.
Thank you so much for this post.
Really love what you show here, Bridgette! I can wear white, but I tend to shy away from wearing “just white” near my face. Wearing a sweater, jacket or scarf along with the white top is perfect!
Could you wear Nikki Lunds black & white skirt with a navy blouse and accessories and it look nice & European or would that require mixing the accessories up as some navy & others black?!!
Love outfit one with the black dress and white jacket- perhaps because last night I watched Mrs Harris Goes to Paris and some of the Dior outfits were wonders in black and white. I think we all have colours we can’t wear, or just don’t feel good in- for me its brown, but if I accessorise it right, it can work- sort of!.