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HOW TO WEAR BLACK? SPARINGLY!


As you know, I'm a big promotor of wearing colour and I shy away from black. But, I know that there is a place for black... if used correctly.


Reversible vintage opera coat in black velvet & gunmetal green on the inside
Reversible vintage opera coat in gunmetal green with black velvet on the inside

As much as I am a fan of colour — and as much as I worry that black will drain the glamour from colour — even I realize there is a place for black. Done correctly, black can be elegant, chic, and ageless. Unfortunately, too many women use black as armour, trying to hide their figures, trying to look thinner. In our Swinging 6ixties, too much black can make us washed out and, sadly, make us disappear.


A metallic band and peek-a-boo detail softens the black top.
A metallic band and peek-a-boo detail softens the black top.

I recently met up with a high school friend whom I haven't seen for years. She arrived dressed in black from head to toe. Black winter coat, black blouse, black pants, even black combat boots. It was like having lunch with a Greek widow who had borrowed her son's army boots. My friend is a beautiful woman, but she was lost in that sea of dark drabness with no relief.


The colours in this vintage mink coat complement & soften the black top and skirt.
The colours in this vintage mink coat complement & soften the black top and skirt.

In contrast, I was wearing a reversible vintage opera coat — one side in black velvet, the other in gunmetal green — and it had the WOW factor. The shirt may have been black, but with metallic detail across the shoulders and neckline it brought brightness to my complexion. A vintage circle skirt from Paris in a shade between chocolate brown and charcoal, paired with a statement belt, completed the dramatic look. Sure it was dressy, but it was a lunch date with an old friend at an upscale restaurant. The occasion called for dressy.


The camel pants really work well with the black elements, especially with those metallic accents.
The camel pants really work well with the black elements, especially with those metallic accents.

Top Tips For Wearing Black

  1. Look for black pieces that have metallic accents; adding sheen to black can make it appear more vibrant.

  2. Mix black patterns and textures to make the outfit pop; think houndstooth, checked or stripes.

  3. Next time you reach for black, think again and see if you can find a happier colour palette. Maybe navy could be your new black? Or chocolate brown? Or orange? Or hot pink?

  4. Black pants and a black jacket will have you looking like a corporate lawyer or, worse, a banker. Swap out the blazer for a solid-colour blazer and then add a silky, patterned blouse to make the outfit plus chic !