What to Wear When You Don’t Look Good in Black
FASHION + STYLE
They say every woman should have a little black dress.
They say you should always wear black for a job interview.
They say black is the new black.
Who are they, anyway? And where do they get off telling us what to wear?
The tradition of wearing black stems from black’s usefulness as a base color. A base color is one that looks good with all other colors, doesn’t draw attention to itself, and—most importantly—flatters your complexion and shape. Unfortunately, many women don’t look their best in black. Yet black continues to enjoy an unfair privilege as the queen of the wardrobe.
It’s time to end this nonsense once and for all.
1.) Ask Yourself, “Is Black for YOU?”
How can you tell if black’s not for you? If your skin is extremely pale or has a yellowish tinge, you should avoid black unless you’re auditioning for a part on the Addams Family. Black can emphasis bags under your eyes and make wrinkles look darker and deeper. Also, black is ultra-slimming, so if that little black number renders you nearly invisible, opt for a different base color.
2.) If Not, Purge Your Wardrobe of Black
The first step is to purge your wardrobe of black. Spread all your black garments across your bed and take a good look. For each black item, ask yourself this: do you have another similar non-black item, or can you buy one soon? If so, then the black garment goes into the Goodwill pile (or the consignment store pile; we are after all in a recession). Be ruthless. Only allow yourself to keep black items that you cannot readily replace, and resolve to discard them at the earliest opportunity.
3.) Find a New Base Color
After the purge, your wardrobe may be a little sparse. The next step is to replace the exiled black with a base color that doesn’t make you look like a scarecrow or a wraith. Navy blue, dark brown, and dark gray are the three alternatives to black. Choose your favorite (or the color in which you already own the most items). Congratulations! You have your new base color.
Purchase, beg or borrow the following in your base color:
- Cocktail dress
- Dress pants
- Casual pants
- Sweater or cardigan
Remember, the new color is a base, never an accent. The above items should be classic and timeless. Choose a simple sweater that goes with everything rather than a funky lime-trimmed affair that clashes with half your wardrobe.
4.) Stick to the Base Color
Also important: choose only one base color and stick to it. There’s no point having a gray dress, navy blue shoes and a dark brown jacket. Sure, you can wear them together, but then you have to buy duplicates of each item if you want to create an ensemble with accent colors.
Now that you have a base color that flatters your figure and complexion, you can get away with a much sleeker wardrobe. A single navy blue skirt looks fantastic with a flirty pink camisole, a crisp white button-down shirt, or a orange-and-yellow striped cardigan. A single dark gray cocktail dress can be dressed up with matching high heels and a scarlet silk shawl, or dressed down with gray loafers and an olive turtle-neck. A single pair of dark brown sandals can be worn with jeans, trousers, shorts, skirts and dresses of all colors.
People may not notice that you don’t wear black anymore, but they’ll notice the spring in your step. When every color you wear makes you look your best, you feel like a million dollars.