BLACK – The Pros and the Cons

Black is probably the most dominant single color in women’s fashions. There was a time I can remember that no one would think of wearing black clothing in the summer. Given the fact that black absorbs heat and makes the wearer physically warmer, that made extremely good sense (but we all know that good sense doesn’t always dictate fashion design.) I love the story told by the late colorist Kathryn Kalisz about the fast food chain ‘Checkers’. Their building design has black and white porcelain tiles on the exterior in a checkered pattern. If you touch the white tiles and then the black tiles, you can feel the difference in temperature.
So why do fashion makers make so many of their fashions in black? And why do women choose to wear so much of it even in hot weather?

Fashion makers stand a far greater chance of selling more pieces if they make it in black. They would take a greater risk with other less versatile colors. Women will buy and wear black even if it doesn’t flatter their complexion. So what’s the attraction?
Black is easy. It goes with everything; it hides stains better; it makes even cheap fabric look more expensive; it’s visually slimming; the cost-per-wearing of a black garment is lower than the same garment in a neutral like…say rust for example; AND it’s ever-present in the market place. That’s a lot to be said for one color. But, for many people black is a color that doesn’t do them any favors if their intention is to look as attractive and healthy as possible. For many, black can be draining. It can pull all the color from the face. It can cast unflattering shadows under the eyes, and around the nose and mouth making you look older or in need of a good night’s sleep. That’s a high price to pay if how you look matters to you.
If you do look great in black go for it. If you look so-so in black and live in a part of the world where there is a good deal of cool or cold weather go for it. The damage will be minimal and it’s probably the easiest color to find when you shop. But if you know in your heart of hearts that black doesn’t do for you what it does for some other women. If black is just a no-brainer residing in your closet, I encourage you to try to wean yourself away from a wardrobe that is dominated by black. It takes a bit more effort but you CAN do it…and it WILL be worth it.
Have a professional color analysis and find out all the great neutrals that look wonderful on you and start looking for core pieces for your wardrobe in these colors. Navies, browns, beiges, taupes, grays, creams, camels, dark reds. These are neutrals too. You should have swatches of your best versions of each of these colors to take with you when you shop. If you sew or have someone who can sew for you, have basic pieces like slacks, skirts, etc. made for you in your ideal neutrals. The investment will be well worth it. And if you must wear it, keep black to a minimum in your wardrobe.
Buy yourself one nice evening outfit….dress or pant suit in black. Make sure it exposes some skin near your face. Low necklines and sleeveless tops are good for this. Sheer fabric or lace works too to minimize the visual weight of black near the face. Wear makeup. Define your eyes with mascara and liner.

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