Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why Black Is Not Simple

My quest for a simpler life includes simplifying my wardrobe, purchasing only quality clothing items I love in a color palette that transcends trends. A lot of what I’ve read in the blogosphere, in books and magazines has suggested black be the color that grounds a simple, stylish wardrobe, and I can see the logic there. In the photos of stylish women in New York, Paris and other urban hubs there’s no denying the sleek women in head-to-toe black with a dash of color in a handbag or scarf do look oh-so-chic. I’ve tried this look, and well, it simply doesn’t work for me. I’ve often wondered why this is. This is what I’ve come up with:

  1. Black is moody. I live in Colorado, a state that boasts 360 days of sunshine. Black looks better against moody, rainy backdrops like Paris, San Francisco or that town in Oregon where all the vampires live. Exposed to the unfiltered atmosphere at 6,000 feet above sea level, black looks grumpy and in need of a nap.
  2. Black likes the City. I don’t live in the City, I live in the mountains; a place where people come to get away from the City (perhaps they come here to get out of their black clothes and experience something more colorful). Head-to toe black, to me, looks like a lost tourist.
  3. Black likes to party. Me? Not so much. I love a good wine-tasting party and a concert, but I’m glad my clubbing days are a faded memory. These days, my nightlife includes dinner or drinks with friends, the infrequent work-related function, a few low-key holiday get-togethers, events with extended family, going to the movies – all of which are cheerful occasions calling for attire to match.  
  4. Black likes winter. I once bought I linen dress in black, thinking I’d wear the heck out of it all summer long. It hung in my closet, hardly worn, until I consigned the thing. I haven’t bought a black summer dress since. But here in Colorado, with all the snow reflecting all the sunshine, it’s still too bright to wear black on most days, even in winter.
  5. Black likes to be alone. It’s no secret that black says back off. There are times when I want to send that message loud and clear, but honestly most of the time, I don’t. Like I said, I live in a small town. I know when I go for a walk, shopping for groceries or to a school function, I will see many familiar faces. Whether I’m wearing black or not, people will stop and chat, so why send mixed messages – “Hi, now get lost.”
Of course if you like black, wear it. It might be simple and chic for you. It is for many, but it’s not for me. The point is to find what works for you, your life, your aesthetic. I still wear black. I have black cardis, pants, skirts, shoes, a coat, handbag and hat, none of which I’m planning on consigning any time soon.  But these days black takes a backseat to other colors, especially the autumnal colors I adore and the jeans that ground my everyday look. Sounds simple, it’s not. One of my most favorite style blogs is The Vivienne Files. She explains with examples and great detail how to take a color palette you love and make it your own.  Black works, but so do a spectrum of other colors.


  1. I have a conflicted relationship with black. It simplifies getting dressed for work, but can seem gloomy sometimes.

  2. Jane W. -- Conflicted is the right word, I really want to love black, but it doesn't love me back! It has taken a while to finally get this.