~ I WORE ONLY BLACK FOR A WEEK (AND WAS ENLIGHTENED) ~
I recently attended Dark Mofo, a winter solstice festival in Hobart, which brings to light the darker side of the arts (read all about it here). I deemed it the perfect occasion to take a walk on the shady side, so when packing my suitcase I extracted only black garments from my wardrobe. This was a bold move for me as I love being a human canvas for colourful clothing and rarely delve into all black, fearing I will end up looking like I’m off to burgle Kevin McCallister’s house. Colour, for me, is a channel I frequently use for self-expression and is something with which I love to experiment – if you want your outfit to sing, employing colour is your job already half-done. So how can one make all-black stand out? I came up with five ways to make wearing black more compelling while still maintaining my personal style.
When you only have one colour to play with, integrating contrasting fabrics into an ensemble can be just as effective as marrying different colours or patterns. Consider pairing denim, cotton or linen with high shine fabrics such as silk or leather. Soft velvet is also great for contrast. If you want to go bolder how about adding black sequins or a fluffy coat to the mix?
Almost everyone can agree that black is flattering because it best hides all your lumps and bumps. But often in the process of concealing those less favourable areas, some of the more desirable features become lost too. If you can’t focus on the smaller details, direct your attention to the bigger picture – the outfit as a whole – by creating a strong silhouette. Think flared or balloon sleeves, padded shoulders, cinched waists, pleated skirts – anything that creates visible structure. Building up your silhouette using layers can also help develop a bolder look.
SHOW SOME SKIN:
Black is pretty stark, so when you are cloaked head-to-toe in the colour of coal, it can appear as though you are drowning in it. If you feel comfortable enough, balance out the blackness with your skin. Whether you are dark cocoa or coconut white, skin always works wonders to break up an all-encompassing black look. You don’t don’t have to bare all either – cropped trousers with bare ankles is often enough to offset the heavy-duty black. Or opt for a sheer top.
FIFTY SHADES OF BLACK
You can achieve varying degrees of black through levels of fade and levels of opacity. Pairing a skirt or dress with low denier tights, rather than opaque, can help break up and add depth to your look. Furthermore, black is not a colour in its own right and is created using other colours, usually a mix of the three primaries (red, yellow and blue), so often two blacks can have quite different undertones. And no one will mind if you pair an all-black ensemble with a dark charcoal coat, right?
Small additions like bright silver zippers or buckles, statement earrings, or a splash of colour provided by your socks, handbag, or sunglasses, is often all you need to kickstart an all-black ensemble. Even bright coloured lipstick or nails can do the trick.