Black Box?

Why Black Doesn’t Make You Look Smaller!

Happy day, reader dear!

How’s yours going? It’s a colorful week here at Monday’s post was In the Pink, and today’s is Black Box. If this is your first visit, Welcome! If you are returning, Thank you for coming back! You’ll find lots of chat about style, color, and wardrobes, both general and personal. I also share my experiences as an Image and Wardrobe Consultant, Personal Shopper, Stylist, etc… I wear LOTS of hats!

The Illusion

Today I want to touch on a dark side (Bad puns run rampant here!) of the black-makes-you-look-thinner myth. (Yes, I did say myth.) While it may be true that the visual effect of wearing black may have a very slight slimming effect, black also has another effect that can completely erase any perceived slimming. I think of it as the Weight of Black Corollary.

This is a classic example of the illusion… The white box on the black background “looks larger” than the identically sized black box on a white background.

Think about it… Color has not only optical effects, but visceral emotional effects as well. Colors have “feels.” We associate blues and greens with cool, reds, oranges and yellows with warmth. Those color overtones are feelings we associate with color, they don’t have much to do with the undertone (or actual makeup of) the color.

But What About Weight?

So what about black and white? We may associate both black and white with cold, but temperature isn’t at issue here. Weight is. Let’s look at what I mean…

Looking at the two pair of boxes, you might say the black boxes look smaller. Sure they do. Now… Which boxes look heavier? There’s the problem. Our perception of “smaller” is a combination of size and weight combined. Almost any visual slimming created by the darker color is completely lost by the additional visual “weight” we associate with dark!

Darker = More Solid = Heavier

I’m not sure if the boxes below are all exactly the same size, but size isn’t the issue here. The visual weight is. Imagine each box having a weight of 1, 2, or 3, with 1 being the lightest, and 3 the heaviest. How would you rank the boxes?

Generally, when I show this image to people, I get White-1, Brown-2, Black-3… How do your answers compare? Let me know in the comments below… I love to hear from you!

So next time you are feeling fluffy and reach for that LBD, think carefully. Is the illusion you are looking for lost by the increase in visual weight? Take a selfie for a more objective view. Not everyone needs an LBD! Maybe you should put it away and choose a dress in a color that makes you glow. Then everyone will notice you and your glow! Because isn’t looking vibrant and full of life better than 1/4 inch narrower?

Stylishly yours,

If you need boxes, click the image caption below to find them. I receive no compensation. I borrowed their images for this post and it’s only right to link you to the source!


  • Melanie

    Hi Liz:

    Popping in from The Midlife Blogging Community💞
    I gave the same scale rating as majority of others on the boxes….very interesting!
    Great explanation on the myth behind dressing in black making you appear smaller. Thank you!

    • closetplayadmin

      Thank you for visiting, Mel! It’s funny how our perceptions can play games with us… And how we can use that to our advantage, or disadvantage!

    • closetplayadmin

      Thank you for visiting, Rosemary! Yes, warm colors “advance” and cool do “recede.” And lighter vs. darker advance and recede as well. There’s a complex interplay, and I think it’s important to realize that and not just default “because it’s the ‘skinny’ color”!

    • closetplayadmin

      Thank you for visiting, Loretta! I’m not sure why you don’t “see” the differences. That’s rare! It may have to do with your visual receptors… I’ll have to do some more digging!

  • Rebecca

    What an interesting perspective. You should publish this on Instagram if you already haven’t!
    I own a few black items, but love a pop of color! Ones that look good with my alabaster skin tone and blonde hair!

    • closetplayadmin

      Thank you for visiting, Rebecca! I did, but will repost again on Insta this week. Glad you aren’t a slave to the Black Myths!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.