Style Myths: Black

Happy day, reader dear!

As you have already noticed (Because you closetplay readers are a bright bunch!) is that this is another re-post. August is my official 2019 blogging break. There are exciting plans in the works, with a surprise to be announced 15 August on my Facebook page! I expect I will release it live, so please follow me there for more updates, just in case the notices don’t coincide with my blogging dates. I’d hate for you to miss the fun!

I thought I’d start the month out right by tackling three of the biggest style myths right away. The last post was about The Myth of Effortless Style, so today I will cover the darkest myth (pun intended) the myth(s) about wearing black.

Blah, blah, blah, blah, black. Blah, blah, blah, blah, black. Blah, blah, blah, blah, black. It comes in black. It only comes in black. We only have it in black. No, I am not talking about the Model T, or the first telephone. I am talking about the tyranny of black that reigns in fashiondom and the retail world. I get it. Black is easy. And cheap clothes usually look better in black than in other colors. But black is not the only color! And it is certainly not the only color that looks chic!

Ten plus years ago, when my hair was still much darker, black was not only one of my best colors, it was my hands down favorite and default. My coloring is cool, and was brighter and more vivid back then. I looked good in black, and as a petite person, coming across as a little intimidating and authoritative was not something I minded. Especially in the classroom…Black was my signature color, and I often had a hard time finding clothes in black. There used to be a bias toward making petite clothes in “girlie” colors, which I found downright patronizing. As luck would have it, now black is everywhere and my coloring is much lighter with my grey hair and softening skin color. I am still cool, but the black of my younger wardrobe looks harsh and unflattering on me. I still have a few black items, and a cocktail dress; since those are usually not worn in the bright, harsh light of day, but in the dimmer and more forgiving lighting of evening (and with extra makeup), I can still get away with them. For some tips on how to wear black if it’s not your best, read on here!

Myth: Black looks good on everyone.

Reality: Everyone CAN wear black, but black does not make the most of many complexions!

Much of the population does not look their best in black. (In daylight!) Women and men with cool, dark, and bright coloring look good in black. That leaves out most of us. Those with warm, dark coloring look better in warm neutrals: dark chocolate browns, dark eggplant, dark olive. Those with warm light coloring look better in warm lighter neutrals: camels, ivories, olives, warm greys. Cool, light coloring looks better in lighter neutrals, like cool greys and taupe. Black has a tendency to make under eye circles more intense, the shadows and wrinkles around our mouths deeper, and chins double. (Who needs any of that?!)

Polyvore of Warm vs. Cool Neutral Women's Clothing

Myth: Black makes you look thinner.

Reality: Any color can make you look thinner. It’s all in how you wear it!

When worn as a column from shoulder to knee, or to ankle, any color will make you look thinner! Keeping the eye moving is what creates the optical illusion. If your coloring is warm and light, black will drag the eye of your beholder away from your face (where you want attention to stay) and to the black item. The contrast with your natural coloring will appear heavy and pull you down, especially that pair of black pants that you bought to make your bottom look smaller. Colors in harmony with your personal coloring will make you look healthier and happier. When you look healthy and happy, no one notices your thighs or your tummy! For more about black not making you look smaller, read here.

Myth: Black looks chic.

Reality: Neutrals look chic (of which black is just one!), especially when in a column of color, or as accents with each other!

Ivory from head to toe, topped with camel? Yes, please! Grey trousers and a sweater with brown crocodile accents? Gorgeous! Olive with cognac? Rich! Navy from head to toe? Lovely! Camel with oxblood accents? Oh, my! International Orange? No, not chic. Yes, cheap clothes will usually look more expensive in black than in other colors, but if it looks cheap in its other shades, it probably doesn’t deserve a place in a wardrobe that you want to last.

Polyvore Women's Clothing Illustrating Columns of Color

Myth: Black goes with everything.

Reality: Anything black goes with, other neutrals go with, too!

And often much better! Especially if the other colors have warm undertones. Love coral? It looks even better with ivory, olive, chocolate, and warm grey than it does with black. Yellow? With black it can look bumblebee, but with grey? That’s a home run! Turquoise with chocolate? OMGoodness! Pink with chocolate, navy, grey, ivory, taupe, basically anything. Yum! Purple and olive? Yes, please! Oh, and lavender with chocolate? Luscious! I haven’t found a color yet that doesn’t work with navy. Yes, even black does. Let’s play with all the crayons in the box, not just the black ones!

What is your favorite (not black) color to wear? What’s your favorite neutral other than black? I love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts in the comments below…

Stylishly yours,


  • Gail McKelvey

    I am consistently drawn to olives & beiges. How boring, huh? II try to brighten with gold jewelry. I do wear blacks, but again use the gold jewelry. I also try to follow your tip & tail match. I really like that. I feel “finished” when I do. Thans for all you do, Liz!

    • Liz K

      Thank you, Gail! There’s nothing boring about Olives & Beiges… Especially if you POP them with a great accent! I love turquoises and teals with both those neutrals.

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