One of the best things I learned during my Colour Analysis training was How to wear black if you don’t suit black. Black clothing is so easily available in the shops and the Fashion Industry pushes it as THE colour to wear. They claim it goes with everything. While it might suit some of us, for a lot of women (and men) it’s too bold, intense and ages us. So, how do we wear black when it doesn’t suit us?
How to Wear Black If You Don’t Suit Black and I really don’t suit black
I used to wear a lot of black and one day my Aunt commented that it really didn’t suit me. She wasn’t being mean, she was being honest.
I was in my twenties with dewy, youthful skin and soft/muted and warm colouring. Even with the advantages of youth, I could see it aged me and it wore me. For me, it’s too strong, bold and intense a colour. This gorgeous lady has the most amazing hair and that’ll go a long way to breaking up the black which is far too strong for her.
How to Wear Black If You Don’t Suit Black Lower Your Necklines
If it’s a dress or a top, lower the neckline so the black isn’t too close to your face or neck.
A V neck, Scoop or Cowl neck that is further away from your face can make all the difference.
If you feel there area looks bare, try the next tip and add a statement necklace.
How to Wear Black If You Don’t Suit Black Wear a Statement Necklace
Wear a statement necklace or creamy pearls for warms and white pearls for cools, it’ll be closer to your face and negate the impact of the black.
If you prefer, choose a necklace in one or more of your best colours. It’ll draw the eyes up to see your face first and not the black of your outfit.
How to Wear Black If You Don’t Suit Black Scarves, Shawls and Pashminas
Wear a wrap, scarf, shawl or pashmina in one of your wow colours, keep this between your face and the black outfit so your face looks youthful, lifted and healthy. It really can take years off you. I promise.
How to Wear Black If You Don’t Suit Black Texture, pattern and fabric type
Instead of matt black, try textured black or black with a pattern (houndstooth checks in a tiny pattern) to break up the impact of the black and soften it. Something like this Tweed fabric uses a lighter colour to soften the black. In a larger pattern with high contrast that would be too intense for someone who is soft/muted but could be fabulous on a Bright Winter or Spring.
How to Wear Black If You Don’t Suit Black – Wearing Your Wow Make up Colours with Black
Make up helps, but lipstick can be an absolute godsend. Wear a lippy to suit you and your colouring, it’ll work wonders. You’ll notice the dark, almost black nails on this lady and they’re too strong for her, but the nude lipstick, textured faux fur hat and print wrap break up the deepest colours in her outfit.
Do you wear black even though you know it’s not your friend?
If any of these tips on How to wear black if it doesn’t suit you have been helpful to you, I’d love to hear from you.
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Next time you’re shopping and see a ‘bargain’. Stop and ask yourself:
Will I really wear it?
Does it go with the majority of my wardrobe?
When would I wear it?
How would I style it?
Is it in MY colours?
Will I look great in this or will it WEAR me?
If you honestly don’t think you’ll wear it, put it back and walk away.
If it doesn’t go with most of your wardrobe, you’ll have buy other things to go with it. A bargain shouldn’t mean you have to spend more so you can use it.
If you can’t imagine wearing it and have no idea what you’d wear it with – it’s not a bargain, it’s a dead loss. The cost per wear, wouldn’t stack up and it’d be money down the drain.
This is me four or more years ago, on the left, wearing a royal blue cotton cardigan and a similar patterned, pintuck, long sleeved top from Evans. The cardigan was a gift and the top was a ‘bargain‘ in the sales. The top has pintucks on the bodice and a hanky hem, which is very flattering if you’re carrying weight around the middle, so the style is good, but…..
The intense, bright blue of both items is making my face look red and blotchy, I have dark grey shadows under my chin. I look like I’m having a hot flush/flash. It’s just far too strong a colour for me. I’ve never worn it since, not such a bargain, was it?
It’s not a bad colour, it would look fabulous on a bright/clear Winter friend of mine, the cardigan is a men’s design and looks amazing on my bright/clear Spring son, but it completely overwhelms my soft/muted and warm colouring.
Let’s talk today about the 6 Body Shapes. There are some body shapes we share, even if our proportions and scale differ.
Any scale of person (petite, standard, plus) can be any body shape.
I’ve worked with ladies who just recognised three body shapes, straight, curvy and full figure. I prefer to expand on that a little and feel the following covers most of us.
In order, the six body shapes are Triangle (often called a Pear), Inverted Triangle, Rectangle, Hourglass, Diamond and Oval (often called an apple shape).
Typically a Pear/Triangle body shape will have shoulders which are visibly narrower than hips.
An Inverted Triangle body shape will have shoulders which are visibly wider than the hips.
A Rectangle body shape is usually proportionate, in that hips and shoulders are equal width with no obvious waist.
An Hourglass body shape has a defined waist, hips and shoulders are equal in width.
A Diamond body shape tends to carry any weight about their middle but is a more angular shape than an Oval might.
An Oval/Apple body shape tends to carry any weight in the upper body, usually with a higher waist.
Knowing which body shape is closest to your body, will allow you to highlight your bests best and minimize the bits you’d rather no one noticed. There are lots of simple tips you can use.
Many people will be a combination of body types. I’m a pear or triangle shape but have a little belly padding which has raised my waistline so it is similar to an apple or oval shape. I wear tops that are fitted in the back with shaping to show off my waist curve at the back but straight at the front to allow some ease for a curvy tummy. I wear bootcut trousers to balance my wider hips and skim my curves. If I wear a skinny jean that would make my hips and legs look much wider.
I was chatting to a good friend the other day and I know she is a big fan of capsule wardrobes. I was saying I had a warm weather capsule and a cool weather capsule. Some items I can wear all year and others for special occasions. I told her I love that I can now grab a few things and know they all go together.
Result? I don’t spend ages trying on half a dozen outfits only to feel miserable. It’s taken all the decision making about clothes out of my life. She said “Exactly! It doesn’t matter what I grab out of my closet, it all fits, and it all goes together.”
Finding a uniform
If you look at someone like Steve Jobs, he must have had 30 or more of the black cashmere sweaters he wore and dozens of pairs of 501 jeans. He found a style he was comfortable with, picked a limited palette and stuck with it. One less decision to make every day. I’m not suggesting you go that hardcore, but I never once thought he looked scruffy or questioned his expertise. A ‘uniform’ whether that’s your work suit, smart casual or jumper and jeans, tells people you mean business. You don’t have to look exactly the same every day, you can add different accessories or accents of colour, but that sense of continuity can actually get you taken more seriously at work and in life.
In this article Alice Gregory talks about ‘finding her uniform’ in much the same way Jobs did. She’s come up with a style that works for her life, invested in a Winter coat and a Summer coat and some great boots. They’re things she’ll wear daily, depending on the season. Investment buys like this, would ideally be in your best neutrals.
The number of items you’ll need in your capsule wardrobe might vary to mine, for example I wear a pair of jeans three times before washing. If I want to do one load of laundry for myself per week, I need at least three pairs of jeans/chinos in my casual capsule. In warmer weather I’ll change my T shirt or top daily. I have four linen blend Ts in a warm stone colour that go with everything in my capsule. I have one purple ‘burnout’ T for layering (in winter this goes under a burgundy lace sweater and looks fabulous), two khaki Ts (one long sleeve, one cap sleeve), one burnt orange V neck T and a burgundy dolman 3/4 sleeve top. Any of these can be dressed up with good shoes/boots, nice accessories and a good handbag. I have a box of scarves, some in neutrals, some multi in neutrals or my best colours, a few plain ones and lots of hand knit shawls in luxury yarns. These are great for dressing up a casual outfit in a hurry and an extra bit of warmth on a cooler day or if you work in an office with air conditioning.
For work, smart trousers/pants might be worn for brief periods four times. Typically I wear them for meetings of a few hours at most and they are hung up between wearing to air. That means one or two at most pairs of smart pants/trousers, plus a skirt if you wear them. I don’t really wear skirts that often.
Cost Per Wear
Gregory also touches on another concept of ‘cost per wear’. I’ll admit that in the past I talked myself out of some amazing suits or Winter coats by looking at the price tag and thinking it was too much to spend on me, even if I had it.
If I had taken the same view with my Aleutian 300 Fleece Jacket from Lowe Alpine, 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have such an amazing warm jacket. At the time I did a lot of hiking/fell walking and this was perfect. It’s in a deep teal colour, I’m a Soft Autumn (Muted and Warm), it’s a colour I wear a lot. Nowadays, in cold weather, it’s worn every day for dog walking and it looks as good now as it did when I bought it. My partner often grabs it when he’s taking the dogs to the beach as it’s also wind resistant.
If I calculate the cost per wear, it’s £4.00 per year, divided by 90 days of wear (for this exercise we’ll assume it’s three months), making it £0.04 per wear. From around October through to March, I probably wear it EVERY day. While it’s a casual jacket, it’s easy to dress up a bit with a nice scarf, a good handbag and some smart trousers/pants. Now, that is a bargain.
Save Time and Cash
If you have a capsule wardrobe for work (or any other part of your life, and you can have several), you don’t have think about what to wear each day, you’re sorted. You don’t waste time in front of the mirror or drive everyone else nuts by asking ‘Does this look okay?’
Save time when shopping, if you know what you need to replace or is missing from your capsule, you can breeze past everything else in the store and just look at those items.
By avoiding those wardrobe disasters you save money. (You know you have at least one, it looked good on the hanger or on your best pal, but it’s hideous on you?) Avoiding those bargains that really aren’t bargains at all, means you can save cash for an item you really love and know will make you feel amazing when you wear it.
That means you can afford to invest in yourself. Save up for that amazing Winter coat, if you love colour then pick one of your best colours, if not, then pick your best neutral for the season. For me, my smart Winter coat is a deep, chocolate brown or charcoal navy. In Summer my casual jacket is in khaki and my smarter coat is a warm camel colour. The cost per wear on a good coat will be less than a penny or a cent during it’s lifetime and it’ll more than earn it’s keep in your closet. I’ll also admit to having a fabulous deep tomato red coat, it’s reversible and the other side is in a leopard print. I do love the pop of pattern at the collar and cuffs, but I rarely wear it with the Leopard side ‘out’. Maybe one day …..
The same applies to shoes or boots, buy good quality, make sure they fit you well. Buy shoes mid afternoon, when your feet are at their largest to get the best size. Choose a neutral to go with the coat, it’ll help pull your outfit together and can make you look taller.
Remember that more choice can be paralyzing rather than liberating. Having a grab and go wardrobe means you can get on with your day quickly and always looking great.
I never really felt that I had a style, or that my outfits were ‘put-together’ in any way. I must admit, that for many years and particularly when my son was young, I just threw on what fit or was clean.
During that time I was still working as a consultant to small businesses in ICT, Web Marketing, Social Media etc and being in a creative industry, it’s lucky that jeans are an accepted part of the dress code.
Once I started to look at my lifestyle, what I wanted from my wardrobe and how I want to look, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. I’m what some call a Natural/Classic. I enjoy dressing up and wearing suits, but for me, comfort and easy of movement are high on the list of priorities.
If you’re thinking of a style consultation, either in person or virtual, try this little bit of homework first.
What do you need from a capsule wardrobe?
is it for work?
family time, casual weekends?
special occasion/wedding/other family event?
Being clear about what you want will help you get the most out of the session and make a real impact on your life. Don’t try and change your whole life at once. Pick one area of life, say work, and do that first. The rest you can get as you have time or the need arises.
Once you’ve made that choice, think about your keywords. What three to five words describe the requirements of that capsule wardrobe?
For my family time/casual weekend wardrobe my priorities were
casual – easy to dress up with a few accessories if needed
comfortable – natural fibres, blends, bit of stetch so I can move swiftly and easily
machine wash – this is a big one for me, or it will languish in the bottom of the laundry basket forever
What is wardrobe weeding? We work with you to create outfits you love with the clothes you have, identify any basic or accessory purchases you need to complete or enhance your look and how to get your wardrobe ‘working for you’. We’ll help you create a hard working capsule wardrobe from your existing clothes and show you how to easily put together outfits for all occasions. No more worries about what to wear, you’ll be able to ‘grab and go’.