In case you have a busy day ahead of you, let’s cut to the chase. Here are the secrets of wearing black and white clothes together.
- Mix textures
- Include at least one higher end piece
- Stand near a whole bunch of bushes
But seriously, or at least more seriously, somewhere in passing I read midlife women shouldn’t wear black and white together. That as we age, the high contrast and lack of hue starts to wash us out.
This seemed to counter the laws of physics. How could something so simple, black + white clothing, be off-limits to an entire demographic segment? I thought we deserved a little deeper research.
The commercial web offers little of use. Funny how that is so often true. For example, any article that posits a white fur vest as the solution? Hmm. Glamour does point out the dangers of looking like a waiter, in a piece entitled, Chic New Ways To Wear Black and White Now. I sense they aren’t all that worried.
I think we should turn to our advice stalwarts, Sal of Already Pretty, and Imogen, of Inside Out Style. Neither addresses black and white specifically, but Sal has this to say about wearing white intentionally, and this similarly to say about black. Imogen in turn points out that all shades of white are not created equal, and that we’re well served by choosing carefully.
So, on to my personal experiments. Above I’m wearing a summerweight black tweed Étoile Isabel Marant jacket, black J. Crew bootleg cords, a new looong white Splendid shirt that I don’t have to tuck in, and Beautifeel shoes. The outfit wears better than it photographs, as the shirt is light and fluttery, and the layers therefore less messy than they appear here. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Love that long placket.
You won’t risk looking like you’re wearing a rented uniform as long as you beware of black gabardine and twill. Rely instead on textures like tweed, corduroy, and velvet. Add a ruffle or some flutter. Better an 18th century highwayman than a trade show minion.
Some day remind me to tell you trade show stories. But I digress.
The real secret to wearing black and white well? Accessories in a neutral or muted shade, suited to your skin tone. Black and white are very high contrast. Very few people have the kind of coloring to support bright colors in the mix as well. For us minimalists, or, in my case, those who persist in carrying laptop backpacks and wearing comfortable dark shoes, I have one word.
The photo above is not to show you that I am 55 and have lines on my face, nor that I need a haircut, nor that I wear pearl and diamond studs with two neck diamond solitaires. No, I have far more respect for you than that. We are focusing on the Giorgio Armani Pink 500 lipstick, which single-handedly returns us blue-toned sorts to the land of Those With Face Color. I layer on a little Burt’s Bees lip balm in a paler pink, just because I can.
And then I pick up my heavy backpack and stomp off down the street to work. As one does, in comfortable shoes, feeling just a little bit like Captain Jack Sparrow, except quite secure in one’s choice of lipstick.