Column: Fashion Forward
Black Is Back: Re-Claiming A Classic
Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 20:02
I’m sick of people telling me that black isn’t a color. I don’t care that scientifically it’s the “complete absence of light.” I’m sorry, if I can see it with my eyes and if I can buy a pair of heels in it, it’s a color. It’s been hard all these years, answering frankly, “black” to the shallow, inconsequential question, “What’s your favorite color?” It’s as if as soon as the word leaves your mouth, people are wondering if you’re a goth, depressed, or a closeted Elvira, Mistress of the Dark enthusiast. Why should I pretend? I shy away from the bright spring colors that emerge seemingly out of nowhere, just as the trees start mysteriously, yet hopefully blossoming in early April. I feel awkward in bright yellow, and my skin crawls at the thought of bright pink. Eek.
Maybe it’s a Manhattan thing. Maybe I’m too introspective. Maybe it’s because I’m cursed with skin that errs on the side of ‘pale’ during most months of the year, with extremely dark brown hair: a lethal combination that has made Wednesday and/or Morticia Addams an easy last minute Halloween costume. Maybe it’s because extremely bright colors wash me out and mostly, as I mentioned before, make me generally uncomfortable. Whatever the reason, “all black everything,” as Jay-Z would put it, has become a staple of my wardrobe, for better or worse.
Nowadays, black is the color most commonly associated with high fashion—it seems to articulate a sleek, chic elegance that is no doubt conceived from the groundbreaking 1926 fashion moment: Coco Chanel’s ‘little black dress,’ the great equalizer of fashion that was an essential part of any stylish woman’s wardrobe. The beauty of the little black dress is that, no matter the occasion, a woman could always look flawless. The common fashion mantra that all women look good in black certainly has some truth to it—it’s a flattering color for almost all body types and matches with all other colors.
While black may be a feature of your wardrobe that exists only sparingly, its place will become more necessary as we venture into adulthood. While I write that last sentence with a big knot in my throat, as there are some parts of my ‘young adult’ wardrobe that I don’t ever want to give up (my LF lace corset tops and cheetah print jeans from New York’s iconic punk-rock boutique Trash & Vaudeville, to name a few), it’s an undeniable fact we all must face. Some days, far from now when we’re exhausted after having to wake up each day at the crack of dawn to commute to work, it might be easier to just throw on a black pencil skirt with a white blouse than to construct a going-to-work outfit that could be seen while flipping through the pages of Vogue (note: I said some days).
There are some black essentials for all female closets:
Once you buy them, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. While most people own a pair of black heels, a quality pair is a necessary investment for a young professional woman, or anyone who intends on dressing up even semi-frequently in their adult lives. If you don’t, good for you, but if you do, peruse labels such as Jeffrey Campbell or Michael Kors (two of my personal favorites) for a timeless black pump. A rounded toe, usually between 5 and 6 inches (depending on your talent for walking in heels), in leather or suede are the most basic and functional, yet chic, black heels you could find. I’m all for funky shoes—I’m currently obsessed with black suede, studded wedges with gold studs, (I’ve bought two pairs in the past month) but buy this pair before venturing down that path.
Little Black Dress
Channel your inner Coco. A closet isn’t complete without it, as cliched as it might sound. It’s a great option for a last minute semi-formal/formal event that might come up—you’ll never have to wonder if you’re dressed appropriately. This is another item that needs to be an investment piece—I’ve had luck with French Connection and Ralph Lauren, but my personal favorite is Calvin Klein, paired with your new black pumps or a funky colored pair of platform heels (try red, forest green, or grey), an accent necklace or cocktail ring—you’re golden.
Black pencil skirt
I’m sure everyone’s mother has urged her to buy this item at one point. Make her and yourself happy, and just do it.
Black Leather Jacket
Just for fun.
I probably take it to an extreme. I am hard pressed to construct an outfit that does not consist of at least one black item. On days I’m feeling adventurous or, dare I say, bright, I am forced to venture into the closets of my roommates. I’m proud of my black wardrobe. Johnny Cash, Elvira, Jean-Paul Sartre, Benedictine monks, and Edith Piaf would be too.