To help us create an inclusive platform for fashion knowledge, we've asked our resident aesthetic ace Winona Rose to answer our questions—and yours!—about how to look our best, even if the fashion industry has dealt us the worst of hands.
I’m addicted to black. Exhibit A: my closet. I need to break out of this no-color cycle. I do push myself to buy one colored item of clothing a month. Yet even with these boundary-pushing efforts, I still go to my closet and choose black, as if it is a comfortable uniform of sorts. If I could only understand my propensity to don such darkness: Am I fashionably lazy? Is it because I have an apprehension to doing laundry? Is it because I walk and drink coffee at the same time? Or is it because it just goes with everything—mainly me?
I admit to feeling uncomfortable in color, although I don’t think I have chromophobia (yes this is a thing). Please help shine some ways in which I can shed some light onto my wardrobe -or- a suggestion of admitting defeat is also welcome.
Desperately seeking my place on the color wheel,
Four words: I. Feel. Your. Pain.
In fact, I spent a few days in Florida earlier this week, and guess what color most of the clothes in my suitcase were? Yep, that sunny, summery classic: solid black. Now I’m back in Nashville, and as I type this I’m wearing—you guessed it!—all black. Let me tell you, as a life-long fashion lover/devotee of black clothing, I’ve done a lot of soul-searching and experimenting on the topic of color, and it’s more complicated than it seems. Here are a few questions that might help you understand why you gravitate toward black:
Do your reasons for wearing black come from a positive or a negative place? For example, do you wear a lot of black because you’re trying to hide your body? Or do you wear it because you feel like a badass rock n’ roll goddess in it?
What makes you uncomfortable about wearing color? Do you not like standing out? Do colorful clothes not feel like “you”? Are you intimidated by color pairings? Do you keep buying black clothes out of habit more than anything?
Your answers to these questions will help you decide where to go from here. If you’re wearing black because of body shame, fear of being seen, or because you’re stuck in a shopping rut, I get it. I’ve been there. But I think any choice in life that we’re making based on fear—whether it’s staying in a so-so relationship or draping ourselves in dark colors— deserves some deeper reflection and examination.
Throughout the years, my own motivations for wearing black have spanned the spectrum. These days, I’m feeling pretty good about it, and here’s why: I dramatically downsized my wardrobe a couple years ago when I moved across the country (we’re talking “get rid of everything that doesn’t fit into a plastic bin in the backseat of my Jetta”). It was hard and scary to let go of so many pieces of clothing, but it was also empowering, and gave me the chance to be really thoughtful about how I wanted to rebuild my wardrobe once I got settled in my new city. It was tempting to start fresh with a whole new style: tons of color, crazy prints, etc. But as I started filling my closet with bright, colorful things, I got stressed out and overwhelmed. Turns out I didn’t want a closet stuffed with a rainbow of random colors.
I realized that for me, black is the backbone of an easy, streamlined wardrobe. It’s not a crutch, it’s a tool. These days I look for well-made pieces, mostly in black, with some cobalt blue, red, and gray thrown in the mix. Having a mostly black wardrobe allows me to not worry a ton about spilling coffee on myself (again, I feel your pain), easily assemble outfits, and feel chic and confident in whatever item I pull out of my closet.
Also? It gives me an awesome dark canvas to show off jewelry and accessories, which brings me to my next piece of advice: if you’re going to indulge your love of black in your clothing choices, make a concerted effort to limit black in your accessories. Go for bold jewelry, statement-making sunglasses, and brightly colored purses, shoes, scarves, and manicures. I’m a fan of hot pink myself, but even more “grown-up” colors are enough to make your look really pop: think cranberry, royal blue, cognac, and lavender. Your clothing itself doesn’t have to be colorful, but you should always have color somewhere in your ensemble.
One more word of warning: to avoid looking like you’re always on your way to a Catholic funeral, pay attention to the cuts and styles of your black garments. There’s a big difference between a somber black sheath dress and a flippy black skater dress or a mod, bell-sleeve mini dress. Opt for styles that have a fun, playful vibe. Black might not be the cheeriest color, but it can—and should—still be fun to wear.