The Best Colors to Wear with Black

October 1, 2009

Corporate Fashionista's Black Compatibility Color Chart Fall 2009

CorporateFashionista’s Black Compatibility Color Chart Fall 2009

And the Dangers of Black! There is so much black apparel in stores this fall season. The color black is considered by most of us to be a “fail-safe” color. Many of us have become so habitually drawn to this color that we grab it out of our closets and proceed to throw it on with anything and everything. It all works, right? In theory, black is a neutral color that you should be able to successfully mix with any other color. Yet this is a MYTH! In practice, it is wise to select colors that do not drastically contrast with black. Otherwise, your entire outfit can end up looking cheap and inexpensive regardless of price. Anyone can wear black. MYTH again! The danger of black is that it can make a woman’s skin tone appear sallow and fatigued bringing forth a less fresh and dewy complexion. Bottom line black can instantly age us women. There are many more flattering “fail-safe” colors than black that will compliment our skin tones.

The reality is most of us are going to wear black regardless of its copious challenges. And, since black is so readily available in stores right now and our other color choices are limited this year, I have decided to find ways to make it work! So, to “make lemonade from lemons,” let’s take this opportune time to reassess our style options with this go-to color. The good news is that there are techniques to override the obstacles of black and to create highly successful outfits. Here are some of the results of my experiments with navigating black so we can shop this season’s prospects and still feel like Wow!:

  • Monochromatic – Wear black from head to toe! Clothing and accessories should be all the same black color. We could add some gold or silver jewelry but it should not be bold statement pieces but rather subtle accents to compliment our black ensemble. This is a chic approach to wearing black. Add a little extra color and sheen with your makeup to highlight your skin and to offset all of the black. The best way to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the group, who will most likely be wearing black too, is to select black garments that have some special detail to them. Incorporate fabrics that have interesting textures. Or go for design elements that include intricate embellishments or modern architectural cuts.
  • Mix With Saturated Colors – Opt for colors that are more saturated rather than bold bright colors when pairing with black. The saturated colors are denser and less intense. When mixed with black the entire outfit appears lush because the colors are more flattering to the skin tone and there is less of a contrast next to the black. To make it easier for you, I created my Black Compatibility Color Chart to display some of my favorite combinations. This style technique works while wearing a blouse underneath a black blazer. Or pair a forest green sweater with black slacks or skirt. Choose a lovely teal sheath dress and wear a black overcoat. Or even select garments with fabric or design details that integrate these color combinations.

    **Note that I left out a black and white color mixture/pairing in the chart. Although this mix is wonderfully Chanel-esque inspired, it is very challenging to wear. Both colors are on opposing sides of the color spectrum. Each is bold. Those that wear this pairing best are women with darker skin tones or who have black hair color. These physical attributes seem to visually balance this bold mix of colors. If you must get your black/white fix, then try to choose the more flattering colors of cream or ivory rather than stark white.
  • Add A Colorful Accessory – Select one colorful accessory to wear with an otherwise all black outfit. The vibrant or saturate-colored accessory, such as a belt, could be used to highlight a cinched-in waistline. Or a hot pair of shoes in a bold color would definitely make them stand out in contrast to the black. Even wearing all black and adding a colorful statement necklace would be fierce! The idea is to bring the focus in the outfit to only one item. This approach will create a more sophisticated modern look and yet still draws the viewer’s attention to you. I listed in the chart some of my favorite accent/accessory colors for this fall season.

The results are in and it is clear that most of us are going to wear black whether or not it is the most flattering color choice. In order to keep our skin tones looking fresh and rejuvenated while wearing black, thankfully, there are style choices to circumvent some of the colors drawbacks. My hope is that you will choose to wear black not as a safety net but instead because the style options appeal to you.

As always, let me know if this helps and, by the way, what you think of my chart!!!

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  • Thanks for this! I am habitually in the black. Can’t help it. It’s so easy. One question. Can you really mix black with brown? Say black dress with brown boots? Love the chart.

  • MooreOnStyle

    Silvana – Absolutely! The black/brown combination is one of my favorites this season. A word of caution: dark brown mixed with black is more sophisticated and dressier while incoporating lighter shades of brown evoke a more relaxed and casual image. The type of occasion should determine which hue to select. I would also recommend adding another element of brown to the outfit – black dress, brown boots plus brown jacket or scarf or belt or cuff bracelet or necklace or… I hope that helps!