[Note:  Male orchestra conductors and classical musicians also seem to be going down this road more and more frequently, although almost certainly for reasons to which I am not privy.  Could it be that black looks more artistic?  If so, consider that the twelfth reason to wear black, as set forth below.  I could only come up with eleven on my own.]

Is it true that you can never go wrong with black?  I have been reading this ever since I first opened a copy of my mother’s Vogue, some sixty-five or more years ago. That’s not to say you should believe even a very small part of what you see in Vogue. But about black — as I have come to realize after considerable trial and error over all the intervening decades between then and now — those crazy fashion editors have pretty much got it right. At least for all purposes where jeans won’t really do.  (And by the way, well-polished black leather boots and a good black turtleneck cashmere sweater really do dress up a pair of narrow jeans beyond belief.)

These are some of the reasons I have concluded that black is always “in”:

1.  Black is appropriate for all ages.  If you think you look too young (haha), it will make you look more sophisticated.  If you’re feeling dowdy, it will make you feel more urban.  If you’re feeling middle-aged, it will make you feel sexier.  If you feel you’re looking old, it will help you feel you’re still in the game.

2. Black is slenderizing. Yes, more so than navy, which tends to look prim, institutional, or nun-like.  If you’re already slim, it will make you look even more svelte and seductive than you already do.  If you’re the opposite of slim, and you don’t buy your black too tight, it will seem to smooth out the lumps and bumps and bulges.

3.  Most things that come in black, other than shrouds, are chic.  Yes, they are.  A black sweater is more chic than one in lime green or pale blue (no matter how green or blue your eyes).  A black dress looks a hundred times better than a print one. On everybody.  Including the model in Vogue.

4.  Men appreciate women wearing black.  They will be proud to be out with you, or — if they’re not yet in position to be able to do that — will certainly be more likely to be eyeing you than that other woman across the room wearing a yellowish tunic over brown pants.  Men also like black lingerie very much, but that was never the subject of a piece in Vogue when I was growing up and therefore not strictly speaking the subject of this piece, which is limited to why Vogue has been right about black all these years (despite being wrong, or eventually wrong, about so much else).

5.  You need fewer clothes if most of them are black.  You can only wear that dress in fuchsia, or the one with red roses or big polka dots all over it, once or twice; after that, you’ll be tired of it, and even if you’re not, other people will begin thinking “Hm. Hasn’t she got anything else in her closet?”  Whereas you can wear a well cut black dress over and over  — with a different scarf, or different jewelry, or different footwear — and no one will be counting.  They will be overcome with the overall glamour of You.

6.  Black tops and black bottoms go with each other even if not bought together. They also go with almost everything else you may own. This means you can travel light.  (One week’s worth of wardrobe changes in a carry-on bag if it’s not the dead of winter, and maybe even if it is!)  It also means you don’t have a lot of stuff cluttering up your closet that only goes with one other thing.

7.  Black goes out of style much more slowly than other “hot this year” looks and colors.  You can adjust hemlines if need be.  Put your money in a great new handbag.  Or a new laptop.  Or the bank!

8. Black looks good on nearly everybody.  You just need the right neckline.  (Decolletage, anyone?)  Or the right accessory.  Pearls perhaps. (If real pearls are beyond you, as they are for me, get fake ones with knots between each fake pearl. That will make them look more real.) Or a good silk scarf in a color that’s “you.” (White or cream or ivory is always good.)  Interesting earrings.

9.  Black doesn’t show dirt.  You can’t see what accumulates at the neckline or at the edges of sleeves.  And most other spots, such as those acquired elsewhere on the garment from sloppy eating, can be made undetectable by sponging off, which cannot be said for spots on lighter-colored clothing.  It’s true that hairs from affectionate family pets, unless the pet is black, will be visible, but these can easily be removed by several swipes of a Scotch Pet Roller, the outer layer of which then gets discarded in the nearest wastebasket.  I keep one of these Rollers in my closet, another downstairs near the front door, and a third in the car.  Far cheaper than dry-cleaning, far less labor-intensive than laundering (or worse, hand-washing) and subsequent ironing of non-black garments.

10.  Clothing in an inexpensive or synthetic fabric looks less cheap in black than in color.  If it’s not cotton, silk or wool, it usually doesn’t take dye well; the colors will be too bright, or too dull, or slightly shiny.  Black  — or, in all candor, white — is the better choice. Unless you don’t care about whether your inexpensive purchases look it.  But that’s not you, of course.  If it were, you wouldn’t be reading this trifle of a piece, but looking for something more meaningful on WordPress — about the state of the economy, or what’s happening with campaign finance, or how to write a truly readable novel in just thirty days.

11.  Black tends not to show wrinkles, even when it’s cotton.   I have a black cotton shirtdress, straight up and down, with a black cotton string-tie belt, that I can wear throughout the summer (with a straw hat, straw bag and black ballet slippers) — and I don’t have to press it, even though I sit in it, and perspire gently in it, and don’t give it any special treatment until fall, when it gets washed and ironed and put away for another year.  I have another version of exactly the same dress in lavender cotton, which I don’t wear nearly as often (see point 5 above), yet its backside looks much more wrinkled after a wearing or so than the black one’s does.  Go figure.  I say black conceals more than any other color, including wrinkles made by sitting.  You can say whatever you want, including that I may be stretching the truth.

But I won’t be listening.  Now that I’ve provided some lightness and mirth to balance all that heavy stuff about proactive defense of the immune system, I’m out of here, to look for something on the economy, or campaign finance.  But not something about writing a truly readable novel in just thirty days.  That I do not believe!


  1. Jools

    I’m a fan of black – always. I’ve abandoned other dark neutrals (navy blue, brown) in favour of black and I’m saving on shoes and scarves as well as clothes. I am persuaded into shades of grey (nowhere near 50)… graphite, one can argue, is occasionally kinder than pure black. But black is indeed the new black – always and forever!


    • Good for you! I also agree about judicious additions of graphite and very pale grey. And in summer, white pants and/or a white skirt — both go well with a graphite cotton top I have (as well as with black, of course). If I ever make another trip to England — or you come to the States — we must meet and compare wardrobes!


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