Black – why do people love wearing it?

posted in: Colour Analysis | 3

Black is such a popular colour in the UK and most of Europe.

ladies in black
black uniforms

I think the main reasons are:

  • it’s slimming and everyone wants to look slimmer
  • it goes with all other blacks
  • it doesn’t show the dirt
  • it doesn’t look as cheap as other colours
  • it’s available with many items coming in black year after year
  • it doesn’t need much thought for people low on confidence
  • it is not a colour that makes you stand out unless you style it especially
  • it can be seen as somewhat rebellious for teenagers, artists, etc
  • it is seen as a sophisticated evening colour (men’s evening dress and the LBD)

Black is ultimate authority colour – it is seen as assertive, powerful and sophisticated. But equally it can be seen as oppressive and  menacing – Darth Vader, riot police, etc. Wearing it in an all-black outfit can make you look a bit scary, but sometimes being unapproachable is exactly what is required. But for many of us we would look better in shades of grey, deep aubergine, the deeper blues or browns.

All-black is a look favoured by dramatic dressers and done well it can look stylish and individualistic.  It may need a bit thought and effort to create a sensational look.

Girl dressed in black next to a green wall
When dressed in black stand next to something colourful

Here leather trousers, military boots, a bulky but textured jersey and a warm parka with a silver zip and a bit of greyish fur, is set off by bleached blonde hair and a sassy look. he model has taken off her charcoal beanie so that she looks less like a Commando for the photograph. Maybe she has a whole range of black clothes in the bag – pyjamas, a skirt, tights, strappy sandals. Or maybe she wears a little grey or white for relief. One of my favourite films is The Last Seduction, where Linda Fiorentino always looks great in this restrained palette.

The Last Seduction (1994)
The Last Seduction (1994)

Black is best on women with black in their own colouring, and less effective on those who are light. Black can overwhelm them and make them look a bit unwell, emphasising the darker parts of their look – lines and dark circles for example. But sometimes it can make you feel like Linda – invincible and in charge.

3 Responses

  1. Stephanie

    When I was in my twenties, my stepfather used to tease me about the amount of black clothing I had. I bought it for a couple of the reasons you cite: it had a certain durability and yet elegance to it and was easy to wear. That said, I never wear black anymore, now that I have less punch to my colouring than I did when I was younger (I have some natural tan to my skin and my hair colour used to be richer). Gianni’s sisters are always encouraging me to buy black clothes but I have to explain that it suits their colouring much better than mine. It can look wonderful on some people, but I do find that often it looks like a default selection rather than an individual one, especially at work, so it’s not my favourite.

  2. sew2pro

    Oh, Linda (or as I call her: Bridget)!! Only last night, we were going through a list of 100 best rated films on IMDB and I thought: why isn’t Bridget high up there? But I think I know: the kind of people who vote on IMDB are way too intimidated by Bridget to watch TLS.

    Do you remember the TV ad many years ago when the rocker finds all his clothes have faded in the wash to different shades of faded, not-quite black? The downside of wearing lots of this fab colour.

  3. Gjeometry

    I also used to wear a lot of black in my 20s. I much prefer colour now, even if it is just grey with a shot of white and purple. But, yes, people gravitate towards black because it is so easy to mix and match with, and, let’s face it, you do feel a tad BAD ASS when you are all dressed in black.

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