Why I Stopped Wearing Black

2020 was a difficult year for many of us. Unable to focus on my writing, I directed my energy towards organizing my home. As I sorted through my bedroom, I realized I had two IKEA PAX wardrobes, several dresser drawers and several storage boxes filled with clothes I rarely, if ever, wear. And 75 percent of my clothes were black!


Over the next year and a half, I transformed an overstuffed closet of seldom worn clothes into a sustainable, carefully curated, capsule wardrobe with only clothes I love and that flatter me. It’s been one of the best ways to simplify my life. And it all started with the color black.


Why black had taken over my wardrobe

There had to be a reason for why I had I invested so much in black, and black and white outfits.

  • Black looks chic. I love black outfits and especially black and white. They look great on my cool-complexioned friends who are high contrast with pale skin, jet black hair and dark eyes. See the next section for why it does not look good on me.

  • Black is slimming. Well, there’s the main reason. Dark colors on the bottom help the tummy and bum recede.

  • Black is everywhere. And white! Defaulting to black makes shopping easy. If I see a blouse or pants online or in the store, 75 percent of the time its only available in black or white.

  • Black travels well. You can wear black a long time without machine washing as it’s easy to spot clean and doesn't show dirt as easily as lighter colors. Everything goes with black. And you always look a little dressier in black.

  • Black is so European. As black is a mainstay of the European wardrobe, it helps you blend in, so you won’t look like a tourist and a target for pickpockets. A black outfit has always been the epitome of Paris chic, but that’s because most French women have cool complexions and look great in black. But the black trend is changing as Europe becomes more diverse and Europeans embrace more color in their wardrobes.

Why I purged black from my wardrobe

  • Black is a harsh color that becomes less flattering as one ages, especially if worn too close to the face where it can highlight dark circles and fine lines.

  • Black is simply too hot to wear in warm weather. Black absorbs the sun. I have no idea why I had so many black T-shirts.

  • Most importantly: Black does not flatter me — or any women who shares my soft, warm, low contrast look. Black and white are even less flattering. After researching and learning about color analysis, I realized the contrast between my light complexion, hazel eyes and medium blonde hair is subtle and soft. Black and white outfits look dynamic and chic on my friends with jet black hair and light, cool complexions because it enhances their high contrast look. With my soft, warm low-contrast look, a black and white outfit pops, but my face, hair and eyes recede into the background. Black overpowers me. If you want to learn more about color analysis, here’s two helpful sites: Your Color Style and Dressing Your Truth.

  • There are so many colors I like better, that suit my style and that are flattering on my warm complexion. My new basics are caramel brown and warm medium grey which I pair with moss green, maroon, purple, peach and warm pinks. I have to admit, shopping is more of a challenge because for some reason designers and clothing manufacturers default to black and white. .

How to minimize black from your wardrobe

In a year and a half, my everyday wardrobe has gone from 75 percent black to about five percent black. If you love black and it looks great on you, keep wearing it. If you’re ready to eliminate black from your wardrobe or just want to add more color, keep reading. You don’t have to do it all at once and you don’t have to get rid of everything black. For me, it happened in stages.

  • Shed clothes that no longer fit your lifestyle. This is an easy way to start. Since I no longer work in an office, getting rid of the black corporate clothes was a no brainer. There went 75 items to Goodwill. Yes, I had way too many clothes. I wanted to take them to Dress for Success, but they weren’t open during the pandemic. As I mentioned earlier, black absorbs heat, so purging black from my summer wardrobe was easy too.

  • Move black down to your bottom. The idea is to keep black away from your face. I had a lot of black pants, so I wore those a lot during the pandemic with something more colorful on top. Another trick is to wear black pants and a black top for a monochromatic look, but wear a contrasting blazer over it. Camel looks lovely with black. If you’re wearing a black blazer, top or coat, throw a scarf around your neck to soften the look.

  • Slowly replace your staple pieces. So many of my basics were black, including all my shoes, coat and purse. I simply couldn’t part with them until I found alternatives. Pick a new basic color or two. I decided to make brown (in warm chocolate and caramel shades) my new staple color. I also love warm greys and moss green. Slowly I replaced my black coat for a brown one and my black bag for a brown leather backpack.

  • Lose weight. Or maybe you need to gain weight. I know this isn't an easy one. But what better excuse for buying a new wardrobe? I lost 25 pounds over nine months and have kept it off for the last four. Once those black pants started falling off me, they were history.

  • Curate your new wardrobe. Take your time building your capsule wardrobe. I didn’t want to rush out and fill my closet again. I took time to research what clothes flattered my body shape (a classic pear). I did color analysis to discover the right colors, shades and hues to complement my skin tone, hair and eyes. And I thought about what clothes suited my lifestyle and my personality. Only then did I start building my capsule wardrobe with carefully selected pieces I could mix and match easily.

Building a minimal capsule wardrobe has simplified my life. I spend way less time staring at my closet trying to figure out what to wear. And I actually wear what’s in my closet. It also makes packing for a trip a lot easier as most everything coordinates. Like everything in my life, it is a work in progress and constantly evolving. If you're ready to shake up your wardrobe, just get started.

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Hi, I’m Lori Cronwell. As a writer and frequent traveler, I admire the values most Europeans embrace: choosing quality over quantity; residing in smaller, more sustainable homes; working less and spending more time with friends and family.
 

Those values were key in my decision to drastically downsize to a 700 sq. ft. accessory dwelling unit (ADU) with the goal of creating a simpler, more sumptuous life with time for travel.
 

Slow travel, that is. Spending more time in one place — even if it’s just a week. You'll not only spend less, you'll discover a deeper and more meaningful travel experience.

Please subscribe below and join me on a journey to find affordable ways to explore Europe in the slow lane and to live a more European lifestyle every day of our lives.