Black and White

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As I’ve lived my life and learned what I could, one thing has become more and more apparent: the dichotomy of black and white is highly unrealistic. And the sooner we learn to accept a lot of grey area, the happier we’re going to be.

But this isn’t a philosophy blog.

In terms of fashion, black and white as a color palette is not only classic, but foundational. I wanted to discuss it in more detail, because if anyone out there is contemplating their style, this is a great place to start.

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Beginning with the most basic, this is the look that can be translated into anything, for any occasion. White on top, and black on the bottom. That can be reversed, of course, but it looks more natural (to me) when lighter is on top of darker.

You could go super casual with this, such as a white cami and a black pair of shorts. You could also make it exquisitely formal, with, say, a long black skirt and white top. The point is that any outfit in these colors will always be acceptable, so whether you’re attending a baseball game or a red carpet event, criticism for your ensemble will be slim to none.

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If you remember the post I did on Parisienne fashion, you may recall that I mentioned wearing black underneath white as an interesting element of French style. It’s not something I was always open to, but I’ve experimented with it quite a bit.

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My first giving-it-a-try moment was just wearing a black bra under a white top. The feedback I got from this was entirely positive. 

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From there, I put together stuff like this. It’s been chic every time. In fact, I think I’d choose chic as the most appropriate word for any black and white look.

 

Black and white stripes are one of my very favorite options. I was actually considering doing this entire post just on stripes alone.

 

My obsession with monochrome stripes started last year, and from then up to now, I have realized that not only does the black and white look work anywhere, it works anytime. As in, any season, and any part of the day or night.

The photos above are from last summer and last winter, for varying occasions. The stripes just look right every time, don’t they?

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Here’s my beautiful sister sporting stripes of a different kind. Your typical black and white, inverted.

Ultimately, I find it doesn’t matter whether the black overshadows the white, vice versa, or whether they are perfectly symmetrical. Our eyes love the contrast in any form. It’s clean; it’s neat.

It’s classic.

And, as an aside, I’d like to put the myth that horizontal stripes have a widening effect to rest. Vertical stripes, on the flip side of that coin, are not necessarily slimming either. Never mind what is “slimming.” Well-fitted clothes should be the ideal we all strive for, no matter what shapes we come in.

 

Dior did a show last year (2018) which included stripes as a major element. You can imagine it only fanned the flames of my love, since Dior is my favorite designer brand. And this remains one of my favorite runway shows of all time.

 

The patterns and shapes are as limitless as clothing itself. Blocks, prints…I’ve honestly never seen anything not work in black and white.

 

My husband picked out the Nope shirt for me. Can you believe I almost didn’t buy it? I thought it “wasn’t my style.” Nonsense. I’ve gotten compliments every time I’ve worn it. And wearing the black dress with a white shirt was an experiment gone right.

I’m patting myself on the back for snapping pictures of myself like this over the last year or so. It’s a great illustration of my personal experience with this simple, yet all-encompassing color palette.

 

It gets better, if you can believe it, because both black and white are neutrals, and therefore go with everything. In many cases when putting an outfit together, one does want a hint of color. With black and/or white, it can be any color you please.

 

Above are two of my favorite models, Adut Akech (left) and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (right). These ladies provide great examples of something else I love about black and white: the delightful contrast of the skin.

Adut is very dark, so when she wears all white, it pops incredibly. Rosie, on the other hand, has a complexion like mine, very fair. So all black has the same sort of effect on her. Playing with colors on our different skin tones like this–black, white, and every shade in between–is terribly fun, and so beautifully versatile.

 

If you’re just getting started with your fashion journey, begin with black and white. You literally can’t get it wrong, so you’ll be guaranteed chic any way you slice it. This is an all-inclusive palette. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what color your hair or skin is, or how you identify. It also doesn’t matter what occasion you’re dressing for, or what time of day/year it is.

So play with it. Spend some time in front of the mirror with a few black and white pieces and decide what you like best for you. I think the worst anyone could say is that you’re playing it safe. But unless you’re literally going on the red carpet, I don’t even see how that’s a bad thing. How could looking good with ease ever be bad?

 

It is my hope, ultimately, to head more and more towards full monochrome the older I get. At the moment, I’m inspired by the character Moira Rose on the Netflix original series, Schitt’s Creek (quality show, by the way; you should check it out). A former socialite with a natural penchant for drama, she’s the type of woman who will wear black-tie to a diner at ten in the morning. Her style is essentially high-end goth, and I like to joke that she is me in 30 years.

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It’s much like what Diane Keaton is doing in real life.

I definitely think adopting a black and white motif could be a cool, unique way to embrace the more matronly stages of my life. And what fun. I could be a goth grandmother. How lucky for those grandkids.

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My aspiration is to inspire my readers with interesting style ideas (and with the confidence to explore them). Black and white is the idea of the moment, and I hope you’ll consider including it into your repertoire.

I know I’ve had a lovely time with it.

Have a beautiful week.

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