People who just meet me often notice that I don’t wear black. They don’t know me well enough yet to understand that I hardly ever wear the color. The truth is that I have one pair of black pants that are like leggings. I don’t own one pair of black shoes, I don’t own a single black dress or a black top. With the exception of my black leggings, my entire wardrobe is black-free.
There are several reasons why I don’t wear black. First, the color doesn’t look all that great on me, not like other neutral colors do, so I choose those colors over black. Secondly, many women find black pants easy to wear but personally I find them incredibly hard. Black pants, while they are slimming, are also stark and there are few top colors that can be worn back with black pants that don’t leave you looking like you were chopped in half. Therefore, as I started to wean black out of my life (there was a time when it was all I wore), I noticed that I just didn’t need it any longer.
Speaking specifically about black pants (the biggest crutch of most women), I got an email from a client recently who told me that, after shopping with me, she is totally off black pants. I told her that hopefully she will soon be off black shoes as well, which is another popular choice for many women, but not a favorite for me.
Conversely, a client whom I worked with last week had about five pairs of black pants that she rotated in her wardrobe. She looked at me like I had ten heads when I encouraged her to let go of her reliance on black pants. In her mind, there was nothing easier than picking a black pant to wear because after all, she told me, black goes with everything. Yes, she is right, black matches everything but what many women neglect to realize is that any color that you can wear with black pants, you can wear with pants of any other color.
Updating the Black Pants Blahs
I have definitely been a crusader against the black pants and colored top uniform, as I like to call it. There definitely is more to a great outfit than this trite combination. But I must be realistic and accept that many of us, no matter how bored we may get with this uniform, still go this route more often than not.
Therefore, if you can’t over this uniform, I am going to make some suggestions on how to wear it better. The truth is that the only way to upgrade this simplistic look is to add some pizzazz to it so that the black pants aren’t so in the forefront.
Here are some things you can do with your own good old standby to make it a bit more interesting:
You’re not done yet
The biggest way to get the black pants blahs is to just put a colored top on and consider your outfit done. This is why so many women feel so bored in this outfit choice. If you want to break out of this rut start thinking of your outfit incomplete unless you spice it up a bit.
One way to do this is with accessories. Once you chose the colored top to go with your black pants find a colored accessory to work back with the outfit. Let’s say you choose a luxurious purple sweater. With that purple sweater you can try a necklace in a shade that complements the purple, like a yellow necklace, a green bracelet, or just some gold or silver novelty jewelry. You need to think about finishing the look so you don’t just get dressed 75% of the way. That last 25% is where your personality can shine in your outfit. Please don’t forget it. For more on this, you can read about my Color Tripleplay Solution.
Add some punch elsewhere
What makes the black pant colored top uniform so blah is that it is a very basic outfit. What you need are some signature pieces to work back. The best way to do this is with a stunning pair of shoes, a great handbag or a funky jacket. You always want to think about punching up a basic outfit with something that says you. Again, this goes back to the 75% rule. You need to take that last small step to finish off your look with some punch. If you just keep the outfit to a boring top and a basic pair of black pants, neglect to accessorize, throw on your standby understated jewelry and a boring black pair of shoes, what will separate you from the millions of other women out there who go dressed the same exact way? Get creative. Come on!
Choose interesting black pants
There are basic black pants and then there are black pants that are a little more interesting. Choose black pants in interesting fabrics, or black pants with interesting seaming details or that are trimmed in interesting ways. By doing this your pants come across a bit less basic making your outfit a bit more unique.
For the sake of being safe and versatile, many women distill down their looks to the most basic pieces they can find. I get this logic, yet it’s not really solving anything. Sure, basics are important, they are the foundation of a great outfit, but nobody ever said that a basic had to put you to sleep! There are plenty of interesting basic pieces out there that have a good fit and some interesting, yet subtle details that are, what I call, novelty basics. A novelty basic is a piece that can function in your wardrobe as a basic but has enough novelty to stand alone.
Fit is important
What makes a basic outfit more interesting is the way it fits. If your entire wardrobe is going to be grounded in basic black pants, then please make sure they fit you well. Few women can walk out of the store with pants that fit perfectly. Accept that you will likely need some alterations. Now, before you curse me out for saying that, think about it, these are pans that, apparently, you will wear all the time. You have such a strong reliance on them, that you will likely wear them once a week. Why wouldn’t you put a little effort towards such a staple fitting you well?
Additionally, it’s not necessarily always about tailoring, it’s about finding pants that fit you. On my radio show last week, I spoke with retail expert Mercedes Gonzalez a bit out this, how she encourages designers to stick with a specific fit once they create it. Pants are about fit more often than they are about fashion. Once you find your pant fit, stick with it. So often, women think that if a pair of pants don’t fit there is something wrong with their body, but there is nothing wrong with your body, there is something wrong with the pants…for you.