Get your own personal stylist to help you find clothes you love. All online, completely free

Sign In

What goes with what

New ways to wear all-black

New ways to wear all-black

There's something almost magical about wearing nothing but black. It's such a simple approach to getting dressed, but there's a reason it's fashion's default (lack of) colour; get it right and it makes any outfit look sharper, sleeker and like you've put in some real thought. Even if you haven't.

While it might seem like a modern fad, black's been a wardrobe staple for centuries. In Ancient Rome, it was the colour of craftsmen and artisans; in Renaissance Italy, it was the favourite of courtiers; and in Regency England, it became the standard for men’s evening wear.

There are many reasons for black’s enduring popularity, but one of the most important ones is its forgiving nature. Black clothing is flattering because it doesn’t show shadow, which means that any lumps and bumps are instantly smoothed out. Bigger guys have been onto this trick for years, but it works just as well on all body types. To this effect at its most dramatic, watch how Vantablack (the darkest man-made substance) can make wrinkled tin foil look flat. (Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing this colour on clothes anytime soon as artist Anish Kapoor holds the exclusive rights to the pigment.)

Black clothes are also inherently smart. As a 2015 study confirmed, wearing black makes you appear more attractive, intelligent, and confident. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can throw on any old combination of black clothes and get the desired effect. To help you get it right, we spoke to Thread stylist Millie Rich for her top tips on nailing the all-black look.

Do

“Go for something which has a softer texture,” says Millie. Anything too smooth and shiny can look cheap, whereas a knitted jumper, like the one here, adds texture. That gives black clothes more depth, and stops your look feeling flat and uninteresting.

Don’t

Forget the power of layering. When it comes to making all-black feel visually interesting, you should go beyond a simple black-shirt-and-trousers combo. Instead, think about incorporating outerwear as an integral part of your look and not just an afterthought. “I’d say a short jacket is best because then you can see the layers underneath it, ” says Millie. Plus, no one will think you're wearing a cape.

Do

Throw in some contrast. As Millie points out, “white trainers can add impact to a monochrome look and they look more coherent than a bold colour.” Stick to white or grey though, as they keep the look on the same spectrum.

Don’t

Wear washed-out black clothes in an all-black outfit, as they're much more noticeable. You can stop black clothes fading by washing them inside-out at a low temperature.

Do

Try technical fabrics. Because the types of garments that come in waterproof or thermal materials tend to be utilitarian by nature, wearing them can give you a streetwear edge.

Don’t

Go too figure-hugging. It’s a thin line between catwalk and cat burglar, so make sure you’re on the right side of it by thinking in terms of volume and balance. If you’ve gone slim-fit on your bottom half, then try something oversized – or at least more structured – on your top half.

Shop this story

 


Words: Theresa Harold
Photography: Jon Cardwell
Styling: Luke McDonald