Fashion designers can’t seem to leave black alone. And, for the most part, neither can I. What seems to gravitate me towards wearing it, sometimes along with white (monochrome = killer combo), is that it visually leaves more to the imagination. My desire to wear black, white, or a combination of the two appears to be due to idea that it’d focus my mind in acting as one less visual distraction. Yes, this may seem like a whim; in fact, I do wear colour from time to time, but black and white is instinctively what I feel most comfortable in. I promise I’m not as pretentious as I sound.
It’s crossed my mind numerous times where this sudden concept was inspired from. I think I put it down to the two being so versatile and having so many different meanings projected on to it, both in our culture and others. In regards to black, how is it that one colour is the uniform of both judges and suicide-bombers, of oppression (the Nazis and the Fascists) and in contrast the rebellion of youth (punks and goths)? No other colour can perform a duty of being in so many fields of clothing – smart, casual, uniform, non-uniform – as black does. For me, black radiates intrigue; it belongs to no particular trend and is therefore undeniably timeless, not to mention, frankly addictive. Black is frequently used as a colour of power, law and authority. Not sure what to wear to an interview? Wear something black, but don’t take it with a heavy heart.
I like to think white shows that I’m going through a transitional period where new ideas have yet to take form. Like a blank canvas or something. It’s been significant to universal culture since the Ancient World, to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and especially the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. White has been a symbolic “colour” to religion throughout the ages. Church interiors were designed to show the power, glory and wealth of the church. They seemed to be alive, filled with curves, asymmetry, mirrors, gilding, statues, all unified by white. I feel that wearing white conveys open-mindedness and the opportunity to communicate. Reading through those past couple of lines, I realise how frothy that all is. Cutting to the chase, white is pure, simple, and fresh, so why not wear it?
Strictly speaking, black isn’t really a colour at all. Black absorbs all visible frequencies of light, just as white reflects them all. You won’t find it on a colour wheel or on a traditional watercolour palette – watercolourists think that black is cheating and that colour can be perceived in everything. Black is an absence rather than a presence, and that, I think, is the main reason I find it easy to work into an outfit, being a fashion enthusiast.
A reason I love wearing black, with a slight preference over white, is that it works universally on most skin tones, shapes and sizes. Also, the problem I find with wearing colour is “accessory panic”. I have found that a staple black handbag looks too stark and harsh against some colours. This is ashamedly petty of me, but instead of the tedious and time-consuming changing of the bag, it’d be much easier to revolve the outfit around it instead! That way, not only would the tail be wagging the dog, it would also be a cool nod to the acknowledgment that time is precious. Furthermore, my aesthetic attitude heavily fluctuates from day to day; one day I’ll feel like mixing black with white – white has a purifying, balancing effect and is therefore the most obvious solution to avoiding looking like a funeral; on another I’d dress head to toe in black simply because it feels like the short-cut to chic. Black and white are easy canvases to work on – Zara being a main example. Season after season they revolve their clothing collections around the two, whether it’s their signature chic, sharp and innovative women’s collection or its younger, more casual counterpart, TRF. The two “colours” are unbiased, whether they be working as front row-worthy attire or an “undone” grungy look.
White can sometimes be trickier to execute, but the influx of pale looks for the majority of Spring/Summer collections, whether it be high-end or high-street, is admittedly expected but a breath of fresh air every time. White can be given character in a manner more effective than black; modern elegance can be depicted through feminine detailing – ladylike lace, soft ruffles and modern silhouettes; all-white can be updated with sheer shapes and sleek yet sharp suiting, while pearlescent pieces light up the stark futuristic landscape. Although white is the obvious go-to for spring and summer ensembles, it is invigorating, fresh and more carefree than its achromatic opposite. White isn’t a strictly SS shade either – I’m seeing a lot of it in Autumn/Winter collections on the high street.
So, I close this discussion with saying: don’t have a heavy heart when it comes to wearing black or white. Don’t let it confine you, have fun with it!
Til next time