The year was 1926, the magazine was Vogue, the cover star was the first “little black dress”, designed by Coco Chanel.
Women think of all colors except the absence of color. I have said that black has it all.. [Its] beauty is absolute. [It is] the perfect harmony.Coco Chanel
The magazine’s cover depicted a drawing of a woman posing in a long-sleeved black dress, pumps, pearls and a cloche hat and heralded the introduction of a style icon, whose popularity would never fade.
One of the first things that comes to mind when we think of French Style is effortless chic and what better way to embolden ‘effortless chic’ than with a seemingly ‘thrown together’ all-black outfit!
It also, of course, has the advantage of making getting dressed every day so much easier and quicker, as you can create countless combinations from a selection of basic black neutrals, without having to worry if the colours are a good match!
Black is the foundation of the French woman’s wardrobe. It is elegant, chic and slimming, and oozes drama and sophistication. It looks good on all skin tones and with all hair colours and immediately draws attention to you wherever you go – what’s not to love?
Well, as wonderful as black is, it can be one-dimensional and a bit boring, if you go for a ‘head to toe’ black look, and many women are intimidated at the thought of taking the plunge to go ‘all black’.
However, anyone can look and feel fabulous wearing black from head to toe with a few simple styling tricks and a good dose of self-confidence.
Here are my 8 top ways to wear head to toe black
Let your personality shine
Black is an extremely versatile color, and you can create unlimited looks that will:
- let your personality shine through
- adapt from the office to meeting the ‘in-laws’ to a date night
- take you effortlessly from day to night
If you wear ripped jeans with a moto jacket and a graphic tee, you will come off as edgy, but pair classic black trousers and a blazer for a chic office look
A LBD with a string of pearls and a demure cardigan is perfect for meeting the in-laws, but swap the pearls for a statement piece and ditch the cardigan and you’re good to go for a date night.
Remember to add a piece to your look that reflects your personality, such as a fun hat, a distinctive bag or a signature necklace. Elle’s (@The Elle Diaries) fingerless gloves add a unique touch to her look and really make her outfit stand out.
Adapt your makeup
If you’re looking to wear ‘head to toe’ black in a subtle way, then keep your make-up toned down.
Use lighter shades of make-up with light reflection particles to make your complexion look radiant and opt for a nude lipstick or gloss for the day.
To take your look from day to night, you can add a smokey eye and change the lip colour for a bold, deep red or burgundy.
You can get some inspiration from how Parisian make-up artist, Allison Depriestre (@Allisondepmuah ) has transformed the above looks from day to night.
Add a pop of Color
So, admittedly, adding a pop of color to your look might be straying away from the strict definition of ‘head to toe black’, but just a small pop of color is a foolproof way to jazz up an all-black outfit.
Adding an accessory that provides a bit of contrast can make you feel a little more comfortable while still wearing a look that’s at least ninety percent black.
Consider adding a colorful bag, scarf, gloves or vibrant heels to add some interest!
Elle from @The Elle Diaries looks gorgeous in this black dress but the red gloves just add a touch of “‘ooh la-la” to her look, and Violette from @Violette Daily’s pink bag is the perfect finishing touch to her outfit.
The bags below are all from the SarahHaran.com collection, and their vibrant colours would brighten up any outfit. Not only that but Sarah’s bags are all functional as well as fashionable and they are all extremely versatile.
Most of Sarah’s bags are modular and customisable. They feature removable tassels, front clutches, key chains, straps and chains so that you can change your handbag to suit your look, and transition easily from day to night.
They really are perfect for women who need a 24/7 bag that works everywhere… not just at the office, and not only that but another feature I love about this ‘slow fashion’ brand is the importance attached to product quality and ethical considerations. Sarah designs timeless bags, made using only the finest and highest quality natural leathers from carefully selected tanneries in Italy and Spain, which are the most ethical and eco-conscious suppliers in the industry.
You can use the code VELVET10 to get a 10% discount on anything on Sarah’s site!
The possibilities are endless when you feel confident. I wanted to create a collection of bags that enable women to feel good about themselves in every situation. What started out as my hobby has blossomed into a passion to empower womenSarah Haran
Sparkle and shine
Jewelry can be a great way to spice up an all-black outfit that could otherwise be boring.
Add statement jewelry pieces like a sparkly necklace or dramatic earrings to make sure you look radiant and glowing and that the ‘all-black’ doesn’t drain the color from your face.
This creates a focal point for your look and ensures that you don’t “disappear” in an abyss of black fabric.
This stunning necklace from Meghna Jewels.com would also look fabulous with a black dress.
Renowned for its modern & fierce jewelry, “Meghna Jewels” highlights their signature pave arches in this stunning Claw Pendant. Handcrafted from 18K Gold, Sterling Silver and Diamonds, the pendant is set with Green Onyx and white diamonds.
Meghna’s jewels is a luxury lifestyle brand, noted for designing ‘fiercely gorgeous’, unique fine jewelry, highlighted with signature pave arches and handmade with precious gemstones, gold, sterling silver and diamonds.
Each piece starts with a simple sketch on a piece of paper and Meghna draws on her experiences in her life and travels for her inspiration. She then works with her team to generate a CAD rendering before a wax mold is generated, and the stones are all hand set before creating the final piece.
The brand is defined by its use of diamonds, gemstones, gold and structural silver and Meghna’s signature diamond pave arches.
Photos courtesy of @MeghnaJewels
These stunning earrings, also from Meghna Jewels, add a bit of sparkle to an all-black look.`
A black teardrop hoop shape is beautifully enhanced with teardrops made from small cubic zirconia stones, and suspended from a large, oval, faceted stone at the top in these gold, black and CZ Myra earrings.
These earrings are perfect for dressing up a casual look or adding a finishing glamorous accent to party attire.
If you want to combine sparkle with a pop of color, then the earrings below, also from Meghna Jewels, could be just what you’re looking for!
Exquisitely framed in sparkling signature “Meghna Jewels” 1.32 ct pave diamonds arches with hand brushed 18K gold finish. A fabulous way to add some subtle glamour and edge to your everyday or evening look.
You can get 15% off across all the site INDEFINITELY with my code “Velvetrunway”.
You can also add some sparkle with your other accessories, such as this this sparkly rose mini bag from Sarah Haran, and as illustrated by myself below, and
Don’t forget to use the code VELVET10 to get a 10% discount on anything on Sarah’s site!
Mix up the fabrics and the textures
A ‘head to toe’ black look in just one fabric can look dowdy and make you seem older.
Mixing fabrics and textures will bring your outfit to life, (as if transforming it from a flat image to 3D) and can also make you look younger. Grace Liang (@Color and Grace) illustrates to perfection how to mix fabrics in these two looks.
In the first look, the mesh cut-outs give the look a young, vibrant feel and in the second the lace details make this the perfect black dress for a romantic night out, and the perfect cut of this dress means that Grace shows just the right amount of leg!
Choose pieces that include different fabrics like leather, lace, velvet, brocade or fur for a more original look, and be creative! Choose distressed jeans and fishnets for a more edgy look.
Kathrine Eldridge – Wardrobe Stylist has perfectly combined fabrics and textures in the above look, with beautiful lace insets in the dress and fishnets to give the look a more edgy vibe.
Make sure the fabric selection is season appropriate: for example a black wool dress or a fur coat will look fabulous in the fall, but just weird during the summer.
If black isn’t your colour, then opt for a fabric that makes the black “less black”. Mesh, lace and tulle are a bit see-through and therefore will look softer.
Show off your shape
As we all know, black works magic, and can instantly make you look a dress size smaller, so make sure to take advantage of that and choose fitted clothes that will showcase your curves rather than shapeless, boring pieces that will just make you look bigger.
You don’t have to ONLY wear skin-tight pieces, however. For example, you could wear skinny tight jeans with a flowy top, or a loose dress with a belted, fitted jacket. Just make sure that you define your shape, and don’t hide it under layers of black
Go graphic/ Add a pattern
If you want to ‘tone down’ the black, and add a more original/ creative vibe to your look, then try wearing black pieces that include graphics or patterns on them in order to provide a focal point for your look.
The following pieces from LunaLuxeResortwear.com are a perfect example of including details/ a pattern into your look. This brand produces a limited edition of timeless, handmade pieces specifically designed for the global traveller who insists on luxury wherever she goes.
They use only the best natural fibres together with ethical manufacturing processes, and each garment incorporates intricate hand embroideries and beading making each and every resort wear garment unique and one of a kind.
This fabulous lightweight breezy cotton tunic from LunaLuxeResortWear.com is embellished with striking monochrome intricate hand beading, and is the perfect example of effortless chic.
Black and white is always striking and modern, and this dress is perfect for daytime shopping and strolling around your holiday destination and can be easily dressed up for an evening dinner.
This soft and flowing silk crepe de chine shirt dress, also from LunaLuxeResortWear.com oozes sophisticated glamour. This timeless dress has hand embroidered statement cuffs and a detachable hand embroidered silk belt to define and slim your waist.
The honeycomb beaded embroidery with french knots is the epitome of elegance and makes this dress truly original and luxurious. You can see a close -up of the beading detail above.
It is also extremely versatile and can be worn open over swimwear, buttoned and teamed with a pair of slides for a chic daytime look or dressed up with some stilettos for an evening dinner.
Opt for a black top or dress that includes beading or even feathers around the collar, choose pieces that are decorated with patches, buttons or embroidery or get creative and make your own graphic tee/ embroidered jeans.
There are also so many graphic T-shirts available now, with a wide variety of logos, from your favorite band, to an environmental cause or a motivational quote.
Whilst a classic LBD is a perfect choice for a chic event, you can also “dress down” black and opt for a casual “all-black” outfit.
A simple black dress or jeans paired with a leather jacket is a failsafe casual, chic look. @Violette Daily has perfectly styled her casual black dress with a leather jacket and some edgy boots for the perfect French casual chic look (well, she is French, after all!)
However, I can hear you say, “But what if black just doesn’t suit me?”, and whilst black is a great color for most skin tones, it can be draining, especially as women age and lose skin pigmentation. In this case, I would add the following tips:
- choose low necklines, so that the “black” is not immediately next to your face
- wear ‘lighter’, transparent fabrics (lace and mesh) close to your face and keep the heavier fabrics (leather/ velvet brocade) for the bottom
- add a statement necklace or earrings, or for your ‘pop’ of colour, opt for a bright, colourful neck scarf.
The key to wearing all black isn’t so much WHAT you wear but HOW you wear it. Remember that your best asset is self-confidence and to finish on a quote:
One is never over-or-underdressed with a little black dressKarl Lagerfield
I hope you enjoyed this article on ‘eight ways to wear head to toe black’ and I can’t wait to share some more tips from France with you soon. I’m Julia Rees and I’m a French-based Style Coach and the founder and owner of the ‘Style with Julia’ Styling Agency. I have recently launched a worldwide one to one style mentoring program to help fabulous women just like you “Look Good, Feel Good”.
In the meantime, you can find inspiration on my blog and follow along on Instagram. Don’t forget to check out all the other fabulous posts by the other Editors and follow The Code of Style on Instagram.