So What About All That Black in My Closet?

So many women tell me they have a closet full of black clothing that they now realize doesn’t especially flatter them.  What to do?  There are several quick update options to use while you work on transitioning your wardrobe to a neutral that is more personally flattering.  Here are a few good ideas …

First, let’s acknowledge that some women DO look good in black – women with either high-value or very high-contrast coloring often have black as part of their personal color scheme (hair color usually) and can wear the color just fine.

For those who don’t, first take solace in the knowledge that the myths you’ve been told about black’s magic really aren’t true:

  1. Black pieces always match each other.  NOT!  Black dye is actually made from a mix of other colors, so one black may lean more blue-ish, another more green-ish, and third may have a brown cast.  They just don’t match – period.
  2. Black makes you look thinner.  NOT.  At least not a bit more than any other deep, dark color.  Dark brown, navy, charcoal, deep plum, hunter green, dark rust, wine are just as minimizing and often a lot more flattering to a particular woman.
  3. Black doesn’t show dirt.  NOT a bit more true of black than any other dark color.  In fact, stuff like dust and chalk show MORE on black.  And possibly mustard and catsup – don’t ask how I know about that.
  4. Every accent color goes with black. NOT as well as those accent colors go with their more closely related neutral.  In the examples below, see how the accent colors have greater harmony with their key neutral than with black.  Put an extended finger over the black on your screen and consider the harmony you see.  Then cover the other neutral instead and see the difference.

Despite #4 above, adding some tops in your most flattering accent colors is one way to pull those black skirts and pants into more flattering outfits until you can afford to replace them with bottoms in your key neutral.  If you have a necklace with your best metal+black, that will help unify the outfit by repeating the bottom color at the top. We call that trick “bottoms-up” accessorizing.

Another option is to mix your black items into outfits with garments or accessories that repeat the color – and ideally the texture – of your hair … like this example for a golden blonde:

This same idea works for ash blonde hair, auburn hair, gray hair … whatever.  And mixing a dark brown hair color with black is – in my view – the ultimate sophistication.

If you need  a scarf to link your hair color with existing black clothes, check out the examples in our inventory.  You’ll find them HERE.


We’d love to hear about your black updates in the COMMENTS section below

About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. Donna Brodsky on May 24, 2017 at 7:51 am

    Love the golden blond example of pulling colors in with a black jacket! Thanks for this fab tip, Nancy!

    • Nancy Nix Rice on May 24, 2017 at 10:12 am

      It is absolute magic how adding a touch of hair color can pull black into a person’s personal color pattern. Same approach works with navy and gray. It doesn’t work in reverse though, darn it. I could put countless bits of my nearly-black hair color into a camel outfit and it would still read warm and realtvely soft – the exact opposite of what I should wear 🙁

  2. Mary on May 24, 2017 at 8:03 am

    I have a black sweater that looks terrible just a few hours after I put it on. It’s a magnet for any thing white – any speck of dust or lint and then it makes me look like I have dandruff and haven’t washed my hair or something. The sweater itself ends up looking ratty even though it’s fairly new (and obviously seldom worn).

    I’m so glad to read this.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on May 24, 2017 at 10:14 am

      Yet another example of how black is not the universal solution to all wardrobe challenges, right?

  3. Alison on May 24, 2017 at 2:24 pm


    Thank you for the advice on how to incorporate the black items I already have! I have been in a panic since I had help at the Puyallup Sewing Expo and found my color should be teal! (Redhead with blue/green eyes.) I purchased the 2nd scarf indicated above and get compliments on it every time I wear it. More advice for redheads would be appreciated! Thanks again

    • Nancy Nix Rice on May 24, 2017 at 3:25 pm

      So glad you’re feeling good in the scarf you got from us. But just to be clear – while teal is undoubtedly a great color on you, it isn’t “your color” to the exclusion of lots of others. In fact, you could use that scarf as a guideline for other colors to mix/match with your teals – just be a bit cautious about the bright gold…

  4. TC Ferrito on May 24, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    I find that when I am pressed for time and what to wear to work- black is just easier because it is so prevalent. Also my work wardrobe is governed by what color Dansko shoes I can find! And their color range is limited and a bit strange. But I do have rules! Solid black is only worn on the bottom. I look for a print that has my colors in it- like a cardigan or a jacket. and then wear a solid in a good color from the print for a top under the outer layer. Finding prints that have black, but aren’t dominant black is the key. Then the focus becomes the pretty color and not the black. But I still dislike wearing it.
    Navy has become my new focus. I am starting to work on chocolate brown . My ASG chapter is getting tired of seeing all the navy clothes I have made.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on May 24, 2017 at 7:23 pm

      Retail certainly does everything they can to force black onto us – aarrgghh! But your “rules” do help I’m sure. Good news in the shoe department: I have an acquaintence who works in development for Brown Shoe Co and they are getting close to a system in which you go to the store, choose your style, have your foot scanned and they 3-D print the shoe in the color you choose. Pretty cool, huh?
      Also good news in the fabric dept: I now carry a gorgeous ponte knit in a mid-temp (not warm) chocolate brown and a lighter but still very firm ponte in a very dark brown – will have samples of both in Orlando or if you want I can tuck color samples into the mail for you to consider. Also have several prints that go with them that aren’t particularly warm.

  5. Marlette Louisin on May 25, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Great tips here! I know black isn’t a color I look good in, even when my hair was dark ashy blonde. Now that my “gray” has overtaken the color, I look like a platinum blonde, almost. With my fair complexion and super light eyebrows I think I’d look like a ghost save for my deep blue eyes.

    I only have 3 items in my wardrobe that have black top portions and 2 pair of slacks. Using these tips will help me a lot.
    I think I’ll have to spring for a color consultant session to really find my best neutral etc. I have a feeling most of my clothes are “wrong” even though I was designated a summer back in the day when that was so popular.

    Wish you were going to be closer to the Cleveland Columbus or Cincinnati area so I could have an in person session.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on May 25, 2017 at 11:01 am

      Actually I am talking with some gals in the Akron area about organizing a Style School event there. Keep an eye on this newsletter for details if/when those plans move forward. Would you be interested?

      • Marlette Louisin on May 26, 2017 at 6:24 am

        Very definitely!! I live in the NW Akron area. I get the newsletter, obviously, but if you could either email me or give the organizer my name, it would be sure to get to me. Hopefully it won’t be scheduled this summer, as I’m in Montana from July 1 until mid September. It’s my sanctuary from heating humidity!

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