Black for Summer


A few folks have mentioned that they’d rather learn how to summer-ize black clothing than omit it entirely from the repertoire. So, here are my tips!

Bare a Bit
Already Pretty outfit featuring COS layered dress, Antelope sandals, Rebecca Minkoff Jealous bag, bib necklace

Every woman has her own comfort level with skin exposure, so I’m not gonna manufacture some dumb rule about how bare to get. BUT! Imagine if this dress hit at mid-calf and the sleeves weren’t scrunched. Even in lightweight materials, that much coverage might seem too heavy and dark for summer wear. Balance with your own preferences, but remember that black works best in summer when balanced by a hint of skin.

Show the Toes

Already Pretty outfit featuring crop top, fringe skirt, strappy platform sandals, black leather tote bag, chandelier earrings

I generally prefer to keep my feet covered, even in summer, but there’s no denying that black clothes look far less wintry when worn with open-toed shoes and sandals. If you’re going for coverage elsewhere in your outfit, try to make sure you’ve got some summery footwear going on.

Drapey Does It

Already Pretty outfit featuring asymmetric tank, Banana Republic twisted asymmetric skirt, gladiator sandals, gunmetal necklace

Stiff, thick, heavy materials should be avoided in summer regardless of color … but stiff, thick, heavy black clothing may look downright weird. Fluid materials with tons of gorgeous drape – silk, rayon, jersey knit – will still look marvelously summery even in ebony.

Bright Accessories

Already Pretty outfit featuring printed Desigual scarf, black jersey dress, magenta Frye Carson Pull-on boots

I love pairing brights with black year-round, but during the summer they seem even cheerier. Throwing vibrantly colored accessories into the mix with a primarily black outfit makes it warm weather-friendly in an instant

Make Black an Accent
Already Pretty outfit featuring floral cardigan, striped skater dress, pyramid stud belt, Antelope sandals, chain bracelet

Putting black center-stage during the summer can feel strange, but utilizing it for accents is a breeze. Make the central pieces of your outfit bright, pale, or patterned, and go for a lightweight black wrap, a skinny black belt, or a cropped black jacket for your accent pieces.

Originally posted 2010-07-12 05:02:00.

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20 Responses to “Black for Summer”

  1. WendyB

    Now you should do the ALL black for summer challenge 😉

  2. Cynthia

    I haven't even missed my black clothes since I've been black-outing (well, OK, I've missed a black t-shirt once or twice, and my really great LBD, and a pair of black wideleg crops with silver stripes). I've been going for almost two months now so I know I can do it. Maybe in August I'll try adding the black back and try to implement some of these tips.

  3. Modesty is Pretty

    I agree with Wendy B hehehe great ideas and thanks for keeping the modest in mind and not making a rule about what to wear.

  4. tinyjunco

    black lace, net, mesh, cotton gauze or muslin for clothes or accessories (anything black and transparent or filmy-feeling). black linen, linen being a summer classic. anything black that's cropped and loose. as a subset of 'black accent': for accessories black straw or raffia or canvas (hats, belts, espadrilles). Black jewelry.

    i like Wendy B's challenge as well!! but it would be cheating on the nor cal coast, where it's fog fog fog all summer….. ; )

  5. Brianna

    I find it so funny this post came out today – I spent the majority of the weekend out thrifting and mall-walking complaining about the overabundance of peep-toes and cap sleeves! Two things I can't wear or just don't like the look of (particularly on me). I do like the rest of the outfits, though!

    I try to wear a lot more gray or pinstripes in the summer. I also try to wear more oranges, yellows, and bright blues to balance out the black pants I have a tendency to wear! (also, a new love: elbow length cardigans!)

  6. Patti

    Great post, Sal! I banished all my black clothes a year ago, but somehow a few old and new items have found their way into my wardrobe. Great suggestions for avoiding total immersion in the Dark Side.

  7. La Belette Rouge

    You make black look cool, crisp and as refreshing as a glass of lemonade!

  8. Caitlin

    I'm a new reader and I've already noticed your allegiance to Tsubo's Acrea. I adore these and have been plotting to add a pair to my wardrobe for a good half year or so. Please tell me – how fabulous are they? Are they comfortable? Do they go with everything? Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  9. joelle van dyne

    i love all your black and bright blue/teal combos! it really does make black look more summery and takes away any somber undertones. in nyc where black is basically the year-round uniform, i would like to see everyone more summery accents like you show here! ~joelle

  10. Sal

    Caitlin: Oh yes, the Acreas are basically my signature shoe. Don't judge, but I own them in five colors. Yes, they're that good.

    I wear a pair at least once per week year-round. They are extremely comfortable, and I can walk in mine for 1-2 hours straight, longer with breaks. I wear them with everything. I think the asymmetric strap gives them an edge, but the classic pump shape makes them ideal for more conservative outfits, too.

    Now, go buy a pair!

  11. Emma at Daily Clothes Fix

    Great post – I normally favour the final option (but then I rarely wear all black anyway). Having said that I'm wearing quite a wintery outfit today in… you guessed it – black. Maybe I should have read your post earlier. I do have bar legs though (and it is raining).

    Can I just say how much I love your drapey vest?

  12. budget chic

    Okay miss thing! I see how you worked that out 😉 Yes, working a little black into your summer wardrobe is a good thing. I just go full-on because it's a color I just can't stay away from not even during the summer months. I got too much of it!

  13. Rad_in_Broolyn

    Thanks for this. I miss wearing black but I get scared of doing it in the summer, at least during sunny days. I was playing around with black last night but nixed it at the last moment.

    I have a black cotton lawn dress. I also like black lace bike shorts as a modesty strategy.

  14. sweet.hereafter

    I do find it hard to work most of my black winter items into my summer wardrobe. For me, the problem is not the color, it's the fabric — even lightweight knits are often too heavy for the summer climate where I live.

    In fabrics like linen, however, I think black can look so cool and crisp. One of my favorite dresses was in cotton eyelet, lined with black cotton gauze. And I love the look of black-and-white floral patterns for summer.

  15. Anonymous

    Hi, Sal

    I am the new anonymous reader who loves your turquoise pumps. Thank you for your reply.

    I like your black dress with various dots that goes with your pale shoes. Do you know when I can find them? Thanks


  16. gina

    My 2 favorite black-in-summer combos:

    (1) Black and white. Particularly white jeans and a black tank or blouse and black shoes. Sometimes I stay all b&w, and sometimes I mix with gray or add a bright color as an accent.

    (2) Sundresses and sandals. Even in black, this combo looks very summery to me, especially if the dress is cotton or linen.

  17. Amelia

    I think I read somewhere before that you purchased a few of those shirt-dresses in different colours. They do look great on you. Out of all the outfits, the 'Bright Accessories' one looks absolutely fantastic. Good job. It's great finding certain pieces that make you glow.

  18. mike wallace

    It¡¦s actually a cool and useful piece of info I¡¦m satisfied that you shared this useful information with us Please keep us informed like this Thank you for sharing