Being Intentional with Black


 When a color is deemed “neutral,” the temptation is to throw it into a mix and be done. And you certainly can: Blue denim is neutral, and I’ve never heard anyone say that it should always be worn with garments or accessories that complement shades of blue. But ANY color, neutral or no, will look fantastic if it appears multiple times within an outfit.

Say you’ve got on a red dress and a purple, white, and red printed scarf. Throwing on a pair of black shoes may look like a last-resort or an afterthought since nothing else in your outfit is black. For a more unified look, either pick up another color from the outfit and wear red, purple, or white shoes, or do black shoes AND a black belt. Putting black into the mix twice automatically makes it appear stylish and natural.

Here are a few more ways to be intentional with black:


Already Pretty outfit featuring Echo Designs Times Square Wrap, gray cashmere sweater, gray wool skirt, magenta tights, ECCO Sculptured 65 tall boots, Cole Haan handbag
Here’s a more concrete illustration of the example described above. The main colors here grays and pinks, with black serving as an accent color. Imagine this outfit without the scarf with black in its print. It would be fine, but adding the black boots to echo the black in the print creates a more finished ensemble.

When using black in accessories or accents, remember that incorporating it multiple times within an outfit will tie the pieces together seamlessly.


Already Pretty outfit featuring Desigual scarf, black tunic, skinny jeans, Steve Madden ankle boots

The pattern on this scarf is mainly pink and red, but it includes some black accents. That means that throwing on a black turtleneck tunic, dark skinnies, and black boots looks organic and intentional. Had the black been missing, or had it been a lighter neutral such as gray, all that black would look far less chic and natural.

Any time an item of clothing includes black in a pattern – even just a smidgen – it will pair beautifully with solid black garments.



Black blazer and top, plus black boots. Since this borders on a neutral mix with only black and blue denim, adding a brown or other neutral shoe would’ve been fine. But adding the black boots to bracket the outfit creates a more polished look.

Black will look more fully incorporated into an ensemble if it appears in the top half and bottom half, instead of just one or the other.


Already Pretty outfit featuring Karen Kane asymmetric tunic, Karen Kane zuma jeans, ankle boots, layered chain necklace, handmade leather bag

And, of course, black looks fab in neutral mixes. An outfit comprised entirely of neutrals will look sophisticated and intentional if you include at least three distinct colors. In the outfit above, I have on a black top, olive pants, and brown shoes/accessories. I might be able to add one more neutral as an accent, but any more than that might tip the scales into neutral overload.

This is a very loose guideline, since many outfits with only two neutrals look very chic. But, as always, key with two is to repeat at least one of them somewhere within the outfit.

I wear more black now than ever before, but I always try to make it look conscious and considered. I hope these suggestions and examples make sense, and that they’ll help you suss out which ways you’d like to wear black intentionally yourself!

Originally posted 2016-03-14 06:34:38.

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3 Responses to “Being Intentional with Black”

  1. Kaki

    Ugh. I was so sad to note that Already Pretty’s RSS feed is now truncated in my compiler. This makes it much harder for me to read, especially when I am traveling and wifi is spotty. Please reconsider this move.