Yes, I Still Love Wearing Black…

light neutrals lift an all-black look

It’s always fun when I find that one of my blogger friends and I are on the same wavelength. I’ve been on a “noir” kick lately, and Tish at A Femme posted yesterday about being inspired by some very chic black-clad women that she noticed at a tony Paris restaurant. I know it’s not everyone’s thing, but for me, there’s just something about black that always feels right. Here I’ve taken a page from some of les Parisiennes I observed during my December visit, and have added some accessories in lighter neutrals to “lift” the look.

Wearing: earrings (similar) | sweater | scarf (similar) |
watch | bracelet | bag | jeans | boots

Cuyana bag, French Kande bracelet

Several of you have mentioned that you’d like to see more affordable bag options, so I’ve been keeping an eye out. A few months ago I’d stopped by the Cuyana store in Venice, and was impressed with both the quality of the bags, and their philosophy of “fewer, better things.” I’ve been looking for a simple, practical bag in a lighter neutral color, and took a chance and ordered this small carryall tote in Sable. They offer personalization, so just for the heck of it I decided to add my initials.

I’m really impressed with this bag. It’s a good size for a day bag. There’s a removable cross-body strap. It’s unlined, but does have a zip and slip pocket. The leather is soft, but substantial. Because there’s not a lot of interior structure or hardware, it’s lightweight for a leather bag, and holds a lot. When I put my usual contents into it (wallet, cosmetic pouch, phone, keys, travel-size lotion) it sits upright nicely, and is only about half full. There are other colors available too. And lots of other styles.

all-black outfit with neutral accessories

It’s been a challenging couple of weeks. Thanks to the first really good rains we’ve had in years, it’s become indisputable that our roof needs to be replaced. At least it was able to be repaired for the time being. Jeune homme came for a weekend visit a couple of weeks ago, bringing with him a cold that we’ve both been fighting for the last several days. It hit le Monsieur like a freight train, but he’s recovering. And then on Tuesday, jeune homme had two seizures, his first in years. His neurologist wants another EEG, which has to be done under sedation, as he won’t sit still otherwise. But I’m grateful for the rain, for having a roof to repair, for health insurance that covers jeune homme, and for the wonderful people at his school and group home who care for him. We trundle along…

Bon weekend!

How do you accessorize an all-black outfit?

More Like These…

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  1. January 27, 2017 / 3:31 am

    Good luck with jeune homme and the roof!!!
    You might be wearing black, but it isn’t boring. That bag is the perfect shade with the scarf. I appreciate a tote with a zipper closure. I have a similar one (no zip; many spills) that is 20 years old–proof that it’s a timeless style.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 1:10 pm

      francetaste, thank you very much! Yes, I love the shape of this tote, and the fact that it zips.

  2. Dianne
    January 27, 2017 / 5:58 am

    I don’t know if there is such a thing as understated glamour, but if there is, this look exemplifies it. Love your hair and the combination of black and light taupe. Because of your recent post on slip-on shoes, I ordered a sleek pair by Ecco in just that color of taupe that arrived yesterday: perfection!
    Oh, and the other–more important–thing that you personify is grace under pressure. Sue, you’re an inspiration! My best to you and your family.

    • January 27, 2017 / 6:48 am

      I can only echo everything Dianne says (except I didn’t just order a pair of Ecco shoes ;-).
      But your “grace under pressure” is indeed inspiring, and I hope your colds, your son’s health, and your roof are soon sorted.

      • Susan B
        January 28, 2017 / 1:05 pm

        Frances, thanks so much. Still hoping to get up that way to visit you later this year.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 1:09 pm

      Thanks so much, Dianne, for all of your kind comments! Glad you found a pair of shoes you love.

  3. rukshanaafia
    January 27, 2017 / 6:15 am

    Yes an excellent outfit on you . I can’t wear taupe but love all-black with one other brighter or lighter colour – red , pink , cream or even blue or green . And always noticeable lipstick !

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 1:08 pm

      rukshanaafia, thanks very much! Yes, I’m finding that adding a bright lipstick when I’m wearing black makes a big difference.

    • Katharina Eltringham
      January 31, 2017 / 6:30 am

      Yes, the lipstick makes such a big difference

  4. January 27, 2017 / 6:28 am

    I love this on you, I’m always happy in all black as well. If I don’t use black accessories, I use cognac. I don’t find black draining at all. Sorry about the last few weeks. I had that cold and it lasted 3 weeks!!

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 1:06 pm

      KSL, thank you! Yes, this cold has been tenacious and ubiquitous…

  5. January 27, 2017 / 7:13 am

    I’ve been seeing a lot of shots of women in all black lately, too. I love that look with a scarf just as you’re wearing it now! Read a post on DA Wolfe’s blog Daily Plate of Crazy about, among other things, health insurance and how glad she is to have hers. Most of us take ours for granted up here in Canada, when we aren’t complaining about it. Instead maybe just once in a while we should be grateful for it:)

    • January 27, 2017 / 7:52 am

      Unfortunately a lot of people tend to take things that others have fought long and hard for, whether national health insurance or reproductive rights. I love black, and there is nobody on Earth more chic than my small black cat Livia (green eyes!) But I tend to go for accessories with various tones of red, and violet, or perhaps green or all of them, a bit boho such as paisley scarves. The taupe is lovely but not my thing.

      I have a large red tote bag the same shape as pseu’s fine-leather one, in a nylon or microfibre (leather would be too heavy) which looks very spiffy when I have to take my laptop to work at conferences. It has enough room for a notepad and other essentials.

      • Susan B
        January 28, 2017 / 1:00 pm

        lagatta, I do also like a color accent with black. Cobalt blue is a current favorite.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 1:03 pm

      Susan, thank you! Yes, there’s a lot of uncertainty around health insurance right now, and it’s unsettling, especially for those of us who are self-employed, have pre-existing conditions, and kids over 18 but under 26 still covered on our plans.

  6. tish868
    January 27, 2017 / 7:14 am

    Since I’m counting on seeing you this year, let’s pull together our all black outfits and head to L’Avenue for a glass of wine. Then, we can launch into one of our marathon catch-up conversations.xoxo

    • Susan B
      January 27, 2017 / 7:18 am

      Absolutely! Second week in May… 😉

  7. spacegeek
    January 27, 2017 / 7:35 am

    Is Jeune Homme already of an age where he is out of the house? Or is it boarding school of a different character? My time flies! We had roof issues as well. I suppose it is what we get for 5 years of LA drought followed by The Deluge. The cold and flu season is particularly virulent this year apparently. Sorry your household got hit with the ughs. We have been undergoing a full house remodel after a flood last July. So I completely understand the gratitude yet “challenging” times. Hang in there. Sometimes you just put one foot in front of the other.

    • Susan B
      January 27, 2017 / 7:52 am

      spacegeek, he’s 19 now and moved to a group home (6 guys total in the home) last year. We are SO grateful for this situation for him, as he really seems to like it there. He’ll never be able to live independently due to his severe intellectual/cognitive disabilities, but as far as a “new normal” for him goes, this is pretty great.

      • Brenda
        January 28, 2017 / 7:50 am

        And aren’t you glad he can watch unending goofy movies that we would hate, and have great times and challenges with his peers!

        • Susan B
          January 28, 2017 / 12:35 pm

          Brenda, yes, very true! 🙂

  8. Cathy
    January 27, 2017 / 7:39 am

    What a classic outfit. I especially like the leopard print scarf. I have never been a scarf person until I subscribed to your blog and saw how wonderful the right one can uplift the whole outfit. Also, thanks for the suggestions – I just ordered the black tee from Amour Vert.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 1:01 pm

      Cathy, thank you, and thanks for subscribing! I have that black tee and really like it.

  9. January 27, 2017 / 7:47 am

    Sorry to hear about your son’s recent issues — hope all is back on track swiftly. Love the all-black. I, too, feel especially good when wearing black. It’s just an easy way to do sleek, simple elegance. The scarf adds just the right amount of pizazz.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 1:00 pm

      Thanks so much, Judy!

  10. Roxann
    January 27, 2017 / 7:58 am

    Sending good wishes regarding the challenges large and small that you face currently. I’m in a similar place–a bad cold, a water pump that broke flooding our cellar and leaving us without water for two days this week, and a husband scheduled for surgery Monday. Meanwhile,I find the small and tangible items–making soup, checking out a new handbag source, mulling over a possible trip when the load lightens–are both grounding and diverting. So, thanks for the handbag spotting and reporting. And you can’t beat basic black, well accessorized, IMHO. I love this look.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:58 pm

      Thanks, Roxann. I hope these challenges are behind you soon, and send good wishes for your husband’s surgery and a speedy recovery. Yes, sometimes the little pleasant distractions are just what we need to keep going.

  11. January 27, 2017 / 8:48 am

    I agree with your assessment of wearing black. It works for so many occasions. And thank you for the links to your clothing and accessories. You look so nice.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:57 pm

      Thanks very much, Linda!

  12. January 27, 2017 / 9:08 am

    Count me in the “I love wearing all black” tribe. It allows fabulous accessories take the spotlight and makes travel so simple. Sorry to hear about your fella having a hard time. Sending good wishes your way. In the small world category, we arrived home to a leaking roof on Wednesday and are awaiting an insurance rep with prayers the damage will be covered! That cold has us both down too. It’s everywhere this month.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:56 pm

      Jennifer, I sure hope you’re able to get your roof repaired ASAP, and that you’re over that cold quickly. It’s such a drag having to deal with big issues while not feeling your best.

  13. Pink Azalea
    January 27, 2017 / 9:17 am

    You look great and I like the scarf and bag to lighten the look. Ties in with your complexion. For an all black outfit, I would do as you have, adding some creamy neutrals like your bag. Maybe a red lip. Best to your son with his medical eval. I admire your dedication to him. He is fortunate to have such good parents.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:55 pm

      Pink Azalea, thanks very much for you kind comments!

  14. January 27, 2017 / 9:47 am

    I do still wear black but try to put a bright colour near my face. If possible I am transitioning more to navy and grey as staple neutrals. Hope Jeune homme gets better soon. How ever old my children get there always seems to be some drama! My husband had the dreaded cold + cough over the holiday period.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:54 pm

      Josephine, I can see why you’d want to wear more grey and navy…you look smashing in both! And thank you.

  15. SanMarie
    January 27, 2017 / 10:26 am

    I so appreciate the courage you have in sharing some difficult personal events. I’ll use this as a role model to encourage me to deal with mine with more equanimity. So thank you. And, the outfit is nice, too!

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:53 pm

      Thanks, SanMarie. I’ve found it helps to know that we all face struggles in life, and that none of us are alone in that.

  16. Joanna
    January 27, 2017 / 11:10 am

    I love your positive attitude.
    All black is one of my favourite ways to dress. It always feels elegant even when dressed casually. And, the bonus is one looks slimmer.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:50 pm

      Hi Joanna, thank you. And it’s hard to argue with any of those points. 😉

  17. Susan D.
    January 27, 2017 / 11:39 am

    So sorry to hear of the seizures. Our young grandson has had several and I know how stressful and scary they are.

    I wear a lot of black–and get some flack about it from some people who remind me that I look better dressed in other colors. I wear black because it is easier and my various pieces are interchangeable. I have a scarf almost exactly like the one you are wearing in this post AND a handbag (Coach) the same color you are carrying here. It had never occurred to me to carry this bag while wearing black. I guess this is why I need to read blogs like yours!

    Good luck with your roof and I hope your son’s tests go well.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:50 pm

      Susan, thanks very much. I sort of remember among the many fashion rules I was taught that handbags should always be dark in the winter and light in the spring/summer. I’m glad we’ve been able to chuck those rules!

  18. Verónica
    January 27, 2017 / 11:48 am

    Lovely outfit. Your blonde hair also helps soften the look!! Leave everything in God’s hands, He´ll do what´s best for all of you…

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:47 pm

      Thanks so much Verónica!

  19. Carrie
    January 27, 2017 / 11:51 am

    I’m glad to hear your son’s placement in a group home is working out so well. My little guy (Down Syndrome/Autism/PANDAS) is 15 now and I’m dreading having to make that decision at some point in the future. The years just seem to fly by.

    • January 27, 2017 / 5:56 pm

      Carrie, if you scroll back through Pseu’s posts, you will see how positive the degree of independence their son was able to attain with peert in the group home has been for him. I know people who work with people like her son and they say the same thing. It is understandable for parents to be protective of a fragile child, but the decision can be a positive for all if the place where the young adult child is going is a good one. And obviously, the parents won’t always be there, or be spry enough to care for an adult with severe developmental disabilities.

      • Susan B
        January 27, 2017 / 6:06 pm

        lagatta, thank you. One of our primary considerations was that we wanted to transition JH to his adult living situation while we still had our health and could continue to participate in his life. Our worst nightmare was that one of us would suddenly fall ill and we’d have to move him under much more traumatic circumstances. It’s hard at times but we think this is much better for him in the long run.

        • JMS
          January 27, 2017 / 8:16 pm

          We have a friend who just passed away in his early 60s (too young!) who had lived in a wonderful group home for almost 30 years. He was a talented musician and deeply creative despite his many physical and mental health challenges, and the group home just nurtured his gifts so thoughtfully. I am in awe of how good the good ones can be, and wish that for le jeune homme as well!

          • Susan B
            January 28, 2017 / 12:36 pm

            JMS, I’m sorry for the loss of your friend, but glad to hear that his living situation was a fulfilling one.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:47 pm

      Carrie, thank you. It’s never an easy decision, and I think every family has to do what works best with their unique circumstances. What I would suggest, depending on where you live, is to research options as much as possible, and network with other parents who have or are considering residential placement. You may have to deal with some bureaucracies, and talking to those who have done it can help.

  20. January 27, 2017 / 11:51 am

    I’m just out of a 6 week cold/sinus stint, hope your family’s clears quickly. Sorry about your son’s recent seizures.
    I’ve just prized myself out of a couple of weeks of black. And yes, I have roof issues too, but I decided to put in a roof window now that I have to face up to a new roof, and that means an architect is involved and the whole thing has ground to a halt. Hope it doesn’t snow!

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:43 pm

      Mary, thanks for your good wishes. Hope you’re able to get the roof fixed without the complication of snow.

  21. Nicole
    January 27, 2017 / 12:17 pm

    I’m with you on black. It’s almost always right, particularly if you lift it with accessories. I’ve been meaning to ask you if you’ve ever checked out MZ Wallace bags? I’ve become a huge fan for every day and travel. Much more functional for me than the LePliage. Thanks for your usual inspiring posts and good wishes for all your upcoming challenges.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:41 pm

      Nicole, thank you. I haven’t yet seen the MZ Wallace bags in person, but will look out for them.

  22. plutrell
    January 27, 2017 / 12:38 pm

    I thnk you know how I feel…I love my black! Love this look also.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:40 pm

      Pam L, thank you! We definitely share that affinity…and I think part of the reason is that black conveys strength.

  23. Pam
    January 27, 2017 / 1:30 pm

    Outstanding and glam in every way!!

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:39 pm

      Thanks so much, Pam!

  24. SoSuSam
    January 27, 2017 / 2:48 pm

    I’m a native NYer, so perhaps that’s why I’ve always loved wearing black. (Alas, I have two light-haired cats, which means I only get to wear black outside the home.) I love most to pair it with gray or “elephant” (like a deeper, cooler khaki)–but black goes with everything. EVERYTHING. Love the bag/color you selected. I’ve visited that website before, but you’ve convinced me I need to check out their bags again. 🙂

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:38 pm

      SoSuSam, yes, the lighter dog hairs are a constant challenge. 🙂 Thank you!

  25. Jane2
    January 27, 2017 / 4:10 pm

    I never wore all black until my last trip to Paris – it was easy and indeed, everyone looked great accessorized. I wore black cutout nubuck shoes with a cute zipper at the heel, and accessorized with scarves from Fragonard – they have colour, which I love but it’s somewhat muted. If I were at home, I would have had a neutral bag, but relied on my black Radley London crossbody. For outerwear (it was October), I wore a denim jacket – tourists were asking us for directions, so we must have looked tres chic!

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:38 pm

      Jane2, your outfit does indeed sound chic.

  26. Deborah Lindsay
    January 27, 2017 / 5:44 pm

    Love the Cuyana bag– I have the same one in the larger size and it’s fantastic for travel. Sending a prayer for jeune homme and comfort for his parents!

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:36 pm

      Thanks so much, Deborah!

  27. January 28, 2017 / 8:37 am

    I have been about a 95% ‘all black’ dresser for over 20 years relying on my bags, shoes, scarves, and language to keep me colorful, with the balance being made up of navy, camel, blush, and white. It’s always enjoyable eeing you experiment with color and I haven’t see you go wrong yet, but this post was right up my alley. Black-on-black with a pop of color, even a neutral is like ‘buttah’ to me. My accessories (shoes, scarves, bags) are red, leopard (of course), saddle brown, and blush. In fact, I found clutch in blush last summer, but after your post I want a larger blush bag like this:

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:34 pm

      Hi JAJ, thanks! Black is sort of my “default setting,” and what I feel most at home in.

  28. Sandra
    January 28, 2017 / 9:45 am

    You look lovely Sue! I lived in NY all my life until 18 months ago and I think the Fashion Police would arrest any woman not dressed in head to toe black 🙂 Black winter clothes followed by black summer clothes. In Chicago, you see much more color. I rely on scarves to accessorize an all black outfit.

    Sorry to read about you son’s seizures! Hopefully, he will be better soon.

    • Susan B
      January 28, 2017 / 12:33 pm

      Hi Sandra, thanks!

      Jeune homme is home with us this weekend and is doing just fine. 🙂

  29. Sarah Harvey
    January 29, 2017 / 10:25 am

    So Susan (and anyone else, please jump in) I have to go to an afternoon wedding reception at the Baltimore Museum of Industry the end of March. I ca’t wear all black (alas). I would love to have that French Emmanuel Alt look. Any suggestions? I looked at the EF Navy crepe pants–with some black booties maybe?? A soft dressier blouse and unconstructed jacket? What color might the jacket be? What are your thoughts on this? Thx Sally

    • Susan B
      January 29, 2017 / 12:37 pm

      Hi Sally, navy is always a nice alternative to black if that doesn’t feel right. You could go with a grey or lighter blue cardigan or jacket, and add a scarf for a pop of color.

  30. Lindy
    January 29, 2017 / 11:25 am

    So many nice comments here. You have a lovely following. I just wanted to say that I really like your hair in this picture … it looks very feminine and soft.

    • Susan B
      January 29, 2017 / 12:37 pm

      Hi Lindy, thanks so much!

  31. January 29, 2017 / 5:06 pm

    Sorry about the roof, even sorrier about your boy. I hope both turn out to be less serious than they seem at first. Your outfit is fantastic, the pose is brilliant, and I think your Cuyana bag is very Femme – in that urban, low-key way you have a lock on.

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