Ode to Noir

Who among us does not love a great film noir?

When it comes to fashion, though, black is often maligned. (Never mind that whatever la couleur de la saison, it’s often lauded as “the new black.”) “Drab, funereal, boring, done-to-death” are some of the adjectives thrown at this absence-of-color color. And “safe.” In the world of fashion where novelty is currency, the word “safe” is almost always used derisively.

But what’s so bad about safe? What’s so bad about knowing that when you need to feel sophisticated/classic/pulled together/dressed up/timeless/edgy/any combination of those, in a pinch that your tried-and-true Little Black Dress, or black sweater and slacks, or even that black Banana Republic t-shirt are waiting in the closet to save the day? On those days when one’s confidence isn’t up to throwing together a Carrie Bradshaw-esque symphony of color, a simple black ensemble can put one on more solid sartorial footing.

Start with black for a great backdrop to showcase that Dramatic Jacket, metallic accessories, a unique scarf or even Grandma’s pearls. And despite what your Great Aunt Wilma says, you can too wear brown with black in small doses. (Une femme thinks a dark brown bag with an otherwise black ensemble can look trés chic.) Pull your black and brown elements together with a little Leopard print, if that’s your style.

Black accessories can make whatever you’re wearing look more posh (with a small p). Think jeans and a trench with a black Chanel classic flap bag, a simple white blouse with a black vintage glass bead necklace, and of course add a black leather jacket to a tweed skirt to take it from Academic to Edgy. Whatever your ensemble, upgrade it to First Class with a pair of classic black pumps.

So get in touch with your Inner Noir. You’ll be in sophisticated company…

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  1. September 22, 2007 / 7:01 pm

    Absolutely agree! Black is the backbone of my wardrobe. I punch in some colour through scarves or bags or shoes, and I do have a few colourful cardigans or vests, but I really rely on black (with some greys, browns and olives thrown in). Just makes life easier, really! Plus it allows you to focus on cut, texture, fabric quality, etc.

  2. September 22, 2007 / 11:37 pm

    Yes, I’ve been gravitating back to black in the last year or so. I know the “What Not To Wear” ladies are thumbs down on black, and especially combining black with colors, but I’m thinking that as long as the colors aren’t primary and are muted, it’s easy to make it work.

  3. September 24, 2007 / 2:15 am

    I’m terribly flattered to be included amongst such lovely people! Thankyou! (but you should include a picture of yourself as well!)

  4. September 25, 2007 / 7:39 am

    I love black with gray or red or turquoise. In the 60s I had a gray suede mini-skirt and vest that I wore with a black silk turtle neck and black tights and gray suede boots. With three different silver chains. Men smiled when I walked down the street.

  5. September 25, 2007 / 8:17 am

    I think we all got so sick of mono black sleek stuff in the 90s that we all went overboard on the color pattern boho stuff in the 00s. At least I did. Now I am finding a way back to black, tempering it with brown, prints, scarves…maybe its just another case of everything old is new again.

  6. September 25, 2007 / 12:46 pm

    Maya’s Granny – I’ll bet they did!

    Dana – I think those pendulum swings are an inherent part of Fashion; how better to keep us buying new stuff?

    Shefaly – I think black has lost some of the direct connotation with mourning, at least here in the US. Go to a funeral now and you’ll see people in a variety of dark colors, not just black. I’ve never been a fan of blue or navy, don’t know why.

    Icy – well of course I had to include you after you made such a great case for black and expressing one’s Inner Goth!

  7. September 25, 2007 / 4:53 pm

    Bravo! This is such a great piece… I, too, am seduced by the darker hue and it’s certainly part of my signature.

  8. Shefaly Yogendra
    September 25, 2007 / 11:48 am

    I am curious. How does the preeminence of black in fashion stakes sit with it being the colour of mourning in several cultures?

    In India, white is the colour of mourning so people rarely wear all white (also because major cities are so polluted the clothes will come back black anyway!). But there is an exception: on Holi, the festival of colours, people wear white only for it to become multi-coloured with the colour thrown in dry and liquid forms.

    In the UK: blue and grey appear to be staples for women. I find it drab and in winters, it looks like we are almost collectively mourning something. Surely colour helps, does it not? So why do so few European women wear it? I must find out 🙂

  9. October 1, 2007 / 8:21 pm

    Une Femme,

    LOVE the pics and the Noir twist on the topic of Black. Excellent.

  10. October 1, 2007 / 8:34 pm

    Why, thanks joanne and Miss Janey!

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