Friday, August 2, 2013

Madam Predicts: Back to Black

Though I would look for any excuse to run this gorgeous photo of Louise Brooks, I really do predict this fall that black will be the new black. The Lovely Boutique Where I Work had been nearly a black-free zone. Now I see a lot of it coming through the back door in shipment and in the front door as worn by staff. And the magazines, whetting our appetites for the September issues, are hinting at it.

Why is that? Black has been around forever. The little black dress is so important it goes by the initials, LBD. Every girl longs for the day she can wear her first "grown up" black dress (not the smocked velvet one with the Peter Pan collar). So why now?

Here's a guess: lately we have been drowning in color. Modern technology allows cloth and yarn to be dyed the most incredible hues, from neon brights to intricate layerings of color in photo prints. We've been mixing and matching patterns for several seasons now. What used to be shockingly avant garde now comes off as "meh". We won't be going back to basics any time soon (I think we're having too much fun), but I do think we'll be going back to black.

Time to debunk an urban legend. Kathy Levine, the vivacious former QVC host and lifestyle author, cautions that black doesn't really make you look thin, "but is very good at hiding food stains". That would be with the exception of powdered sugar, right Kathy? She may have a point. Sometimes a large person in black looks— well— like a large person in black. On the other hand, if you're doing separates it makes sense to have black on the bottom if you've a pear shape and black on the top if you're that pin-up girl.

Blacks are tricky to match. If you are putting together a black suit (pantsuit or skirt suit), don't even try to pick the best jacket that fits and pair it with the best bottom. All pieces must come from the same manufacturer, preferably the same dye lot.

Black lace has the power to lighten up all black when some skin tones show through. Madam predicts lace will appear avant cinq ("before five" n'cest pas) for this very reason.

Rethink your makeup. Here's where you might want that red lipstick. Something needs to pop so you don't bring Morticia to mind.

Black and white combinations are forever classics— not just solids but polka dots, houndstooth checks, stripes, pinstripes and tweeds. Chanel made her bread and butter with the combo. Marc Jacobs fashioned a smashing tribute to the optic black and white '60s in his Spring 2013 collection.

Black and white bread and butter
Making the Marc

This pairing is still a hard sell to many women, but it is oh so chic. Like wearing gold and silver together, you must be deliberate. Black shoes with a navy dress is not the idea. Black and navy have to be equal partners lest anyone think you dress in the dark. As navy is less severe than black, you might wear it closer to your face.

Send in the navy

This duo doesn't seem difficult to embrace. There is little chance you will be mistaken for the color blind, but it also doesn't have much pizazz. It can be elegant, in  a more down-to-earth way but won't be as cutting edge.

Earning some brownie points

If black and brown is a little dull, where does that leave black and grey? Here's the word again— meh. It's so safe. Just rip off that band aid and go all black.


Don't go there. Too '80s.

On the wrong 8-track

Though Gatsby was pretty much a dud at the movies and never lit up the fashion firmament, we are seeing much of the Art Deco pairing of black and gold in accessories.
Sparkle Plenty

I won't go into the debate of whether black is the mix of all colors or merely the absence of light. Black is its own color. That's all I have to say.
Fade to black.


  1. I love pairing black with navy, very chic. Black is no longer great close to my face without some colour in a scarf or jewellery to lighten the effect. However I have so many black trousers I could open a shop.

  2. I've never stopped wearing black and still love it. I'll wear any of those black-and-________ combos above except red (unless I break up with some white) as I find a straight black/red look to be too jarring. I also find that it's SO much easier to put together a work wardrobe with a good foundation of black basics.

  3. I totally agree with you. Black is back. I've been wearing a riot of color for a couple years and I'm exhausted. I'm yearning for simplicity, and black simplicity in particular. My main desire for fall 2013? The perfect black day dress - preferably jersey, draped, and to the knee. I'll live in it, if I can find it.