Ask Jeanne

THE KIT Back to Black

Hate to do this, but I have to start this one off with a big “dark” apology: I’m sorry that I happen to adore wearing black. I’m sorry that it’s so dramatic and timeless and sexy and elegant, and that wearing it always makes me feel perfectly dressed on occasions when I might be feeling a tad insecure. I’m sorry that black is forever chic, and that it ultimately makes me look and feel thinner. It also slims me down on television and in photographs. Sorry about that. Okay. Whew! So now that I’ve made my own apologies for having subscribed to the “black is beautiful” theory in the wardrobe department for so many years, I’ll attempt to answer your question.

First of all, black is indeed seasonless. Head to toe black, can however, make quite an edgy and theatrical statement, and many women wouldn’t even try to carry it off. Dressing that dramatically lends an instant air of gravitas, and not many people would want that. But if you adore black, there’s no reason you should abandon it in the summer months. What you might want to do is perk up your outfit—and your spirits—with a jolt of colour. Brights have never been hotter and look amazing up against black. So do pastels. But beige and khaki are especially cool complements to black. Whether the colour comes from your jewelry or your shoes, a scarf, bag or belt, it’s always fun to give a nod to playfulness and lighten things up in this manner. And of course, white and black is the most divine, ultra elegant combination that always speaks of high style and classic glamour, and never fails to make a hip, graphic statement.


All this being said, it’s good that you realize that you might be in a bit of a rut. It’s so easy to continually play it safe, or get locked into boring old images of ourselves. And when it comes to shopping, it’s much simpler to just go for those black basics or pieces that we know can survive in our wardrobes year in and year out. I have to admit that I tire of my red and purple pieces much more easily than I ever tire of my black pieces. And as irrational as this sounds, I’m sure most women would agree that you can never have too much black in your wardrobe. I have at least 20 fabulous little black dresses that have taken me around the world for years now, and I’m always happy to add more to my stash when I find one that fits especially well, or has great styling. Black is also less likely to show dirt and wrinkles and when you do as much traveling as I do, that’s important. Just stay away from white dogs that shed!


Naysayers are eager to point out that it gets too hot to wear black in the summer. But I recently came across one scientific theory that claims it’s cooler to wear black than white in the heat. Apparently, white clothing reflects the sun’s rays, instead of absorbing them. But it also could reflect our own body heat, and therefore, really cook us. Black absorbs our body heat, and if we’re wearing loose and airy black clothing, and there’s a little wind, that will help radiate the heat away.

Even if you don’t buy the theory though, but are determined to stick with black, go for light, diaphanous fabrics. You’ll also want a lower, open neckline, and avoid long sleeves, of course. I also wouldn’t suggest black hose in the summer. That’s just a little too “Sicilian widow” for me.