Adulting, Ideas and Musings

All Black – The Small Print

“I like wearing all black. Wearing all black looks rich.” Said “Jill”, a student in one of the improv classes I was taking.

Over the course of 8 weeks, other students in the class tried to interest Jill in other colors or patterns. I’d often hear: “You would so pretty in mauve!” “I can see you wearing a checked red, white and black shirt with those pants.” “Butterflies! Have you ever thought about a butterfly shirt?” All of this pretty much annoyed Jill.

“I like wearing all black. Wearing all black looks rich.”

It’s pretty much a truism. All black, or all white, is very rich looking. We seem to accept it at face value. Yet people kept harassing Jill about other color choices. Why?


Jill had asked everyone what the deal was, but no one could give her a good answer. No one could put their finger on what the problem was.

But they knew there was a problem.

It made me think, “How can wearing all black look rich jive with something is just not right with what Jill was wearing?”

The Small Print

Yes, wearing all black is rich. The question is: Was Jill wearing all black?

So, she had faded black jeans on. With a black t-shirt and a black suit jacket over it. But none of the blacks matched.

Was Jill wearing all black?

Each piece by itself was awesome, but put together like that, with no other colors, puts out the idea that she’s trying to wear all black. But if each black is a different shade? How can they all be the same color?

They can’t all be black and therein lies the problem. It’s hard to put our fingers on it, but we know something is off.

A Re-Definition

Instead of thinking that “wearing all black as rich”, it’s more helpful to think that “monochromatic dressing is rich.”

What is monochromatic dressing? It’s wearing the exact same shade of a color. Black and White are the richest colors to do this with because it’s almost impossible to accomplish!

Go to your closet and look at all the black items hanging there. Compare them. Do any of them really match? Probably not. There is probably either a huge different or just a minor difference. When you are wearing all black, that minor difference is glaring.

Two things can happen when you try to wear black on black, and you don’t match the shade:

  • The shades are so close, but so obviously different, that it looks like you’re trying for monochromatic dressing, but failed.
  • The shades are so different, that it’s obvious that they are different colors. No one thinks you’re going for monochromatic dressing so you’re fine.

“I like wearing all black. Wearing all black looks rich.”

Then do it right. Find the exact shades. Take care of them so they don’t fade.

It’s hard to achieve true monochromatic dressing. In reality, you have to find the companies that specialize in it.

And that’s why it looks rich. You have to put out serious cash to achieve it because no one who makes clothes for Target is focused on monochromatic dressing.

If you want to see what one company had done with it, check out “The System” at Eileen Fisher.  They do monochromatic dressing in three colors currently (there used to be taupe): black, white, and blue(grey?).

I wandered into store in Seattle and felt the fabrics. My skin is so tender, it doesn’t like anything remotely itchy. So, the clothes weren’t for me. But you might have better luck.

Or just go find a butterfly shirt…