How to Stop Buying and Wearing Black When It’s Not Flattering


breaking out of black

If you’ve been one of my long time blog readers, or a client, you’d be aware that black is not the most flattering colour if you have warm colouring or muted/soft colouring, or even light colouring.  This is because black’s colour properties are:

  • Cool Undertone
  • Dark/Deep
  • Bright/Clear

If you have colouring like mine, as these are my colour properties too, black is a great neutral, which is why I wear it.  If not, you will find that there are many other great neutrals you can choose from.  Here are my tips on neutrals for:

But so many of my clients will tell me that it’s hard not to buy black as there often so much of it in stores.  So here are my tips to avoid buying black.

1. Get a colour analysis.   You may have had one years ago, but your colouring can change as you age, and up-to-date swatch will help you find the colours and that includes neutrals, that suit you best right now.

2. Take your swatch shopping.  Your swatch is a tool to help you find the 50 000 colours that suit you.  Yes it may only have around 50 colours in it, but what you’re looking for is if the colours that you put next to the swatch ‘go with’ the colours in the swatch, they don’t have to match exactly, but look like they’re in the same family, with the same kinds of colour properties – soft with soft, warm with warm, bright with bright etc.

3. Pretend black is lime green or mustard yellow or whatever colour is one that you’d personally never wear.  Learn to look past the black clothes and start seeing the myriad of other colours that are available.  Many people often don’t see the other neutral options because they’ve got into the habit of buying black.

4. Find some great neutrals that suit you that you can base your wardrobe around.  Then you’ll get into a new neutral habit and break your black habit as you notice when you do put on black that it’s not as flattering as those great colours you have been wearing.   You don’t want to create a double chin with black!

Remember that black may not be your best friend.


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  • I had a colour analysis done a year ago which determined I suit warm tones. (The model used was v generic. Warm, mid cool, bright cool) As we went through my wardrobe I was shocked to find it was 80% black (the rest charcoal, white, navy and teal). When we were done I had FOUR items left which were the right colours and fit. How was I so off track? I live in a city where most people wear black. All the shops stock black clothes. And ultimately I was scared of colour. I have naturally red hair and if I tried on colourful clothes I felt too…bright. Giving up black was so liberating and I don’t miss it (well maybe the convenience sometimes). I am about to have a follow up consult with one of your lovely trained consultants and I am beyond excited to move to the next stage of the journey.

  • Aren’t there shades of black? Maybe it’s charcoal at that point. I don’t like the cold/clear black, but I like softer blacks. It seems to me some blacks have a warmth to them, too. I have gotten rid of some items because they were a true midnight black that didn’t suit my brown hair and fair warm skin, but I also have many other black items I wear and get compliments on.

  • I gave up black cold turkey a couple years ago and have been enjoying my new, colorful style. Black was really aging me, I think. It does take a while to break the habit of purchasing it. Your series on neutrals for different hair coloring was so useful and interesting.

  • I actively avoid wearing black (which I’m sure you know already, Imogen!)… I find it incredibly hard to wear, so much that I find it doesn’t “go” with anything and I feel awful when wearing it! The only time I do really wear it is to go out at night – interesting textures and cuts in black look quite luxurious and I then feel dressed up. I’d disagree about black being the main colour available in the shops (though it probably varies from country to country) – I think people are probably in a rut and are naturally drawn to it and just don’t “see” all the other fabulous colours!

    Love your advice about pretending it’s a hideous colour to avoid buying it. Wearing a lot of colour is so uplifting…!!

    Catherine x

  • I wish I could stop wearing black, but if I want evening outfits that fit my body lines, I often have no choice (figure 8). Black comes in all shapes and cuts and fabrics. Light beige or cream or camel or light olive just don’t.
    My solution is that I pair my black clothes with cream white or another light and warm color. Actually, pure white plus cream white also is a great option. And if I am lucky, the black garment can be tortured a bit in the washing machine so it turns more charcoal. Way better! And – I never wear black in the daytime if I possibly can avoid it.

  • Hello! Your ideas help me so much. Do you have some suggesting for do most appropiate my black work corporation suit? I have an obligation to use, and I am warm skintone, brunette and H body type with tummy. Thank you so much!

  • I’d like to get a color analysis done but I live in the US! What do you suggest for someone who can’t travel for an analysis? Is there a way to do your own analysis at home?

        • This is about 4 years late on the answer, so just in case you haven’t found a color analyst in the US….John Kitchener…in person and online and skype. Awesome person and artist! Finds personalized vs large group colors based on your skin and eyes. Fabric Samples.. No I don’t work for him, I just have grown to love what he provided for me in 2015 ( It did take me time). His videos are on Utube. Presently, he is in Utah, but is moving to Atlanta…Kay Grace

  • I wish I could have a colour analysis done but I live in the Caribbean. From all the reading I have been doing I think i might be an autumn. I’m trying to avoid wearing black especially close to my face because people always ask me if I’m ok, tired or if I’m not well when i wear black. I wear navy blue and I’ve tried charcoal – no compliments but no questions about my health either 🙂 – When i wore marigold i got the most compliments ever (orange and green as well). It’s been kind of hit or miss with the shading of the colours and where i live its very hard (read impossible) to find certain shades of a colour when the new “in colours” come in)

  • Even though I’m asian I have to be careful with black too. It can look too dull on me but I find it mixes well with very light or bright colours. I think I am a bright winter rather than deep.

  • You should take some tips from a Muslim woman who wears black abayas – if black’s not a flattering colour on you, don’t wear it next to your face.

    Almost all of my abayas (loose, flowing dresses) are black, but I never wear the matching black scarves that come with them. I pick a scarf in a colour that DOES look good on me, and I’m out the door.

    So if a woman wants to wear black but it doesn’t look good on her, she can easily wear black pants/skirts, or even a black shirt with a coloured scarf wrapped around her neck. 🙂

  • There is time and room for every colour including black.
    There is nothing wrong with black. In fact, black is new black!
    Of course you don’t need to have a wardrobe full of just black clothing but it’s always nice to have little bit of black. Navy blue, dark chocolate, deep green and red can be a nice alternative!
    Considering that most people see black as a neutral colour the list of neutral colours can be continued by many other colours like beige (nothing wrong with nice beige in moderation), all sorts of grey, nude, etc.
    I would never give up on black though.
    How can you have LBD and many other classic things without black?
    It’s so dramatic and so mysterious!
    It’s beautiful!
    But you are right, Imogennot, not for every day!

  • I really embrace color and have a wide range of color in my wardrobe. However, I like black as well…but not head to toe. When black is surrounded by color, or visa versa, the colors are more intense. I also feel very good in black slacks, skinny jeans, or long as color is a part of the upper portion of the ensemble. I really don’t rule out anything, but have learned to take a picture of an ensemble to get a real idea of how it is working.

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