Working with Your Existing Wardrobe: The Black Dilemma


Do you have any blog posts on how to wear the black items in your wardrobe when your value contrast is low or medium and you don’t want to wear all neutrals/all black? I don’t want to part with all of those clothes as I still like them. I found a few posts about wearing black but not anything that showed how to do this specifically.

how to work with black when you're not high contrast


Here are my tips if you have a low or medium contrast:

  • Find a pattern that has a small amount of black in it, that is low/medium contrast which works back with your black items.
  • Wear it with a medium value colour rather than a light colour to keep the contrast medium rather than high.
  • Match your black pieces with other dark colours such as navy, burgundy, forest or olive green or aubergine so that they don’t create too much contrast, but also so you’re not wearing head to toe black.
  • A pattern that has both light and dark colours but also a medium colour will only read as a medium contrast.

Here are some other tips:

How to wear black when you have light colouring

How to wear a LBD when black isn’t your colour

Adding colour to black




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  • ‘Match your black pieces with other dark colours such as navy, burgundy, forest or olive green or aubergine so that they don’t create too much contrast, but also so you’re not wearing head to toe black.’

    but isn’t olive green warm and black cool? I thought that cool and warm colours are not meant to be mixed?

  • I was in this situation as well.. didn’t want to throw out good quality stuff. But after a time I realized that I didn’t have enough garments to wear with the black, because I really prefer to wear lighter clothing – and it doesn’t make much sense buying new clothes to match with the black only because I didn’t want to throw the black things away entirely. So I let most of it go. Conscience obviously played the biggest part anyway. I keep a few things around for funerals and other somber occasions (or if I want to reminisce about particular moods or situations), other than that I can truly say that I don’t need black. It’s not entirely out of my colour zone, but with my light skin and overall medium contrast level.. too heavy. I prefer to look alive 🙂

  • Imogene, your website never ceases to amaze me by showing me the science/reasoning behind stylish dressing. It has really helped me buy clothing that looks good on me.
    My industry “uniform” is black, but I’m a pink skinned, green eyed redhead. Now I understand why my favorite combinations were chocolate/black and navy/black. I was also using the patterned shell with a wee bit of black in it.
    I was unconsciously following your suggestions without knowing it! Now I’ll have to up the ante with more combos.

  • Nice post! I’m warmish softish and lightish with low contrast and I still like to wear black. I’ve found I eally like it with chocolate brown. I also wear it with more black. Or navy. Or something mid toned, warm and bright. Like orange, or a warm yellow. Warmish coloured jewellery and makeup. Depends also on texture of garments and how much skin between the black and my face..

    And all because sometimes I still want to wear black, just because I feel like it. 🙂

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