Thursday, November 26, 2015

Choosing an Accent Color for Black

Something that I struggle with a lot, personally, is my accent color, or colors. I'm always thinking that something other than red should be my "color", but who am I kidding? I keep coming back, over and over, to red...

So I was playing around with a variety of accent colors, using simple black garments as a core, and building around quilted vests, just for the heck of it...

When you're looking for these vests, make sure you look for "quilted," rather than "down," unless you specifically want down. Some of the vests with synthetic insulation are just as warm, and quite lovely; you'll miss them if you don't include everything quilted...

Yes, these would make nifty little templates for buying gifts, too. But if you go shopping on Thanksgiving Day, don't tell me, because it will make me feel really bad for the staff that has to work. I spent enough years in retail to believe that everybody deserves at least a couple of FULL days off...

And for the multitudes among you who don't wear black, I'm also going to visit this idea with a few more neutrals, both warm and cool. Brown, grey, olive, and navy are on my list...

First, the 4 garments:

pants – J. Crew; cashmere turtleneck – J. Crew;   
jeans – L.L.Bean; cabled crewneck – J. Crew

My first experiment was to use a 2nd neutral as the accent color. This is kind of fun, because you might also have a complete outfit in the accent color, and use black as the accent for that, etc etc...

Brown vestLands’ End; brown earrings – Kendra Scott; leopard print scarf – 
Roberto Cavalli; brown leather gloves – Agnelle; brown boots – Munro; metallic 
gray vest – Lands’ End; gray earrings – Kendra Scott; grey scarf – Missoni
grey cashmere gloves – Uniqlo; grey boots – Steve Madden

 For what it's worth, I'm NOT suggesting that these ensembles be worn with ALL of the accent pieces - that might be a bit overwhelming. I'm sure that these images will get separated from this text almost immediately, and someone is going to think that I've gone completely daft...

Second up, I had to look at bright colors - they seem so natural with black. Many of us are going to gravitate to these immediately!

Hot pink vest – Lands’ End; pink earrings – John Hardy; pink fingerless gloves
 – Betsey Johnson; pink infinity scarf – Missoni; pink loafers – Gucci; lapis earrings
 – Latelita London; blue vest – Lands’ End; blue infinity scarf – Chelsey; blue 
 fingerless gloves – Scoop; clogs – Dansko

These are colors that you don't immediately think of when you think of an accent for black, but I really like the way both of them look. I think, for someone transitioning from black to warmer colors, these might be excellent ways to get started. Test-driving a color in a small "sample" like this would never be a bad idea.
Olive vestL.L.Bean; green earrings – GFG Jewellery; olive mittens – J. Crew
olive plaid scarf – Banana Republic; olive boots – Vince Camuto; cluster stone 
earrings – The Limited; dark berry vest – Eddie Bauer; square floral scarf – 
 Faliero Sarti; maroon mittens – Me to We; maroon boots – Toms

Similarly, for those among us who are developing lighter hair as we age, the juxtaposition of pastel colors with black is unusual, but could be very flattering. I would consider adding light blue to my wardrobe just to own those amazing blue loafers...
Pink vest – Lands’ End; crystal earrings – Kendra Scott; cashmere gloves – Ann 
Taylor;  infinity scarf – Missoni; pink sneakers – Maison Margiela 22; blue earrings
 – Alexis Bittar; light blue vest – Lands’ End; blue scarf – Kenzo; blue gloves –
 Lord & Taylor; blue metallic loafers – Gucci

But, after everything, I'm pretty certain that I'm a red girl...

And you?




  1. Love those clogs! I also like the brown/grey set, and the berry/olive. I'm reducing the amount of black in my wardrobe, and phasing in brown, grey and muted warm colours, so these are great ideas for the transitional phase. Do berry shades count a s'red' for you?

  2. Black and hot pink. Black and Kelly green/jade. Black and cornflower blue or icy blue. Black and lilac.
    Toss in a little black with grey, icy yellow or blush, and I think you've just covered my whole closet!!!

  3. Thank you, Janice, once again.....I tried not to do black really, I tried navy, but am a red black white person and have decided at my age it's not a crime. Really comfortable with these.. Why change when it's OK ? Except grey, the whiter shade of black. Happy thanksgiving from Australia! X Chris

    1. Black, red and white for me too - just looks great and is sooooo easy to organize

  4. I love the olive and maroon...I think both of those would look great with a Navy base also....I am also trying to move away from black. I went to the ballet last night and all of my dressy clothes are black. I looked in a full length mirror in the ladies room and I really didn't look good (granted the lighting was horrible), but I realized, black is no longer for me, at least on sad. I am going to use your post from yesterday to help me find something else I can wear to those dressy occasions.

    Also, without getting into it too much....I work retail, thank you for saying that about shopping on Thanksgiving...there are a lot of great on line deals....stay home and shop!

  5. I refer to gray as Pastel Black. You know, for spring & summer when you wear brighter colors.

  6. Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your dinner event.
    Deb from Vancouver

  7. Red, pink and brown are definitely minor colors in my closet. While black dominates I have been transitioning to nay and maroon in the colder months.

    I am curious though - are there 'multitudes who don't wear black?' Perhaps in warmer climes.....

    Happy Thanksgiving to all,

    Mary (mcm)

    1. I live in Queensland Australia. Work in Air conditioning, so dress the same summer and winter except for outer layers. It's the fabric that's important in hot climates. Good point, as I know the shops are a blur of pastels in summer...

  8. Yes, Mary, I am one of those non-black wearing people. It makes me look like death warmed over with my warm, soft Autumn coloring. While I think that black is very sophisticated, it is just not for me. Brown is my black.

  9. Yes, Mary, I am one of those non-black wearing people. It makes me look like death warmed over with my warm, soft Autumn coloring. While I think that black is very sophisticated, it is just not for me. Brown is my black.

  10. Love the black with the pastels. Those shoes are wonderful. Happy Thanksgiving from a friend "up north" (although we actually live below the 49th).

  11. I love the olive, burgundy and those warm semi-neutral colors with black. They look rich and deep. Love the post.

  12. I'm a red girl, too. It helps to see some different ideas. With a mostly black, minimalist wardrobe I'm not sure what my "second neutral" would even be. I just peeked and couldn't really find one, other than some moss green pants. It helps to have some other ideas, though I found I'm leaning towards shocking green accents lately--not Christmas green. More like electric green. I also figured out I'm a "metallic", and not a particular "season" when it comes to colors. My "near-the-face fabrics need to be on the reflective side, or have subtle metallic threads in them. The electric pink and blue scarves might do the trick.

  13. Happy thanksgiving everyone!
    I'm in the ranks of those who avoid black too - at least above the waist, so while I've enjoyed reading and looking at today's post I'm also looking forward to the forthcoming ones with other neutrals.
    A big factor for me in choosing accent colours is minimising contrast. I'm fairly neutrally coloured (mid-brown hair, pale but warm-toned skin, green eyes) so I feel wrong with dramatic contrasts in colours unless the accent is creamy. I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I think about refining my wardrobe. While starting with paintings or flowers that I like, I'm realising that the colour palettes I love may be too wide-ranging. So it's better to pick colours from them that are closer in tint or value, and muted rather than dramatic prints. It could be dull but I'm learning to make it work so as to look nice and not as though my clothes are wearing me.
    Robyn in Tasmania

    1. Coco,
      I could have written your comment altho my skin is more neutral. Working up a palette has been a challenge, especially finding 2-3 neutrals that I will happily wear near my face. I worked with the pixelation tool in the photo editor that Janice suggested on The start with Art picture The Blue Pool to come up with a palette that I like: navy, petrol, off-white, and mid-gray as neutrals and shades of soft blue-greens and greens as accents. I also include a smidge of soft yellow and black. The colors do feel somewhat limiting and can be difficult to find, but allow for a core wardrobe that makes me happy.

    2. I have muddy blonde hair, light warm skin and grey blue eyes. I rarely wear black near my face. I did an exercise recently using paint chips to find out what my actual colours were. Many Image Consultants fit you into one of their boxes (palettes). Eyes, face, hair and mouth. Trick is to use a paint company's chips with a good variation in colours. I found that I was medium contrast around the middle values and that I had a muted look to me. I then put together a palette from the paint chips which seemed dull but by having contrast in the colour and perhaps a tiny bit of light and shade I can make it work. So I wear the colours. My hair should go grey in the next few years so that will change the dynamic again, Thanks for article. Carol S

  14. I must be one of those that look best in black - brings our some contrast - love black with bright colors - just makes life easier

  15. When I started reading your blog and understood about acent colours I chose burgundy and olive with my black & grey wardrobe. The reason is that both the acent colours also work together. Thanks Maryann

  16. Happy Thanksgiving! Hope your dinner was lovely.

    I do wear a lot of black, it still looks good on me and all black is fine so long as there is some brightness somewhere. I found GeckoHiker's comment interesting about being a metallic - I do best with some light around the face: it can be metallic (but not shiny-satin) or a brighter value (white, grey, burgandy, hunter, cobalt, navy even). Jewelry can work well, even jet beads (lots of them though!) that have some glitter work. However, I can now clearly see the silver hairs in the mirror, so I've been thinking that I probably will not buy much more black clothing till I see how my coloring shifts in the next few years. My mother looks so much more sophisticated in charcoal these days, I suspect that is where I am heading as well. I've been playing with the idea of shifting my base neutral to grey, but am just in the planning stages so far.

  17. I like the gray and brown the best. Great way to think about your accent color(s)! I too love the black and the red scheme.