Embrace a vibrant and colourful approach to the timeless elegance of classic black style

Feb 16, 2024
Black is a simple yet timeless colour to style when done right. Image source: Supplied

An uber glamorous friend, who cut her fashion teeth serving wealthy customers in Harrods before she decided to specialise in interior design, was asked by a thwarted former lover if she was in mourning as she wore mostly black.

I thought she’d lose her cool but, as ever, the English beauty looked at him with disdain, almost regally with a raised eyebrow, and said in her most cutting Queen’s English: “Darling, I live a colourful life, so I am very comfortable in black! Oh, and if I was to go into mourning about anything, I’d mourn your sorry sense of style. However, I’m simply too busy.” She then took an elegant sip from her champagne. Do I hear applause?

“Well,” I thought, “now that’s how it’s done, encore, girlfriend!” I then remembered the first time I became aware of sophisticated style in black. I was about ten years old at a wedding, when a woman, possibly in her mid-twenties, sat in the same row as my parents and I at the church service. She wore a calf-length, fitted long-sleeve light knitted dress in black, with three-quarter sleeves. The silky black stockings and black stiletto heels were complemented by a burgundy-red pillbox hat, matching red lipstick, and little pearl earrings. She had black hair, tied in a French chignon. I remember this look as if it was yesterday when I took in every detail! When everyone was wearing shorter dresses and bright florals, this woman stood out – she epitomised class.

The next time I saw a similar style in black was on my much older sister, who was a successful part-time model. She was a vision of sheer, slender elegance! She wore a black wide brimmed hat, with her fair hair tied back, accessorised with magazite earrings and a wide black belt with an embellished buckle, matching her earrings (which had tones of midnight blue), and her black suede heels had magazite clip-ons, so fashionable in the early Sixties! She carried herself with such grace and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. I was about eleven years old, and now ruined for life, chuckles…

Just like us, the classics are never out of date. Any wardrobe without a few classic black items needs to be reassessed as there is always an occasion for black. No, not only funerals, which brings me to another subject… I still wear black to funerals. It does not have to look dowdy, and we no longer rub ash over ourselves to honour the dead. It’s how we wear it. Styling is everything, then we simply add some attitude, or drama, as I like to call it, et voila…

Being women of a certain age, we own the right to wear exactly what we please and I do try to style my outfits to suit the occasion. If others don’t agree with my choices, it’s their cross to carry as I feel good, said whilst breaking into song with the late great James Brown’s I Feel Good (I Got You)

So, check your closets, lovelies, and start getting creative with your black stash. I’m also told the reason why so many Mediterranean women wear black in summer is simple: black attracts less heat. So, summer can be chic and cool in black too.

Add a little animal print or colour if you feel so inclined, as I do hope some of my styling images will inspire you to have some fun going back to black.

Remember the delightful TV series filmed in Sydney and released in 2018, Ladies in Black? Julia Ormond as Magda was a sensation in black, and our very own Aussie star, the then so young Angourie Rice, was already on her way to Hollywood fame. I particularly enjoyed Susie Porter as Mrs Miles… so much talent – in black!

Ah, and with love in the air lingering from Valentine’s Day, I do embrace the romance of a red dress but there is no rule against a little black number, with gold accessories, and deliciously red lips, or even a red rose in our hair. Drama and beauty, here I’m visualising those beautiful ladies of Spain…

Oh, no Valentine? No romance? Not going anywhere and perhaps feeling a tad sad, missing a loved one or lamenting the fact there simply was nobody to celebrate the special day of love with, not even a bestie who could share a delicious dinner and tipple.

You can always dress up, wear your best black outfit, add some red lips, stock up on your favourite snacks and beverages, and toast yourself for being fabulous whilst watching a good movie at home. I’ll be doing the same, with a glass (or two), of bubbles, celebrating peace in my space, the lovely friends and family in my life, as well as living life on my terms. It sure beats pandering to anyone who does not treat us with the love and kindness we deserve.

Lucky enough to be in a happy relationship? Cheers to that, and I bet that special partner will complement you on how mysteriously beautiful you look in black.

Outfit 1: Linen shirt dress over black skinny jeans (it would work with wide-leg pants too), a wrap cardi, and heels.
Outfit 2: The black linen sleeveless shirt dress, black wrap belt, black jeans, and heels.
Outfit 3: Add a touch of drama with animal print to the black linen look.
Image source: Supplied
Outfit 4: Add colour, here I’ve added a forest green wrap belt to the black as a statement piece.
Outfit 5: The LBD, little black dress, never gets old. I’ve added aqua for a smart lunch vibe.
Outfit 6: The same LBD, with gold sandals to elevate the look for evening.
Outfit 7: Light summer knitted sets are versatile for cooler days, and I’ve ditched the belt for a comfortable, flowing look.
Image source: Supplied
Outfit 8: For a smart occasion, a black midi-skirt set with lace tights, pearl accessories, and a coated linen jacket. I’m told the mob wife look is trending. This would give the lady plenty class, right?
Outfit 9: The same black midi-skirt set, worn with a blazer, scarf, and gold sandals, ideal for a lunch meeting to dinner.
Outfit 10: Pencil skirts never date and this one works with a cropped blazer.
Image source: Supplied
Outfit 11: The classic black trouser suit is never out of style – I’ve added a shimmer evening top in olive green, ideal for dinner on the town .
Outfit 12: A black flared midi-skirt worn with a soft draped top.
Outfit 13: Classic straight black pants, worn with black and white stripes and a bright colour, such as fuchsia, could be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion and mood.
Outfit 14: A linen-weave dress, ideal for versatile dressing. I’ve added the animal print cardigan and an orange bag, ideal for a pool party too.
Image source: Supplied
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