Black is always a fail-safe option once the festivities kick in. Figure flattering, effortless and sharp – it’s the reliable, grownup go-to. There’s a velvet jacket in my wardrobe that does the rounds at this time of year that I bought for a fiver in a second-hand shop. Slip it on over a simple outfit and I am ready to party. But it’s also pretty safe. With that in mind, here are five easy ways to wear black and not look bland.
1. Try ‘casual glamour’
We need to talk about casual glamour, the modern mix of day and eveningwear that J.Crew’s Jenna Lyons does so well. No more saving stuff for best; it’s all about playing around with different textures and styles now. Try a cotton shirt with a fancy skirt (this one is from Baukjen) or a sequinned top and straight-leg trousers, (see Pure Collection for understated glamour), then finish off with an elegant evening coat – Jigsaw’s jacquard cover-up offers superb year-round style.
2. Experiment with a low-key tuxedo
Catherine Deneuve, Bianca Jagger, Tilda Swinton – no woman ever looked dull in a suit. This is the chic, sharp alternative to a cocktail frock. Le Smoking by Yves Saint Laurent is the ultimate tuxedo, but if you don’t want to burn a hole in your bank balance, this neat version from Swedish label Dagmar should do the trick. Speaking from personal experience, beyond 50 and bra-less isn’t an option, but you can still show a bit of flesh by layering it over a camisole top or slinky black V-neck. For a bit more coverage, as the famous Helmut Newton 1975 photograph for French Vogue shows, the essential white shirt has timeless appeal.
3. Make way for metallics
For me, the best way to wear black is with gold or silver. This sophisticated pairing has perennial power and I tend to wear it all year round. Take inspiration from Dries van Noten (the Belgian designer opted for black embellished with silver on his AW14 catwalk) and choose metallic ankle-length trousers and a sparkle sweater, then put on your dancing shoes. Apparently, Boden’s jewelled pumps are the most Instagrammed shoe of the season.
4. Upgrade your little black dress
Leather is an ageless style staple that is part of every grownup wardrobe. I’m thinking Julianne Moore on the red carpet; or Jaeger’s leather and wool dress. Feels a bit too Barbarella? Then swap leather for sequins and Lurex, though not all at once. Or why not ditch the dress altogether and buy a Whistles jumpsuit?
5. Join the glitterati
Coco Chanel piled on the costume jewellery to make a simple black outfit look chic. Whether it’s a long string of pearls or a statement crystal necklace, the easiest way to get glammed up is to sling on the bling. I am rarely seen without a pair of sparkly chandelier earrings – Lulu Frost’s collection for J.Crew is on my radar right now – but then I am from Blackpool, so let’s just call it my northern accent.