There is no new black

I am not an efficient person by nature. I’ve had to work at developing habits to keep myself from flailing through life like a giant gnat at a picnic. One of my oldest tricks is only wearing black or things that match with black. This is easy enough because black is slimming, black is sophisticated, and black endures with great resilience my tendency to drop food on myself  (though toothpaste remains a daily danger).
Also, I am a clothes hound. I blame my parents. Growing up as the oldest of four children, my always-broke folks decked me out in hand-me-downs and thrift-store specials, which did nothing to distract from my grandmotherly plastic glasses and pre-adolescent acne. Then they sent me to private schools. In retrospect, I was incredibly lucky to travel and attend such good schools at a young age, when I obviously had no idea what was good for me. But at 14 years old, I was entirely convinced that the right clothes would solve all my social problems.

Thanks Lara604!

I was finally able to put my hypothesis to the test in college, when I first had a cute little body and access to a credit card. I lost the braces and the glasses and traded in my dad’s old collared shirts for summer dresses. People reacted so differently toward me that it made me uncomfortable. I was being noticed, acknowledged, invited out, and even hit on. The superficial changes had happened so fast that I was confident I was still the same nerdy young woman that I had always been, only now everyone smiled at me because I was showing some cleavage.
I eventually got over my self-righteousness and timidity, however, and learned to enjoy the attention, which was positive reinforcement for being overly concerned with the superficial. Since then, it’s been hard for me not to keep my closets bursting with new clothes
Thankfully, beyond my initial collegiate credit card outburst (parenting tip: don’t raise your kids up with an allowance so small they can’t afford a movie ticket, then give them your credit card when they move out: they may pay themselves retroactively for all those nights spend washing your dishes and cleaning your bathroom), I have some natural inclinations that keep me in check. It’s hard for me to spend more than $20 on any one piece of clothing (thanks, Mom!) and clothes that fit well and feel well-made trump designer brands. Beyond that, I only go for black.

black and white and awesome

This has made my life way simpler because my seasonable clothes all go well together, I only have one of each type of shoe, I typically own only own all-purpose purse or belt at a time, and I don’t spend time looking for missing socks. When I walk into a store, I don’t get distracted by every item I see: if it doesn’t go with black, it goes back on the rack.  And what started off as a project to simplify my life by minimizing options has had the unintended consequence of making it look like I am (almost) always put together, professional, and adult-like, but I still get to mix funky patterns or add bold accessories without making a production of it. Also, it’s easy to throw a black cardigan over something fitting or low-cut while you’re at the office then lose it when you’re on your way to happy hour. Black never stops being awesome, so no matter how much you look or feel like a bear in the morning, you’ll at least be as cute and well-dressed as a panda.


Thanks col&tasha!


Dorothy Perkins black long sleeve cardigan
$29 – dorothyperkins.com

Oasis leopard print shirt
$20 – oasis-stores.com

Jane Norman flared pants
£30 – janenorman.co.uk

Oasis flat shoes
$20 – oasis-stores.com

Lauren Conrad high heel shoes
$42 – kohls.com

Black handbag
£9 – debenhams.com

TopShop plastic jewelry
£3.50 – topshop.com

Oval earrings
$10 – kohls.com

Tulle Clothing sheer shawl
$35 – modcloth.com

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