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Addicted to black; why colour analysis still works if you can't ditch it

When it comes to anti-colour analysis arguments, I must hear 'the majority of my wardrobe is black and I am not interested in ditching it' more than any other reason for not getting an analysis.

Ironically, black is actually one of the hardest, harshest colours to wear - even the most ardent lovers of black (particularly those who know that, really, it doesn't flatter them) admit that perhaps it gets harder to wear as they age, or that they always need to wear make up if they're sporting black near their face, or maybe that it's strictly for evening lighting, or only for wearing only when they have a deep summer tan. Nonetheless, they still avoid colour analysis on the basis that 'I won't be given black,' and therefore will not be able to stick to it.

My response, when someone says this is (a) well, you might be given black, if it's really that good for you and (b) you know that if it isn't in your palette, I'm not actually going to come to your house and burn all your black clothes, right?

Joking aside, what a good analyst can do, if you are truly wedded to your black, is recommend colours to wear with that black that will make the whole look far more flattering and every bit as chic (maybe even a little bit more so) than the all black version. Of course, we all secretly hope that you'll see how many other colours work more effectively for black on you, but there are plenty of options even if you decide never to ditch the black.

No colours go as well with each other as those within a single palette, but personally I think there are a handful of colours from each palette that can be carefully paired with black for a timeless and effortless look that allows you to wear the black you love with a more flattering colour under your face.

To give you a little insight, here's my favourite addition to black for each season to avoid that stark monochrome look (not always terribly clever, even on the boldest of Winters):

And if you ever feel ready to leave the black, look out for an upcoming post on the best alternatives to black for each season - all the benefits of a chic dark neutral with none of the complexion draining.

Una on Apr 28, 2019 9:09 PM

I am a right down the middle vibrant Autumn, and no way I be seen dead in black. Always Kettlewell Chocolate Brown or Marine Navy - or Safari in the summer - for the office. Not sure what a 'blue' Autumn means. Would have thought the best thing to do for any Autumn - and the flip side of Spring - is to ditch the black and the snow white completely! Within the first week of my having my colours done in 1998, black shoes and all went to the Oxfam, and in came shades of brown.

Melina on Mar 14, 2017 12:03 PM

Black truly is ubiquitous all around us, like Liz says in her comment! It's by far the easiest color to find any style in, and often the only option that suits many, if options are e.g. black, white or grey. So people shouldn't be too harsh on those who will insist on wearing it, like some of the comments here are...

I'm an Autumn, but I do find I can get away with black, it doesn't look harsh or draining imo (though neither does it make me glow like my best colours do), and as a big part of my wardrobe is still black, from the time before I knew I'm an Autumn, it's costly to ditch it altogether! ;-) Although I nowadays try to use my best colours as much as I possibly can.

Liz on Jan 14, 2017 3:05 PM

I wonder how many women wear black simply because it's so ubiquitous in stores. Getting a handle on my own season (soft autumn) has really helped me understand why I need to avoid it - but your color workarounds are great for evening wear until I can find an alternative to the little black dress.

Susan on Dec 07, 2016 3:55 PM

I used to use black as a catch-all. I had plenty of colour in my wardrobe but ended up wearing black almost all the time even though I knew it didn't really suit me. Then I had my colours done and found that I'd been using the wrong hair colour so my colours were fighting with me all the time. My hair colour said one thing and my skin tone another and black was my answer. As soon as I changed my hair colour to an ash tone instead of gold I stopped wearing black and haven't looked back. I now have a black skirt and some black trousers and that's it. Everything else is colour, colour and more colour. Colour consultation was one of my best investments ever.

Kate on Dec 07, 2016 2:55 PM

There is also the issue of where it is appropriate to wear colour in the workplace and still be taken seriously. Black and grey rule in my male dominated business world, a woman in a bright colour would not fit the 'tribe', even if she looks 'better' in it - because looks don't equal brains or capability, right?! And have you tried to buy a good quality smart business suit in a colour other than black or grey? Navy possibly, but you tend to look like an air stewardess... and as for a brown suit - yuck! I'm a blue autumn and am working on the cameo, dressing my black suits/dresses up with scarves, jewellery, makeup and tops in the colours which are the most fabulous for me and it is working well so far....

Joanna Biddolph on Dec 03, 2016 10:18 PM

So disappointing. As a purist, I don't like it when Kettlewell puts black into every spectrum. Surely the point is to show people how they can do more than survive without black - that they look spectacular in colours in their spectrum? It's about education, isn't it, and the questions in others' comments show that their questions haven't been answered. Black isn't stylish if you look awful in it. If you want to look glamourous but in a darker colour, what about royal purple? Though why one has to wear dark colours to look glamorous beats me. I so wish more people would understand why black is not the colour to fall back on.

Chris Pole on Nov 28, 2016 8:46 PM

Great article! I think I am an autumn but find myself wanting to wear black jackets/trousers in winter when the weather is so gloomy. Really try to put something appropriately rich in colour with it.

I also struggle with the kind of pink that would suit me. I think it should be more in the coral palette.

Still trying to ditch the magenta best suited to Winters!


Margo on Nov 23, 2016 9:13 PM

Hi thank you for yet another excellent post. I look forward to them each week. As an Autumn I am working on giving up black but do find it difficult to to create an alternative look that is as stylish as black especially in the evening. Looking forward to your post on alternate possibilities soon