Color is a pretty personal thing. Especially when it comes to your wardrobe. Some people take naturally to a wide variety of hues while others are more restrained. Then there are those of us who choose to stick mostly to black. Sure, there are other colors mixed in. But your wardrobe reveals your allegiance to the one color that can look classic, edgy, or avant-garde — all depending on which pieces you want to wear and how you choose to style them. We’re all about monochromatic outfits (for everyone). But there’s one potential pitfall of wearing black head to toe all the time: Black can get a little boring.
Of course, some people don’t mind the idea of repetitive outfits. In fact, some even embrace it by choosing to wear a personal uniform. But if you’re dressing mostly in black every day, you might find yourself looking for ways to switch things up, at least subtly. Or you may be looking for inspiration if you don’t usually dress in black but are looking for a way to start.
So, we’ve compiled some of our favorite street style looks to help you out. The outfits ahead are either mostly or completely black, but they’re far from boring. Plus, they’ll probably show you a new way to wear the pieces you already have in your closet. And ultimately, they’ll prove a pretty good illustration that black is always the new black.
1. Keep things classic
The easiest way to make a statement, even if it feels boring to dress in a single color? Choose ultra-classic pieces to elevate the look. Anybody can throw on a black ensemble anchored by a trendy coat or the footwear that’s au courant. It takes a more deft sense of style to combine timeless pieces into an all-black outfit. This look on blogger Eva Jasmin includes classic building blocks: the peacoat, slim pants, and chelsea boots. Combined, they look elegant and elevated — about as far from boring as you could possibly get.
2. Add a contrasting accessory
Another foolproof way to jazz up a monochromatic outfit? Add an accessory that provides a bit of contrast. This look, on a guest before the Etro show during the women’s Fall/Winter 2015/16 Milan Fashion Week, would have been pretty gorgeous even without the contrasting handbag. But the bright red punches the outfit up just enough to make it 100% Instagram-worthy. And if that’s not a distinction worth aiming for when you get dressed in the morning, we don’t know what is.
3. Show a bit of skin
Many of us default to all-black ensembles in the winter, when we’re cocooned in as many layers as we can comfortably wear. But if the temperatures aren’t sub-zero, then you may want to break up the look by showing a little (just a little) bit of skin. In this look, model Sandra Schild opts for distressed jeans with holes at the knees, a move that successfully adds some edge to an otherwise classic, buttoned-up look. Worried about the heat you’ll lose by baring your knee caps? Add a wool hat, just like Schild.
4. Go casual
You might think wearing a monochromatic outfit means you need to pull out all the stops and wear gorgeous heels, a structured top, or a formal coat. That’s absolutely not the case, though. Lucia, a guest at the ‘Mercado de Motores’ at Ferrocarril Museum in Madrid, deftly illustrates just how cool a casual all-black outfit can be. A leather jacket is always a good idea. Especially when accompanied by the unexpected combination of Vans and trousers.
5. Pump up the volume
A sure way to take a black outfit from blah to statement-making is to choose a voluminous piece to add drama. In the winter, the easiest way to do that is to go with an oversized coat. This outfit on model Doga Bursali is an easy illustration of just how interesting a voluminous piece of outerwear can make an ensemble. Though having a chic pair of shades to top off the look also doesn’t hurt.)
6. Go vintage to add drama
It’s no secret black is a great color for formalwear. But if you want to add drama to an everyday look, just try a vintage look. This ensemble, seen on a guest at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week TOKYO 2015 A/W, is a great example of just how interesting a vintage look can be. All without the scandalous necklines and hemlines that modern designers choose (usually when they aren’t thinking about how cold it really gets in the winter). The next time you aren’t sure which piece of outerwear to reach for, definitely consider the vintage cape.
7. Choose accessories that pop
A black outfit is the perfect backdrop for showing off something special. This outfit on Sebnem Guenay is the perfect example. Guenay’s monochromatic outfit puts the spotlight on her vintage glasses and handbag, which — even though they’re actually older than her clothes — look chic and avant-garde. Were you looking for an excuse to visit your favorite vintage spot? This is definitely a good one.
8. Hide a pattern
Committed to wearing all black? That sounds like a great plan. Just remember, you don’t have to wear solid black pieces from head to toe. In this look, blogger Diana Buenger wears an outfit that would look plain black if the jacket were closed. But open, the jacket reveals a patterned shirt that adds a lot of visual interest to the outfit and contrasts with the shapes seen in the skirt, belt, and bag. The top may not be solid black, but that’s what makes it such an eye-catching choice.
9. Switch up your shoe color
Think you have to wear black shoes with an all-black outfit? Think again. This great look, spotted on blogger Aranzazu Garcia, would look fantastic with a pair of black boots, but Garcia opted for a brown pair instead. The choice is unexpected and adds another dimension to an otherwise monochromatic outfit. And as for critics who say you can’t wear brown shoes with black clothes? We say rules are meant to be broken.
10. Go for some really unexpected footwear
Maybe a pair of brown boots with a black outfit isn’t “unexpected” enough for you. If so, you’ll love this outfit on designer and stylist Masha Schubbach. Instead of going for the sleek black heel or boot you might expect to see paired with this coat, Schubbach wears a pair of clunky white sneakers instead. For the right person, this is a fun, expectation-defying, and comfortable way to switch up an all-black outfit.
11. Add something edgy
If an all-black outfit is starting to feel boring, a surefire way to up the ante is to add something edgier to the mix. A leather jacket, a slim-fitting skirt, or a bold pair of boots, for instance. This outfit from blogger Duygu Senyurek has all three. Though this probably won’t work if you’re heading out into what feels like an arctic freeze, it’s a fun and youthful look for fall days in cold climates, or winter days in warmer ones.