It's the staple of staples, the shade of sophistication. Fashion design houses know it as the color of money, because when they introduce a piece of clothing in black, it's almost guaranteed to be a big seller.
But while black is a common element of many women's wardrobes, it presents a problem for those who love the Armani/DKNY look on other people but don't have the hair or skin color themselves to complement the black. Those with bronze tones and brown hair might feel that black makes them look darker. Those with that Northern European, "pasty" look may feel that black overwhelms them.
If that's the case, "you might want to use a coordinating color that works as a transition," says Susan Shaw of Dancegear in Newport Beach. "A scarf under your neck keeps the black away from your face."
If you look better in yellow but are determined to get some use out of a black cashmere sweater, a yellow collared blouse or shirt underneath works as a buffer. "It's a trick a lot of people use for colors that don't necessarily look great on them," says fashion consultant Sara D'Allessandro of Yorba Linda. "Since attention is naturally drawn to your face, you'll want to make the colors around your face complementary."
Those trying to break up a dominating color can get away with a black blouse or turtleneck if it's worn underneath a more subtle coordinate. "A black-and-white herringbone or a gray-checked blazer gives you that black tone without it overwhelming you," D'Allessandro says.
Another way to make the transition is with jewelry. "People who look good in gold may want to wear a lot of their jewelry to bring out the yellow tones in their skin," Shaw says. "A nice necklace, a choker, anything to keep the black from touching your face. Wearing all black with no jewelry is a severe look."
If you can't see yourself walking into work in a black suit, start gradually. Go with a dark navy pin-stripe or try out a fancy black scarf.
Ultimately, if you're still hesitating about wearing that black blazer that's gathering dust on a hanger, maybe it's time for a different blazer. "There are things I've had that I've felt funny about wearing and thought it was the wrong color for me," D'Allessandro says. "But when I took a good look at them, I realized they were just out of style."