All-Black Outfit: High School Stage Manager or Chic Mofo?
In the photo above you’ll find the reigning queen of the all-black ensemble, Vogue Paris’s Emmanuelle Alt, and her midnight monochromatic Parisian cohorts.
I mean do they look chic or do they look chic? Rhetorical question.
But here’s one that actually needs to be answered: how is it that some women have the ability to don head-to-toe-black and look absolutely cool, whereas I feel like a high school play stage manager just one step short of holding a clip board and wearing a headset?
“It’s Amelia. Do you copy? The fiddler cannot find his roof. I repeat: The fiddler cannot find his roof. Over.”
I think my phobia stems from past jobs where wearing all black was not a sartorial choice but rather, a requirement. It’s like wardrobe PSTD — and apparently my flashbacks come in the form of the color in question. But then I look at photos like the one above, or at the individuals of whom I brush shoulders with down the congested streets of Manhattan, and it makes me quite certain that if I’ve figured out how to wear all white without looking like a snow globe then surely there’s a formula to looking cool in all black.
So I did some research.
First and foremost, I stalked photos of Emmanuelle like I’d been assigned to a case of her missing person. There’s bad news and good news on this front so I’ll relay the bad news first, which is: she is A) French, B) Emmanuelle Alt, C) tall and D) not, in fact, a high school stage manager. Ok fine. I can roll with that because to D’s point, I’m not either. And I’ve accepted my height and that I am not an Alt. If you’re ok with all of these in regards to yourself then we can move on to the good news, which is:
It’s the details that make monochrome cool.
Take, for example, Marc Jacob’s last collection for Louis Vuitton. It was entirely black save for interspersed denim, and yet you’d be wild to call it boring. There were feathers, and stitching, and embroidery and cross hatched sequins. But black feathers and sequins can take a turn for gothic arts-n-crafts hour rather quickly, so it’s best to leave this type of detailing to the pros at Vuitton and instead focus your attention on such attributes as beautiful tailoring, stitching, buttons, pleats, divots and hardware — anything to break up the pattern of color.
It’s also about layering, and proportions. Throw a black denim jacket over a black tee, tuck said tee into dangerously low skinny pants that are sliced just above the ankle (and I really think the bare ankle can help you here), add a pump and everyone’s gonna be all — “Emmanuelle? Is that you?” And then imagine this look with a gigantic cashmere scarf in the color of a panther’s coat, wrapped all around your neck for an added swath of texture. Doesn’t that sound delicious? And attainable? And cool?
Almost to the point where you could add a walkie-talkie and people might assume it’s the newest accessory to covet.
“BREAKING,” I imagine the headlines would read. “THE LOOK OF THE SEASON IS BEHIND-THE-SCENES CHIC,” and then the subtitles: “You’re no one this winter if not a stage manager for a high school play.”
The fiddler may have lost his roof, but we just got our all-black groove back.
And now its your turn to talk! Does wearing all black scare you? Or what about all one-color in general? Why? Or if this look is your go-to staple, how do you make it look cool? Cogitate, you buttered waffles. We’re dying to read your words.