Look of the Week: Rethinking Black and White

Is there anything more classic than black and white? My last trip I wore black and white more than any other non-color combo which renewed my belief that it’s the simplest way to coordinate a travel wardrobe…and get dressed effortlessly. My prettiest top this summer…was not so easy.

I grew bored with black last spring so branched out to softer more flattering colors. I even bought a print! That’s not uncommon for many women but it was a major shift for me. Pale blue and palm trees were so far out of my comfort zone I was shocked to discover I loved wearing it.

Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life wearing a tropical print blouse from Ann Taylor
earrings– blouse unavailable

Unlike black, it felt fun and pretty everytime I put it on. Black is many things but I would never describe it as pretty. The print made it memorable which flies in the face of versatility for a travel or edited wardrobe and has certainly limited how frequently I would wear it.

Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life wearing black and white
white pants – shoes (similar)– handbag unavailable – long jacket

Black is harsh next to my face and requires I wear more lipstick but I am happy to do that for the ease of having it in my wardrobe.Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life wearing white shirt and black pants

White is kinder to my complexion. The combination of black with white is a strong-contrast and too intense for my own pale-contrast coloring, but I can’t ignore how easy it is to coordinate and how simple it is to wear.

Jennifer Connolly of A well Styled Life wearing white denim and solid black outfit
I’ve owned this white denim jacket for close to 6 years and I never tire of wearing it.
Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life wearing a top from Artful Home
top unavailable – earingsbracelet

The lack of pattern in most of my black and white garments makes them interchangeable and more important, not memorable. This is one of the few that is unique looking but I still never tired of it because…well, black and white.

Jennifer Connolly of A well Styled Life wearing white blouse and black pants
blouse and pants unavailable – necklacebracelet


I have several black and white stripe garments and find them as versatile as solid black or solid white. Other than that, I’ve been ignoring the siren call of more patterns this summer because they are memorable and consequently less wearable.

I’ll continue to add colors to my wardrobe because it feels happy, plus every color coordinates with both black and white.

Do you wear black and white?

How are you about wearing pattern? Does it limit how often you wear a garment?

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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  1. I’ve only started wearing black and white recently. When I was younger, they made me look completely washed out. Now, as my hair is greying, I find that I can finally wear them. I do need a bright lipstick with them though.

  2. Chuchay Morales says:

    I love black and white and some neutrals like beige and brown. It is easy to mix and match and no worries about coordination.chuchay

  3. LOVE black and white especially for travel. It really simplifies the amount of items needed!

  4. Kay Havelka says:

    Navy and white says summer to me. Actually I prefer navy instead of black for all seasons.
    And I love color and pattern….so will wear a pattern top or cardigan with navy or white pants/capris or crops. Looking forward to Pantone’s colors for fall in blues, and variations of Port. (I do have black pants which I wear with mostly patterned tops or animal print cardis) Love your blog and the Dressing Room Diaries!

    1. That sounds like a very pretty combo Kay. Navy and white are so classic! Thanks so much.

  5. I like navy but it is not easy to match to other navy items.

    1. So true Jill! Navy’s have different undertones so it’s important they’re the same.

  6. Black and white works for me, as well. However, as I’ve gotten older and allowed my hair to go naturally gray, black looks better at the top. When wearing white at the top, there is a need for a colorful accessory or a little brighter makeup to avoid that ‘washed out’ look.

  7. Yes, I have quite a few black and white items in my wardrobe and I like them, especially when on a trip. I also wear a lot of denim, which is versatile and travels well.
    p.s. I do like your pale blue blouse!

    1. I love denim! It’s the perfect neutral and fits my lifestyle so well.

  8. I have soooooo much black. I get sick of it. I’ve bought some items with color and it’s fun. I loved your pink look and your all white look, I also like you in that blue top. It’s pretty hard to get you looking bad. I think you have to work at it.

    With my gray hair, I think black all the time just gets boring. But for travel, it certainly is the way to go and then have accessories as accents.
    I also like the look of navy blue instead of black. At least it has a little more life to it. Sometimes I can’t find a think in my closet because everything is the same color. Haven’t figured that out yet.

    1. That’s a problem in my closet too! It looks like a morituan lives in my house. Black got boring fir me too Sandra but it didn’t take long to go back to it. You’re so sweet, but trust me, I’m the same as everyone else. I just try not to publish unflattering photos 🙂

  9. We went to Europe last summer for 3.5 weeks, and I worked on putting together a functional travel wardrobe for weeks. It ended up being mainly black and white, with some blue and green accent pieces. It worked so well that it became a sort of capsule wardrobe for weeks after we returned home.

    You definitely make black and white work for you. You look fabulous in all the outfits!

    1. It’s so easy isn’t it? I love color but neutrals simplify packing like no color can. Thanks Andrea:)

  10. Monica Uribe says:

    I love white for summer ,vhite linen pants are my uniform and the tops also in white but lately i have began to wear gray my hair is sliver and I think that gray and some shades of blue look great. I buy prints sometimes but I dont wear them often .

    1. White linen is so fabulous for summer Monica. I love it too. Cool grays and blue would be gorgeous with silver hair.

  11. I love color and feel it suits me best. I usually pair it with black especially for travel. White is more problematic for me as it shows stains so easily and also I am not sure if ivory or true white is most flattering. I have heard that you should not wear a white brighter than your teeth. Any thoughts on that?

    1. I’ve heard that too, but I’m not sure I agree. My coloring is more flattered by soft, non yellow based white but I actually prefer crisp, bright white.

  12. Good morning Jennifer
    After seeing your soft blue blouse, I bought one similar with bell sleeves, soft pattern. It makes me happy too. I do enjoy black and white but both colours require a brighter lipstick. I find navy a kinder shade for me. If I wear a pattern it must be small so it doesn’t become overwhelming. I guess I prefer no pattern. I also purchased a white demin coat this season…love it too!
    Thanks for all the tips!
    Robin T

  13. I just had this conversation with a friend last week. My wardrobe is almost entirely made up of black, white, gray & navy. I find that when I buy colors, they end up just hanging in my closet.I do have a couple of moss green and magenta tops that get worn occasionally. It sure is easy to coordinate. I don’t have many patterns either, stripes and plaids here and there. I think I would wear that cute blue top however.

    1. It sounds like everything goes together which does make getting dressed easier! I plan to wear more color but it never gets as much use as neutrals.

  14. I don’t wear black and white as it really doesn’t look good with my coloring and as you mentioned the sharp contrast is not great for me. I look better when the coloring is more muted and basically anything but black. Too bad as it is such a no brainer thing to put on – way easier to create an outfit that looks polished with just black and white.

    1. It is a no brainer and I think that’s why so many women wear it, flattering or not. The more silver my hair becomes, the better black looks on me. But I’ll always have to add more mascara and lipstick.

  15. I love black and white. If you look in my closet, you’ll see more black and white than anything else. I also love black and white patterns. I have black and white striped tops and pinstriped pants. Print black and white capris are a great summer fix.

  16. Jennifer, I find this post very interesting from a personal point of view. I have fair coloring, medium brown hair, and green/blue eyes. I have always used brown as a neutral in my wardrobe because of my coloring. I’ve always felt black was too harsh for me, but I do understand how easy it is to wear. Wish I could figure out how to make brown as easy! At my age, 68, I am feeling that brighter colors are too much, but I do get compliments I’m open to comments!!!! Thanks.

    1. Browns are very rich looking and come in so many shades it can make coordinating more of a challenge. I look better in cool toned browns myself. People have an emotional reaction to bright colors, but you need to decide if you wear them, or they wear you! It sounds like you know intuitively that they’re not best on you Sharon.

  17. I love black and white, too. I have heard though, that if you are a “pale contrast” color type, you should substitute Navy for the black. It would still be a bit dark but better than black. Navy and white might be good travel pallet for you.

    1. Navy is a slightly paler option and more flattering on me, no question about it. Part of the ease of wearing black is that most garments are available in black and not always navy.

  18. Black and white is the basic for my capsul wardrobe. I have added navy and beige and now I can pull an outfit together, along with accent colors, in a minute! Also can pack for a trip very easily.

  19. You look fantastic in that pale blue and palm tree blouse!! Love the earrings you have on with it, too! I also wear a lot of black and white. It makes get dressed for work so much easier. I accessorize quite a bit with scarves, sweaters and jackets. It extends my wardrobe without having to spend lots of $$$. I really enjoy reading your blog!!

    1. Thanks Beth. I love adding the pop of color with my accessories too. You’re right about the cost savings. I get much more use out of my black items than anything else.

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