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Stylish Ways To Wear Black And White

Is there a more classic color combination than black and white? It always looks chic, no matter the time of year. As we head toward fall, I’m again reminded of the timeless qualities of a black and white outfit. Today I’m sharing some stylish ways to wear black and white, even if black is not your most flattering neutral.

I’m joining my stylish pal, Cindy, for our monthly Over 50 Style Edit on black and white in the summer.  We seem to love this topic because we covered last summer here… 3 Ways To Rock Black & White Over 50

Most of us are still in melt-down summer heat mode, so the thought of wearing black leaves us cold. Sorry, bad pun. The truth is that black clothes are physically warmer during the summer because they absorb warmth from the sun. So can you wear black and white in the summer? Yes, with attention to placement, fabric, and quantity.

woman wearing white cardigan, black pants in summer outfit

Many women have stopped wearing black because it’s less flattering against their aging complexions. Even women with strong personal contrast may find black less than ideal because aging skin is duller and reflects less light.

You may enjoy- How To Find Your Personal Contrast Level And Why It Matters

I’m not willing to give up the simplicity, sophistication, elegance, and ease of wearing black, so what to do?


6 ways to wear black when it’s not flattering on your complexion.

  • Wear it on your bottom half or in accessories. The further from your face, the less it drains your complexion.
  • Choose softly woven, matte fabrics without reflective qualities. Blacks all vary, so avoid tightly woven ones with sheen.  Loosely woven linen and cotton gauze produce gentler blacks.
  • Opt for an open neckline that allows more skin to show between the top and your face.
  • Brighten your lipstick. Be careful of deep or brownish colors that can drain your complexion. Stronger colored lipstick that has some gleam adds life to your complexion. 
  • Add a flattering colored scarf or necklace between your face and the black. Pretty earrings in your best colors brighten your face and help draw the eye away from the black. 
  • Choose black in a pattern that tones down its impact.

Black can also be worn strategically to alter the visual proportions of your shape. If you’re larger on the bottom, black or any dark-colored pant or skirt makes the area recede and appear smaller. Be aware that where you punctuate an outfit with black draws the eye.

This black purse, hanging over the white sweater at my hip, makes a focal point and widens my shape right where it hits. Luckily, I have straight, narrow hips and can get away with it…but it’s still not optimal 🙂

woman wearing black top and white pants

Linen, lightweight cotton, and rayon are my go-to fabrics for staying cool in the summer. That makes them the best option for black fabrics in hot weather. This Quince linen shirt is quite cool to wear because it stands away from my torso, and its cropped length means I don’t have to tuck or half tuck to lengthen the look of my short legs. Polished cotton and linen often have a sheen, so look for gentler fabrics.

Here, I’m wearing it with some Lululemon straight pants, which seemed to sell out the second I bought them. I paired it with a black leather and straw bucket bag and white Jack Rogers sandals.

wearing black and white in hot weather

Combining black with white in a pattern or print is a no-brainer way to get the classic look. This gingham shirt gets more wear than I ever expected because it goes with every color. It’s also a classic pattern for spring and summer.

woman wearing black and white summer outfit

A denim jacket is too warm for many climates in the summer, but this could be easily replaced with a lightweight cotton or linen cardigan like this. The black and white striped linen pants appear gray, which is a soft look for hot days and more in tune with my soft coloring.


Black accessories also add a fabulous pop to all-white outfits. Here I’m wearing white on top, and the rest of my look is black. The linen blend cardigan comes in black, but I’ve learned it’s too hot to wear in the summer where we live. Black cotton espadrilles breathe, so my feet stay cool.

Are you a fan of wearing black and white?

Thanks for reading, and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.

Let’s see what Cindy is styling Cindy Hattersley Design





  1. I think the simplicity of the combination looks fresh and cool. I’m mostly in/out of A/C so the absolute value of additional heat from the dark color isn’t something I consider.
    I’ve had black/white Summer outfits forever. From a practial point of view it’s easy to recycle prior years’ accessories and add a new item, so over the years it’s become a stable for me.

  2. Love all your outfits. I will never give up black and white. I have a lot of dark hair with my silver streaks and I think a black tee or top still is flattering. Usually with white jeans for me.

  3. Love some of these ensembles. Black is a big question mark to me. I’m not convinced that it is always slimming. I read something that resonated with my thoughts and that is that a solid black shape, rather than doing the “ receding “ trick, it instead creates a full outline of the body size.
    My heaviest area is hips and thighs and I always look larger in solid black pants. Also , for me, it is visually just heavy, with no shadows or features to break it up.
    I do like the variations on black youve combined in this post. The long white cardigan especially does a good job of breaking that solid black of the pants.

  4. This was a particularly wonderful, useful post. Your posts are always useful, which I count as very high praise!)

  5. You look fabulous in each of the outfits. You wear black and white beautifully. Black and white are so elegant.

  6. I’m a summer, I prefer blue. I like my palette. Nice examples , I guess I wish more items came in navy !

  7. Still trying to live short wide pants. I’m wondering what to call the shorter narrower ones Cindy is wearing with black sneakers?

  8. Great looks and great advice about showing skin with black tops. I’ve been looking at V-neck black tops forr summer to fall. I also am liking adding black to tan — and even to coastal grandma, although dark blue is my preferred neutral. Still searching for a great white button-down, which is hard if one is small and narrow-shouldered. And just try to find an ivory button down! Do they exist?

  9. I do wear black and white. I liked the various options you gave today for the contrast of the black and white.

  10. Black is my primary “neutral” wardrobe color. In Spring/Summer I pair it white & often throw in a splash of a bright or light color (pink or yellow are current favorites). Winter/Fall I pair Black with darker colors & sometimes white.

  11. For reasons I don’t really understand black always brightens my face. It may have something to do with my deep set eyes of a washed out gray color. My hair is now salt and pepper and black continues to flatter. I love to accessorize with pops of color.

  12. I wear black pants a lot in the cooler months. I have several pairs including black jeans. I carry weight on my bottom so it helps slim me. I bought a pair of black cropped pants and two black & white print tops for summer evenings. I love black outfits. A pair of black pants with a white button down and a great pair of earrings can take you almost anywhere looking polished.
    Love your above outfits, Jennifer.

  13. I am a fan of black & white. I can wear black near my face, but need a brighter lipstick, or everyone will ask about my health. I love your combinations and have found that the b/w combo can be changed around for all seasons. Melinda

  14. I love all of your black and white outfits, and you look great in them. Black and white aren’t flattering colors on me, but I do have one or two pairs of black pants and a few black tops that I wear now and then anyway. Rather than white, I prefer brown and black or tan and black. I also like a simple black tee with olive cropped pants for summer. Most often, though, I wear patterned tops in the summertime and save the solid colors for fall and winter. I think it’s because in the summer I’m wearing only two items, top and bottom, without a third piece, and two solid colors seems bland, so I add pattern to make my looks more interesting.

  15. This is so good! I always learn something from you. I love so many of these looks. LOVE the long white cardigan and the black espadrilles. Your style just keeps getting better and better…and you look fabulous! I need to take off a few pounds. You are inspiring me to do so!

  16. I love black and white. I have a long black sweater that I like to wear with necklace or scarf, white shirt, and black pants. I love to wear long white button up shirt, rolled up sleeves, with slim black crop pants with black flats. I like any black top with white crop pants. I have a white denim jacket I wear with black dress or pants. Black and white looks classic and sophisticated .

    1. I love the sound of your outfits. You nailed it, Sue. Black & white always looks sophisticated to me, and that’s how I like to look.

    1. Thank you! I’m washing with Olaplex and using the Kevin Murphy gel, plus dry shampoo for volume every day.

  17. Though I have leaned towards more color in my summer wardrobe this year, I still reach for a black ‘n white combo when I particularly want an elevated look as absolutely love the two together! -Brenda-

  18. I will certainly be the odd one out as I do not wear black anything. I was getting away from it but my SciArt analysis clinched the deal so to speak. She showed me that even a small amount fights against my colouring. I have since painted all my black purses and shoes with leather paint in fabulous colours to great results. Even the black jewellery has gone to other family members. I do have many choices for a column of colour or classic looks if I need. Black on others can look so right, just not for me. Actually, I have gotten many more compliments since my adjustments,

    1. That’s wonderful, Dianne. My SciArt analyst gave me a soft black in my palette, which I was so happy to see.

  19. You look great in all of these black/white combinations! I especially seen drawn to the black camp shirt and wide leg pants with great black bag. A super summer look!
    Thanks for sharing! Love all your sunglasses too!

  20. I love black & white! I’ve gone quite colour mad this year, but when I put on a black & white outfit it just feels so right.

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