Creating your own personal style involves finding a point of difference between how you dress and how other women do. Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has done this by embracing her own very signature brand of eclecticism, Kate Moss by sticking to her skinnies regardless of what the denim police say is the latest cut to take the catwalks by storm, and Karl Lagerfeld has created a kind of man-in-black caricature for himself from which he refuses to stray.
Lagerfeld is clever because he’s taken what can be the most generic of colours, or neutrals, and imbued it full of his own personality. It can be tricky not to blend into the background when wearing head-to-toe black, but Lagerfeld has avoided this caveat by sticking doggedly to his look and taking complete ownership of it. He never looks generic. He always looks like Lagerfeld.
Unfortunately, black, considered a safe, reliable, can’t-go-wrong colour, has been used by women, in winter time especially, as a kind of opt-out option. Throw on a black coat and black shoes and you’re good to go. Not really, though, unless the coat has a beautiful silhouette and enough detailing (be that visible stitching, standout buttons, interesting lapels and cuffs) to differentiate it from the hordes of other black coats on the high streets in winter. Similarly with that old reliable LBD. If it doesn’t have a unique element, it will veer very quickly into stale and ordinary territory.
Once spring begins to suggest itself, Irish women tend to be in too much of a hurry to abandon black. However I think looking at how you can incorporate black into your spring/summer wardrobe is an easy way to add a point of difference to your own look. I’m not suggesting for a minute you wear it head to toe, but as those around you rush to pull on their printed or pastel rigouts, a strategic approach to wearing black in spring can offer a more distinct approach to dressing for the season.
Here are several black pieces I’ll be buying into for spring/summer.
A black biker jacket is one of the first pieces we put to the back of our wardrobes at this time of year, but it’s the perfect punctuation to this season’s florals and fluid fabrics. It anchors a look, and this Zara piece is particularly good because of the ribbon-tie belt. It adds a softness and femininity perfect for summer.
Leather jacket, €279 at Zara
Black lace can often look too funereal, but online retailer Uterque.com has got it just right with this piece by keeping the silhouette dead simple. Keep the look fresh for summer by pairing it with something nautical.
Guipure lace T-shirt, €85 at uterque.com
Forget about florals and stripes, this, for me, is the quintessential summer dress. It’s so effortlessly chic, and it lso has that point of difference from other LBDs in the form of an openwork braid panel at the waist.
Straight sleeveless dress, €185 at Maje
I love this very contemporary black shirt from Cos. The masculine aesthetic provides the perfect contrast to all the floaty, feminine and pastel pieces that abound in summer. To me, this shirt will look really fresh right now because of its non-traditional spring/summer style.
Shirt with pockets, €59 at Cos