Black is the New Black

A fashionable crowd in 1636

For many of us, when looking at the clothes rails, we prefer to be safely hugged by a garment that is the colour black. It appeals to us for various reasons; sure, it is non offensive, figure flattering and is the true match to any other colour. Looking back over the history of this, we have developed this commitment to black attire. With its timeless properties, black will always be there and will always be close to our hearts (and of course, in our wardrobes).

As early commercialisation formed, during the development of a consciously fashionable environment, black became the first colour to be sold in exchange for money. Dark hues were linked to luxury and quality, thus the wealthy demanded black clothes in desirable fabrics such as silk, furs and lace. Thus, in early modern western society, black became truly fashionable, setting the trend that still has its influences today. This can be seen in garments with ‘well-dressed’ connotations such as the tuxedo, suit and coat being traditionally made in black or dark colours. Indeed, with black and navy blue being the most popular colours of western clothing, this can certainly be derived from the trend setters of early commercialisation. 

Queen Victoria 1897

In European history, the mourning and widow garb was obviously black. The symbolism that was attached to this highlights the prominent, deep and emotional nature of the colour. Queen Victoria famously only wore black after the death of husband Prince Albert, almost personifying the dark, laced, melodramatic Victorian period which also reflected the mood, thinking and literature of the time. In the same sense, another famous lady, Coco Chanel recognised the importance of this colour in women’s dress and utilised this with her Little Black Dress, representing the increasing liberalisation of the 1920s woman. 

Coco Chanel 1927

It is argued that our perception of colour is socially constructed. These examples therefore provide us with indicators on where our love for black has derived from. As a result, we now see black as luxurious, dramatic and powerful. The emergence of pastels in current Spring/Summer collections are tempting, and provide a flirty sense of elopement from our relationship with darker colours. But despite this, we always know that whenever we need to, we can always go back to black. 

2 Responses to “Black is the New Black”
    • lindahlt says:

      You were right, it was an insightful read! I’m glad I’m on the same wavelength (or colour spectrum?!) with Intelligent Life! Thanks for reading.

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