My mother used to hate it when I wore all-black as a teen. She would often say that I was attracting bad energy, or that I looked like I was about to attend a funeral. Now, all-black is my go-to outfit. I reach for black when I need to look my best in a rush.
It all started when I broke up with my ex. I wore black for a year. At the time, it didn’t occur to me how dark my wardrobe had become. Even though I support Jay-Z’s “All-black everything” a.k.a. “The fresh code,” I was definitely in mourning. Two weeks ago, I had the misfortune of attending two funerals, which got me thinking about the all-black outfit.
Although we can thank Coco Chanel, Dior and Audrey Hepburn for the little black dress (LBD); Queen Victoria popularizing black garb. In 1861, when Prince Albert died, she decided to wear mourning weeds (widow’s apparel) for the rest of her life (a whopping 40 years). During that era, the Queen decided what was fashionable; what she wore became the trend— everyone followed. In truth, Queen Victoria started the all-black everything.
People took the trend to the extreme: They started tying black and purple ribbons on baby clothes, using black leather for Bibles (not so crazy for us now), and even using black stationary. During the Victorian period, people mourned for two and a half years in three stages. With each stage, their all-black outfits became more swank, until they were finally out of mourning.
Mourning fashion was excessive. After World War I, mourning fashion ended, but wearing black became common-place. Karl Lagerfeld has made the all-black everything his signature look. Meanwhile, the globalization of hip-hop culture—mainly Jay-Z’s influence—has cemented the trend into fashion culture. If we think back, it’s remarkable how well Aaliyah’s style—all-black from head to toe, with a crop top and baggy pants—is suited for today’s 90’s inspired trends.
Nothing is quite as sophisticated or as polished as an all-black outfit—a little navy works too. Whether it’s a funeral or a date, here are classic black must-have items we should all own.
The Leather Jacket
The black leather jacket is here forever. Even if we abolished the use of animal skins, we’d simply replace it with faux-leather jackets—which is already starting to happen.
Rudsak Riva Jacket
Givenchy Biker Jacket
The Little Black Dress
How many times have you been saved by the little black dress? I can’t even count the number of times, so enough said.
The Black Pants
I feel like I can try different styles of pants just as long as they’re black. Where black leather jackets have the ability to add a bit of edge, black pants add a bit of class.
The Black Top
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t look good in a black top. Whether you have a large bust or tiny tatas, the black top is always flattering.
Last, but not least, I’d like to dedicate this article to the memory of Angelina “Gran” St.John, Gloria Cottle and Aaliyah.