A Guide to Wearing Something Other Than Black

As much as I like to think of myself as a bona fide fashion daredevil, I occasionally find myself stuck at one specific point on the color wheel. Like so many of my fellow New Yorkers, when it comes to certain wardrobe staples, I just can’t get away from black. Shoes? Tops? Earrings? Not a problem; I’ll color-block like nobody’s business. But elsewhere I need help, which is why I recruited three super-chic women who are no strangers to standout style and tasked them with nudging me out of my comfort zone and into bluer waters.

It turns out that blue is the black of summer. It practically qualifies as a neutral (think denim), it’s super on trend this season, and it’s apparently my first safe baby step toward embracing actual color. Wearing their favorite new pieces from Tommy Hilfiger, the three style setters patiently listened to my excuses before schooling me on what I should be wearing. Are you also a habitual wearer of black? Nod along to my excuses below before bookmarking the three brightened-up looks I can actually get on board with.

EVERYDAY ATHLEISURE

I would like it to be acknowledged that I have excellent justifications/excuses for all three of my sore points. When it comes to gym gear, for example, my argument is that black is just more flattering when you’re wearing super-tight, stretchy things. Plus, it means all my leggings, sports bras, and tanks go together, and that’s one less thing to think about at 6 a.m. when I’m digging through my laundry basket. The good news is that Michelle Madsen completely gets it. “It can be tempting to stick to the basics and play it safe with your outfits, especially when dressing casually,” the Take Aim blogger says.

Keep things simple by accessorizing in the same color family.

Her chief advice for me is to step up my game with one statement piece. “I try to look for things that add a twist to the basics, and I’m currently obsessed with stripes in all forms!” says Madsen. “Rather than going with the usual solid-black leggings, I love that my blue Tommy Hilfiger leggings are striped and actually become the statement of my outfit.” As for how to style them this time of year? “A white short-sleeve sweatshirt and white shoes. I love using white as a basic color, because it tends to make everything feel light and summery,” she advises.

GROWN-UP DRESSES

The thing about dresses that keeps me reaching for LBDs—and I know I’m stating the obvious here—is that they’re inherently feminine. I don’t do well with girly, so buying in black is my way of keeping things accessible. Jenny Cipoletti of Margo & Me, who describes her style as “a mix of anything that feels über-feminine and delightfully romantic with a touch of whimsy,” does not seem like the natural choice to help me with this. However, the Francophile’s style leans clean and sophisticated, and I’m ready for a dose of Parisian-inspired cool.

Cipoletti’s pick of a vintage-inspired dress is right up my alley, so we’re off to a good start. “Some people might think that this dress is difficult to pull off,” she says, and she’s talking about me. To stop the pattern from feeling overwhelming, Cipoletti suggests adding neutral accessories with very specific functions: a belt to stop the pattern from feeling overwhelming, nude heels to elongate the legs (apparently a must with dress of this length), and a bag with some bulk to it in a shape that subtly echoes the A-line hem.

It’s all about bringing in the waist to break up the stripe.

“I love for a look to feel well thought-out and highly curated,” she tells me, and I note that in contrast, my handbag’s number one selling point was that it already had my keys in it this morning. “All of the individual components should work together to make a look feel accessible and elevated,” she continues. Point taken: The right accessories are crucial.

STATEMENT-TREND PIECES

When it comes to embracing mega-trends, my tendency is to reach for them in black, I think in an attempt to give an of-the-moment piece a sense of timelessness. Sara Azani of Style MBA tells me there’s no need to limit myself when it comes to dipping my toes into a new trend. Her look embraces the only three things to know for summer (basket bags, one-shoulder ruffle tops, and slides), and notably none of them are in black.

Be confident in your dress and stepping out of the norm.

I’m the first to admit that Azani’s blue Tommy Hilfiger dress does a far better job of showing off the ruffle’s texture than it would in black. Plus, the softer color palette means that the dress you love for summer evenings plays perfectly as elevated daywear. “I would wear this to grab coffee or brunch with girlfriends, but it’s also a great look to wear to barbecues and family gatherings on the weekend.” It’s also worth noting that Azani echoes Cipoletti’s vote for nude accessories. “Blush sandals elongate my legs and are a great neutral,” she explains. “They’re also super comfortable, which is a plus, given that I am pregnant with twins and need all the foot rest I can get!”

After more must-have summer styles? Shop the best from Tommy Hilfiger at Macy’s