Here’s To Always Wearing Black, A Style Guide

Photo: @lydia_pang_
In the immortal words of Yohji Yamamoto: “Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy – but mysterious. But above all black says this: I don’t bother you - don’t bother me.”

Wearing black was passed down to me like a precious heirloom from my parents. My family traditions dictate that we all give no fucks, eat a lot of roasted meats and adopt the classic uniform of black.

I remember testing the boundaries as a child, desperate to be one of the girls, trying to coax my parents into buying me these sickly pink Barratts shoes and a silver Tammy Girl jacket. The rejection was bitter. I recall them both firmly asserting that black patent Doc Martens were the correct choice for school if I was to be a) bad ass b) dry footed and c) not look like a clone of every other child in South Wales. I begrudgingly trusted them, unaware of how obscenely cool they were. And of course I was made fun of. I spent months yearning to fit in only to realise (upon discovering Myspace) that they'd in fact nailed it, and fitting in would be an utter tragedy. So I’ve pretty much dressed to the dark side ever since. They said I'd understand one day, and I did. I’m just an adult Emo now.

Black is like shouting without opening your mouth. It’s modest and confident. Black allows you to look chic in pyjamas while queuing to buy toilet roll and lets you inadvertantly look smart when you're presenting in a client meeting you forgot you had. It’s slimming, ageless, timeless, gender neutral, trend neutral and looks expensive when it isn’t. Black clothes are your best friend, and why complicate things? Life is brutal enough without walking past a window reflection and realising that although pea green worked wonderfully in the Prada AW15 show, you just look like a flaccid steamed mangetout with high hopes. Black won't do this to you. It will never fail you. Here’s my heartfelt guide to wearing, and owning, black. #GOTHSWAG

Lydia Pang is a brand director and art agent. Follow her here.
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Photo: @lydia_pang_
Get Your Staples Right

Simplicity is key! The splendid thing about black is that you can be wearing a £7 polo neck and look the business. My basics have always been: white cotton socks, a crisp white shirt, black jersey polo necks, thick quality tights and a simple cashmere beanie. Always all bought in Uniqlo or Cos.

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Photo: @lydia_pang_
Invest In Power Pieces

I love power dressing and investment pieces are the key to this. Important stuff to get right: the perfect suit, an iconic bag, a well cut evening dress, naughty heels. These can then be paired with cheaper items and look bad ass. Issey Miyake, Chanel, Acne, CDG, Margiela, Raf Simons, Yohji Yamamoto, Alexander Wang, Helmut Lang, and Mrs Prada are my power peoples. Of late I’m worshipping at the alter of: Charlie May, The Row, Andersson Bell, Phlemuns, Jacquemus, Andrea Jiapei Li. Collaborations are an affordable way around expensive taste; I recently bought everything Lemaire x Uniqlo spawned.
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Photo: @lydia_pang_
Brow And Pout

If I don't draw my face on [I think] I look like a pancake. Black is incredibly strong in beauty and entirely underestimated. Makeup, for me, is all about definition and strength. I love matte powdered skin and defined brows. I’ve been wearing black lipstick every day for almost a decade. I love the way it makes me feel – it’s anarchic but oddly smart. Illamasqua ‘disciple’ lipstick is my die hard staple. I'm currently enjoying oiled, slicked-back hair too, and a middle parting tucked behind the ears. It’s all about creating a strong silhouette, head to toe.
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Photo: @lydia_pang_
Man Up

Most of my wardrobe is made up of menswear. I like pairing super androgynous items with clutch bags or more indulgent overtly feminine pieces like corsetry or silks. Tailoring is powerful and it also gives you a free pass to show a bit of skin! My favourite tailored piece is a pair of men's Comme des Garçons suit trousers, I will be buried in these trousers.
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Work A Strong Silhouette

I let shape indicate trend and formality. I love neoprene because it holds its shape and creates definition. I like graphic cuts that slice up the body, strong lapels and cuffs that show wrists or ankle bones. It all hangs on the cut and the fit.
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Photo: @lydia_pang_
Give Zero Fucks

Black, because it’s iconic and classic, allows for you to be way more playful with trends. I’ve worn some weird shit in my time, but when you pair it with black cashmere and tailoring, anything goes. Enter: German tourist sandals.
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Photo: @lydia_pang_
The White Sock

A contrasting sock breaks up the all black look and adds a playful edge to a severe silhouette. They’re my go to, they always have to be bright white though so I’m constantly buying new ones.
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Photo: @lydia_pang_
Denim Is Not Your Friend

Black is at its most impactful when it’s sleek and smart. I never wear worn cotton or raw edges or denim. I find these fabrics don't really work that well in black. For me black is about luxe fabrics and crisp seams and flirtatious cuts. It’s a power play. Even on a chilled day I’ll be in a smart chino and crisp oversized shirt.
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Photo: @lydia_pang_
Shoe Swag

Accessories are a good way of defining an all black uniform and it depends on what sort of day I’ve got in front of me. Spike Prada heels for when I have a big meeting, fishnet socks and sliders for when I’m on set, and sneakers every Sunday.
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Photo: @lydia_pang_
Form And Function

The rise of Normcore was a confusing time for me because I am probably as contrived looking as a human can get. But, what did inspire me was the re-appropriation and elevation of functional utility items. I started pairing technical fabrics with tailoring, sport socks with heels, neoprene with silk. I’ve been whipping out this North Face puffer for years now, I love it with a pencil skirt. And I have 8 of these cut to fit Muji plastic macs, which I wear with a leather polo neck (stolen from my bff, sorry Ron).
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Photo: @lydia_pang_
Play With Texture

Black is beautiful when it’s layered. You can have so much fun with contrasting texture and fabrics. I live for shiny latex boots with crisp tailoring and cashmere or fake fur with a slice of belly out. And nothing pleases me like pleats, a sheer sock and my fluffy adidas sliders. Delicious.
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Photo: @lydia_pang_
Be Consistent

My natural inclination is that everything does just look better in black, but I must say there’s merit in this madness. Even when I’m sat in the airport after an 11-hour flight eating a boiled egg, I can manage to look mildly chic thanks to my consistent fashion choices. And my boyfriend says the reason he wears all black now is because it’s just easier to do ‘one big wash’. Win win really.
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