Pair black basics with a new hue this winter

Kristyn Schiavone
The Detroit News

This is the time of year when I start wearing only black.

I think this is a pretty common January rut. One obvious explanation is everyone’s aversion to the cold, dark abyss that is January, physically reflected in their clothing choices.

This is probably accurate. Another obvious, probably accurate explanation is everyone’s utter disdain for actually getting dressed in anything but a warm blanket, fuzzy slippers and sweatpants. Black is an easy, not-stressful choice.

But here’s another thing to consider. Does it all come down to the power of suggestion? Think, for a moment, about your winter gear. Are your winter boots black? How about your warmest pair of tights? On a day when it is too cold to even think about wearing a skirt, what kind of suitable work pants are hanging in your closet? I’m going to guess black. Maybe you have a tattered, worn-out winter coat on which you inexplicably continue to get tons of compliments. Is it a color that is not black? Mystery solved.

It’s pretty easy to spice up your wardrobe if you’re not trying to make it into something it’s not. Resign yourself to the fact that you’re probably still going to wear those black tights, and focus on what you can wear them with. Below are some ideas.

Reverse your black and white

My winter white skirt is one of my very favorite pieces. Black and white is a no-brainer combination, but the whole white blouse, black skirt, black tights and black shoes thing is way too school choir for me. It’s amazing what a difference you can make in this ensemble simply by wearing a black shirt and white skirt. Winter white pants can be a great look too, as long as you can tuck them into boots and avoid letting them drag the ground in the winter slush and muck.

Add a pop of color.

And please, do not let that color be true red. A brighter, orange-y red can work, but some more current options include hues like rose, mauve, sage, teal and a slightly darker version of mustard. If your office allows denim, these all look great with jeans and black boots.

3. Add some metallics, or just metals.

Gold, rose gold, bronze and silver all look absolutely fantastic with black. Nothing over the top ... I’m thinking more along the lines of a striped sweater with some metallic thread, or a skirt with a subtly shiny satin overlay. I have a J.Crew perfect shirt with gold dots that is proving to be very useful with all my black clothes. In the absence of a metallic piece of clothing, though, you can add a piece of statement jewelry.

4. Don’t discount gray and herringbone.

Gray and herringbone are both basically black. They’re just as versatile and easy to match, and they’re still winter-y without being downright gloomy. I love a light, silvery gray, which can still be worn with all your black accessories.

(E-mail Kristyn Schiavone at, or follow her on Twitter at @KKSchiavone.)