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10 Fresh Ways to Wear Black

Give your go-to color a much needed boost

spinner image Women wearing black
From wearing black for formal events to more casual looks and the in-between, we show you how it's done.
Mel Melcon/Contour by Getty Images, Owen Hoffmann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images, Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

It's been a good run. Since 1982, women who are now 50+ have worn some variation of Morticia Addams-like head-to-toe black. Once we discovered black made us look thinner, cooler and more sophisticated, there was no turning back. This is still true: A daily "uniform" of basic black does save time and effort in putting together outfits. So, we're sticking with the plan — with an update. Here's how to do what celebs do and dial up style in black 10 ways:

spinner image Meg Ryan wearing a black pant suit.
Mel Melcon/Contour by Getty Images

1. Wear a black pantsuit casually

This duo has come a long way from the stuffy, stiff cookie-cutter "success" suits of yore and is available low-cost everywhere from Amazon to H&M. Choose a progressive style with ankle-cropped pants (you may have to take up the hem an inch or two), a relaxed fit to the jacket and a seasonless stretch-blend fabric. Do like Meg Ryan and add a white T-shirt or button-down to brighten and sharpen the duo and black trainers for modern ease and edge.

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spinner image Woman wearing black jeans
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2. Add black jeans to your rotation

Simply add the blazer, a white tee and strappy black sandals and, voilà, instant chic, just like Vogue Paris editor Emmanuelle Alt. Blue denim is great, but black denim pants look dressier and elegant worn with all those old black blazers hanging out in your closet. Cropped black jeans — straight and slim or flared — are the most versatile.

spinner image Women wearing black leggings.
Marc Piasecki/GC Images, JB Lacroix/WireImage, Bobby Bank/Getty Images

3. Upgrade to black leather leggings

Faux stretch leather is your new substitute for plain cotton/spandex leggings. Use them as a base day or night, any time of year, like Vanessa Williams, who added a black boat tee, long black scarf, black sneakers and a draped poncho; Bo Derek, who donned a black shimmery jacket and knee-high black leather boots; or singer-songwriter Pat Benatar, who rocked black leather/jersey paneled leggings, a black blazer and black dotted blouse. It’s a fast way to polish up for travel, running errands or an evening out.

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spinner image Women wearing black tops.
Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images, Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

4. Buy fancier black tops

We have black T-shirts in crews and V-necks and sleeves of every length. Step it up with trendier necklines, decorative sleeves, wrapped or draped styles and feminine blouses. Try off-shoulder looks, ruffles, wraps, draped tops and blouses like Alfre Woodard's notch collar, three-quarter-sleeve blouse untucked over a textured black skirt, or Queen Latifah's pouf-sleeved version (and, yes, even over white pants, a black top looks hot!).

spinner image Women wearing black dresses.
Donato Sardella/Hammer Museum, Donato Sardella/Christian Siriano; Getty Images (2)

5. Make your next "Little Black Dress" anything but ordinary

Say "new me" with an LBD that's got fashion chops and wear it that way. Diane Keaton layered her fit-and-flare sleeveless dress over a black turtleneck and added a bowler and combat booties, while chum Ann Philbin, director of the Hammer Museum in L.A., put a spin on classic in a black leather sheath, sheer black hose (yes, they're baaaack) and black pumps. Angela Bassett wows in a low-cut spaghetti-strap number with eye-catching cutouts and peep-toe heels.

spinner image Women wearing black jewelry
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage, Jim Spellman/WireImage

6. Wear black jewelry

Statement earrings in black — from dramatic drops like Sharon Stone's to Oprah Winfrey's mix of beefy black pearl stud on one ear and a white pearl on the other — are cool. Create a yin-yang DIY look by layering or twisting white pearls with black pearls or beads.

spinner image Women dressed in black wearing different color shoes.
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images, Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

7. Spike black with bright shoes or booties

Colorful shoes punctuate an all-black outfit (and make you easy to spot in a crowd). Sarah Jessica Parker underscored her little black dress with bright pink pumps. Yes, she's got her own shoe line to promote but we'll have what she's having. Susan Sarandon added shiny red booties to her black pantsuit. Copy that. 

spinner image Women wearing black with sparkles.
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8. Choose black that sparkles

Any cardigan, coat or top that flashes sequins, glints of metallic threads or a jeweled neckline elevates an ordinary black outfit to an evening or "special occasion" look without making a big deal. In fact, mixing black pieces of different textures is the secret to making head-to-toe black fashionable. Meryl Streep chose a black sequin-studded coat to top off an all-black ensemble with knee-high suede boots, while Vanessa Williams glammed up black pants with a sequin-striped tank.

spinner image Women wearing black glasses.
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage, Araya Diaz/Getty Images

9. Make your next eyeglass frames black

Not that you'd miss Jane Fonda but her bold angular black glasses create a focal point and outline her gorgeous blue eyes. Barbra Streisand gets the same defining benefits but chooses lean black frames. It works for all.

spinner image Women wearing black jackets.
Matthew Eisman/Getty Images, Theo Wargo/WireImage, Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

10. Get a black leather biker jacket already

What are you waiting for? This black piece has become an official 50+ wardrobe staple. It adds edge to Mary Steenburgen's shapely black jeans, pointy booties and silk blouse; sharpens Christie Brinkley's businesslike pinstripes; and amps up Salma Hayek's clingy turtleneck and maxi skirt.

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