Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Beauty of Wearing Black

People often criticise me for always wearing black. They encourage me to feel like the decisions I make about my wardrobe make me a bad person.

But then I remember: I like the clothes I choose to wear.

There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding people who frequently wear black, and I'd like to discuss why these are shameful accusations. 

It has to be said, first of all, that I haven't always favoured the clothes I wear now. Once upon a time, I tended to prefer options like this:


No, I'm kidding. That was one time. But I did frequently dress like this...


I was happy wearing colour. I didn't have a problem with it then, and I certainly don't have a problem with it now when other people choose to wear it. A lot of the time it's assumed that everybody who wears black is just scared  to wear colour. While I cannot, and would not, speak on behalf of everybody - certainly some people do feel uncomfortable in brighter shades - this should never have become a stereotype. When I bought a black dress one day in 2011, I decided that I actually liked wearing black.

Here you see me, a few months later, still dressed, head to toe, in black:



I love that umbrella. I love that coat. In fact, I love everything about that outfit, and that is precisely my point. I chose the clothes you see in that photo because I loved the style, not because I felt I had to hide my body behind the darkness. 

That's not to say that there aren't days where the thought of looking in the mirror terrifies me; I, like most people, am often displeased with with way I look. But this is not something reflected in my wardrobe decisions. For some reason, fashion 'experts' have got it into their heads that anybody wearing black - and they seem to not realise that it's available in options other than baggy hoodies and joggers! - must be stripped of this apparent mask and expose their bodies in brighter colours. Yes, some people do hide behind black clothes and just need that nudge of encouragement to wear the colours they suit and adore, but some of us don't actually want to be forced to banish the black. Some of us actually enjoy it.

'But Amy', you may be thinking, 'you look rather covered up in the photo above. How does this prove you're not hiding?' Well, here's a recent photo I took with the intention of putting it on the internet where I knew a lot of people would see it. Again, I'm wearing black:


Now I don't particularly like my arms. I don't know too many people who do like their own arms. And yet, despite the fact I'm dressed in black, they're not covered up. I'm not hiding behind the black bodice; in fact, if I'd leaned over you'd see I was actually quite exposed. So how anybody can say I'm using darker clothes to hide my body, I don't know.

I'm going to cover two stereotypes in one now. First, allow me to introduce you to one of my favourite dresses:


Needless to say, the outfit is all black, except there are now splashes of green and red in there too. If you look closely, you'll see that these splashes are in fact blood stains and heads of Frankenstein's creature. For many people, black clothing equates to the Gothic. While I don't deny that the two go hand in hand wonderfully, it doesn't automatically mean that they must always be paired. There are times when I do darken up the make up and look a little more Goth-like than usual, but that doesn't mean I don't know how to have fun. I'll refrain from going into Gothic stereotypes here, but I'm sure many will agree with me when I say that too many believe that black clothing always equals Gothic, and Gothic always equals a lack of fun and creativity.

There is certainly no lack of creativity in the design of that dress! Such items of clothing prove that there is a lot of fun to be had with wearing black: there are so many styles to choose from, so many cuts and designs, and, the best part, it's so easy to pair them with fun shoes and pretty jewellery to offer a reflection of personality. One thing here I can state with complete confidence:

Black does NOT have to be boring!

The most important thing to me about wearing black, however, is not the way I look, but the way it makes me feel. Instead of hiding behind black because I'm not confident in my own body, I wear black because it enhances my confidence. I feel protected, safe. I've tried wearing colour, I used to like it, but people change and the way we feel changes too. Maybe one day I'll enjoy wearing brighter clothes again, but right now, as has been the case for quite some time, I'm at my happiest when I'm wearing black.

However, and I probably don't need to say as the existence of this post says the very same, there are times when I feel self-conscious, and even dark fabric can't barricade the cruelty. But the point I want to emphasise here is the fact that those bouts of self-consciousness come not from the clothes I wear or the way they make me look, but from the words of others.

It is the unnecessary judgement from other people that induces poor confidence, not the clothes we choose to wear. I wear black clothes because I like to wear them, not because I feel I need to. Different people have their own reasons for deciding to wear black, and never should everybody be labelled with damaging stereotypes, and certainly not because of the way they look. I make the decision to wear black and I like what I wear.

By choosing to wear black, I am allowing myself to be the real me, not the person society pressures me to be.

Amy x