How to wear black in summer, without looking boring

Posted by
Chloe Mac Donnell
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Darker hues are still our go-to come warmer days. Here’s how to wear them in style.

Open the doors of my wardrobe and you’ll find that it’s made up of about 80% black clothing. Even in summer this ratio rarely changes. Come June, when everyone is rooting around in their attic for their summer clothes – all floral prints, nautical stripes and pastel hues – I’m swapping my mainly-black winter staples for well, my mainly-black summer staples.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds. When it comes to wearing black in summer, there’s a fine line between looking chic and looking like an overgrown emo kid furious at the sun for even daring to make an appearance. Here’s how to nail it…

Swap your LBD for a LBS

Zara strappy dress

We all know that an LBD is useful, but come warmer climes a little black sundress (LBS) will prove just as powerful. Way more practical than a white cotton dress (seriously, have you ever tried taking public transport or even just drinking a coffee whilst wearing one?), an LBS will keep you cool whilst also ensuring you look chic. 

A strappy version paired with sliders and a basket bag looks great on holiday. For work, layer it over a white tee or shirt and add a pair of jazzy sandals. 

Strappy dress, £19.99,

Think about hemlines 

A black maxi skirt paired with tights and a pair of chunky boots looks cosy in winter, but during the summer months sweeping dark hemlines can feel a bit frumpy.

Instead, opt for a hemline that falls either mid-calf or above the knee. At Chloé s/s 2018 (above), boxy black mini skirts were paired with embroidered long-sleeved shirts and pointy buckled boots, which is a clever way of counterbalancing bare legs.

Try a pair of tailored shorts

If your go-to winter look is a tailored skirt, try mixing it up for warmer months with a pair of tailored shorts. Spotted all over the s/s 2018 runways, they’re set to become one of the hardest-working items in your wardrobe, looking just as good in the boardroom as they do at the bar. 

Team with a matching blazer over a plain T-shirt to up the suiting vibe, and then – depending on your office dress code – either keep it smart with a pair of brogues or go more casual with box-fresh white trainers. Arket and COS both have plenty of good options in sturdy fabrics that stay crease-free all day. 

Cotton twill workwear shorts, £45,

Have a monochrome moment

Timeless, classic and effortless, what’s not to love about a monochrome look? From date nights to job interviews, this colourway is your answer to a host of sartorial summer dilemmas. A white T-shirt is a quick and easy way to break up a head-to-toe black look – just make sure the fabric is good quality and not too clingy. 

Monochrome polka dot prints were also spotted (no pun intended) all over the s/s 2018 runways. From oversized spots at Jacquemus and Off-White to micro-sized at Rodarte and Jason Wu, designers proved we’ve come a long way from any Minnie Mouse connotations. The high street has a string of brilliant options but it’s Topshop that’s really nailed the trend, with its mix-and-match spotted dress selling out three times (!) nationwide. 

The brand has now introduced another version, but you’ll want to be quick – we reckon this option isn’t going to hang around for long either. 

Monochrome spot pinafore dress, £55,

Let your accessories pop

Mango sunglasses

When it comes to wearing black in the summer, it’s the little details that can make all the difference. From a pair of jazzy earrings to brightly-hued shoes, a black base allows much more freedom to play with pops of colour. 

Brightly coloured sunglasses are also an easy way to give a nod to summer trends without sacrificing your core style. Go for a rounded cat eye or circular lens in lemon or pistachio to up the summer feel. 

Acetate frame sunglasses, £17.99,

Main image: Getty Images