There’s something about an all-black ensemble that manages to feel both radical and classic at the same time. A person dressed purely in black commands attention, albeit quietly so. There’s a reason why this is one look that has always been in style, throughout the turbulent, ever-changing trends modern fashion has had to offer.
Originally worn by grieving family members and loved ones (a convention that dates back to ancient Greek civilization), head-to-toe black has in more recent decades become synonymous with stylishness; with people who are cool, chic, cosmopolitan. Maybe even a little bit dangerous. In past centuries, a woman wearing black would have been a widow—technically single but also well-acquainted with carnal knowledge, a remnant of her marriage. In times (and cultures) where women were obligated to remain chaste until their wedding nights, this would have been considered provocative, perhaps even mildly risqué. Black is inherently sexy.
And yet it’s versatile! One of the many joys of fashion is that we have accumulated, at this point, a whole range of styles from sporty to retro to minimalist to Lolita-goth-girl-chic. Head-to-toe black is therefore never boring and always flattering. It can go from day to night with a change of shoes or switching a backpack for a clutch. Below, some of our favorite head-to-toe black outfits for you to check out.
1) MAYA NILSEN
Pair a slouchy sweater with a maxi skirt for a look that’s as cozy as it is chic. What keeps Ophélie’s look interesting is a variety in textures—a wooly sweater tucked into a dress made of flowier fabric allows for a simple contrast. Despite the fact that this particular ensemble might appear a little conservative upon first glance, the long slit in the skirt subtly shows some skin in a way that is understatedly sexy.
3) AALIYAH REODICA
We’re in love with fashion design student Aaliyah Reodica’s effortless vibe. The structured high-waisted trousers go perfectly with the button-down shirt, tied nonchalantly at the midriff. Open-toed espadrilles add an unexpected pop of color to this otherwise monochromatic outfit.
4) TRACIANNE ESTRADA
You wouldn’t think head-to-toe black and a scarf (plus a fanny pack that somewhat resembles a handyman’s toolbelt) screams summer. But somehow, Tracianne Estrada pulls off “carefree tropical tourist” with flying colors. Tie your hair back into a ponytail and add a pair of dangling earrings for a more feminine air.
5) PAULINA PAIGE
The slinky backless dress, strappy heels, and dainty handbag is so reminiscent of something a ‘90s rom-com heroine would wear. Perfect for date night.
6) PAM QUIÑONES
Pam Q’s belted leather skirt is such a unique piece on its own—it’s paired well with a simple black cropped tank, sandals, and delicate, layered jewelry. Because everything is black, the look remains easygoing despite the heavy accessorizing.
7) IDA ANDUYAN
Black denim with white stitching is youthful and kawaii-cute with chunky dad sneakers and dainty accessories. The cutout and belt give the throwback-inspired jumpsuit a more modern twist.
8) LYDIA PANG
We love sheer pieces in black—they lend a subtle sort of sensuality to any given outfit. However, when in the form of a puffy-sleeved top and socks worn with shiny “sensible” heels, the sheer element is not simply sexy, it’s bold and daring. We are head-over-heels for this playfully gothic getup.
9) DURGA CHEW-BOSE
Writer and SSENSE deputy editor Durga Chew-Bose is one stylish gal. The long blazer over loose trousers is a slightly more unconventional play on traditional office attire. Also, did you fall in love with the kitten-heeled mules like we did?
10) THUREES OBENZA
Thurees’ industrial jumpsuit goes so well with her dark Converse and sunglasses. She accessorizes to perfection with little details, like the calculator watch and the key dangling from a belt loop. Tough, sporty, and unabashedly cool.
11) MELISSA GATCHALIAN
Melissa Gatchalian’s otherwise simple black jumpsuit is elegantly playful when worn with a thick leather belt over a white top. The furry bag is the icing on the cake. This look would not be out of place in a K-pop music video—female K-idols, known for their impeccable sense of style, have brought back the white-shirt-under-spaghetti-straps combo, and the Sartorial Panda blogger wears it well.
12) RHEA BUE
Rhea Bue’s linen button-up tucked into high-waisted shorts calls to mind a silhouette the inimitable Audrey Hepburn first made fashionable as the titular character in the 1954 classic, Sabrina. That the shorts are denim and a brown leather Louis Vuitton handbag hangs over one shoulder reminds us of Jane Birkin, another timeless style icon.
13) BELLA GOLDEN
The crop top, skinny jeans, colored sunnies combo is such an iconically teen popstar look, and one can’t help but admire Bella Golden’s ability to lend a spirit of edginess to this ensemble. Also, the nameplate necklace? Classic. Is anyone else starting to miss 2002?
14) ASHLEY SANDRINE YAP
A double-breasted blazer is offset with casual shorts and simple, refined jewelry. In cases like this, an all-black outfit can draw attention to a particularly striking piece, such as this bright red structured purse.
15) RACHEL NGUYEN
Thigh-high boots are ridiculously chic, and stand out so much on their own that they are best worn with monochromatic pieces. The slouchy casualness of the oversized jacket and mini perfectly offset the slinkiness of this daring footwear.
16) CAMILA MENDES
With an all-black dress, details like sheer peasant sleeves, bobbles, a midriff cutout, and an A-line skirt work in harmony rather than overwhelm. Camila Mendes is stunning as always, and lets the bohemian elements of her dress take center stage as she accessorizes as simply and sparsely as possible.
17) ELIZABETH LAIL
Netflix’s You star Elizabeth Lail is a vision in black. The wonderful thing about black clothes is that they allow you to get away with more elaborate designs and silhouettes. This runway-ready look is no exception. The lacy ruffles on Lail’s top are so gothic, so Victorian, but contrast perfectly with wide-leg leather pants.