Wardrobe Refresh: Black & White Basics

If I could only wear one color combination for the rest of my life, it would definitely be black and white. While I have tons of colorful dresses to wear in spring and summer, I love the look of the severely edited black and white closet.

I went to a conference this spring and spent three days with a group of colleagues, and happened to pack all black and white outfits, even though on Friday it was just my light wash jeans, a black t-shirt, and my checkered Vans. Several people remarked how chic I looked, which isn’t a comment I’m used to receiving, and can only attribute it to my black and white mini-capsule wardrobe.

plus size black and white wardrobe

I tried on approximately 134 pairs of white jeans before settling on these Slink cropped flairs with raw edge hems. The fit and quality are amazing.

I wouldn’t normally pay so much for a t-shirt, but I loved the drape of this fabric and the tie-back detail on this Sejour black and white striped tee, plus I figured it would last several seasons and the cost per wear would be low.

Again, it took me ages to find a pair of black pants that worked for me, and again, I got them from Nordstrom’s. I hate paying full price, but not as much as I hate taking pants to be hemmed, so Nordstrom’s is my go-to place to shop for pants because they’ll hem them for free and have someone just a quick call away to measure and mark them. These Calson jeans are actually made out of a cotton twill rather than denim, so they feel a little dressier.

This flouncy black dress almost didn’t make the cut. I bought it in my normal Land’s End dress size, and even though I’m busty, it is really big on top. But it’s so comfy and a little dressier than my usual t-shirt dress I live in on the weekends, so I kept it rather than pay for shipping to send it back. I wore it to work on Friday and got complements, so I guess it doesn’t look too frumpy. Plus it feels like pajamas and is cool on a hot day. (As I type this, it’s 95F in Santa Barbara. Ugh.)
I bought a pair of black pumps recently from Nordstrom Rack, and even though they’re cute they were also Aerosoles and had a low, stacked heel and I thought they’d be perfect. But I had two off-site meetings the day I wore them and didn’t stand up to walking all over downtown. So I was still on the hunt for a pair of closed toe shoes I could wear to work with dresses that had more arch support than my black flats. The Dansko clogs gave me a terrible blister the first day I wore them, but I am convinced once I get used to them they’ll work perfectly for work.
I’m counting on these pieces lasting for season after season, which is why I invested a little more in them than I typically do. I’ve avoided trendy styles for the most part. I’m feeling great about my commitment to build a cohesive wardrobe that reflects my personal style.
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  • You can’t go wrong with black and white, and it makes an easy “blank canvas” to add in funky jewelry or colorful accessories if you want to. I think it’s smart to invest in pieces that you know you’ll wear again and again–that’s something I’m trying to do a better job about as well. I used to just try to stretch my buck to see how much I could get, but in the past few years I’ve changed my mentality. Even now that I’m in a used-clothing only stint I’m trying to still be selective and not just purchase items because they’re a good price.