My Love-Hate Relationship with Black Dresses

And Why This One is Different
Cara Cara Strapless Black Dress
Dress: Cara Cara Strapless Black Dress {on sale! Also available here} | Bag: Mark Cross Large Grace Bag | Shoes: kate spade new york Gingham Pumps | Eyewear: Tory Burch Kira Rectangular Sunglasses | Earrings: Kendra Scott Elle Earrings | Ring: KHOI

Today features this Cara Cara black dress. But before diving in, I wanted to open up and share my love hate relationship with all-black outfits.

For the past 20+ years, I’ve been wearing black – especially black dresses and outfits for work events.

Like many of you, having a uniform (whether a written or unwritten rule) is part of my job. Specifically in the PR, marketing and communications industry, black clothing becomes an unwritten go-to.

In fact, I remember a former PR boss once tell me, “Remember, your entire job is to disappear. Wear all-black to everything.”

This was (and is still) especially true for events and client activations. Therefore, in my early 20s, my entire closet was filled to the brim with the finest black finds from Forever 21 and H&M. Think dresses, pants, cropped jeans, faux leather pants, blazers, tank tops, etc.

Back in 2003, every single penny of my entry-level PR salary seemed to go to all-black clothing.

Yet all I could ponder was, “Really? Disappear?”

Strapless Fit Flare Black Dress

Sure, a publicists’ role is to stay out of the spotlight when it comes to clients, including campaigns, activations, events or otherwise.

Rest assured I’m very clear on that point, and above all – I respect it.

However, there’s one thing I can’t wrap my head around. The PR industry prides itself on being one of the most creative in the world. Shouldn’t clients want agencies (and individual team members) to be themselves? To dress as innovative and singular as the ideas they implement?

Some of the best and most brilliant campaigns I’ve worked on is when our team shows up to the table exactly for who we are and how we see the world. It never mattered what we wore, it only mattered what we brought to the table, and our client’s success at the core.

During my tenure at past agencies, I was told to wear all-black outfits to everything in between – even when no client attendance, event or activation was involved. Like ever. It still makes no sense to me.

In short, why blend in when our jobs are literally to create stand-out moments for our incredible clients?

Mark Cross Large Grace Bag

The History of the Little Black Dress

Like all color pyschology, there’s more than meets the eye. Black is also associated with seriousness and formality. 

One research project denoted, “Someone who wears mostly black clothing may be perceived as serious, focused, and professional.” They go on, “Black can be a bold and attention-grabbing color, and wearing mostly black clothing may signal confidence and self-assurance.”

We’ve heard it before – the “little black dress.”

When I look back, Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy dress made famous in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Princess Diana’s revenge dress rank high in LBD moments in history. Even men have their own LBD-equivalents. Steve Jobs, anyone?

Black outfits remain some of the most-known fashion moments in our culture’s zeitgeist.

images above via Reader’s Digest, CNN, and Bloomberg, respectively

Love Factors

Okay, so there are a billion reasons why we’re all compelled to wear all black. The pieces are often versatile, neutral, and are hard to tell between a $15 price tag or $1,500.

While these all might seem like good enough reasons to opt for the neutral hue, a black dress or all-black look needs to be as special and meaningful to the wearer as one brimming with color.

It should still fit your personality and outlook!

Cara Cara Black Dress

This all brings me to this Cara Cara Black Dress. Now, I’ve been a fan of the brand since its debut in 2019. In fact, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting one of the founders a few times when she was a designer at another clothing company. While it was the Blue Hill dress in the now-iconic cara cara orange and floral print that helped put the brand on map, they’ve since expanded to so many other styles. From plaid blazers to knitewear, pants, matching sets and more, the brand has so much to choose from!

Ironically, I got this black “Clarice” dress on a bit of a whim. Given my past with all-black look, I was surprised I did! However, there was something about it that felt a bit special. Thankfully, I was right.

Cara Cara Clarice Dress

For me, it was the cutout nature of the dress with the off-the-shoulder bodice and slim mock neck detail. I love how the neck of the dress is attached via the closed back design. Moreover, the compressed knit construction makes you feel really held-in when wearing it! You’ll be just as pleasantly surprised as I was when you try it on. Better yet, it’s on sale if you’re interested.

Chicago White Flower Mural

Styling this Cara Cara Black Dress

There are plenty of ways to style this Clarice dress by Cara Cara. I always love the idea of infusing an unexpected pop of color or print. Also, leaning in on a contrasting moment with white or ivory is always a winning idea.

In the end, even in a moment when you need to fit a uniform, colorful accessories are your best friend. I’m sharing some top colorful selects below with some personal faves.

In Closing

Regardless of my love/hate relationship with all-black dresses and outfits, one thing remains true – we all deal with cultural (and workplace) norms that we feel the need to abide by.

Again, to be VERY clear – in the PR and marketing industries, I will always, always, always understand (and more importantly believe) that clients come first and should forever remain the main focus.

At the same time, there is (and should) always moments when we can be ourselves. To show up as we are, how we see the world, and to be celebrated for our totality as both individuals and teams.

No one deserves to disappear. Written rule or otherwise.

Dress: Cara Cara Strapless Black Dress {on sale! Also available here} | Bag: Mark Cross Large Grace Bag | Shoes: kate spade new york Gingham Pumps | Eyewear: Tory Burch Kira Rectangular Sunglasses | Earrings: Kendra Scott Elle Earrings | Ring: KHOI

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