There are countless reasons why black remains a staple color in any wardrobe: It’s timeless, seasonless, versatile, and flattering. Not only can you pair it with almost any other hue, but it hides pesky stains much better than any other color.

“The longevity of black in fashion is unmatched,” says Sunica Du, a fashion designer and owner of Sunica Design. “Whether you’re attending a business meeting or a weekend brunch, black outfits can be dressed up or down. Black also absorbs light, reducing the appearance of body contours and creating a slimming effect.”

All that said, there are certain do’s and don’ts when it comes to wearing black.

“The color black isn’t always our best friend,” notes Kim Apodaca, a Los Angeles-based celebrity and executive stylist. “It can be rather unkind to more mature complexions and unforgiving, casting harsh shadows that make us appear to be drained and, well, dare I say—older.”

To ensure your black ensemble is comfortable and stylish, read on to learn what stylists say are the biggest mistakes you’re making when wearing black.

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Stylish woman wearing black and navy outfit with purse
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While combining black and navy is a notoriously controversial fashion debate, stylists generally advise avoiding this combo.

“These colors are too similar to contrast well but yet not identical, creating a muddled look,” explains Du.

Rather than a deep navy, which is too close to black, Du suggests pairing black with a true royal blue or a lighter sky blue.

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Style and fashion concept with urban city backdrop and all black outfit
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Although wearing black head to toe can look chic with the right pieces, experts agree that this look is too severe for most people to pull off—especially as they age.

“An all-black ensemble can make you look washed out or create a heavy, monolithic appearance,” says Du.

Vivienne Desurmont, a style expert and founder of Maison Vivienne Paris, notes that all black can also look dull without any contrasting elements.

“Try adding a pop of color to break up the monotony,” she suggests. “For example, accessorize with a colorful scarf or statement jewelry.”

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older woman sleeveless black dress
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“Black can signify elegance, seriousness, and authority, but the issue is that so many women wear black to hide something or just because it’s easy,” says Elizabeth Lewis, founder and CEO of Brand, Style & Bloom. “My best advice for wearing black is to wear it on purpose.”

Lewis recommends mixing black with other colors that send a message about who you are. “Red can signify passion, while yellow evokes optimism,” she explains. “Green can mean harmony and wealth, and blue can signify trust. Consider adding some of these other colors to your outfit to express yourself more fully, especially if you are used to only wearing black.”

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black dress styled
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Accessories can give any outfit a boost, but they are particularly important when wearing lots of black.

“A lack of accessories can make an outfit look incomplete,” explains Desurmont. “Try adding a belt, hat, or handbag to elevate your look.”

Du also notes that black ensembles offer an opportunity for accessories to shine. Since black is neutral and doesn’t pull too much attention, you can highlight a really fun pair of patterned pumps or an intricate cuff bracelet. “For instance, a red necklace or metallic gold earrings can become the focal point,” adds Du.

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woman weraing black dress
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Particularly when you’re wearing multiple black pieces, Du strongly suggests embracing some texture.

“Incorporating different textures can add depth and interest,” she explains. “The textures break up the uniformity, making the ensemble more visually appealing.”

Aim for contrasting textures whenever possible. For example, try pairing a black velvet top with black jeans, or a black satin scarf with a black cotton T-shirt dress.

“Why not choose a black top that boasts delicate lace or reflective fabrics that bring light to your face like silk?” recommends Apodaca.

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Closet with black and neutral clothes
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Whether you know it or not, there are many different shades and tones of black—some warmer or cooler than others, and some deeper or more muted.

“Mixing different shades of black can appear mismatched and less put together,” says Desurmont.

If you must combine different black pieces, Desurmont suggests making sure they at least have the same undertone or making it a point to mix in subtle variations of texture and fabric to make it look intentional.

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middle-aged woman black dress
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Black may be universally flattering—but only if you wear it strategically and factor in your specific figure, says Apodaca.

If you have a pear-shaped body with wider hips, Apodaca recommends pulling the focus upwards with a bold splash of color or captivating print on top and a black skirt or slacks on the bottom.

“For those with an inverted triangle shape, I suggest embracing black on your upper body while adding some volume, color, or playful print on your lower body,” she adds. “Apple shapes should be sure to show off those fabulous legs and draw the eye to a striking pair of shoes or accessories.”

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