SUMMER BLACK-OUT 2010: The Recap

Well, my dears, SUMMER BLACK-OUT 2010 officially ended yesterday. Although many amazing women joined me for a week of blacking-out back in June, I myself have been black-free since May 24. That’s a long time, if I do say so myself! Here’s a recap of the rules I followed:

  1. Black shoes, accessories, and jewelry were fine.

  2. Workout/gym duds got a pass.
  3. Black could be IN patterns but could not be the BACKGROUND of a pattern.

I’m a color lover throughout the year, but summer is when I most enjoy dressing like a paint store after an explosion. So although I had one or two twinges, this challenge was hardly a challenge at all. Here are some of my favorite BLACK-OUT ensembles:

A few things that I think made this challenge easy on me:

  • I am not afraid to pair color with color. There are plenty of non-black neutrals mixed in here, too, but working to be as colorful as possible is fun for me, not frightening.

  • I have loads of colorful shoes. I adore wearing color on my feet, and think that my arsenal of rainbow-hued pairs helped a TON.
  • I don’t own a ton of summer-appropriate black clothing. I just don’t! Most of my black pieces are for fall and winter. And those get loads of wear.
  • My summer alter-ego is a cowgirl. Cowgirls skew brown and khaki when it comes to neutrals. At least, my faux-cowgirl alter-ego does …

I’ve been trying to come up with some moral-of-this-challenge, what-I-learned kind of stuff to wrap up, but I honestly can’t think of a thing. I loved color at the start, still do. Maybe what I learned is that I should set harder challenges for myself!

I considered a mini-challenge, posed by several readers, of wearing nothing but black for a week. I even came up with an awesome name for it: BACK IN BLACK: THE BLACK-LASH! But I’ve gotta tell ya, friends, I just want some no-rules, no-challenges dressing for a while.

I’ve had loads of you gorgeous folks tell me that you’ve found the BLACK-OUT inspirational, and challenged yourselves to play more with color all summer long. Tell me what YOU’VE learned. Do you feel more adept at pairing color with color? Do you feel less dependent on black? Did you lean hard on other neutrals? What discoveries did you make about your patterns of dressing?

And if you didn’t participate, did you find this challenge interesting to observe?

  • AbraCat

    The herringbone and coral dresses are FAB-U-LOUS, and you've reminded me that I want a leather obi.

  • Cynthia

    Well, I gave up on my all-summer blackout mid-July, and the reason was that like you, I was really not finding it all that challenging of a challenge. I could have gone on mixing colors and neutrals all summer, but there were a few items that it occurred to me that I just wanted to wear.

    I've been gradually bringing black items back from their banishment corner as I think of them and want to wear them. It's worked pretty well. So far I haven't resorted to the pairing of "black Target vee-neck plus anything" once.

    I've learned to like my other neutrals more, for sure, and I acquired more blue clothes than I have generall owned in the past.

  • Emma at Daily Clothes Fix

    Great job, Sal. Congratulations on making it through.

    I personally learned that I have too many black clothes and have branched out a bit more into colour on colour since the challenge (as you may have noticed).

    I'm not sure if this was intentional or whether the challenge subtly affected my thoughts about colour. Whatever the case, I think it did change the way I dress.

    Thanks for setting this up. Enjoy your time of rule-free dressing (until the next challenge).

  • The Waves

    I was aware of the big Black-Out, but because I don't really wear black at all, I didn't feel like I was participating actively. :)

    Observing this challenge, it has been very interesting to realise that so many women wear so much black. Personally I have never found black to be an easy colour, and I have always struggled wearing it close to my face. I wonder if I'd benefit from an all-black challenge…

  • Sara

    For me, this has been the summer of color. This challenge really influenced me to embrace color, and while I still love wearing black, I find myself feeling unfinished without some color somewhere. I've worn far less black than I have in a really long time, and I haven't brought home any black clothing of any sort in quite awhile – both of those are pretty big deals to me.

    It's been a refreshing shift, so thank you Sal, and congrats for completing the challenge!

  • La Historiadora de Moda

    I must have been sans internet when you wore the red dress and yellow shoes because I definitely would have remembered an outfit as freakin' amazing as that one!

  • Frances Joy

    You came up with some really amazing looks. I am one of those women addicted to black, so the week of the black out was a bit challenging for me. I really enjoyed seeing the way you went for "neutral free" outfits – it definitely made me think about my separates in a new way.

  • Almost 40

    Sweet Sal, as you know I did not participate because of my unhealthy addiction to black. I have always loved black – I have SO much black (for ALL seasons)- and I make no apologies for it. One day I hope to only wear black as a uniform of sorts. (don't get me wrong, I also have plenty of color but I LOVE black). Didja get that?

    So my observations are that – you are awesome, as are all the other bloggers who did the black out. I admire your creativity and moxie as you navigated being a little more clever/adventurous/fun with your wardrobes. Some of the combinations I saw (both here and other places), I will admit, I could never and would never wear. I personally do not feel my best while wearing a load of color like that. BUT you rocked it and you looked fabulous as usual.

    I've seen people be much more responsive and complimentary to me when I do wear some brighter colors and patterns. But I generally just feel like I'm a huge blob of ___ color walking down the street.

    You get nothing but admiration and praise from me on this one. Way to go!

    But, do let me know when you're doing a challenge when you have to wear all black. Because, I'm IN!

  • Couture Allure Vintage Fashion

    I really enjoyed watching you work this challenge. Great job every day!

  • tinyjunco

    it was a fun challenge to watch (i didn't participate as my small wardrobe is built around black and beige). but i didn't notice a huge difference in anyone's style or look, from the outside.

    in the mid-late 1980's to early 1990's there was a period when there was so much black – i remember when i bought a white tee shirt, it was the only non-black piece i owned! i mean it was completely, totally over the top black black black with everybody…….so by comparison, nowadays the whole black thing in clothes seems much more in control.

  • K.Line

    I can't believe your take away lesson! Set harder challenges?! You are hilarious and bold, Sally. I think you should rest on your laurels :-) Don't you suppose that Marie Claire would be interested to profile this? Pitch them a story.

  • Melissa

    I didn't participate but I did enjoy following your journey and seeing the different color combinations that you posted.

    Your combos are very inspirational! I tend to lean heavily on black (as evidenced by my outfit today…and likely most of my outfits this week!) and following you on this challenge has given me a lot of great ideas.

    You'd mentioned wanting a more difficult challenge and also not having many black items for summer, mostly winter instead…so what if you were to impose another black-out challenge in the fall/winter time? I wouldn't suggest the entire season like this one, but maybe for a two-week period or something. Just a thought…

  • Tanvi

    I like all your looks. I appreciate with women know what looks good on them. And you clearly do! :) First time here.

  • WendyB

    I like that you have an alter-ego.

  • Clare

    I love seeing these pictures, and noticing just how much you dressed outside of your color box for this challenge, while remaining totally in the general realm of Sal style. Some of the light neutral combinations are my absolute favorites!

  • eek

    Wow I can't believe you completed the challenge already…where does the time go?

    I think you have beautifully demonstrated that a girl doesn't have to wear black to look chic, sleek and sophisticated!

  • Rad_in_Broolyn

    Bravo! Great job and I love these outfits.
    I found myself unconsciously wearing less black this summer too. I tended towards browns, tans, and greys, but I did enjoy not falling back so much on black. Maybe I skew a bit cowgirl too? Also, I discovered that try as I might, I don't like super saturated colors close to my face, but I do like bright colors as a compliment (occasionally) to my beloved neutrals. Thanks for this learning opportunity!

  • Dorky Medievalist

    I hear you on the non-challenge part of the blackout challenge. I think I may have mentioned on our blog how the blackout challenge was not as much of a challenge as the Protestant in me thought it should be.

    That said, however, I did mention that it would be more of a challenge if I were in the classroom more regularly during the summer–because the majority of my professional/teaching clothes are black– and that it would be more of a challenge in the autumn (I think I may have semi-committed to a do-over in September). Both A-Dubs and I did figure out definitively that brown, navy and gunmetal grey are all kinder to our pale-is-the-new-tan complexions than is black. Which we may have already known but black is so safe. And there is always a black option, but not always a brow/navy/gunmetal grey option.

  • Rachael

    Thats quite a challenge! It would be for me anyway…but whats good about it is that it dares you to stay away from the always-safe black and try mixing colors…great job! love the pics!

  • The Seeker

    I really can't pick a favourite… you look so great in all!!!!


  • Rebekah

    The challenge may not have changed my dressing, but it DID get me to post full-length photos of myself, which was scary…

    And even better, a neat girl from LA discovered my blog through you, so I have a new internet friend! Thank you!

  • Sidewalk Chalk

    Congrats on finishing the blackout! Even though I haven't officially been playing, I have been minimizing how much black I wear on my off days. Just seeing your outfit combinations has inspired me to play with color and patterns, and has also convinced me that more colorful shoes in my closet could be so much fun.

  • closet365

    Such a wonderful challenge. Thanks again for doing it.

    I'm so impressed that you've gone so long, and I love all the outfits you came up with. Well done, lady. Well done!

  • Future Lint

    They are all fabulous outfits but I think the orange and lavender one is my favorite because I NEVER would have thought to pair those colors together, but it looks amazing! Congrats on making it through the black-out, it was such a fun challenge!

  • Anonymous

    Sal, I love your outfits! I couldn't find a link to the details on your clothes, though. Can I get the info/links for the red flower shirt and the pink frilly skirt? I am seriously coveting them!

  • Sal

    Anonymous: I'm afraid I don't recall the origin of the red/graphic shirt, and it was purchased at least four years ago. The pink ruffle skirt is from Anthropologie six years ago.

    Thanks for your kind words about the blog!

  • yatima

    Your silver BR skirt and pink shirt so inspired me that I picked up a flowered bias-cut skirt at a thrift store and wore it out last night with a fitted tee and Sofft mary janes. I looked adorable! Not bad for a confirmed tomboy…