Is Black Manly? Show Me One Guy Who Rocked The LBD Then

Women have been rocking black since forever. The reasons range from the very functional ‘it is minimal yet timeless’ and ‘it camouflages stains’ to it ‘flatters the figure’ and ‘oozes sophistication

Gunjan Pant Pande
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Image (L to R) Audrey Hepburn, Princess Diana, Elizabeth Hurley

Okay, this is not the first time we are discussing it and certainly not the last time. This “black is manly” thinking erupts now and then in random conversations with guys, who conveniently appropriate the multi-faceted hue with male-ness. What? How? Why? When? I am ready to dissect, where’s my concept cleaver? Take a second people… 


Think Demi Moore in her strappy Mugler in Indecent Proposal.

Think Billie Eilish corset number at the Met Gala. 

Think Princess D rocking the iconic Revenge Dress.

Think Liz Hurley in her safety-pinned Versace at the FWAF premier. 

Think Katrina in her kala chashma or for that matter,

Think classic LBD, Dior saddlebag, retro-chic saris, strappy satin heels, pixelized nail enamel, crystal chokers or vintage goth. 


Women have been rocking black since forever. The reasons range from the very functional ‘it is minimal yet timeless’ and ‘it camouflages stains’ to it ‘flatters the figure’ and ‘oozes sophistication.’

Founding father of modern fashion, Yves Saint Laurent’s reflections put his stamp of approval on the colour choice. “I love black because it affirms, designs and styles. A woman in a black dress is a pencil stroke.” Grunge to graceful in that one stroke. Babe to boss if you, please.

Disclaimer: The aim here folks isn’t for me (she/her) to snatch back blackdom as womanly. No way. That’s not what this is. Black is too much “the whole world in a palette” to monopolize. Its elegance transcends genders. Its ‘invisible visibility’ defies definition. The all-enveloping deep hue. 

“Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy—but mysterious. But above all, black says this: I don’t bother you—don’t bother me,” is seriously one of the most poetic takes on the colour by avant-garde Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto. Twisting the legendary slogan, fashion fades, black is eternal. I am sure YSL’s going ‘frfr.’

Black certainly is about fashion if you ask ‘gorgeous will be different’ Gareth Pugh or Comme des Garcons’ Rei Kawakubo. The any occasion, any age staple in everyone’s wardrobe. So why do people – you, me, he, she, they, them love it so? Why is this deep, dark shade a universal heart-throb? 

Here are a few ‘whys’ layering the black theory that go beyond just LBDs and classic tux -- 


Black equals authority: authority aka power, so unfortunately aka manly. That’s so sus now as the assertive influence of all genders becomes a talking point in the race to leadership roles.   

Black is mysterious: Solid monochromes in staid designs can also be a way to deflect attention. A subtle tactic to turn the spotlight from the personal to the professional, say in business meetings and such. A hue to hide behind.  

Black boosts self-confidence: The versatility of this colour ranges from stylishly subdued to svelte supernova. A shield that you choose according to your mood dude. You clothe the moment. Get your domain secure. 

Black means determined: It’s said to be the favourite shade of people chasing goal. Someone not afraid to go for what they want and give it all when it comes to driving themselves into full-focus functioning. 

Black is a personality type: Colour app tests call them risk takers or rebels even. History is full of examples starting from the “Great Masculine Renunciation” to the trademark black armband protests. So often misunderstood. 

Black is an emotion: Not necessarily simple, sad or sombre always but sedate, seductive, sensitive and straightforward. A subconscious effort to control your feelings. Reassurance to the self. 


Black means “no nonsense:” A sartorial balance. Sometimes an impactful understatement, at others a bold statement. Inviting and intimidating. True to itself. Hundred shades within one shade. The overflowing oeuvre. 

You reader can have your very own unique “why” for choosing black iykyk! That’s all that matters. It can be the colour of your love “that is endless and never fades.” It can be passion, tranquillity, purity, an addiction as it goes with everything, the flawless aristocrat of colours holding a whole rainbow in it. An enigma that cannot be possessed. That’s why people who wear black are said to lead ‘colourful lives.’

In an online survey on “why you wear black,” a majority went with ‘versatile,’ for some it was ‘the last resort when nothing else worked’ while others thought it ‘matched their soul’ and gelled with their ‘emo aesthetic.’ 

Black as a colour in general was top of the category in a perception survey for its “intelligence and trustworthiness.” Slaying the ‘bad rep’ image associated with this dark shade, another UK-based survey showed that dyed-in-black people were in fact “solid and grounded” in an out-of-control world. 

Going back to the starting point then, is black manly? Obviously no, because it is so much more, whether you wear it, or paint it, live it or accessorise it in any form in life. Go ahead make a choice -- Matte black? Ebony black? Licorice black? Neon black? Midnight black? Noir black? Or Smoky black? There are way more than 50 shades to choose from. 

“Black velvet, soft to touch,

Luxury within a clutch…

In you, infinite colours blend,

A spectrum where rules bend.” 

Views expressed by the author are their own

Fashion Activism Black colour Fashion for women