Long Cool Woman In a Black Dress

Wanda Wen, Founder of soolip.com

Style icon Wanda Wen who founded the Soolip brand says “Wearing black is very powerful, and it grounds me.”

“My love, she’s like some raven,

At my window with a broken wing.”

-Bob Dylan, “Love Minus Zero/No Limit”

Wearing white all summer long seems like a no-brainer. Except that brainier fashionistas favor basic black this season and year-round, straying only to the deepest blackened tones for a summer statement that’s always unapologetically chic, period.

Nazeli Pogosyan, a svelte young beauty business strategist and e-com and digital expert, says, “When I wear black, I feel clean, put-together and serious, ready to go to an event.” Her newest accessory this summer: the phone-charging Mighty Purse wristlet in matte black top grain leather. The Mighty Purse, with hidden battery, built-in cables and LED charge indicator, is compatible with USB smartphone and iPhone including Apple, Samsung and Android.

“You can never go wrong with a classic black bag,” says Pogosyan. “This one makes sense, since my phone is essential, and it’s flat and sleek enough to fit inside my bigger work bag.”

Ana Slavka, co-founder and creative director of the Australia-based Handbag Butler brand which designs and manufactures the Mighty Purse in an array of colors and finishes, comments, “There is a large proportion of black in the Mighty Purse collection. I would say over 30%. Black is always a winner, and so versatile. Definitely the best-selling color. “

Slavka adds, “We introduce seasonal colors and prints to break the black styles up and make the collection look more vibrant, and don’t forget if one likes wearing black clothing, a pinch of color can lift an outfit. So there is something for everyone.” Asked if you can ever go wrong wearing a black bag, she replies, “No, never! Black is an essential color in my wardrobe, for both accessories and clothing!”

Nazeli Pogosyan says there was a time when she only wore white, in the era when she worked for Clinique: “I felt light—white to me is happiness and fun.” A career switch to Aveda meant the urban zen of a black uniform. “That transition to black was all about feeling professional and buttoned-up.” But now Pogosyan is planning her wedding. “Looking at lots of flower arrangements and glamorous décor palettes has now re-ignited this thing in me for color,” she laughs. She’s considering a future foray into juicy reds, camel, orange, Bordeaux and perhaps—really taking a walk on the wild side—maybe even a blush pink.

Wanda Wen, on the other hand, won’t be wearing pastels anytime soon. Wen, creator of the sleek, yet soulful Soolip brand, including A Soolip Wedding, wears black every day—sometimes all-black, or occasionally paired with an earth tone, gray, or her new white cords or white jeans. She says, “As an artist, I prefer to start with a neutral canvas. Black is very powerful, and grounds me. It is super-chic. Plus,” she chuckles, “it looks good on me because I have black hair.”

She’s opposed to pink, unless it’s on a guy. “I was once in a sorority, more conservative, and I wore the pink and pearls,” she says. “When I see a man wearing pink, it exudes confidence. But on a woman, not so much. Black is always a statement of the avant-garde, and forward-thinking.”

One of Wen’s iconic summer looks is a heavy silk jacquard/Lycra dress, with a sun-baked mud treatment. This textile is created in China, and the dress was designed by British/Turkish designer Hussein Chalayan. Of the mud-tinting, Wen says, “I love the brownish-black that results from this. It’s similar to the brownish-black hair that is characteristic of Eurasian kids, like mine.”

Wanda Wen’s summer style musts: Black Birkenstocks, and the lacy, gold-brass cuff designed by a friend. The unfurling organic form at her wrist offsets Wen’s signature minimalism. “Black absorbs light,” she says, “so I add fire by adding metal, especially in the rose-gold and bronze palette.”

Jewelry designer Jill Vacarra @jillvacarra agrees, with a few pointedly practical observations. “Black of course is the most slimming,” she says, “and it’s also very easy to get dressed in the morning when everything is black.” Her original jewelry designs often feature diamonds which ignite against a dark field like stars burning in the night sky.

Vacarra says, “I crave luxury-quality fabrics, but if you’re on a budget, it may not be likely that you’re buying high-end textiles. This is less of a problem if you buy black. A red dress that’s made of really cheap fiber and badly dyed and poorly constructed will always look like a cheap red dress, you know? And it will not appreciate in fashion-value as you wear it. Black garments almost always look higher-end, even if you haven’t spent much cash.” She’s opposed to disposable clothing on principle, adding “Consuming clothes that aren’t made well and don’t wear well is wasteful.”

In addition to whimsical nail enamel, Vacarra adds the kick of kinky boots to the mix (red), and designers Eileen Fischer and All Saints may lure her into the occasional deep aubergine or saturated oxblood purchase. But, she adds, “Every time I wear something gray, I drip or spill something on it. I’m probably dripping food on my black stuff all the time, too, but it just mysteriously disappears.”

One spot of color that every fashionable person needs this summer, even if you choose a sober wardrobe of nun-like tones: the bright microfiber pocket square  to tuck in the Mighty Purse or suit jacket breast pocket. It’s actually a menswear item, but—speaking of spills, not to mention sticky, gritty summer sweat, and melted S’mores residue– it’s essential for cleaning smeared eyewear, trusty phone and crusty tablet. When ya just NEED that hit of Prince-purple Paisley Park in your life, but are trying to pull off the too-cool-for-the-room-noir thing, keep this high-performance accessory at hand.

And angel investors reading this: I’m up for designing and marketing all-black maternity and baby clothes collections – because things can get pretty drippy, and sticky, in that department.

Victoria Thomas

About Victoria Thomas

Brooklyn-born Victoria Thomas loves writing about flora and fauna, although she chooses to do so in an urban setting. If she had it all to do over again, she might have become a forensic entomologist. She lives in Los Angeles.
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