Fashion: Back to black and white

Amal Alamuddin and George Clooney arrive for their civil marriage ceremony in Venice.
Amal Alamuddin and George Clooney arrive for their civil marriage ceremony in Venice.
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In a world of kaleidoscopic colour and chaotically bright, noisy pattern, is it any wonder if we sometimes yearn for the straightforward, relative order of black and white?

Especially this season, as fashion extends its reach way beyond the usual autumnal palette of russets, plums and browns, and brings into the mix a rainbow of shades that are often just a pitch or two away from what we usually associate with spring and summer. Nothing is sacred any longer, it seems, in colour and pattern.

Thank fashion heaven, then, for the clear-headed style saviour that is monochrome.

When Amal Alamuddin rolled up for her civil ceremony in Venice to marry Mr Wonderful George Clooney, she wore Stella McCartney cream white wide-leg trousers with matching cream and black top, topped with cream and black wide-brimmed hat – every inch the modern bride in crisp, clean, classic yet contemporary monochrome. It was a triumph and the most memorable outfit of her stunning extended wedding wardrobe. Here the minimalist bands of black add definition and edge, creating a far stronger and more powerful look than white alone could muster.

It works the other way round, too – a black ballgown with white shoulder straps, for example, has a more flattering and special appeal than mere black alone can usually achieve. The vintage Valentino ballgown worn by Julia Roberts to the 2001 Oscars is still one of the best red carpet looks of all time.

Vintage comes into its own in monochrome, as black-and-white clothes and accessories are true classics, never dating, so it’s worth keeping that in mind as you hunt through the vintage fairs.

In fact, any second-hand – or preloved – designer fashion items in monochrome make excellent investments. Look out for the Preloved Designer Sale which is staging two weekend sales of pre-owned designer clothes and accessories, with up to 90 per cent off the original price. You can also sell your own designer pieces, too. There’s a sale in Leeds at Trinity Church with a shopping evening on Friday, October 17, and all day Saturday, October 18, and in Harrogate at the Crown Hotel on November 15-16. For details, including how to sell, visit

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