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Wearing black and white together is a classic combination that works as casual wear or a nighttime look. The main thing to avoid, however, is wandering into the dreaded "waitress outfit" territory. The last thing you would want is to be mistaken for a server instead of a patron during a first date at that hot new restaurant, right? As long as you remember to add the right accents and details to your neutral-palette outfit, there are plenty of ways to ensure that your black-and-white look appears bold rather than boring.
With a Glamorous Pop of Metallic
When the weather gets a little chilly, you'll be sure to need something to throw on over your blouse to keep you warm. Stay cozy and veer away from an underwhelming black-and-white outfit by adding a cropped, structured bolero: think a tweed cardigan or a fitted tuxedo jacket in silver metallic, sequined bronze or threaded gold. For warmer, darker skin tones, opt for golds and bronzes; if you're on the fairer side, try icy silvers and blue-toned chromes. This touch of subdued sparkle will raise the glam factor of your look and, with the proper accessories, can instantly transform your look from semi-casual to semi-formal.
With the Right Accessories
You are well aware that accessories make or break the outfit. Choosing the wrong shoes, piling on too much jewelry, or mixing too many prints and colors can completely throw off an entire look. With a white blouse and black pants, choose one theme and don't stray. For instance, consider animal print: go for a sky-high leopard-print stiletto, a chunky gold necklace and bold red lip. Or add jewel tones: choose a rich emerald green satin pump and chandelier earrings encrusted with gems in green tones. Do not, for example, combine a leopard shoe, a neon pink belt, and a silver and sapphire necklace: disaster.
With the Proper Fit and Cut
Fit is first and foremost on the list. If you're bustier, wear low cuts and V-necks. With a straight, boyish body, the fit can be a little more straight and narrow. An apple shape should go for a wider waistband and waist-cinching top, while pear-shaped ladies should look for ruching on the top and pants in a more forgiving fabric, such as stretch wool, so they skim over the hips. Boot-cut, wide-legged trousers that flare at the shoe are flattering on just about everybody, but they shouldn't be too short and hit at the ankle or be trailing on the floor and getting tangled in your stilettos. Hovering a half inch to an inch above the ground is perfect.
With Grown-Up Fabrics and Details
The right details can make an outfit go from "blah" to "ahh!" For example, adding an over-sized bow at the neck on a white silk blouse is going to make it go from standard, you-could-buy-it-anywhere to unique. Floral appliques, embroidered trim, draped sleeves, puffed shoulders and strategically placed pockets can make your look lean more toward the equally stylish lady-like or androgynous-chic. In terms of fabric, wearing too much cotton, linen or jersey will make you look unkempt, like you're coming back from the gym instead of heading to cocktail hour. Choose a draped silk or loose chiffon for blouses and, for outerwear, leather, wool, cashmere or even a little fur.