Black Edging, Piping & Outlines Emphasized with Jewelry

A striking design detail showing up in the collections of a number of fashion designers this season is the use of black edging or piping to emphasize certain lines of a garment, whether that be the outline of a collar, the slenderness of a waistline, or the overall shape.


The August 2011 issue of InStyle waxes rhapsodic about a bright sheath dress worn by Rose Byrne: “It’s not only the fuchsia color that attracts the eye; it’s also the strapping details of Prabal Gurung’s neon Technowool take on the classic silhouette.” Byrne’s dark hair, contrasting with her fair skin, and her black peep-toe shoes provide a pleasing cohesiveness to her look. She also wears a chunky ring on an index finger and what appear to be stud earrings of diamonds set into black metal.

Jewelry can further emphasize the effect of edging or piping. First, black jewelry can add cohesive accents to an ensemble. (Black-hued jewelry has been making a noticeable appearance in the fashion press this season.)

For example, here’s a photo from the August 2011 issue of Harper’s Bazaar in which a chunky black chain-style necklace from Yves Saint Laurent accents an ensemble with hat and gloves, all from Lanvin.

Actress Dianna Agron is pictured in the May 2011 issue of InStyle wearing striking black drop earrings from House of Lavande.

The June-July 2011 issue of Harper’s Bazaar features a black necklace form Proenza Schouler.

Second, the outline effects of black edging or piping lend themselves beautifully to be echoed in the design details of jewelry, whether the width of a bangle, the thickness of a uniform strand of beads or chain, or the surface details of earrings and brooches.  

Actress Olivia Wilde appears in a draped gown accented with black edging from Michael Kors in the June 2011 issue of Glamour. She wears a mixed metal cuff from Charlotte Bjorlin Delia that approximates the width of the edging.

Actress Katie Holmes wears a black-edged silk trench coat from 3.1 Phillip Lim in the February 2011 issue of Elle. Obscured in the photo is a yellow gold lariat necklace from Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co. The line of the necklace echoes the edging of the coat.

When the jewelry is black in color and also repeats the width of the edging, piping or outlines of the garment, the effect is especially striking.

In a charming tribute to South Carolina, the June 2011 issue of Vogue features model Karen Elson wearing a black-and-cream organza evening dress from Carolina Herrera. The strap of her minaudiere from Judith Leiber and the classic black ribbon-style choker from Fred Leighton repeat the slender black cording at the waist of the gown. The parasol is from Early Halloween.

The thicker black outline of the collar of a red coat by Catherine Malandrino’s fall 2011 collection appears in this ad from Perfect 10 by Nice ‘n Easy in the September 2011 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. The cording of the necklace repeats the width of the outline.

What is labeled the “Steal of the Month” in the June 2011 issue of Vogue is my “Styling of the Month”: A black-edged silk and wool top from Prabal Gurung at J. Crew, worn by model Liu Wen, is accented with spiked cuffs from Eddie Borgo at J. Crew that repeat the colors of the top. The black cuff on each wrist is narrower than the beige cuff, not matching but riffing off the design detail of narrow black edging on the wider beige strips of the top. The overall effect of the garment and jewelry is stunning on the model, repeating the effect of the natural contrast in color between her black brows and hair and the lightness of her skin.

Don’t overlook the potential for well-chosen jewelry to take a great design detail of a garment and make it even more exciting.