The Johnny Cash song, Man in Black, explained it. Cash sang:
I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he’s a victim of the times.
While I sympathize with Cash, I can’t claim those are my reasons for mostly wearing all black. To be honest, the limited pallet just makes life easier. I already have too many decisions to make as it is. In the morning, in the dark, hazy fuzz that my mind is struggling to clear, reaching in the closet, I don’t want to have to think about what I’m going to pull out. Will this shirt match these pants? Is this the color that I feel like today? What if I spill tea on it?
Wearing all black serves as a type of uniform. I limit the decisions I make, and then I can focus on other things. This is not an uncommon approach. Some tech execs are known for standardizing, and minimizing their wardrobe.
There are other advantages as well. I’m a designer, so at least when I wear all black I look like a designer. Plus, when you work with colors all day on a computer screen, having the black background can reduce your distractions. There’s nothing more annoying when you’re working on a design than having two bright blue sleeves stretched out over the desk and keyboard.
On a more somber note, I work in a building where the break room bulletin board has a poster about active shooters. What are you supposed to do if there’s an active shooter? It’s crazy that we have to think about these things. But when I read the list, all I see is: run, run, run. If I’m wearing black, hopefully, I’m harder to focus on because black reflects less light.
Speaking of reflecting light, black is also a great year round color. It turns out that it keeps you cool even on hot sunny days.
And lastly, when I spill tea on my pants, it’s not as embarrassing. You can’t really see the spill when you’re wearing black pants, which also protects you in case of other types of accidents.