ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Black color, some history and trends!

Updated on January 15, 2016

Is it possible that something can symbolize both luxury and poverty and also humility and penance as well as sex, evil and power? It shouldn't be possible, but it is! All that and more can be said about the black colour.

The colour black is a colour that sends out very mixed messages to us. Even though the meaning of a colour varies from culture to culture and also from people to people, the colour black is more interesting than that since black symbolizes totally opposite messages and interpretations amongst most people. This can be very useful to think about when you use the colour black in different situations

Black is exiting!
Black is exiting! | Source

To tempt your interest here is some of the mixed messages!

  • Some says that black isn’t a real colour after all and some say it is a mix of many colours.
  • Black is sometimes regarded as dark or even invisible but is also used as a sign for power.
  • Black stands for minimalism and in some way poverty but also sends out a message of luxury.

At a first glance nothing of this seems to add up in one colour. Read on for more contradictions and explanations!

Is black a colour or not?

This has been a subject for debate during a long time. And there is more than one way to look at this and the answer depends on weather you define colour as something generated by light or if you simply look at it as a colour.

Black is a colour that absorbs everything including light. A black object absorbs all colours and no colours are reflected back to the eye. So with that background I guess one can say that black isn’t a colour.

Some says that black is the absence of colour but if you combine the three colours red, yellow and blue you wont get an absolutely black colour but the result will be very close to black, so a mix of three colours should be regarded as a colour, don’t you think?

So I conclude the following about black: a black object absorbs all colours and no colours are reflected back to the eye. If colour is seen as something generated by light black can be defined as no light.

Black is the mix of several colours and can therefor be regarded as a colour.

So, now lets move on with more about this exiting colour!

Is black a symbol for poverty or luxury? Humility or evil?

To answer the question we need some examples of how black has been used in history.

Religion is and has been a very important authority that has created rules, ethics, moral and guidelines for a long time in human’s history and the colour black has been used in religion for centuries. And because of that both our history and the religion have great influence on how we regard black today. Here are some symbols that black has had during history.

In Genesis darkness was present before light and therefor one can say that black was the first of all colours. Black has from the beginning been attached with a negative vision since life, as we know it, can’t exist in darkness. Therefor black has been regarded as evil and a symbol for darkness and the light stand for life and is regarded as something pleasant and good.

The view that black was evil included also the animals during the1000s. Black animals like ravens and blackcats where regarded as evil and was seen as animals with many vices.

During the Middle Ages the priests wore black clothes as a sign against luxury in the world. To be a priest meant to reject all pleasure during this life and live according to the laws of religion. Black was then similar with humility and penance.

In old novels about knights the colour black is used to symbolize something mysterious and secret. Take for example the black knight in the famous knight novel “Ivan hoe” where the mysterious black knight helps the hero to victory. So there comes more mystery attached to the colour black.

Black is also used In Christian churches today. The liturgical styles are used on ecclesiastical textiles and one of them is the colour black. Black symbolises sorrow or grief and are only used during Easter, as a reminder of Jesus on the cross.

Other than that, black is used on funerals as a symbol for grief. The reason for that is probably because black is the colour of the night and the darkness. Death is often associated with the eternal night and eternal sleep so black has been used on funerals for a long time. For centuries people had put on their best and most valuable clothes when going to church. Before Word War I it was common to use black wedding dresses especially on the countryside and amongst common people since they used the best dress they had and that happened to be the black dress that was used on special occasions such as church visits and funerals. That can be one explanation to why the colour black has become also a colour that is totally right on parties and festivities.

But black hasn’t always been a colour for grief, the French Kings once used red as a symbol for grief. Later the colour for grief where transformed to purple, for the Kings and the Queens used white as a grief colour. First during the later part of the 1400´s the colour black began to be used as a suitable colour on funerals introduced by Anna of Bretagne.

Invisibility or power?
Invisibility or power? | Source
"The little black dress"
"The little black dress" | Source
Black velvet
Black velvet | Source

Is black a colour that symbolizes power or invisibility?

The colour black is regarded as a colour that doesn’t say so much about the people who wears black clothes. Therefore it is a contradiction between being dressed in black as a symbol for power and be dressed in black as a way to melt in since black is a colour with little information.

Blue symbolises control and calm, red symbolises passion and power and so on but black is one of the colours that are pore on that type of information. Another reason for invisibility is that if you look at a group of men in black suits, each individual becomes more or less invisible. Next time you visit a domestic airport early in the morning you will see nothing but men and women dressed in black. They are everywhere and they do all look the same. And the only persons you will notice in that black mass are if someone has a tie in a bright colour or other colourful accessories that stands out from the crowd. A person like that will catch your attention but the others will look like a black masse and becomes invisible as individuals.

But as a contradiction men and women with power often wears black which gives a signal to us all that black is equal to power. One reason except the ones mentioned earlier is that from the beginning it was difficult to dye silk in shining and evenly black colours. When it succeeded it was a colour for people with power and money and it took a long time before it was possible for common people to afford clothes in black.

During the 1700s century black became a civil fashion colour and has since then been regarded as a colour warn at festivities or festivals. There aren’t many women who haven’t been dressed in “the little black dress”. And the same goes for men who usually wear black on special occasions.

Black clothes have been used during long time amongst men for special occasions during history. One of the earliest festivity clothes was the smoking that was introduced by Edward VII of Great Britain that included a white shirt black jacket and trousers.

  Black lingerie
Black lingerie | Source

Other messages from the black colour!

Black is also a symbol for sex and forbidden things and is a common colour on sexy lingerie. Maybe the reason for this is because of everything mentioned above that gives black a mysterious feeling. The colour black seems to involve all things important for humans. But black is also a symbol for the devil as well as darkness and sex has from time to time and in different religions been regarded as a sin. Since black also can stand for luxury and power it is not so surprising that black can be associated with sex. My conclusion is that the colour black seems to be associated with many of those things that are important for humans or is exciting; sex, power, luxury, fear and mystery. This must mean that we like the colour black!

How good are you at using black color in your favor when you get dressed??

view quiz statistics


Since the colour black is a contradiction and sends out all those very different messages how do we know if the colour is right or which message we send out when we use black in different ways?

The only way to get a grip about it all is to put the history of the colour black in different times and rooms. It is humans that create all those mixed messages. Remember also that black is closely attached to religion and the absence of light; darkness is one of the great fears amongst humans so the colour black has a great symbolic value to us. So when we use the colour black we better think how we use black, what message we want to send out and who is the receiver of our message. And also consider where and when we use black. Both the environment and the room where we use the colour do matter. And to add to the confusion you must also consider that black can have different meanings in other countries and other cultures.

If you want to reduce a little of the symbols for black you can try to add a contrast color to your black outfit. Black is a great contrast color that reinforces all other colors in a fantastic way. Use colors and accessories depending on the situation and if you want to reduce or reinforce the message you are sending by using appropriate colors. For example; if you want to look powerful and in control, use traditional black and white. But if you want to be noticed in a crowd you should use a bright color as contrast color. Red and black generally gives a more warm feeling than only black, while yellow and black can be interpreted as more nice than black alone.

But there is one thing you can be sure of when you use black and that’s in spite of where or how you use it: you will send out a message! So use it!

Some quotes about the colour black:

Black is real sensation, even if it is produced by entire absence of light. The sensation of black is distinctly different from the lack of all sensations" -- Hermann von Helmholtz

"There's something about black. You feel hidden away in it" -- Georgia O'Keeffe


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Hi SealBeach and thank you for the fantastic comment! I am so glad you liked this article. Colors can be so powerful and we can all feel like a King any day we like! I appreciate the comment,


    • SealBeach profile image

      SealBeach 5 years ago

      How aptly named are you-- "thoughtforce." Who else besides you could

      present such an insightful article? Now--I feel like a King....And the black

      suits; no other color of suits, express dominance than black. Awesome!

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Madhukar, I think you can read about the benefits and advantages of black color in the text above, but maybe it is a bit hidden. Black is a very powerful color with many different symbols attached to it but it all varies depending on where and how you wear black color. If you are among many people all dressed in black you will not be sending out any significant message, instead you will be lost in all the black. On another occasion black color can be the color that give you advantages over others or makes you more visible. It also depends on the culture where you are. Thanks for the comment!


    • profile image

      madhukar 5 years ago

      Tell me some benifites and advantage

      of black color

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Vinaya, Yes it is strange and it seems like it is the same in many places around the world. Maybe it is because we connect light with warmth from the sun and also with fire that gave us heat, food and a feeling of security and has done so from the beginning. Black is one of my favorite color and there are so many ways to use it!

      I appreciate your visit and the comment

      Best wishes


    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      I sometimes wonder why our our languages and cultures associated black color with evil. Black is wonderful color in a sense that it can absorb anything.

      Your analysis is very interesting.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Koffee Klatch, yes it really is one of the most elegant color and almost everyone looks great wearing it. Thanks for reading, I appreciate your visits!


    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I love to wear the color black. I was always taught that black was the combination of all colors. All I know is it can be the most elegant color around when used right.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Prasetio, There is absolutely no need to feel sorry, you are always welcome and published hubs remains:)) It is interesting with history and trends because we are influenced by both even if we don’t know or think about where the influence come from. And black is fascinating because of its mixed and powerful messages. Thanks for giving your vote to this hub, I so value your opinion!

      See you soon!


    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Hi, Tina. Sorry I am late to know this hub. But better late than never, right. Wow... you had done a great job. What a beautiful information about "black" color. I had never knew the history of this color. But trend is always up to date and black is part of the trend. Well done, Tina. You got my vote again. I'll press all buttons here, except funny. Cheers....


    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Acaetnna, your avatar always makes me happy:) You are not alone in thinking that black is a neutral color, many people look at black in that way. But black is a great color with endless ways to use it. And luckily, most people like the color black in some way! Good to know that you are one of them.

      Thanks for visiting and for pressing those buttons:) I so appreciate your encouraging words!


    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 6 years ago from Guildford

      I always thought that black was one of the neutral colours together with white and grey. I think that the correct use of black when it comes to furnishing or dressing creates a stunning effect. I adore black and use it in my home and for my own dress. This is a great hub Tina and I so enjoyed reading it. Voting up and pressing those buttons too.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Well done Martie, I am sure you wear black exactly as you should! 84 %

      isn´t bad at all but if you are unsatisfied you can blame it on the knowledge test! I must admit that the tests are a bit tricky to get together so there is definitely room for failure:)) Now I know why it is so hard to get top results on tests in magazines; it is because of the tests and the ones who makes them! So, I am sure you can feel satisfied with your knowledge about how to get dressed in black.

      With age I have also learned that some days it really doesn't matter if I dress wrong as long as I like it myself! But I do think many people could do more with this great color.

      Black is an interesting color and I think most people like to wear black. During winter season In Sweden it can be a little too much since everyone is wearing black or gray clothes so here we really need the bright colors!

      Thanks Martie for your visit, it is always a pleasure to see you:)


    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Tina! I scored 84% on the knowledge test. Remark: “I am definitely on the right way and send out the intended message most of the times. But it is still a bit weak. So I must think about how I use the black color and I must dare to wear bright accent colors.

      Mmm, I think I must do the quiz again, because black is out and out my favorite color, with or without other bright colors or not so bright colors. I should have scored at least 95% :)))

      This is an interesting and informative hub about the color black, Tina. I've voted it up in all ways.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Binaya.Ghimire, it is nice to meet you! Black is a special color and normally we do not think about the many different thoughts and signals that a color send out. Besides the color it self, it also depends on the receiver and how they interpret a color. Interesting topic! Thanks for your visit and comment and I look forward to read your hubs about color soon!


    • profile image

      Binaya.Ghimire 6 years ago

      I have done a hub on color red and couple of hubs on psychology of colors. Though I have some fascination on black, I never attempted to write. Thanks for this nice perspective.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Thuesdays child, I appreciate your visit here and the rating very much! Black can´t be everyones favorite and that is good or the world would be a dull place:)


    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi BkCreative, Yes, isn’t it marvellous, with a few accessories and black colour we are set for almost everything. I don’t know of any other colour that is so easy to wear right!

      Thanks for adding valuable information to this hub, I didn’t know that black was used in economics also. But why not, money is very important for us and should therefore be associated with black. Million thanks for the rating and for the visit.


    • Tuesdays child profile image

      Tuesdays child 6 years ago from In the garden

      Neat hub idea! I very rarely wear black, but when I do, I feel cocooned. I voted this up!! Lori

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      My favorite dress/clothes color and I wear it everyday. Put on a few accessories and I am sophisticated as well.

      Black is also used to denote monetary success here in the US. If you are 'in the black' - it means your financial records have no negative red ink - red ink on your balance sheets means you are losing money. We also have Black Friday - right before Christmas. This is when merchants hope to have the most profitable day of the whole year.

      What a great idea for a hub. Rated way up! Yay!

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Vocalcoach, A black Mercedes, that is luxury! But I know what you men about a black car since I have one myself, a Peugeot. Before when we lived in the countryside was that poor car always grey, it only took one trip on the gravel road to accomplish that! But a washed black car is always a winner so I think it is worth it anyway:)

      Thanks for this awesome comment!


    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Black is beautiful. A black accessori adds a touch of elegance to a plain jacket, dress, blouse or even a handbag. Women are always safe with a long black skirt, paired with any color blouse and a black accessorie.

      I prefer to look at black as a color of luxury. Having said that - I have a black mercedes that I kick myself for. It always looks dirty :) But no other color is as striking right after it is washed and polished. Too bad it is so short-lived.

      Love this hub tina. Voted Up, useful, awesome and interesting. Thanks.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi movie master, I found myself using black more and more and I constantly find new ways to use this wonderful color! Thanks for coming by and I am glad you liked it!


    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Tina, black makes such a statement, it can be so bold and dramatic yet elegant and sombre. Thanks for a great hub and sharing.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      I also see black as a color, Alastar and a very good color too! I can´t think of any other color with so mixed signals and so much messages attached to the color itself. I use black in many different ways and it is a color that is very useful. Black lingerie for instance, is very beautiful, and thanks for the compliment:) I thought it went well with the red wall paper also! Sex and black is a great team:)

      There is far too many business men dressed in black that becomes almost invisible in a group, and I bet they don't even think about it. I once had a lecturer in physics at the university who was entirely dressed in black during the lectures, but he had bright red shoes! Now afterwards I cant remember how his face looked, but I will forever remember him because of his red shoes! I wonder if he knew then what an impact his red shoes did:)

      Great to see you Alastar, and thanks for your comment!


    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      I vote as a color. If 3 colors combined are near, then yes. That is very interesting about the symbolism of black through history. Saw where red makes women go for the men but dern, it sure puts a bulls-eye on you That's interesting too, about a group of folk in black and it's effects. Hmmm, sex and black...yes! Good breakdown in the conclusion Tina. Informed and enjoyed, thanks thoughtforce.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Lauryallan! I do agree of course:) Black is so easy to wear in different situations and yet you will be dressed just right. It really is very easy to look good in just black and as you say that isn't possible to do with other colors!

      But sometimes I feel that it is too much black around me and too many people just dressed in black. I try to use other colors as accent color to all the black. Just a little of the other color will make such a difference and will also intensify the black color. But black is fashion and I am sure it will remain so! Thanks for your visit and comment!


    • Lauryallan profile image

      Lauryallan 6 years ago

      I love black. I find it so easy to get dressed and I think people look good when they wear all black, especially if the clothes are fitted properly. When you compare that to someone wearing a bright pink pair of trousers with the same color sweater it doesn't work, but with black it's so simple and can look elegant with minimal hassle.