The Meandering Matriarch recently posted a lament about the proliferation of black in the working woman’s wardrobe. As one of those “penguins”–or at least a former penguin (you can hardly call what I’ve been doing lately “work”)–I feel compelled to respond.

I wore black because it made getting dressed in the morning sooooo easy. No brain cells required. On any typical morning, before I could get myself out the door, I had to get my husband and children up and on their way, take care of the animals, throw a load of laundry in, think about what I was going to serve for dinner and maybe even start dinner, check my email one last time before leaving the house, gather up my own crap, and get myself ready. And that was a typical morning. Heaven forbid, I’d have to get one of the animals to the vet’s or run by the post office before going into work. If I wore black, I reduced my stress load tremendously.

A basic black wardrobe requires a few pairs of black pants, a black skirt or two, a black purse, a pair of black pumps, a pair of black flats, a couple of black jackets, and a few colorful tops with coordinating jewelry. If you live in a cold climate, you have a short black coat, a long, black wool coat with a brightly colored scarf and gloves, and black dress boots. Simple. It all coordinates, so you can’t screw any of it up. If your gray matter is scrambled with everything else you have to think about while you’re getting ready, wearing black dramatically reduces your chances of winding up at work with two different color shoes or a hideously mismatched ensemble. Brainless. Totally brainless.

Plus, black is the hands-down champion at hiding–or at least camouflaging–figure flaws.

I worked with a woman once who, years ago when she entered the work force, repainted her fingernails every night to match the outfit she’d laid out to wear the next day. I have no idea HOW or WHY she did it–and she laughs about it now–but I can tell you one thing for certain, based on the women I know, those days are long gone. Most working women are stretched to the limit. I can’t speak for them all, but I can tell you that there were days when I was just grateful I’d managed to make it to work with my teeth brushed, my bra on, and shoes on my feet. Who cares what color my clothes were. I suspect there are others who feel the same way.

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