We have always been told that wearing black makes you appear skinnier. It’s a common fashion advice, but have you ever wondered what causes it? I mean, what’s the logic behind it?
Well, even though there’s no scientific explanation behind this indeed, weird phenomenon as scientific journals don’t usually include a fashion column, there are some possible and very interesting explanations.
Here’s how this goes. (the article continues after the ad)
The way our eyes detect bulges on a body is largely due to lighting effects. We can see that someone has a bulging belly because lighting cues give away the contours. The same is true of wrinkes – we see them because of lighting patterns. Wearing black reduces those lighting cues, and the bulging belly isn’t as obvious to the eye; nor are the wrinkles. That being said, it works for other bulges too – actresses often say that costume designers made them pad their breasts in scenes where they were going to be wearing black or in dim lighting.
Another point is that our eyes really do see dark objects as (slightly) smaller. It’s an optical illusion; that’s exactly what ‘looking thinner’ is all about. And this works not just for clothes. In fact, all dark colors make objects look smaller. This is true of furniture, fabric on a bed, house paint, and everything else that you can see.
Here’s one illusion that could speak to this issue: which inner square is smaller?
For most people, the inner black square appears smaller than the inner white one. In reality, the squares are the same size. This illusion could explain why we think black is more flattering than white; black shapes appear thinner than white shapes, possibly because the contours of black objects have more definition.
This also has to do with the way the eye works and how it perceives things that it sees. When you look at something, you tend to see the edges of it and to perceive those edges as the border of the object. This can be blurred when the object is dark because it appears to have fewer borders. A lighter color object will have lines, shapes, and perhaps partitions on it that are very visible to the eye. But when the object is very dark in color, none of those will be very visible at all.
This effect is obviously limited. If you are looking at someone in silhouette, side on, wearing black will make no difference to how fat they look. And black won’t fool someone making a careful examination of you. But yes, black can make you seem a little thinner under some circumstances to the casual observer but it can’t work miracles.