Let's Talk About

Black or White

6 years ago by

Black or White

Does it matter?

This is NOT about race. It is about clothes. 

I was at a restaurant the other week with some friends, and some how or other someone mentioned how their mother would request black napkins when she was wearing black. WHAT?! That was my reaction. I had legitimately never heard of this – but thought, THAT IS SO CHIC. Was this something reserved for those privileged to dine in fine-dining restaurants exclusively? Should I start carrying around black napkins considering the lack of color in my wardrobe?

AND then, not one day later, I was helping my friend Julie at her new shop in South Hampton, pulled out the tissue paper (which is black) to wrap up a top (which was white) a customer just purchased. When suddenly, a nice woman who I must assume was the mother says “Oh, I’m not so sure you should put that in black tissue paper.”  And there it was – I had never thought twice about this scenario either. Black tissue paper didn’t seem so unusual did it? I’d seen blue or colored variations multiple times?? 

So, it had me wondering – are these learned preferences or cultural? Are there more instances like these I should be made aware of?


Add yours
  • Sarah M June, 16 2015, 12:24 / Reply

    Wouldn’t the concern about black tissue paper be more about color bleeding, which would potentially ruin a white top… Rather than chicness?

  • I think the same, I don’t find any cultural/race reason beyond.

  • It might be that the woman in the second scenario was warried about the ink from the tissue paper rubbing off on the shirt? I’ve never heard of anyone requesting a different coloured napkin, though.

  • I’ve been told that high-end restaurants give diners black napkins prevent getting white lint on their dark clothes. I can’t say I’ve ever noticed napkin lint, but I think the idea is nice.

    The tissue paper makes sense to me since it may transfer color onto the white shirt, especially if it gets wet.

  • C’est juste du bon sens, le papier de soie noir peut laisser des traces sur le tee-shirt immaculé, comme la serviette blanche peut pelucher sur un vêtement noir, je crois que ce n’est pas plus compliqué que ça ! :-)

  • I was once offered a white napkin to replace the black napkins on the table. It was explained to me that they didn’t want black lint rubbing off onto my white dress. And get this. They also offered me a shawl since it was a bit of a chilly evening. It took us a while to figure out that all the women sitting around us had been offered shawls that matched their dresses. Classy indeed!

  • Caroline June, 16 2015, 1:27 / Reply

    I have suffered the white napkin lint effect on my LBD at a restaurant in the past. Wish they all offered the choice of black napkins!

  • as long as I don’t stain myself I’m happy


  • Black napkin= no white lint on black dress. White tissue= doesn’t bleed onto white blouse.
    Older people (myself included) are more neurotic about these things. We bring our own toilet paper to music fests, etc. ;)

  • Oh okay! I want did what was going on until I read the comments which now make sense! Interesting observation.

  • You’re asking some weird questions… It’s not something I would question or consider about my culture or my upgrinding.

  • karacocoa June, 17 2015, 10:49 / Reply

    I’m extremely clumsy, so one of each please. :-)

  • Tiffany June, 17 2015, 3:20 / Reply

    I have been a victim of the lint from a white napkin ruining a great black/navy dress. Never thought about the tissue paper though. I imagine white is always safe because there’s no dyes.

  • Luicnda June, 17 2015, 9:19 / Reply

    Years ago, I had a friend who always requested a black napkin at our favorite restaurant, so as not to get fuzz on his dark jeans. I thought it was an affectation, but now, when I wear white jeans, I feel uncomfortable with black napkins. I have come to believe that a nice restaurant should have both colors of napkins and let the maitre d’ choose the proper one for each customer. Extra service to set an establishment apart from the ordinary.

  • Tellement chic… et snob… Ca me fait rêver!!
    Quoi? y a pas de mal à être un peu snob quand on l’a mérité!


  • That is my first thought…it can leave dust on your clothes. I really check…always. And ever wiped your sweat with a red paper napkin? You will do that just once!!! ;-D

  • Martine June, 25 2015, 12:47 / Reply

    Its just common sense. Black dies bleed. I wouldn’t put a white blouse in black tissue! It could ruin it easily. Especially if it got wet somehow. I would expect the shop owner to be careful with such things for a customer. The lint thing makes good sense, but as i almost never use the napkin really….I know, I know. But I move around too much. Talk more then I eat, swivel around, and always sit at the bar if humanly possible, it never matters. However, I think its very thoughtful to have napkins that are color safe for a customers dress, especially men, who wear jeans and wool trousers would be saved by same cold napkins.

From the Archives

  • Friends!
  • Holiday Gifting
  • This or That
  • Happy Holidays!
  • #AtelierDoreDoes
Holiday Gift Guide, For Your Girlfriends

Holiday Gift Guide, For Your Girlfriends

Magogodi Makhene, Wayétu Moore, female friendship, dore

How to Make Grown Woman Friendships—A Conversation with Wayétu Moore

Curating Copenhagen’s Art Scene: Kunstsalonen

Curating Copenhagen’s Art Scene: Kunstsalonen

atelier dore clothing renewal

Clothing Renewal

Carte Blanche: Turning a Creative Passion into a Business - Clare Vivier, Tina Frey and Ellen Marie Bennett garance dore pardon my french

Carte Blanche: Turning a Creative Passion into a Business

A Weekend With Disposable Magazine

A Weekend With Disposable Magazine

atelier dore 6 designers on creativity moodboard

7 Designers on When They Feel Most Creative

Sophie On Tour

Sophie On Tour

atelier dore studio visit streicher sisters striiike beauty

Three Sisters on Creative Entrepreneurship