Above, my closet. You may notice, I don’t particularly like to wear color.
Why won’t the world just won’t give up trying to make me do it anyway? Here’s what Poppy Buxom* says,
Think about it. Black washes everyone out. It makes them look sad. That’s why it’s the traditional color for mourning. It makes you look so terrible that even if you aren’t all that upset at the death of your mother-in-law, you can put on a good show. Who wears black clothes and no makeup? Nuns. The rest of us have to wear a full face of spackle to overcome the effect of the black.
I feel comfortable in black. I feel confident in navy. I feel happy in white. I feel beautiful in pale blue, edgy in brown, almost too daring in pink. And that’s my limit. I can’t even go near purple, or yellow, or orange, or green. To say nothing of that fact that I treat color in clothes rather like a 4 year old treats different food stuffs. I don’t like different color groups to touch each other. So brown can touch white, but not white AND blue. Pink can touch black, but not black AND brown. Despite these safeguards, wearing any color at all, I’m almost too saturated to walk out the door.
One might argue that this indicates a lack of imagination on my part. I would submit that in fact it indicates too much, too vivid, too wild of an inner visual life. Those of us who are color-avoidant have been known to stand, intoxicated, in front of certain greens. Unable to move. Peacocks astonish us.
I’m barely exaggerating.
So why push ourselves? Why bother? Why brave the nether reaches of the color palette? Well. For one thing, here’s what Imogen at Inside Out Style says.
If you think about it, businesses spend a lot of time and money deciding on what colour packaging to put their products into. Look around the supermarket, you’ll see lots of packaging with red on it, as red stimulates us, raises our blood pressure and makes us hungry. Did you know that women have been shown to react to Tiffany blue? It makes us more excited.
Apparently, color affects our moods. Clearly purple induces panic. Yellow causes full fledged terror. At least in my house. Vix suffers too. But maybe, just maybe we color-avoidant would be willing to improve our moods. After all, we can be rather cranky. If only we knew what also looked good. If we could sidle up to it, make friends, breathing deeply.
How To Put Your Toe In The Color Pool. Slowly.
There was a lot of folderol back in the ’70s around color analysis. Summer, blah, winter, blah, spring blah blah blah blah. You can tell I had little respect for the process. My mom sent me somewhere to have my colors done. She’s helpful like that. But the prefab set of swatches sat in my bathroom drawer. I don’t care how good yellow might look on me, it makes me irritable and I refuse.
Custom analysis, the likes of which Imogen (In Melbourne, Australia) and Karen (in LA) offer, would be more useful. Were I 40 again, going back to full-time work, and investing in a closet that would see the light of day with frequency, I’d probably get professional help. Besides, how fun to touch the swatches of cloth, to live on the edge where purple touches orange.
But if you want to try to put your toe into the color pool, carefully, in full recognition of the dangers, I have a sneaky method.
First, let’s agree on why even bother with color, beyond its possible effect on your mood. Yes, I do need to be convinced. Color emphasizes various aspects of your face. That’s it. It can make your eyes stand out, cast your skin tone in a certain light, show off your hair, even show off your lips. (If you want your mouth to stand out, never mind clothes. Just go all Paloma Picasso and get a good tube of red lipstick.) But let’s all assume most of us want our eyes to stand out, and our hair color to look pretty, our skin tone healthy. You good with that?
Second, figure out which non-colors work on you. They are not all created equal. Which ones cause your eyes to show up and your skin to look good? Black? Maybe yes, maybe no. Brown? What sort? Chocolate or burnt umber? Gray? And what kind of white? Yellowish? Bluish? This can be done at home. Be sure to go outside and check in a handheld mirror. This way, even if you never bring a shred of aubergine or celadon into your house, you have ammunition against the color mongers if required.
- Think of three colors you like. You can, I promise. For me that would be blue, dark green, and pink. I can’t stomach yellows, purples, or oranges. So I’m not going to bother my little head about them. And don’t try to make me.
- Put a mirror in your purse. Bring a friend.
- Go to a) Target or b) Bed Bath and Beyond
- Find the tee shirt or the towel stacks. No, I am not kidding. These are the items in the retail world most apt to come in 50 shades and be displayed close together.
- Methodically hold the various colored items up to your face. Look in the mirror. Ask your friend.
- Hide behind a pillar because frankly this is really silly and embarrassing.
- Realize that you need natural light, so if something looks good, walk over to a window and check again. Hold your head high. Impunity. Tell said friend he or she cannot desert you now.
- Make your own list of colors that look good on you. Name them names you will remember. I think of the light blue I like as Golf Sweater Blue. Consider, is there an underlying theme? Or do you simply discover that some colors do good work for you and some you are going to have to fire? At the very least put them on notice with HR. You don’t work for them, remember.
Now go shopping. A few final tips. I recommend focusing color in your jackets and dresses. They are One and Done. Everything else can remain those familiar, reassuring shades. Minimize the dreaded Standing In Front Of Your Closet Panic. Colored tees, on the other hand, are a pain in the neck. Explodes the items you have to own exponentially. I mean, if you’re wearing an orange shirt what do you do about the jacket and the pants? Don’t even mention scarves. Yes. That’s how it is for us color-avoidant, and we are done making apologies.
Oh, and when it’s a year for your kinds of colors, buy a lot. Next year it’s going to be nothing but peach, lavender, and pistachio. The horror.
*Poppy has a new blog for us midlifers refusing to give up our girl cards just yet. She writes for BeautyHacks too, so she’s got the credential to make her blog well worth following.