January 15, 2008

A few years ago, I picked up a copy of What You Wear Can Change Your Life, by Trinny and Susannah, hosts of the BBC’s “What Not to Wear.” To be expected, a whole chapter is devoted to color — not the usual “you’re a winter, so you should wear x, y, and z” and “oh! goodness! no red for redheads!” fiddle-dee-dee. Their color counsel is more akin to a color wheel, or even what that neat Swiss graphic design student does at Wear Palettes.

Certainly, I was free with my color combos before reading Trinny and Susannah (a little too free, maybe). But, when I came to page 92, the last stand on color, I was pummeled with this:

Black is not a color. It is an absence of color. … Do not treat black lightly. It is not a background for bright colors, nor is it a catch-all shade for shoes, handbags, and dreary suits. … We now call upon you to banish black from your working life.

WHAaA?! No black? Granted, the women concede to allow black at special occasions and funerals, and in combination with brown, dove and steel greys, and white. Only.

I considered my own closet. Almost everything: either black or backed-with-black. There’s black and white, black and green, black and blue; black tweed, black houndstooth, black brocade; black slacks, black dresses, black sweaters. Staples, we call them. Standards.

But not according to Trinny and Susannah. “Black is the most abused and misused color (or non-color) of them all,” they say. Well, if my duds are the litmus test, then, yes; I suppose “abused” could fit. But really! Black goes with everything, right? It goes on everyone, doesn’t it?

Being no shrinking violet when it comes to the exploration of my clothings, I conducted a thorough inspection. I held up something black against my face. Okay. No fireworks, but no vomit, either. Then, I held up something dark teal. I reiterate: WHAaA?! Green eyes? Pink-blushy cheeks? Whence came these lovelies? Trinny and Suz were onto something!

Fast forward to now. Me, just outta the gate with the Year of No New Threads. Looking out on 12 mos. of no new clothes. So what do I go and do? I come back to the black — and I stage a blackout. I’m starting small. I’ve stowed the lot of my 100% black items, with the exception of six things:

  • two pairs of trousers (wide-leg and ankle-length velvet)
  • one skirt-cum-minidress
  • my 2-die-4 vintage brocade opera coat
  • my trusty winter hat
  • and one pair of boots

I still have a rackful of togs that sport black accents or black-based patterns. But it’s a start.

Hello, Technicolor.


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