There’s this closet in my house full of lackluster, serviceable clothes which greet me when I go to pick out my outfit every day. There’s the drab uniformity of the same colour choice over and over again. Or rather: non-colour. I have planted myself in that world of “easy choices”. Everything—almost everything—is black, white/cream, or grey. There’s some brown, some dark blue. Not a lot. But it’s easy, right? Most everything “goes together” and I can always pull together a classic “chic” look if I need on a moment’s notice. How can a black shirtdress with opaque hose and chunky jewelry not work?
The other day I was admiring a friend’s red coat. It looked spectacular on her. She told me that three different people had offered her three separate wise observations when it came to wearing colour. 1) Colour made you feel better. 2) Colour made you look better. And 3) Colour made you look younger. And so then I began to think about colour. If I was going to buy new clothes, didn’t I need colour too?
But colour isn’t always easy to wear, certainly not for me. Secret confession: I’ve often coveted and admired Deb’s clothes and those of my sister-in-law—both are impeccable fashionistas with style in abundance. And both of them have offered me precious items from their collections when they were spring-clearing. Oh, you can imagine my delight and excitement! Beside myself with giddiness, barely able to stop and kiss my husband hello before racing for my bedroom to try on this guilt-free benevolence (aka: I didn’t have to pay for it and they didn’t have to buy it for me). But time and time again, those very pieces that I coveted the most, the frothy blouses, the architectural jackets, the detailed sweaters, made me look (and by extension, feel) ridiculous! I know it’s logical when I say it, but it never feels logical when it happens: how could something look so beautiful and special and right on this person and so overblown and silly and wrong on me?!
And so, with a spring-cleaning ritual ahead of me and the correlating semi-annual itch to refresh the old wardrobe, I find myself wondering about what choices I will make when I next visit the stores. I mean, I have to have a plan of attack if I’m going to make the rare event a success, don’t I? And despite my reservations, I am now coveting colour, I am coveting striking, I am coveting unique. But will it all make me look like a damn fool who’s trying too hard? How do I invest my shopping hours and modest budget with the best results? And how do I split the difference between what I admire, what I wish looked good on me, and what truly makes me feel (and, as a result, look) good? Deb, help me!!!!
Deb: Help is on the way. Here is the deal. Colour is wonderful. The trend is trending for two years and I love love love to see it. But we always have to be true to who we are and how we see ourselves. I see the models in a hot pink silk skirt and cobalt blue top and I love it, but it’s not me. Sooooooo I will buy as I have done this last month, bright yellow shoes and teal blue shoes. I will buy a bright purse. I choose (mostly) to colour block with accessories. Or try a hot pair of coloured jeans. I love the pastels but not on me, so I have red and they rock. Then I play it down with a white t-shirt. Also you can do your own blue jeans (maybe in a new shape?) and just add a great and bright flowing top. Flowered tops are wonderful with ripped and torn jeans. I just got a gorgeous vintage pale yellow background and flowered silk shirt and I wear it with really distressed jeans to mix up the soft and hard. The other night I wore a gorgeous full lace top (so soft and fem) with ripped jeans and vintage doc martens. Or bling it up. I think I was telling you that I have this vintage rhinestone collar and it is a huge piece that just screams fab. I just wore it (as you know) with a vintage Oscar de la Renta cocktail dress but in the summer I will wear it with white crops and a white T.
Go through your closet and toss all the boring that is not classic. DO BUY or borrow your daughter’s fashion mags. Decide which looks you would love to add to YOUR look. Then pick five pieces that can spice up your look. What I have stopped doing is going shopping and buying a million things that I will wear once. I decide what my look for the season will be and I invest in a few “key” pieces. And DON’T worry about trend. Stress what would makes YOU feel good, visualize how you would love to look this spring and summer. And then ... GO BABY GO!
I would LOVE to help you with this. I WOULD LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay, somebody stop me; I could go on and on and on and on and on.
Okay, one more thing. Go shopping in your own closet. You may be surprised that a little piece you bought years ago will work well NOW. I save things that I love and I wait like a fashion tiger to pounce on them when their time comes around again. And by that I don’t necessarily mean trend-time but rather when I LOVE them again. And mix it up. Some of your clothes may be boring to you because of the way you USED to wear them. Mix them up!!! Introduce that little cashmere sweater to a different skirt, pant or shoe. You may just fall in love all over again. And only after you have done that ... you go shopping to fill in the blanks.