Weaning off black in 2010

Uniform black

“[Black] drains the face of colour, blends you into the shadows, highlights dandruff and makes many women look like Italian peasants at a funeral…”  Rowan Pelling, Telegraph.co.uk, 6.01.2010

As soon as I read this I thought about what I’d worn to work on the first three days of the new year. Two out of three – black! After two weeks and wearing all colours but black (with the exception of my shorts), I slipped right back into my nasty black habit. It’s no wonder malaise settled over me on day one. It’s not just being back at work – it’s also the fact that I’ve reverted to black.

It is just so damn depressing.

Rowan continues exploring the black trend in her article (actually on the infamous ‘G’ spot), mentioning the fact that you never see female TV presenters or royalty wearing black. She quotes colour consultant Jules Standish as saying that the negative effect of wearing black can be “as serious as making women feel drained, self-conscious and introverted.”

Every year I promise myself that I will not buy black. And every year my good intentions are thwarted by the fact that finding other colours – lovely colours – is challenging. Retailers are reluctant to offer us more colour choice. They have to make their sales targets and colour is risky. It’s a vicious cycle isn’t it…fashion buyers choose black because it sells well, we buy black because we’re not offered much else…and so it goes on.

Colour adds vibrancy, it allows us to express our personality and our preferences. It occurred to me that maybe part of my enjoyment of the holiday period was the fact that I was not weighted down by black. It felt so good being covered – albeit not much – by colour.

Rowan’s article has made me think more about the effect the colour has on me. It does drain my skin. I have to compensate with make-up otherwise I look totally pale and washed out. It makes me feel conservative and safe. It makes me feel as if I am part of the wallpaper, blending in to the background. But haven’t we all become like this,  with those daring to wear gorgeous bright colours being the exceptions.

I remember chatting to an American tourist on Lambton Quay last year, “What is it with you people? You’re all wearing black – I feel like I’m in a funeral!”

I joke not – she really said that. And what could I say…it is so so true.

I’m going to change. At my tender age I need all the help I can get.


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