Saying goodbye to black
This week I received some bad news. OK, it wasn’t as worrisome as misplacing a child, but it was worse than having a bird poo on my head – which also happened.
Anyway, grab the tissue box because it’s a biggie. Here goes… I can’t wear black. Yep, I can no longer wear the colour that makes you look slim, hides bulges and camouflages bolognese spills (a more frequent occurrence than I’d care to admit). LBD? Gone. Skinny black jeans? Finito. Timeless Audrey Hepburn style turtleneck? History.
This news was delivered by wardrobe consultant Sally Souter, a no-nonsense lady who solves style issues. You see, I have outfits aplenty, and most days I take the trouble to get dressed. (I could dispense with the whole clothes caper on days I work from home, but it’s really not fair to frighten the tradesmen.) But whereas opening my closet used to be akin to tiptoeing into Narnia – tantalising and full of expectation – lately it’s held all the appeal of teeth flossing.
Clothes that once charted the narrative of my life – foxy pencil skirts, an aquamarine knit that magically erased the exhaustion of night feeds – now look as dusty and unloved as a yucca plant in an insurance office.
And these are the lucky ones that make their way to a hanger; the rest lie lifeless and forgotten on my floordrobe. Don’t be fooled by my picture – that’s four hours and many dollars of styling and lighting.
I’m not sure when and how my wardrobe and I fell out of love, but we clearly needed counselling. Enter Souter from StyleEdit. Part fashionista, part psychologist, part bossy best friend, she arrived with fabric swatches and an ominous looking garbage bag – or six.
First she “did my colours”, which sounds a bit pink and grey ’80s (a combo that should only ever be seen on flamingos). But as Souter draped fabrics under my face, it became as plain as the dark circles under my eyes: Unless I plan to audition for a Twilight movie, black and I need to break up. And not just up top, but bottoms as well.
Fortunately, I suit brown – every shade from mud to manure, er, caramel to chocolate – and navy, which is terrific since I own 20 striped T-shirts and rather fancy myself prancing about on a boat.
But it’s the “zesty” hues that make me zing: tangerine, watermelon, sunflower, emerald. And purple, which I’d always left to vegetarians and unicorns. “Try these together,” said Souter, pulling out a violet top and some green pants I usually tone down with black. For the first time in a long while, I looked in the mirror and saw the very best version of myself.
Souter is a dynamo: jeans were folded rather than hung, tops were grouped according to colour and purpose, and stained items were discarded. “You’re not in Dynasty,” she said, smirking at a shiny pewter blouse. And the jeans I was saving for my daughter? Garbage bag. (Apparently we all use such excuses.)
According to Souter, most of us wear only 20 per cent of our wardrobe and many choose our attire to fit a past or projected lifestyle (I sometimes mistake myself for Cindy Crawford). We also hold on to items that cost a lot or have sentimental value, as if clinging to them might reverse the fact that, yes, he did leave you back in 2002. And is married. With kids.
Clothes, as with life, need regeneration. Play with them, enjoy them, wear them. As The Thoughtful Dresser author Linda Grant says, “You can’t have depths without surfaces.”
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