I wear a lot of black. Some might say too much. But really, who is to judge? I find it easy, appropriate and insanely chic. You can dress it up, dress it down, and wear it practically anywhere. Gone are the days of fashion rules such as not wearing black to a wedding, or for day, and with that, my wardrobe has only grown. Sure, I have dresses for special occasions and my vacation looks that are filled with color or white, but on a day-to-day basis, I’m in black. It’s become a go-to color for everything that I buy from designer handbags to clothing to shoes.
My theory has become that if I’m investing “mad” money into a single article, I want it in a timeless color that will last me forever (or at the very least a solid decade). Of course if I’m shopping at a chain store, I rationalize that the said item looks better (because it usually does) in black. Not-so-fancy fabric and less than stellar stitching can be tremendously camouflaged by my favorite shade of black, which is a dark, inky jet black. Forget true black, light black or very dark grey…I’m a fan of the real deal. Nothing is more severe than jet black, and I love the intensity it brings to day, as well as the sexiness it provides at night. The mystique of it has fascinated me since I was a little girl, and while my look is hardly gothic, I do get the regular “When’s the funeral?” from co-workers and friends. Usually I chalk this up to poor taste and think nothing of it, but this spring, it seems for the first time in three years, I’m coming around.
The spring runways were filled with charming girlishness that begged me to put on the pastels. While I’m not ready to take that plunge quite yet, I figure it is time to carefully make my way into Technicolor vision. Maybe it will be like Dorothy leaving Kansas. Maybe I’ll put on some insane Emilio Pucci number and see the world in an entirely new light? That’s wishful thinking, but I’m guessing it’s time for my New Year’s resolution to begin (yes, I’ve put it off for four months).
I scour photographs for “inspiration.” The last thing I want is to wander into a shop at the mercy of too-skinny sales girls and men who assume their sexual orientation give them the authority to become the be all, end all when it comes to dressing a woman. I decide I’ll wander in with a look (or looks) in mind. Of course, after years of dressing in black, it’s hard to even find one’s style when it comes to real clothes. Black hides, it conceals. I thrown on a black jersey dress without a second though, but can you really do the same when you’re dealing with red? Maybe. Pink? Probaly not. White? Hell no.
Solid color pieces I can dip my foot into on occasion. Marc Jacobs showed gorgeous sack dresses in all-white…surely I can pull off something in that area, since they leave room for flaws. Parading down the catwalk at Prada were gobs of satins and silks in the most ravishing colors ever. Even better, the color palette had a strong array of dark colors. Rich red, a deep amethyst and even black, were reinvented so that they were alarmingly appropriate for spring. For someone entering the world of color, these dark colors are a good place to start as opposed to jumping into a Pepto-pink something or other. I decide I’ll shoot for solids, but if a gorgeous print comes along and grabs me, I’ll go with the flow. After all, that’s the joy of shopping! An avid online shopper, I tend to forget how fun just going into a shop without anything specific in mind can be. I’ve become accustomed to seeking something out online thanks to forums, links, and blogs (so easy in this day and age), having it delivered to my door for a nominal fee and wearing it out within a week of purchase. Sure you run into the occassional sizing mishap, but for the most part if you know the label you’re buying, and the measurements of the garment, you’re in good shape. I can’t decide to be amped or terrified about shopping in an actual store for once, especially with the intention to purchase outside my comfort realm. Nonetheless, I also can’t bear another season of black (I say this now…). Like everything else, I’ve grown somewhat tired of it for everyday.
I decide to check out a major department store. This will give me options and not leave me wandering aimlessly in boutiques. I figure I’ll browse and maybe come around on another trip for actual shopping. Of course, I wander into the bag section (who can blame me?) before making my way to the floor with clothing. When I finally do, I spy light denim, tons of white and eyelet. Cute, but not my taste. I wander through racks of not-too-baggy-but-still-perfectly-roomy t-shirts, full print skirts and graphic print tops that echo the Mod era. I gravitate towards a black smock top reminiscent of a vintage one I already own, but do not allow myself to try it on for fear of buying. At this point I’m almost frustrated, so I make my way to shoes for browsing. I see leopard, patent and brights…I figure maybe I’ll settle on bright shoes and let that be my foray into the world of color.
As I make my way back downstairs and do a quick lap through cosmetics, I see a small rack near accessories. On it hangs these kimono/wrap dress concoctions, all in mixed bright paisley prints. They barely catch me as I’m high tailing it out of the store due to shopping on an empty stomach. I do a quick u-turn and get to the rack, just as a sales associate approaches me.
“Would you like to try these on?” she asks in a delightful somewhere-afar-and-fabulous accent.
Well, I haven’t even seen them…
“Uh…sure! This one [I immediately hand her the green and orange version because it just grabs me on the spot] and this one too [I also throw in the blue, in the event the green and orange is out of my realm]!”
“Vonderful, darling! Let’s go upstairs!”
At this point, it has escaped me there are no fitting rooms on the first floor, but she walks me to the elevators, and escorts me to a room with such fun conversation and leisure that I barely care (when typically I’m a rushing fool while shopping in stores).
I’m clearly dressed for winter as it’s very cold in the city I’m visiting, so I’m not especially anxious to try on pieces fit for August by the pool. I walk into the fitting room and almost laugh as I stare at the dresses hanging before me. Am I really about to put this on? Putting on a one-color track suit makes me feel like a fool, even in a dark color (navy, burgundy, etc.). I decide to go with the green and orange first. It’s the most outlandish and for whatever reason has its hold on me. It’s so fun and has splashes of yellow. Sure it isn’t “me” but what the hell, I’m in a fitting room alone and worst case scenario I take it off the second it’s on. As I take the dress down, I realize how great the weight is. I can almost bet money it will travel well. On top of that, it has these brilliant sleeves that cover my arms without looking matronly. It will be grand over a tank dress, swimsuit, or even shorts. I can add gold strappy sandals and a clutch and wavy hair when I’m going to dinner on a vacation, or wear it in the city with flip-flops (yes, I wear them) or flats.
Now I’m excited, only a little too excited. Surely when I get the thing on, it will be a disaster.
It’s flattering. It’s a print, and it’s flattering.
There isn’t a thing not to love about it! I feel light and energetic just looking at myself in it (narcissistic much?). The big sleeves balance the nipped waist and it hits me just above the knee. Fun enough for night, but not so short that I have to watch myself with every move. I’m sold.
So much in fact that I want the blue version before I even get it on. As every woman who is a fanatical shopper knows, you really can do with two (or several) colors in an article of clothing. Especially in something that fits well.
It strikes me as comical that I was about to abandon ship and that fate would have this measly rack of dresses call me back. I smile as I reach for the blue (which also turns out brilliant when worn) and make my way out of the fitting rooms.
My SA is waiting when I come out (love when they don’t come in and bug to see you in the clothes), and asks how it went. I can only blurt out, “Fantastic!” Hilariously enough, she makes a comment about my all-black ensemble, but chalks it up to the dreary weather. I smile and go along with her assumption, keeping secret that my closet resembles that of Superman, only in black turtlenecks and cropped slacks as opposed to red and blue leotards.
She wraps the dresses, and as she does, I look out the store’s huge windows into the city and think about what the weather may be in a month’s time. Or two months. I simply can’t wait to get those dresses on.* And I’ll bet neither can anyone who knows me.
*Editor’s Note: As of publishing, Samantha has worn one of the dresses thus far and it was not in front of people she knew. Go figure. You can lead a horse to water…