To Color and Color Not - une femme d'un certain âge

To Color and Color Not

In the 80’s, color was a hot topic. Ted Turner was colorizing classic black and white movies amid protests from filmmakers and film buffs, and in the fashion/beauty arena “getting your colors done” was quickly becoming a rite of passage.

A friend gave me a 30-minute color consultation as a 30th birthday gift, and it was determined that I was a Spring. No more black for une femme! I tried to follow the color recommendations as closely as I could, and wore my bright yellows and corals and my favorite lime green high tops.* (Be nice, it was the 80’s and une femme was young and impétueux.) But within a couple years I was chafing at the restrictions. The colors that really spoke to me were the Autumn colors: browns, russets, golds, greens. Those were the colors I felt most at home in. And black, my versatile go-to color.

Colors tell a story, convey emotion, and speak their own language. I don’t think it’s any accident that cultures which embrace expression of emotion and passion generally also embrace bright colors. On the other hand, neutrals are regarded as more cool and sophisticated…lack of color sends a message of emotions played down, cards played close to the vest, which is why neutrals have become standard for businesswear. (Unless you’re Gloria Allred, whose emergency-vehicle-red suits seem to say “Watch out, step aside!”)

I’ve always been drawn to black and white photography and films. The visual reduction of subject matter down to the essence of lights and darks holds more facination and mystery for me than careless color. While color can be used brilliantly to evoke feelings or moods, it sometimes can be too sentimental or overwhelming. I agree with those who were highly critical of Turner’s colorization; to me black and white cinematography is its own art form and should not be adulterated.

These days I’m most comfortable wearing mostly neutrals accented with color. Even colors I love, when worn too predominantly feel awkward, overwhelming and unstylish. Maybe I’m playing it safer, maybe I’ve been influenced by French style, or maybe I’m channeling my WASP ancestors, but I’ve learned to respect my sartorial comfort levels. I’m thrilled that grey is having a heyday; it’s a perfect neutral that is softer near the face than black, yet can be accented with so many different colors, both cool and warm.

Everyone has their own color comfort level. Making color work for you is more than just learning which colors flatter. It’s also about discoving the colors that speak to your style and the amounts of color that express your vision of yourself.

*edited to add: I should mention that isn’t my e-bay auction.

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  1. September 5, 2007 / 6:18 pm

    Deja Pseu,

    Miss Janey LOVES this entry on color. She hopes to see it selected for the Fabulous Festival.

    (PS- she could not laugh @ lime green high tops, considering the shoes she wore in the 80s. Hey- that’s what the 80s were for!)

  2. Meg
    September 6, 2007 / 3:32 am

    I love black and white photography, too. It can make the most mundane shot look much classier.

    I never seem to fit into one of those color categories, anyway (at least, not when I do it from print materials). There’s always a few colors that are supposed to look good where I go ‘really?’, and then a few that aren’t in my recommendations that I love to wear.

    Thanks for submitting to the Fabulous Festival!

  3. September 6, 2007 / 6:12 pm

    Thanks, Miss Janey and meg!

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