Monday, January 25, 2010

Why I Wear Black and White

People who know me will notice that I wear only black and some white - and they eventually ask me why. From experience, I have developed several quick answers - but the truth is a little longer.

Like most women, I wore colors that I liked the look of and that I thought looked good on me - and over the years developed some favorites that would vary over time. However, black and white were always there.

Almost 30 years ago, it was all the rage to "get your colors done" - using a program that was called Color Me Beautiful. What this meant was that you went to someone supposedly trained to do this - usually found in a beauty salon. This consultant spent about an hour or more testing and analyzing - and then gave you a final written report. You also received a book of fabric color swatches that you were to carry with you at all times, since you were never to buy any clothing not in your color scheme. You also had to wear certain colors of makeup - of which your consultant usually just happened to have a supply. If you followed all the suggestions, you would be beautiful.

I am a very compulsive person, so I followed this program religiously. What I found out was that it actually worked. Not that it made everyone "beautiful" but anyone who followed it would definitely look their best. But there was an unexpected bonus - it made shopping and dressing easier. Looking at a selection of new dresses, for example, I could immediately eliminate about three quarters because they were the wrong color. I didn't need nearly as many different colored shoes/purses/scarfs/etc. I immediately started wearing only one color lipstick, nail polish, eyeshadow - because they went with all my colors. I gave all my yellow gold jewelry to my daughter, since I was to wear only silver and white gold. The only fur coat I ever owned also went to my daughter because it was the wrong color. (My daughter really liked this new regime!)

After I moved to Mississippi and began to dress more casually and as I got older, I found the convenience of this system far more attractive than its appearance benefits. But from the time of my consultation to this day, I have never deviated from the premises of the system.

So how did I get from there to just black and white? I love to read history and biographies - especially about women - and I am always on the lookout for them. About ten years ago, I read a biography of Georgia O'Keeffe, the undisputed doyenne of American painting in her time and who raised the awareness of the American public to the fact that a woman could be the equal of any man in her field. I found her fascinating.

Somewhere in that biography, I read where O'Keeffe decided to only wear black and white. (I forget why she decided that, and I'm going to read the book again to find out.) That got me thinking about how cool this would be. This is the ultimate in simplifying dressing and shopping for clothes. No matter what clothes I pull out of my closet, they will go together. Only having one color of shoes would save a fortune all by itself. I decided to give it a try. Fortunately, I had enough black clothes for a trial run. Well, I loved it. It saves a whole lot of time and a ton of money. It took me a while to change over my entire wardrobe, but it's been complete for quite a while.

I will never go back to multicolors - even though my fashion conscious eldest granddaughter is always trying to sweet talk me into wearing colors. If I can resist her, I can resist anyone.


Elizabeth said...

I loved the Color Me Beautiful advice too except I followed the wrong season for 20 years!

You sound very European with your black/white dressing. They don't go for bright colours over here at all.

Jari Sinnwell said...

I came to the same conclusion you did. I have worn only black since September of 2009. I find it very freeing. It simplifies my life and allows me to focus on what really matters and not the fickle whims of "fashion". It's encouraging to know there are other like-minded folks out there.

Mrs. T. said...

I did the Color Me Beautiful about 30 years ago and have rarely deviated from their suggestions (usually not looking my best). I wear a lot of black and white but love to pizazz it with color as well. Wearing it today to a wedding, in fact (JUST b&w). Sure makes it easier to capsule the wardrobe and always have something that looks good on me to wear!