Since I first posted about my resolution to dress for colour this winter, I have realised just how little colourful clothing I own. I really don't have enough to do top-to-toe layering in more than a few colours. Reds, pinks, purples and blues, mainly – dressing for colour is a great way of getting a fresh perspective on your wardrobe.
Sadly for my wallet, dressing for colour has also been an excuse to buy colourful new clothes. I have been getting a lot of wear out of a bright apple-green cardigan that I got from a cheap-shop, and I went to Cotton On, where I purchased a large red patterned scarf, a magenta scarf in T-shirt material (purely so I would have something to match with my new harem pants), a pair of turquoise leggings and two men's T-shirts in sky-blue and red (on special for $5 each).
It's interesting that I had to raid the men's department to find bright colours in winter. I'm quite shocked at how few colourful clothes are in shops right now. I can walk into a shop and from its entire winter range, I can pick out only three or four garments colourful enough to interest me. Even tights this year are in muted colours, and the availability of brightly coloured opaques is usually something you can count on in winter. On the flipside, this is a wonderfully economical way to shop.
This experiment has made me realise how cruelly my dress sense was previously governed by silhouette. I used to choose outfits based on how they draped, revealed and concealed my body. However, the new regime of colour is much looser and more layered, far less neat and preppy than what I would wear in the past. Yet I don't feel sloppy or frumpy; the bright colours make the outfit look carefully assembled.
I'm also finding I'm far more adventurous with contrasting and clashing colour combinations, such as red and purple, orange and pink, and yellow and blue. However, as I think I may have written on this blog before, I just can't bring myself to wear green and red (too Christmassy), yellow and green (too Aussie) and blue and red (too much like Superman).
Another thing I've decided to do is to layer clashing prints as well. So I'll have polka dots with checks with florals with stripes with geometric prints, but all in the same colour family so they blend together. Or I'll layer several different-coloured versions of the same print: maybe a striped dress with a differently striped top underneath. I really liked this look from the Sartorialist's recent trip to Australia (although I must say his coverage of Melbourne was really pitiful – why do we persist in giving overseas visitors the misleading impression that Chapel Street is Melbourne's fashion hub?).
Here is a bizarre photo montage of my outfit from yesterday. I was very uneasy with it at first, but then as the day wore on I got happier and happier. By the time I was walking down a drizzly Swanston Street at 11:30pm, surrounded by people wearing dull black, grey and other wintry colours, I felt wonderful, like a peacock. I didn't care whether I looked ridiculous or not.
This is my outfit today. You can see my recent acquisitions, the apple-green cardigan and the blue T-shirt, and I realised that the necklace was the same colour as the T-shirt. There's a history to the scarf: my mother made it for me only recently from some remnant fabric she found while cleaning out a cupboard.
It's a dark turquoise microfibre (it came up lighter in the photo) that I picked out in 1993 for a dress my mother made me to wear to my year 10 school 'semi-formal' dance. My friends and I ended up getting extremely drunk before the semi-formal and then were horribly, publicly sick at the event itself. The next day, my dad took my dress to the dry-cleaner where he met my school vice-principal, who was getting her own dress dry-cleaned.
The dress was never the same after the dry-cleaning, I have to say. I wore it only once more, as an in-joke, to my year 12 valedictory dinner, and I have long since fattened out of it. But the scarf is a fun reminder of the whole debacle.