Friday, April 26, 2013

Blacklisting Black

(Photo by Christopher Baker for Architectural Digest)
“Purple, black, gray, white, and green are the only colors I can handle,” Julianne Moore said in an article with Architectural Digest. She seems to apply this color palette to her home as well as her clothing. While I don’t hold myself to such a limited palette, I think I might be headed in that direction.

While in college, I worked part-time at a clothing store, and noticed that a good deal of the income I was earning was spent at that store. I suppose that being around certain items all day and having an employee discount made them too attractive to resist. Granted, I did need some clothing that was more “grown-up” than my usual class-going attire, but the more I accumulated in my work wardrobe, the more trouble I had getting dressed -- nothing matched! So I found myself buying even more to create outfits with the pieces I had fallen for, but didn’t have the “right” thing to wear with them.

Obviously, this had to stop or there wouldn’t be much of a point in spending potential study time on earning my pocket change. I looked at my clothes and started with the shoes. I had many more pairs of nice black shoes than nice brown shoes, so it made sense to either stop buying brown, or to buy more brown shoes. As much as I would have preferred the latter, I chose the practical solution, and stopped buying brown clothing. And brown bags. And then clothing that wouldn’t look as good with black shoes as they would with brown. Holding myself to this rule wasn’t easy -- I remember being completely taken with a knee-length brown suede skirt with tiny red roses embroidered all over. When the store’s traffic was light, or I was straightening the area where the skirt hung, I would find myself drifting over to it and listing all the reasons it was perfect and it should be the one piece allowed to break the rule. “I’ll have it forever -- it’s an investment.” “It’s so different -- and even if it came in black, it wouldn’t be as pretty.” “It would be so perfect for __(insert any given upcoming event here)__.” Luckily, my practical side would eventually kick in “remember the expensive price tag,” “why did you stop buying brown in the first place?” and eventually, “if you buy it, it will either be forced to sit in your closet, or it will be a gateway drug to more brown purchases.”

Practicality prevailed, and I never ended up buying the skirt. Not even on super-sale plus my employee discount. Which means I saved myself at least some money with my rule.

Later, in New York, I didn’t find a need for brown. In Welcome to New York Christine Baranski’s character says "This is New York, Jim, we wear black; and that's only until something darker comes along." And it’s somewhat true. But recently, brown has crept into my wardrobe! I think it started with seeing lots of pretty women wearing brown boots in really cute ways, and then finding a pair of tall brown boots at a great price. But however it started, I’ve decided it’s time to once again limit my color palette -- this time, I plan to eliminate black. I know it’s the NYC staple, but I find that it doesn’t wear very well over time, doesn’t go with as many things as brown does, looks silly when I head home to New England, and it doesn’t look as good on me anyway.

I’ll still need some black for my part-time job that requires it, but not buying any more black will save me money, and not wearing it regularly means that the pieces I currently have will last longer for work. Maybe I’ll even eventually limit myself to just a few favorite colors like green, blue, white, pink, and brown.

Have you eliminated a color from your wardrobe? Do you think it can help curb spending habits?

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