Monday, 23 March 2015

Burning Bright

If you asked me, I’d never say I was someone who aims to be bright – to fill life with colour, or to dabble in especially zany fabrics. But look in my wardrobe, and immediately you’ll see the clash of pinks, yellows, greens, blues and oranges, with plenty of stripes, patterns and prints thrown in among them. An ample dose of subtler background shades too, but they tend to be less noticeable. My necklaces are all jeweled tones and magpie-glitter, while my gloves range from raspberry to mint to lemon (and plenty that can’t be described with references to food either).

For I actually do love colour, especially when it’s mixed together: the satisfaction of a yellow vintage shirt under a blue boiled wool tunic; a baby pink gingham fitted dress with a bright green sixties coat on top; the delicious combination of mauve velvet and teal silk; red mohair facing off a grey leather full fifties style skirt; orange pleats matched with khaki layers. Whether there’s a number of juxtapositions, or one shade standing proud against a muted palette, I feel comfortable when my get-up is a little eye-catching.  

Plenty of my favourite film sequences and photographers tend to focus on colour too. Consider Kay Thompson with her instructions to ‘think pink’ in Funny Face, Moira Shearer looking glorious in a spray of petrol blue layers and flashes of lavender in The Red Shoes, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell dripping with red sequins in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, or Audrey Hepburn’s array of dresses in orange, lime and light pink in Paris When it Sizzles – and that’s before we get to the technicolour brilliance/ headache of The Wizard of Oz. Also, think quickly of Erwin Blumenfeld, Horst, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Tim Walker, Nick Knight. All adept at monochrome, but dazzling in colour too.

But to rein it back in to the personal, it's easy to forget that it’s more unusual to love the vibrant and lively - and that for some a uniform of dark, restrained colours is much more desirable. I often think about this when I’m on the Tube (London Underground) - as I have been a lot this week - where the usual tone of coats, jumpers and trousers errs towards the darker end of the spectrum. Not always, by any means. But to be intensely colourful remains a way of making the choice to stand out slightly. As I try to stay upright, one hand gripping the rail and the other balancing a book, I’m aware that my red lipstick, turquoise cardigan, velvet shorts and purple tights (a combination that works, I promise) marks me apart. I appreciatively note others who’ve also chosen to be bright and bold, as well as the odd man or woman who looks intensely chic regardless of the need for something vaguely flamboyant. 

My own choices change from outfit to outfit too. One maxim I frivolously work by is ‘the greyer the day, the more intensely colourful my clothes.’ If it’s drizzling, out come the florals or electric blue beanie hats. (Also, the chillier it is, the shorter the skirt - but we’ll save that for another time). At other points I’ll move towards muted tones, reveling in charcoal, black, brown and navy. Also, uni taught me to dress for comfort, then provided another valuable lesson too – the art of sometimes dressing down, colour-wise. Right now I have on a black leather mini-skirt, black brogues, and a blue and white jumper. Still ‘dressed up’ by some people’s standards, but a little more low-key for me.

I like being able to chop and change though, to move between peacock and pigeon – knowing that I feel equally comfortable in either guise.

Here we have a mix of the intensely bright and the slightly more muted, thanks to my late great-grandma's mohair cardigan, and a velvet embossed/patterned - it's like flock wallpaper - dress from a charity shop (with the requisite polo neck underneath). Also a second hand cobalt blue handbag and men's shoes. Thanks to Stella for snapping the pictures. 


mariafelicia magno said...

romantic outfit..i like your dress

Ivana Split said...

to move between peacock and interesting metaphor...and a very good one. Both birds I find fascinating, for different reasons...and I like the fact that we have the choice- to be one or another:)

I do love that blue cardi! so eye-catching and perfect. What a lovely bag! You look very chic in this outfit.

I do like colours and it's true that colourful outfits stands out more but at the same time some people wear those minimalist outfit so well one can only applaud them.

btw I've noticed that I use colour to brighten my mood and days, so usually it is on rainy day that I'm the most colourful.

Anupriya DG said...

Aaah! The excitement of putting different colours together is what makes dressing up so much fun! :)

Sophia said...

I love this outfit. I've also never really been one to wear bright colors, but I love how they look on other people.

Hannah McManus said...

It's very interesting to think about colour actually, I really like your outfit here! I love bright colours in outfits too, not that I always wear them, but I find that when I do I receive far more compliments than if I were wearing duller colours - maybe there's a love for colour in all of us :)
Hannah x

Jess said...

I tend to wear drab coloured coats so that I can get away with brights underneath! Love all your references to film - The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is another example - it has some amazing technicolour outfits with equally bright clashing umbrellas.

Theresa said...

Totally agree that it's of paramount importance to wear color in the winter. I live in a city that's known nation-wide for its love of black, which can get pretty grim in the deepest winter. Hence why out of the winter coats I wear the most, one is red, another hunter green, and third dark purple.


I have always been drawn to colourful and vibrant colours because when I was younger I was painfully shy, but in my clothing I could express myself in bold ways with brighter hues. Your flocked dress and gorgeous blue cardigan are great pairings. I also love your confidence in being aware of the small details in your dressing, even lipstick hues sets one apart. Beautiful outfit. :)

Izzy DM said...

Hi darling Roz,

This post was a splash of bright color in an otherwise dull day, that's for sure! I could eat your words, even though you are speaking of clothes here and not food. One of your absolute talents regardless of subject matters. Your words are always rich as good cream.

I've been keeping up with your blog, but I haven't had the energy lately to comment. I'll email you privately to share some news.

Excited to read the next post about Barbie. Can't wait to hear what you have to say about that. Oh, and I agree: I love the bright birds among all the sleek crows and ravens of New York. Doesn't make me love the ravens less, but you definitely need a certain mindset to brave peacock feathers in that environment. Sounds like London is the same. It's so fascinating, isn't it, how black has become the color of chic and the avant-garde. Color does take a little more thought, but you're right; I'm always in such a better mood my whole day when I manage to put something colorful and interesting together. This look here is lovely.

Talk soon!
Much love,

Mileide Almeida said...

i love you shoes!
I love colorful and light clothing . I love textures !

Melanie said...

I love your clothing description which make me want to peek inside your closet. I am man ardent supporter of the maxim the darker the day, the brighter the colours. I am wondering which occasions at uni call for the art of dressing down colour-wise, other than because you feel like it. Just curious.

Citizen Rosebud said...


Lola Byatt said...

{all down to this essay} I was out with a friend over the weekend. After complimenting her outfit of a beige coat, plain white tshirt and black cigarette trousers, I announced that she was a pigeon. Went on to explain that primarily there are two categories that people fall into...either a pigeon/peacock. She didn't like the idea of being compared to a pigeon but I reassured her that it was a compliment "I'm an aspiring pigeon" I told her. I naturally gravitate towards prints/patterns/colours and like to mismatch. It's when I feel at my happiest and most comfortable but whenever I see someone in an outfit made up of two colours only I have the urge to dress in the same way. I just don't suit it!

You make a very precious peacock. love the colours on you xxxx

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