Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Black Like Me

Blogroll Me!

(another long-overdue promised post)

(taken from The Psychology of Color)
Black is the color of authority and power. It is popular in fashion because it makes people appear thinner. It is also stylish and timeless. Black also implies submission. Priests wear black to signify submission to God. Some fashion experts say a woman wearing black implies submission to men. Black outfits can also be overpowering, or make the wearer seem aloof or evil. Villains, such as Dracula, often wear black.

Okay, I like the "stylish and timeless" reference and the "people appear thinner" statement. So the correlating statement -- "TorontoPearl is stylish, timeless and thin." -- holds true.

I was supposed to travel to L.A. last week to attend a wedding and to meet up with a cacophony of bloggers with whom I correspond. Yes, yes, I know that noun isn't normally used that way, but imagine a gathering of a dozen or so Jewish bloggers in a Jewish deli trying to hold a conversation...thus a cacophony of bloggers, no?

Anyhow, back to black...

So I was supposed to attend this wedding and knew I already had something I could wear (black) but several weeks ago, when I got the invitation and was still just deliberating traveling across the country to the wedding, I began to look in the stores at other outfits (black) for the wedding. I bought a dress (black) "just in case" I thought my existing outfit wouldn't work. I loved the pleated sleeves, I loved the cut and I loved the simple yet overall elegant look. My honest husband liked the dress, but commented truthfully that because of its thinness (I thought the description is "fine material.") it showed all my bumps and curves. Now, I normally have no real curves, so we weren't talking about the same thing! Hey, this dress is black, I thought. It's supposed to make me look thin! But I put it aside and thought I'd keep looking for the perfect outfit...and maybe I could get rid of some of those bumps and curves over the next 3 weeks.

I began to look through my closet at the clothes I would pack and it hit me: my wardrobe resembles that of an Italian widow. Black, black and more black. I have several pairs of black shoes, a collection of black pantyhose (with some "nightshade" pairs thrown in as a diversion), I have black suits, black skirts, black sweatersm, black hats to go with those black outfits.

When did I begin to wear black? I wondered to myself. Of course, when I was young, nobody wore black. Kids just didn't do that...unless it was black socks. Okay, I cheated, I had some black turtlenecks and black ski pants for those days I pretended to be a snow bunny (who doesn't know how to ski one iota), but usually I wore the black turtlenecks under brightly covered cardigans and sweaters, bringing my look back to life.

I'm a fair-skinned person with dark hair, and yes black does look good on me, but I didn't venture into the black clothing arena perhaps till I was in my mid-teens. Slowly, slowly, it began with sweaters, then skirts, then pants, then shoes..and then it just took off. Formal, evening wear was bought in various styles of black -- it was that elegant look I was aiming for then.

Many years later, much of my wardrobe was bought in various styles and shades of black -- it was that thinning look I was aiming for by that time.

One of my funniest "black" instances was at my engagement party. I had a lovely two piece suit that was black with white polka dots -- no, I didn't look like a Barnum & Bailey clown, although you might picture that in your mind. It was a very elegant look because of the sheerness and classy look of the suit. Enter my future mother-in-law to the social hall. She's wearing...a white suit with black polka dots! As we stood side by side for photo opportunities and to greet guests, I'm guessing that the people around us must've been rubbing their eyes, trying to clear their vision from this seemingly odd eyesight test. I guess everyone was really seeing the world in black & white that evening!

It's funny about my wardrobe; as a kid, I wore lots of various shades of blue, which brought out my eye color. I wore beige for a bit, but that made me look bland and pale, as opposed to "fair." I began to wear teal and forest green, which received many compliments. And then, you'd think it would be as if I took a step backwards when I began to wear black, the color of nothingness, of void, of a vaccuum. But interestingly enough, I've received the MOST compliments when I wear black. (I'm just looking down at myself: black knit top, black skirt, black stockings...and dark blue shoes that look almost black.)

So... I plan to keep black as part of my wardrobe for a while longer least until I can once again receive a "thin" compliment without having to wear that color. After that, there's no telling what bright, vibrant and vivacious color you'll find me wearing...!


tuesdaywishes said...

I never wore black as a kid. My mom did not (and still does not) like it on children. I don't think I had a black skirt until high school. I certainly never owned a black blouse or sweater until after I was married. For many years, my 'neutral' was denim. About five years ago I realized I was on the wrong side of thirty to dress like a high school kid, and stasrted to use black as a neutral base. Mostly I wear a black skirt and hat with differet colored tops, blue, dark green and purple being my winter favorites, or else I wear a denim skirt with a black sweater top.

About your dress for the wedding, if your husband says it's not flattering, believe him! My hubby won't comment negatively unless something looks really bad on me, so I take his criticism ver seriously. Black isn't always slimming, if the fabric is shiny or stretchy, it will highlight exactly the bits you'd rather play down.

cruisin-mom said...

Pearl...I love that "reverse" story about you and your mother-in-law!

I wear alot of black...I love black...I always gravitate toward black.

I must be submissive to men.

Sarah Likes Green said...

hehe good post.
black is multipurpose and versatile! that's why it works so well.
colour is always good. unless you want to be subdued or hide :P
melbourne (where I live) is known for wearing a lot of black, it always seems to be 'in' and acceptable, especially during the chilly winters!

Anonymous said...

Try adding a brightly-colored scarf, a little magenta or torquoise. I think the color black can be an energy-downer if overdone. I try to go lighter myself. But if you can pull off the Audrey Hepburn "Breakfast at Tiffany's" look, go for it.

Mia said...

my wardrobe is completely dominated by black BUT I wear colored scarfs or tops under a black jacket. Often I buy skirts with a color pattern to bring some color in. But I love black. A few years ago people started telling me that I always wear black and it's sad. I tried to wear a pale pink knitted jacket and I got more compliments then I ever got by wearing black. So I am trying to wear more colors but I will never give up black, especially not with evening dresses.....

Ralphie said...

Wait - you didn't come to LA and meet with the bloggers? Who were all those people I sat with at PKD?

cruisin-mom said...

Ralphie, I just wanna know...were you wearing black?

torontopearl said...

TW: Yeah, as my husband pointed out with that potential dress for the wedding, black is not always beautiful.

CM: Yeah, you must be submissive to men. Shall we take a poll?

Sarah: Wouldn't black be hot in Australia with the sun beating down? I love knowing that someone in Australia checks out my blog regularly. Thank you!!!! And I enjoy visiting yours, too.

Mirty: That Breakfast at Tiffany's look is the true timeless test of black as a fashion statement. I can't pull it off quite as suavely as Audrey did, though.

Mia: If it's not a scarf I'm throwing over a black top, it's a bright piece of jewellery. I don't look dull and drab in this dark color, as I thought I might.

Ralphie: You just entered the girls' zone in this comment forum. What the heck are you doing here? Get back to PKD and continue looking for me there.

CM: You were the social coordinator for the event; didn't you tell him what the dress code was supposed to be?

Sarah Likes Green said...

yeh, in the summer it's a bit too hot to wear black but winter in melbourne gets pretty cold, not like snowing or anything but it's quite frosty. obviously up north (tropical) or in the desert it'd be a bit stupid to wear black but Melbourne winter is very dark-colour-appropriate.

shavua tov!!

rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Richard Lewis only wears black.

cruisin-mom said...

I love Richard Lewis

torontopearl said...

I love him too...met him in a restaurant (oh ya, a celebrity I forgot to mention!) in Toronto after a show of his...and managed to get his autograph too.

cruisin-mom said...

OH, are a celebrity show-off

PsychoToddler said...

Uncle Fester wears black. He doesn't look slim.

... Is the Window to Our Soul said...

I just bought this great black cocktail dress. I even found some great shoes to match. So what time should we meet at Feinstein's?