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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Resisting Retail Gravity: the Curse of the Black Blouse

I have a problem. I am perpetually tangled up in a push-pull of my effort to add more color to my wardrobe, yet whenever I make it to a store, I inevitably end up buying the same two items: black shirts, black skirts. Seriously, I must have a hundred version of the same outfit, black shirt, gray pants/skirt, black shoes. My co-workers must think I only own three items of clothing.

There is SOME color in my closet (also known as the pile of clothing I pull out of the dryer and haphazardly make into a work-friendly outfit)--I have a purple and black dress, a teal blouse, a couple of jackets, maybe a navy shirt or two that occasionally come out to play. Let me tell you, it is an exciting day in my world when I wear more than two colors at a time. Maybe I'll mix it up, a black shirt with gray pants and a polka-dot scarf in red and gray--SWEET HEAVENS ABOVE, the avant-garde fashion explorer I used to be has long been subsumed by my corporate conformist self.

As I see it, I am trapped by the cruel pull of retail gravity to always, always end up in an anonymous fitting room with an armful of black blouses. I do try to look for alternate colors on my admittedly infrequent shopping trips. I just am not a big patterns girl, I'll go for a lovely polka dot, Swiss dot, or a stripe provided it's a color on a black field.

One very lovely blouse in my closet is probably the best possible color combination for my wardrobe, a Finley button-up blouse with pleats at the waist, doubled cuffs and collar with black and maroon jacquard lining, all in a an alternating stripe pattern of black, navy, and maroon. PERFECT, right? I can wear it with gray, black, navy, or maroon. Why don't I wear it more often? I HAVE NO IDEA. It lives on a hanger in my closet and it always seems just a smidge too short, or the sleeves are too hot for the weather. That shirt just cannot win in the fashion battle that happens five days a week, at eight o'clock every morning.

Short of gutting my fading black wardrobe of its colorlessness and ransacking every store in a fifty-mile radius for shirts in every tacky color of the rainbow to prove a point to myself, what can I do to resist the siren call of the black shirt-gray skirt pattern? Maybe I don't LIKE anything other than that outfit. I'm not afraid of color, I have a specific sort of style and quality of fashion that I try to cultivate when I do shop, it's just frustrating to go into my closet and come up with the same thing, over and over again. Perhaps I can find a solution in the form of dresses this summer.

So, mystery as yet unresolved, do you have an old stand-by fashion favorite that has taken over your life? Last year, it was all opaque tights and black A-line skirts for us--the cycle continues!!

1 comment:

Tessa said...

This is really interesting. Do you think your "avant garde fashion explorer" personality has morphed into a more monochrome appreciation? Or is it still hidden away somewhere behind the blacks?

I do know how you feel about the blouse. Sometimes a piece can almost seem too...perfect? As if it transcends any occasion. And I love the way you describe that morning fashion dilemma. Maybe you could bring it with you to work, and think about it as the morning unravels. Discreet lunchtime change, perhaps? Or just decide to wear it one day, but if you're going to wear it then really WEAR it and go all out with a swishy turquoise skirt or something! Haha or that's just the color freak in me trying to tempt you.

In any case, I love that you worked your way through this "problem" so thoughtfully! It's very inspiring.

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