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Thou Shalt Not Wear All Black, All the Time

I live in Melbourne, a city of which its denizens have a reputation for wearing funereal black all the time, because we are much chicer and cooler and more European than our cousins north of the border. Or perhaps we all go to more funerals, and we are awash with Italian widows? Or maybe we are all fatter down south, so we believe we must wear slimming black all the time?

Winter is particularly depressing on the city streets: it is a sea of black, grey and navy Normcore. I don’t understand this fanatical adherence to such a dull palette. Not even the New Zealand All Blacks were all black all the time! Colour, apparently, is outré in my hometown, but in Princess Tatiana mathematics, BLACK = Boring + LACK of colour.

Let us examine the reasons why people like to wear all black, all the time. I know quite a few people of this mindset, and I have often asked them why. Following are the four main reasons they cite; the fifth is one most won’t admit to for themselves, but it has been pointed out.

1. It is chic, stylish, timeless

I do not at all refute that an all-black outfit can be chic and stylish, but worn day-in and day-out it simply becomes boring and stale, regardless of how inventively-cut are the garments themselves. It also does look depressing, especially when worn continuously in summer, when it also draws the heat. Also, unfortunately, it does not suit everyone’s complexion – it is not flattering if it makes one look sallow (sickly).

2. It is slimming

There are other plenty of other options to create a slimming silhouette, so wearing only black for this reason is an excuse, and lazy. Monochrome outfits in other colours can create a similar slim line, for instance, as well as wearing shapes and proportions that balance and flatter your figure.

3. It is easy

‘When I’m in a hurry in the morning, I don’t have to think about matching colours.’ I’ve heard that one bleated about many times. But not all shades of black are the same: there are warm and cool tones of black, different fabrics and textures look dissimilar, and then there are those black garments that are simply worn out and faded. Usually they look wrong together, especially if one is attempting to create a ‘suit’ effect. It is just as easy – and fresher – to mix in grey and white, or other neutral such as camel, without having to worry too much or expend too much time. For those who don’t know which colours suit them, click here for some tips on how to figure that out.

4. It is camouflage

There actually are people who are intimidated by the notion of wearing colour simply because they will stand out from the crowd, and they don’t want to attract attention. Apart from those who genuinely need therapy for serious issues, always disappearing into the background is not a fulfilling way to live life. Wearing all black (all the time) to deal with insecurity is putting a bandaid on the issue.

5. I’m an artist/poet/designer

Oh, please.

Undoubtedly, there are plenty of other individual reasons, such as ‘it doesn’t show the dirt’, or ‘it makes me feel powerful’, ‘it’s sexy’, etcetera, but I won’t belabour the point by refuting every single one.

Just a little colour for starters

Don’t misunderstand, I am not suggesting we should give up wearing black entirely, just perhaps it would be a good idea – even a fun idea – to try something different from time to time. A change is as good as a holiday, remember!

If it is really a confronting prospect, try introducing colour in small ways to start with, or mix in some grey (there are so many tones of grey, warm and cool), white, a neutral such as camel or tan, or a muted ‘dirty’ pastel, shades which have been fashionable in recent seasons.

Fashion should be fun, and in these days when we are no longer slaves to the industry’s diktats, we can be free to experiment, and even challenge ourselves. Most people don’t have the chance to express much creativity in their everyday lives or jobs, but fashion can be a form of creative self-expression. Few artists limit themselves to just one colour in the entire spectrum … Why should you?

Photos: May 2012

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