Friday, October 23, 2009

The Colors of our Life

RHYS:I went shopping yesterday, having been seriously store-deprived while I was in Australia. When I hung the new skirt and sweater in my closet I realized that everything I've bought this fall is either beige or brown. I also realized that over the years I have been attracted to very different colors. There, hanging in my closet, is my turqoise year, my navy year, my buttery yellow year, my pink year and yes, there was even a mauve year, I fear, although God knows when that was and God knows what made me think that mauve was a pleasant color.

So now I'm intrigued: why am I attracted to beige and brown this year? What made me go for navy at one time and buttery yellow at another? Was I in need of cheering and sunshine when I chose that yellow? Or was I feeling radiant and on top of the world? Was I feeling sophisticated when I went for the navy suit? With me it's certainly not conscious, neither is it the fashionable color of the year. I don't even realize that I'm in a beige or blue phase until I look in the closet and there are several pieces hanging side by side. I sure Roberta and other psychologists reading this could tell me why we are attracted to certain colors at certain times. I think I'll keep a color diary from now on, and then at the end of the year, I'll compare it with my achievements and personal life diary.

Rhys in her mauve mistake period with my friend Lyn Hamilton who sadly left us last month.
I know some people stick to one basic color scheme. My daughter Anne wears black, light blue, red. She clearly a winter type. I look awful in black, although I have the obligatory black suit for formal occasions. But as for the little black dress--I look like something out of a vampire movie.

So how about you, Jungle Red Sisters? Do you stick to favorite colors as the basis for your wardrobe or do you change from year to year like me?

HANK: AH, Rhys. I started with a "black" year. Then year. The next year, I And I liked it so much that the next year, I went for black. This year, I'm thinkin'--black.

We had our house appraised a few years ago, and the appraiser briefly had the run of the place. He came downstairs with a funny look on his face. Well, he said, I looked in your closet, Hank. Oh, I replied, sheepish. Lots of shoes, huh?

Shoes? he said. Nope. Everyone has shoes. I was just wondering how many black suits one person really needs.

Yellow doesn't work with my hair. Nor does purple. Or gray. Or pink. Or tan/beige/taupe. Navy's fine, but it's not as nice as black. Red, yes, love it. And white, well, hmmm. Suddenly there's lots of white in my closet. And I wonder what that means. But basically--yeah. Black.

I would love to see your color diary, though, Rhys. And I'm with ya on the mauve thing. Mistake.

JAN: Once, long ago, I a did a story about a woman starting some sort of consulting business on "Colors." Later, I went in for a color consultation, and I'm sad to say, it's become the religion to which I'm most faithful. I'm as BEIGE as Hank is BLACK. Fall colors no matter what season it is -- although sometimes I veer into heresy and tell myself I can wear pale pink -- but ONLY if it's got PEACH TONES. Otherwise, I'm afraid, I'm doomed to eternity in fashion HELL.

So if you look in my closet, you see beige, beige, a little brown and gold, and then a lot more beige. Some might call it BORING. Others might call it INCREDIBLY BORING, but others may see the LIGHT.

RHYS: I've had my share of color mistakes--and my mother insisted on sending me the flowery patterns I loved during my San Francisco during the 70s phase. I wish I could wear black--it makes life so much simpler and it always looks professional.


  1. quite a few years ago the salon where I got my hair cut had a special on determining your "personal color palette." So I now own a little collection of swatches telling me what colors are right for me, right down to the jewelry. There are a couple of special swatches in colors that are supposed to intensify hair, skin, and eyes. Of course my hair (ahem) is not exactly the same color it used to be. I'm supposed to be wearing lots of turquoise, some peachy colors, some brown, some green. If only I could remember the damn thing when I go shopping!

  2. I think I'm all over the palette, except that I rarely wear pink, which is strange, because I wore a lot of pink in my youth. (Maybe that's the issue.) Now I'd choose coral over any shade of pink, anyday.

    At work I wear a lot of black, navy or grey with some bright colored blouse, scarf or shoes, and I do wear a lot of different shades of green across the seasons. Red hair, hazel eyes equals ... default green, except kelly green, which I NEVER wear.

    In the summer, I am to white t-shirts what Hank is to black suits. Usually khaki pants and a white tee, and some butter- or mint-colored ball cap. Or khaki skirt, slightly silkier white t-shirt, and bright red pumps. Khaki just *feels* cooler than the omnipresent denim during summer in Texas. When it gets as hot as it gets here, I don't even want a pattern on the t-shirt. Just white cloth seems a lot less heavy.

  3. I started wearing black in the fourth grade and never really looked back. Occasionally I'll add white or brown. And every spring I seem to buy something that's celery green. As long as it goes with black. I really noticed it when I started going to mystery shows and saw the pix. I look like I'm wearing the same thing all the time (of course, sometimes I am..)rest assured it's black.
    Kaye Barley and I had a conversation about pink at Bouchercon but I don't see it happening for me. I bought a few pink sweaters to go with the book jacket for Dirt Nap (don't ask) and I wore one of them once. Hideous.

  4. Wearing the aame thing is another problem for us writers, isn't it? I'm often at a store or a convention and somebody hands me a photo that was snapped of us together the year before and, guess what? I'm wearing the same jacket.
    I do have a couple of favorite jackets--a light green suede and a cherry red leather that I wear an awful lot to functions.

  5. 110 years ago, or so, when I was just starting out. I went to Neiman-Marcus in Dallas(before it was a chain store)to buy the best on sale. The very nice and well-trained sales manager told me how to "build" a quality wardrobe that would last years. Bingo, just what I needed.
    1. Pick a basic neutral each year and buy the basic parts: jacket, dress, skirt, blouse, slacks and sweater. Then buy a blouse or two and scarf, one elegant, one more casual. Start with black.
    2. Second year choose navy, gray or beige and another one the next year.
    3. Use Yellow/Red/white/cream as accent colors to go with all - so you can change things around.
    4. Within 4 years you have an excllent wardrobe and can upgrade as you find luxury items on sale.
    5. DO NOT BUY FADS, stick with the classics. If you have to buy fad items, buy inexpensive and only one.
    6. Wherever Ann Smoller (The NM expert) is, I hope she is happy. She made me a believer with a flexible wardrobe.

  6. I gravitate toward neutrals, although my closet seems to have a bunch of blue in it as well. I wore a frilly pink dress to our 9th grade party (don't ask when) and I think that was my one experiment with pink and frilly.

  7. I stick with basic blacks, khakis, whites, and off whites in jackets and pants, but spruce them up with splashes of color with purses and shoes. But at home, while writing, I have my old stand-bys, jeans and larger shirts for comfort! Great site, and huge thanks for participating in Hallopalooza! Suzy