Don’t get me wrong – I like black. I like the way I look in black. Black simplifies my wardrobe marvelously. But the whole black situation is completely out of control. A non-Jewish neighbor of mine wears black and black every single day. She’s an arteest, though, and is trying to look weird. (Though even I could do a better job, honestly.) One day I cleaned out my drawers and realized that 2 out of the 5 t-shirts I’ve been rotating all summer are black. Another one is white. Half the things in my closet follow this zebra pattern. I decided it was time to give color a chance.
I thought I’d try a week without black. Well, excepting skirts. A person can’t go cold turkey. Black skirts are very practical and also comprise about 75% of my skirt wardrobe – 100% of my casual skirt wardrobe ever since I learned how to change a tire while wearing my khaki-colored one. (That wasn’t my brightest moment.) I had to do some archaeological work on my closet to find something to wear, which inevitably led to me throwing out an awful lot of stuff I didn’t even know I was saving, let alone why, or even how I came to own it. (A long pink skirt? I did not buy that. Nor will I wear it, crusade against black or not.) This left my closet looking a bit emptier than usual. Refilling it should have struck any woman as an irresistible challenge, but somehow Cannery Row by Steinbeck proved even more irresistible. And then there was something by Wodehouse, and Mccaughrean, and Pratchett… And don’t forget the spinach to plant and beans to pick and running to do.
The next logical step was a bit more daring. No little black suit on dates. It always seemed stupid to me – getting dressed up for a black-tie dinner when there never is one. There are very few things that feel stupider than finding yourself in middle of Flatbush restaurant, sitting at a table in your nicest black suit when your 8th grade Home Ec teacher is at the next one over in her Sunday finery and studiously ignoring you, and the jeans-clad Israeli waitress is eying your date and rating him on a scale between 1 and 7. Well, there are other reasons why that feels stupid, but the suit is part of it. You can look formal and well turned out without a little black suit. Or any suit, for that matter. NMF #6 (or was it 7?) never wore a suit until after her BFF proposed. (But then again, she was prone to edgy behavior.) My favorite evening was the time I sat in a lounge dominated by high school girls running around in their summer pajamas. While there are very good reasons for me to be dressed more nicely, I still felt as over dressed as if I’d gone to a pool party wearing a burka.
Of course, any revolution in dressing requires a trip to Herald Square for a wardrobe adjustment. The Dangerous Book for Boys had to be set aside. You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is. (Both: setting aside the book and shopping for color.) I’m not going to go into a shopping harangue, but I left a lot of nice stuff on the rack for the simple sin of being available in only black or white. The highlight of the expedition was drawing a graph on my TI-83 representing the best use of my coupons. The difference between best use and easiest use was nearly $30, btw. Be careful with your coupons. That’s the best advice I can give about anything related to shopping and colorful clothing and what to wear on dates. Now if you wanted book recommendations, running tips, or home-grown cholent beans…