It’s Halloween. And while I’m all about being witchy, this year as cold weather approaches and I think about my fall and winter wardrobe, I’m making a concerted effort to shift, at least a little bit, away from the dark side.
Here’s an interesting thing that’s come from slowing down and paying attention: discovering the difference between what I actually like and what I think would be a safe or smart thing to own. I’m not pooh-poohing black entirely—I have plenty of black clothes that I quite like. Neither am I disavowing the value I’ve found in keeping a relatively limited color palette—I still think that’s valuable for all the same reasons I talk about here. But for the past few years I’ve been adding items or ensembles that I admire to a “things to wear” board on Pinterest, and sometime in the middle of last winter I realized that despite the fact that my digital inspiration board was filled with cold weather clothes in lighter, brighter, warmer shades, that most of the cold weather clothes in my closet were a deep, dark black: black coats, black sweaters, black leggings, black boots, black and more black. All of the camels and grays and blues and the occasional soft pinks that I enjoyed adding to my imaginary closet were nowhere to be found in my actual closet.
I know the reason for the homogeny stems from wanting to be practical. I want to make sure I make choices that will outlast trends or whims or mood swings and black seems safe. It’s helpful too that I generally think I look nice in black—there’s no hemming and hawing once something arrives about whether a particular shade of black is one that best complements my skin tone. Goodness knows I can scrutinize what a pink shirt does for my complexion til’ the cows come home (someone insert more appropriate urban metaphor here, please and thank you). Still, I think I need to shake things up a bit. I realize that I don’t live in southern California. I live in a place where one must bundle and dress sensibly and where black is the default defense against the harshness of the winter. But I’m going to start trying something a little different. I’m shifting my defense strategy. I have a hard enough time getting through New York winters without dressing up like I’m attending a funeral on a daily basis.
Much of this is aspirational. I’m not doing a wholesale ditching of the black things in my closet and restocking them with lighter colored winter woolens. For one thing, wintry clothes that have been made thoughtfully require a fair bit of saving. (And plenty of advance notice for would-be gift givers.) For another, I don’t really need anything new. But when there is something that I need or would really love to have, I’m trying this new approach and thinking of my wintry wardrobe as a little more Glinda and a little less Wicked Witch of the West.
A few weeks ago, a very special present arrived in the mail from Misha and Puff; a thank you gift. The gift is decidedly not black. It’s a beautiful cream-colored sweater peppered with a colorful sprinkling of rust and yellow, pink and green and blue. Its cheeriness is helped along by the fact that it’s covered in tiny knit balls of “popcorn.” On first glance, it’s the opposite of what Erin of yore would have deemed practical enough to take up room in her closet. And yet, I’ve never worn anything out and about that’s received as many grins or compliments. It’s a sweater to smile over, an admitted relief from so much black, and one of those rare pieces of clothing that I’ve immediately and enthusiastically embraced without hesitation.
All of this is, I suppose, another long-winded way of saying wear what makes you happy and what makes you practical. And if you can fend off wintertime blues at the same time, well, then, thank goodness.
For the curious, a few thoughtfully made wintertime additions that look soft and seasonal but not at all dreary:
A slightly cropped but still satisfactorily cozy sweater with a dash of coral.
A striped sweater in undyed wool.
A camel-colored tunic in felted wool.
A swing sweater jacket in a rosy, cozy peach.
A cropped cowl in caramel.
A classic crew neck in a bright sea blue.
All of my other musings on minimalist wardrobes, right this way.