All Things Bright and Beautiful
February 3, 2014
The weather forecast predicted grim things for my neck of the woods this weekend… wet, windy and wild, yet the temperature remains surprisingly mild (that’s almost a poem…!)
I was getting cheerful over the weekend because ‘technically’ Winter covers December/January/February so, in four weeks time, Spring will have sprung and I can begin to get excited at the prospect of the gazebo going back up in the garden and being able to spend long evenings after the day job, sat inside working on my writing or patchwork and enjoying some “real” sunshine (although my body clock and my SAD light are doing an admirable job at keeping the worst of the winter blues at bay for me). I also turned my attention to my wardrobe. It’s coming to the time of year where my woolly jumpers and thermals get evicted and my spring and summer clothes start to come out of the closet.
The winter wear has to share spare wardrobe space with the clothes that I’ve kept from when I was slender. Half of it is given to the clothes that I used to be able to get into and which I still love, the other half houses the current out-of-season items and it was as I started to shift things around that something suddenly became clear.
It would seem that my ability to wear colour has lessened in direct proportion to the increase in the size of the clothes. Looking at all my “goal” clothes I was struck by how colourful they were. Even those that were mainly black or grey or brown all had a splash of colour on them.
They provided a stark contrast to the clothes I was putting into the wardrobe… Which were all either black, brown or navy blue…. with the only hint of colour being a tiny embroidered red corner on one shapeless grey sweatshirts?
I did reason with myself that they were “winter clothes” and that most of us revert to darker hues for darker days… but I delved into the “goal clothes” side of the wardrobe and unearthed the winter woollies lurking at the back. Cardigans were turquoise, cerise and red; Jackets were red and purple; I had a hanger full of brightly coloured and patterned scarves… All hidden away.
I headed back to my “now” wardrobe clutching the items I had retrieved for my “2014 spring collection”. I had one shapeless, sleeveless white vest top, but all the rest were, yet again, entire blocks of dull colour… grey, bogging-marsh-green and beige. The cardigans which currently fit my frame were an uninspiring camel-colour and black. Not a hint of colour to be seen.
I have to say, that although I knew that my increased weight had seen a shift in my size and shape, and I was aware that I was buying clothes which “will do”… I hadn’t realised that the extra weight had caused me to become almost virtually “colour-blind”… How else could I explain the fact that my former favourite colours for my clothes had been red, purple and cyan… and yet here was I, burying myself in a colour scheme that could be best collectively described as “sludge”.
I then decided to probe the matter further, and hunted out my collection of shoes which currently lie unworn in plastic boxes under the spare bed, as they fall into “my feet are too fat for them” category. (That had been a revelation when the weight started becoming an issue. My feet are still size 3… but they are considerably wider than they were when I was three stone lighter… and as a result I can’t wear some of my most beautiful footwear….. the red patent leather peep toe three inch heels that accidentally stole the show at my sister in law’s wedding… (she lives in Switzerland… and apparently most people tend to go for functional shoes in Switzerland. My “red-devils” were the envy of a good many of the female guests (who all tried to squeeze their feet into them) whilst the men present would grin at Lovely Husband and point at what they called my “racy shoes” (…’racy’ being the Swiss equivalent of ‘naughty’…)
But I digress. I started thinking back to my late teens, when Twin had been having some weight issues. I vividly recall going shopping with her for a party outfit and getting exasperated when she pulled shapeless black dress after shapeless black dress off the rails. I encouraged her to try on an amazing white-and-small-bright-floral shirt… which she did reluctantly, then fell in love with it instantly, left the shop clutching it excitedly whilst admitting to me that I hadn’t pushed her she would never have dared try it on.
I tried to think back to when my aversion to colourful clothes had started. I had no real recollection of making a decision to avoid colour…. But a telling sign was the size on the label in the clothes.
It seemed that my aversion to all things bright and beautiful started when the clothes label moved from being a 12 to a 14. The size 12 part of my spare wardrobe is full of vibrant colours; bold splashes and daring patterns… but as soon as we enter “size 14 territory” … well the clothes look like they could be territorial army issue…. All designed to mask my shape and act as camouflage, and to ensure that I drew absolutely no attention to myself whatsoever.
Given that I recall something similar happening with Twin, it made me wonder just how many of my fellow WLR-ers have also become “colour-phobic”? How many of us are hiding away in a palette of dull dark shapeless clothes without even realising that we are doing it? I was genuinely surprised when I realised just how limited my wardrobe had become “post size-12”. The other baffling part of this is.. that even if I am wearing big blocks of dull colours… I have drawers full of fantastic scarves and gloves and jewellery and bags….in every imaginable shade…. But I can’t remember the last time I used any of them to brighten up the beige/brown/grey/camouflage that appears to have become my trademark palette.
I think the biggest surprise was that I hadn’t realised how “introverted” I had become since gaining weight. I used to love styling and creating great looks out of bright mix-and-match items from my wardrobe. I was never a “follower of fashion” (particularly now I’m far too old to be found in Top Shop or Dorothy Perkins) but I did wear what I felt good in.. and I’m shocked to discover just how much the extra weight has seemingly caused me to lose confidence about being bold and colourful.
I do have to add that as I’m typing this I’m trying to remember the last time I looked through the racks of clothes in “my size” and found something in a glorious emerald green, stunning sapphire blue or sensational cerise… and I’m struggling… can it really be that the world has decided that once the size on the label reaches a certain number that colour is consigned to history? Or maybe I’m just shopping in the wrong shops (although I have to say I’m limited by budget constraints so high-end designer creations are never going to feature… no matter how slender I become…)
But at least, having realised what’s happened, I am determined to change the situation… I may never be “beautiful” but I can certainly be “bright” (or at least for the moment a little brighter) by adding a shot of colour to my wardrobe. Bold scarves; colour-splashed jewellery and even brightly painted nails… I may not be quite ready for Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat… but I can at least get away from my camouflage nightmare.
So whatever your day may have in store for you… Why not celebrate the “bright and beautiful you”…?
With a hug