Should I be Falling for it?

As my part of the world is fairly temperate, my closet skews very multi-season/transitional. When it’s colder I layer up; when it’s hotter, I channel my inner burlesquer. Naturally, I also have a small stash of items weighty and frothy for if you prick me do I not bleed? temperatures.

Depressingly, my warm-weather coterie has a tendency to spend June and July hanging in the closet with this total Corduroy the Teddy Bear vibe while we Pacific Northwesterners wait for summer to actually arrive. Not that I MIND God’s tears washing over me when I’m supposed to be lounging outside with gelato or a fruity cocktail or something FUN. Not at all, nope, I couldn’t care less.

[Yes, I get cranky about the rain yet do not take kindly to our mega-heat waves. I’m a Gemini, capice?]

Given the atmospheric reality in which I live, I end up with a lot of lightweight knit tops and mid-weight bottoms. All of which get worn over and over and oh-my-freaking-god-die-already over during the year. And now that the “year” is really more like the “year x 4,” I am seeing the sad result of my post-intervention decision to spend more per item and have a lot less to wear.

RESULT: Personal and global economic apocalypses notwithstanding, I am pretty damn sick off oh, 80% of my clothing. And right now I don’t care that my buying method gives me a highly functional, very flexible system that may in fact rival that of Garanimals, where

each of the distinct animal lines consists of mix and match separates, whose color and style coordinate with any piece within that same animal line.”

My process isn’t going to change significantly in the near future, though. Which means that technically I have nothing to lose by checking out Pantone’s color proclamations for fashion when I’m browsing their reports for industrial and graphic and interior design. Because if I decide to freshen up my closet with a new long-sleeved T shirt or scarf, it makes perfect sense to choose a sizzling new shade that works with my latest choice in tic tacs or rearview window dice.


I write the following with great trepidation, because Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, also calls the PNW home. Thus she could either beat me up without having to grossly rearrange her schedule OR she could run into me at the supermarket and feel mysteriously compelled to offer me my Yes, Seriously #1 Dream Job–making up color names–until she she sensed my Corbeau-colored aura and felt equally compelled to rescind aforementioned offer.

HOWEVER, doesn’t the Pantone report for Fall 2009…

Pantone Color Report Fall 2009

The Pantone Color Report for Fall 2009 really wants to say: In every life we have some trouble / When you worry you make it double / Don't worry, be happy

look an awful lot like their prior fall color reports?

...and 2008

Granted, their Fall 2008 choices had some friskiness with the blue and green...


...while their Fall 2007 forecast got kicky with that jadeite and purplish-pink...

Similar shades in 2006...

...and credit where due for swerving toward the pale Calvin Klein-y neutrals in Fall 2006.

No wonder Im having deja vu in 09 given Fall 2005s shades

But given the shades in Fall 2005, no wonder I'm having déjà vu in '09!

Now one doesn’t need to be all that sensitive to color to note that OBVIOUSLY, the shades chosen to accessorize our fall/winter lives have year-to-year variations. But I think it’s a stretch to call the bulk of them significant deviations. For the most part, a Pantone Fall = Red. Bright Purple. Midnight Blue. Putty. Honey or Mustard. Terracotta, Pumpkin, or Caramel. Plus the revolving-door colors.

Surveying the clothes that have to get me through another fall, I spy with my semi-dispirited eye red, bright purple, and midnight blue. As most people don’t wander around with a holstered Pantone guide to make sure strangers are wearing the EXACT shade of  an “in” color, I guess I’ve got a toe in the trend–even if most of the items in question will be layered beneath black, dark brown, and grey.

And really, it’s not as if surrounding myself with mainstream colors holds much of a thrill for me these days. I’m busy dreaming of the ineffable; I’m preoccupied by a shadowy closet filled with Parisian Embrace and Húsavík Plume and Hollyford Trek. But right now I can’t go too far from what I know and what I have. Looks like my forecast entails another season cozied up with good ole American Beauty (#19-1759), and I’ll just have to make the best of it.

The icing on the camel’s back

In the nearly 20 years I’ve known you, you’ve always been prone to wearing clothes that are black and baggy. But now they’re black, baggy, and covered in cat hair…and that’s just one thing too many.”

–my friend “SilverTongue” to me, Summer 2005

If you’re thinking, “OMG I would never speak to her again!!!” remember that she was beyond right and HILARIOUS. I find it a tough combination to resist.

Four years after my friend’s challenge, my exterior is more stereotypically Mainstream Professional than Dickensian Anti-Chic. And four years after her gauntlet-throwing, the intersection of fashion, personal style, commerce, and women’s bodies remains ever-political.

Think it’s tediously womyn’s lib to believe a “politics of fashion” exists? Me, I feel better knowing something about how fashion and women have rubbed along in the past. Forewarned, forearmed. Couture’s technical stars hold appeal, but so do the everyday women who’ve been risk takers and rule breakers. Give me those who stepped out in bloomers and those who slashed skirt hems sky-high; let me applaud those who created high-performance compression wear and those who flung their bras into moldering clumps. Bring on the sauntering hemp wearers and let the with-2%-stretch fans cartwheel by!

One woman’s meat is another’s poison, of course; my nearly 70-year-old pal lets me look to the past while she scans the horizon for what’s coming next. Granted, the horizon-scanning may be because she finds much of what I wear depressingly sedate as well as a mismatch with my trucker vocabulary. “THINK CAMOUFLAGE,” I hiss at her when I see her making that face she tends to make when she registers that I’m once again in sensible separates to her gold lamé.

See, I’m not such a born-again that I can’t respect those with a variety of viewpoints, like LAME IN BROAD DAYLIGHT. This includes “non-viewpoints,” too: if someone prefers a utilitarian approach to clothing, he or she can have at it. Naturalists? Ditto.

But if you’re on the fence about this whole style thing, and your choice is between clothing that flaunts a characteristic you love about yourself vs clothing that helps you fade into the background? Choosing the former can be a lot more transgressive than you think.