Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Dark side of the moon

Hadley Freeman is on a roll this morning, explaining what exactly is wrong with polo neck sweaters, and why designers design so many clothes in black:

It's a sad truth, and one that I feel does our gender little credit, that so many women instinctively plump for black. Why, my sisters, why? Is this what we fought for, what we chained ourselves to railings for, what we burned some perfectly good bras for - to obscure ourselves in the colour of night, like Death Eaters from the world of Harry Potter? Good God, no. Surely a skating glance at any member from everyone's favourite Christian rock group, Evanescence, proves that black clothes against a pale visage do not an appealing image make. And lo, we have yet another example of what this column shall pithily call women-doing-something-that-they-think-will-make-themselves-look-better-only-in-fact-ending-up-looking- a-helluva-lot-worse (see also: dieting, wearing too small clothes or too high heels.)

Because that, I fear, is why designers have, as you memorably put it, a Henry Ford mentality. It's not that they're so keen on black - if anything, they find it a bit of a drag because there are only so many black coats you can convince the masses to buy - it's just that they know it's the one shade that's guaranteed to sell. Break the bonds of fear, ladies, because the sad fact is that the only skin shade that makes black look good is, funnily enough, black, and occasionally brown. On everyone else, black makes them look anaemic or like a pretentious French philosophy student (bringing us back to Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face - circle of life, eh?) And while few people want to look pretentious, absolutely no one wants to look like a philosopher. Ewww!


miss cavendish said...

I absolutely agree that black isn't flattering. The "darkest" shade I'll wear next to my face is navy or a charcoal gray; black is simply too harsh.

But I'm bewildered about the post on "polo neck" sweaters. I think I'll take this up on my own blog because, if I'm understanding the author correctly, I have quite the opposite take.

Thanks for your inspiration each day!

Deja Pseu said...

She is very funny! I can hardly wait to get her book.

I'll cop to wearing black frequently, because it's easy, and because good browns have become tougher to find again. I did stock up on grey this year, but it's not always as available. When the choice is between black/grey and neon bright, Pucci-esque colors, I'm probably going to stick to my neutrals, and wear a colorful scarf to offset the black next to my face.

Linda Grant said...

The scarf issues is one I'll be dealing with more extensively in the next day or two

lagatta à Montréal said...

Hmm, I buy black by default when there are no colours I wear available. Certainly during all periods of neon pinks and puke greens, and baby pastels. Or beige - good on blondes, I suppose, and perhaps on dark-skinned lasses, but not on ivory-skinned (pale olive) brunes.

My sole cashmere sweater is a rich red. I love colours, but want them rich and somehow muted.

Chaser said...

Hey!! That philosopher remark hurts!

I rather like myself in black, especially now I've gone mostly silver. But I seldom wear just black.

bird's eye view said...

Personally I find black overrated and so boringly safe...