I tear open the tape, and lift the cardboard flaps to pull out my newly delivered shoes: vivid royal blue. There is no hiding this color. They felt like a bold choice when I clicked “add to cart” two weeks ago. Now in my hands, they are not just a bold hue, but a brave one. Loud unrepentant bright hues always feel brave to me. “Look at me!” they invite- they catch the eye and hold attention. That same reason was why my toddler sported vivid orange shoes at the playground; when I let go and let him climb the structures above me, I could track him by his racing orange toes through the metal grates above me. I could always see those shoes, and find my straw haired boy.
I realized Friday was the anniversary of the first time since childhood that I had broken ground into bold colors. I bought a pair of lipstick red pants. The slim cut and flaming color beckoned attention to my lower half. I’m not sure how I managed to talk myself into trying them on, buying them, and summoning the chutzpah to wear them with a flattering black turtle necked top and four inch heels on Valentine’s Day 2002. In trying to be grown up I had been stuck in muted, sensible (i.e. grown-up) colors for a few years at that point. But pleased with the transformative powers of the outfit, I didn’t change out of it. The tamer colored pants and skirts I stocked my closets with never made my butt look this good, nor made me feel so self-assured. It’s hard to color-coordinate with a fire-engine and feel like a wallflower.
When my boyfriend picked me up for our evening out, he looked at me surprised at my not-to-be unnoticed outfit, and mustered, “Wow. Are you really wearing that? Where did those pants come from?” I assured him I most definitely was wearing those pants. And then bumbled out that they just struck me, were probably on clearance, and I decided it was time to try something new. He assured me that no one would miss seeing my back end as I walked by. I smiled, and figured, why hide? Obviously he was enjoying it already.
Well, those red-hot pants plus heels worked. I did turn a few extra heads that evening, but I’m certain it wasn’t just the effect the brazen outfit that had on others; it was affecting me. Really wearing that showy poppy red color made me own my outfit and my presence in a fresh way that black, moss green, charcoal gray and pastels didn’t demand. Sure I regularly worked a few brighter shirts, but somehow wearing that color around my lower half exponentially heightened the flowering effect. The magic pants forced confidence and self-ownership. I was putting myself out there, and allowing, even asking for notice.
The power of the red-hot pants didn’t subside. I got braver, venturing into less subtle jewelry, more candy-colored clothes and bold accessories. While sometimes I felt like I was stepping out of my comfort zone to wear them, I wanted to. I liked the energy I felt when I wore them, making into more of the person I aimed to be. Not “look at me in my flashy pants” but colorful, fun, and self-assured; but hopefully with enough restraint to come across as collected and savvy too. I don’t need my invitation to the Red Hat Society to show up in the mail box unbidden.
So yes, that ‘s my chartreuse phone cover. Yup, that’s me out running in the pepto-bismol pink shoes. And you shouldn’t have to wonder if I’m a wearing a fluorescent belt with my skinny jeans today. I am. And as I slipped on the new pair of boldly blue shoes this morning to I shuttle my kids to school this morning, I smiled at the freshly painted peacock blue front door they inspired. Funny how one lively pair of pants prompted a blossoming: my closet looks like a garden in bloom. I’m feeling more open and punchy each year. It’s true you can’t color-coordinate with a fire engine and feel like a wallflower. And for me, those colors that may be more popular with the younger set, but have let me grow up and into my own.
Where are you on the color spectrum?