Paint it Red and Yellow and Blue

Vivid shoes (with orange pants, naturally) with the front door paint job they inspired.

Vivid shoes (with orange pants, naturally) with the front door paint job they inspired.

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?

About Sandra

(Blog Editor and Prose Board) recently moved back to California by way of north Texas, Baltimore and San Francisco. She loves sunlight, color, and intense dark chocolate. She devours cookbooks like novels and writes a bit at www.section89.com.

8 thoughts on “Paint it Red and Yellow and Blue

  1. I love this! The same thing happened to me, back when my subconscious goal was to not be noticed my whole closet was black and white. Color just wasn’t me!

    I think when I turned thirty I changed. I don’t know what came first, the confidence or the color, but they fed off of each other until I’m a whole new woman. One who doesn’t operate on what others think, because I’m sure it’s not always pretty. But I’m happier than I’ve ever been!

  2. I’m orange. And this far into winter in a new town, I love this reminder that hiding is going to hide me from myself.

    You touch on the same joy that I get from Jessie Arrington’s TED talk. “Color is powerful. It is almost physiologically impossible to be in a bad mood when you’re wearing bright red pants. If you are happy, you are going to attract other happy people to you.”

  3. I’m green, blues and browns – I have firetruck hair, so avoid reds and oranges which make me clash with myself.

    But I have a fuchsia purple phone cover, a magenta wallet and sky blue handbag, and turquoise shoes. Colour is life!

  4. i tend to buy conservative colors (blues and grays, especially) and have very few patterned fabrics in my wardrobe. but i’m trying to branch out. whenever i’m shying away from bright colors when shopping, i have to remind myself that i always think that they look great on other people, so why should i be afraid of them myself? and i think you’re right, i’m amazed at how quickly bright colors change your mood and confidence.

  5. I prefer neutral colors for pants and shoes; I don’t think I could ever feel comfortable wearing bright red pants! Plus people in my workplace generally dress fairly conservatively. But, I have been experimenting with more colors for the rest of my wardrobe, especially after realizing that oranges, pinks, and yellows look really good on me. One of my new favorite wardrobe pieces is crazy socks–I love stripes and patterns and it’s fun to have a little pop of color and pattern between my khaki pants and brown shoes. I really do feel more confident and excited about my day when I’m wearing clothes that fit well and have fun colors or patterns.

  6. All the colors. All of them. All at once. Recently I feel like I’m remembering who I was when I was itty bitty. Sometimes loud, but mostly nice and sometimes pleasing. I love color, I’m remembering how much.

  7. White, black, brown, light blue, dark green, olive and occasionally a subtle pink or a warm burgundy. Subdued works best for me. Some people are energized by color but I’m not. I lose focus it when I wear it. Perhaps it’s related to the way my vision works but I get distracted by the colors when I’m wearing red or purple, yellow or bright blue. That means that I actually respond almost to colors that is almost opposite to the way you do. It am more likely to be creative and open and effective when I wear quiet colors than when I wear bold ones.

    It’s interesting how we respond so differently.

  8. White, black, brown, light blue, dark green, olive and occasionally a subtle pink or a warm burgundy. Subdued works best for me. Some people are energized by color but I’m not. I lose focus it when I wear it. Perhaps it’s related to the way my vision works but I get distracted by the colors when I’m wearing red or purple, yellow or bright blue. That means that I actually respond to colors in a way that is almost opposite to the way you do. It am more likely to be creative and open and effective when I wear quiet colors than when I wear bold ones.

    It’s interesting how we respond so differently.

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