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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bright spots dark spots

First the bright spot.

I did my Burdastyle seminar on Thursday.

I just had a blast. There is nothing like a captive audience of folks to listen to your opinions about interfacing and pressing to give a girl a good time.

Really I just loved it and am looking forward to one on knits next month and sleeves in November. I have so much I want to say about sewing and this is another way to have that conversation.

I am thrilled.

O.K. on to the dark spot.

Today the husband and I were in a golf tournament where if there had been a prize for the worst drives our foursome would have won, at least my end of the foursome.

Afterwards there was a lunch and because it a husband's work thing there were draws and prizes throughout the meal and since they are all in the engineering field the grab bags contained knives, flashlights, and golf balls with the big door prize a set of cordless drills. They kind of threw the prizes around and said "OK if you are finished eating see you next year." Let's say it was not exactly run like a shower if you get my drift. I thought it was hilarious and the man holding tightly onto his ticket to see if he won the drills didn't see what so funny.

But it was. If you were me it was.

Back to the dark spot.


Every foursome had their pictures taken. I looked at ours there I was black shoes, jacket, and pants. I looked like someone who was there to park your car.

It was at that moment that my style came to its final screeching halt.

For my whole working life I have been a black basic sort of girl. 

It's logical.

It's economical.

There is always something to go with something and there is always a black version of whatever you want to buy.

It made packing for business trips a breeze and accessorizing a snap.

It made it easy to go to New York.

I knew what to wear to a black tie and to an office party and a funeral and a speech.

According the lady who did my "colours" in my mom's living room in 1978, black is my colour and I have been working around it ever since.

The problem is.

I look like someone you would give the keys to.

I look dull and lifeless.

I look like I am wearing a uniform for a company at which I am not the CEO.

I look like someone else and not like me.

So the black has to go and leave me behind.

But how exactly am I going to do that?

What about the twenty pairs of black shoes?

The black leather bags?

The boots?

47 yards of black you know what?

The question is:

For me what is the new black?


Karen in VA said...

How about navy,or a nice dark eggplant? I wouldn't get rid of the black shoes...as far as I'm concerned, they go with anything..pretty much all I buy - one less decision to make in the morning...

annie said...

This is a bit like the reason I don't wear black. I'm a navy blue girl. It comes in decently dark shades for the more formal occasions. And I look so much better in it than I do in black. Problem is that shoes in 9N, navy blue, are not as readily available as black. Good luck in your search for your new "color."

gMarie said...

I'm sorry about your dark spots. I'm a huge fan of chocolate brown and grey - not together, but they are great neutrals. The woman who did my colors back 10 years or so ago, said anything you wear all the time can be a neutral, just build your wardrobe around it - green - sure, plum - why not?

And if you go with something that's not brown or navy as your neutral, well then you can still wear your black shoes and boots. g

Pattyskypants said...

I look super fantastic in Loden Green or Dark Red, so if I wear either one I always accessorize with the other. I never look like I'm going to park your car. I'd love to wear black but my Himalayan kitteh makes it look more like tweed.

Rebecca Clayton said...

I've always liked black, even as a little girl, but Mom told me back then to add in something bright-colored so I wouldn't look like I was in Victorian mourning.

I have tended to favor lipstick red as that bright color (I almost certainly over-do it) but really, anything nice and vivid works, at least to my taste.

(Also, the pictures you post of your outfits never look dull and lifeless.)

Anonymous said...

Very much looking forward to your style/color adventures - what fun!


Mary said...

This is a funny post but I know it must have been a shock to see the photo. If I may, I will offer some commiseration, support and some friendly feedback-Save the black pants!! Be more adventurous with shoe color, and ditch most of the black jackets. B/W print jacket? Red shoes? You are incredibly elegant in your photos...time to play a bit. :-)

Angela said...

Keep the black shoes, boots and handbags. Also keep at least one black skirt and one pair of black pants. But pair all that black with bright tops, jackets, or dresses. Put happier colors near your face and hair. You are right -- black goes with most everything -- just don't keep putting it with more black:) Remember how in FL you said you wanted to be more colorful?

debbie said...

I love black also but I don't wear it head to toe and if I do (say with a black coat) I make sure that I add a bright or patterned scarf to offset the black.

I think the key is adding color with the black with colored/patterned tops/blouses, jewelry, scarves etc.

shams said...

Don't do anything rash, Barbara! Step away from the Goodwill bag. I would start by adding in a pop of color. I adore mixing red with black, but there's cobalt blue, purple... lots of options! I adore wearing black pants and a black tee with a red jacket and red shoes, for example, with maybe a red necklace. Ease into this. It's a very fun way to dress!

Jane M said...

I didn't have a huge amount of black in my wardrobe....except for pants since they are so practical. But I did have at least two gorgeous black wool crepe suits from my corporate job years. I hung onto them long after I quit corporate life a dozen years ago....thinking that someday I'd wear them, even if it was just to a funeral. Well, guess what, I've been to numerous funerals since then and the only person wearing an entire black suit is usually the funeral home director. So maybe just mixing up those separates with coordinating pieces would feel less Dath Vaderish. (My real regret in the black suit story is that I didn't wear them more often when I had the opportunity....sort of like not sewing up the "good" fabric.)

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I'm thinking of doing the same but I'm also not sure how. Didn't you write how you're eventually going to face a career change? Will you need the same type of clothes? Or as much of them, eg. the jackets. If I were you, I wouldn't chuck or donate all my black things, especially the shoes or purses, or the well made or quality clothes. You can always shove things you might think you don't need or want in a garbage bag in the basement while you sort things out & experiment. If you force yourself to completely start over it can be too much, too fast. It can get expensive too. And if you throw everything out you'll have nothing to wear! You show colour on the blog but maybe it is mostly casual clothing? There is a blog The Vivienne Files, she uses many clothes that I probably wouldn't wear, but she does show how to add colours to basics. She points out how crucial accessories such as scarves can be. You once wrote that your choice of eyeglasses frame colour was affected by your changing hair colour. I'm not suggesting you get "your colours" evaluated again, but that is something to keep in mind. I too like black & have many black things but I think I will add other colours that suit me (not necessarily Pantone's colour of the season) as my hair is going white & affecting my skintone & make up routine also. Also, you can wear black shoes with navy. Sorry, this comment is all over the place, but the topic is something I have been mulling over lately.

Sheila said...

If you are happy with black keep it, but add one of those bright scarves you bought or a bright necklace. Go with what makes you happy.

Rachel (in Halifax) said...

But Barb - that plain blue dress you made to go with your scarves recently is stunning. Or rather, you look stunning in it.As for black, you can always add colour with more scarves. Oh dear, remember the Tabi scarves, maybe not the Tabi look.....

Catherine Daze said...

Are you sure it's not just one bad photo? Black photographs so badly.

Having said that, I bet navy would suit you.

JdeV said...

I agree with Shams. You can change the look of black in a million ways.

Sleep on it before doing anything radical.

prttynpnk said...

Never get rid of black- it's the perfect balance for any color- just throw in some pop pieces!

Shelly said...

I'd keep the black skirts and pants and swap out your black tops for brighter colours. That way you get to keep your black shoes and bags, which by the way will go with everything not just black. It's a win, win situation then and doesn't cost the world to replace practically your whole wardrobe.

Cleverclogs said...

Join the navy! You can keep the black shoes and bags, maybe adding grey or camel next time you are purchasing footwear. And yes, add bright tops to the black skirts and pants. If you go for reds, blues or purples on top, they'll also sit well with navy bottoms.

tinyjunco said...

oy. i hate these type of situations. However, i've found it's a good idea to re-evaluate one's color palete on a regular basis (at least yearly) in order to avoid the 'total overhaul'. And as Catherine Daze points out, it very well could be one bad photo....so do nothing rash.

Lots of people like the pop of color, but can i just say i loathe that on myself. I refer a 'pop of black' to sharpen up an outfit based on medium to light neutrals such as camel, ivory, light wash denim, mushroom, taupe, you get the idea.

Either way - yay! new clothes! :) steph

sewingkm said...

Oh Barb you have such a vibrant personality and vivid sense of personality it's no wonder the all black outfit photo startled you! Like other posters have stated keep some black basics and gradually sew new items in your favorite colors. I particularly liked your new cobalt blue dress.


Carole Mellin said...

Have you seen the blog "A Fool for Fabric" (http://fool4fabric.blogspot.com/) Margy does wonderful things with black, grey, and red. And I agree with Shams: cobalt blue and purple added to black are stunning.

Anonymous said...

After a career adoring black as my basic, I no longer want to wear it -- it's so serious and reminds me of funerals so I've switched to less severe colors in my retirement. Gray and navy work well as basic anchor colors for me as well as white. I still use my black shoes and bags, though, so would keep those. It's really a evolving thing, moving on to colors that attract you, make you feel happy, and helps you look pretty and fresher, too! Best wishes, Kay

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, I just reread my comment and realized it wasn't saying what I wanted. The anchor colors evolved because they go with the colors I find myself gravitating towards -- blue, lavender, peach, cool red. I still wear black, but usually only in bottom piece. I think you will find yourself shedding black naturally as you gradually add to your wardrobe colors you love. Kay
p.s. Get rid of some of that black fabric, or use them for Halloween costumes to make room for fabric that truly makes you feel good!

Deb said...

Someone told me we should choose the darkest color in our hair and go with that color. Deb

LinB said...

I agree with every single comment above. Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater! Just vow not to dress yourself in black cap-a-pie unless you're attending a funeral.

My daughter invariably chose black when she learned to dress herself. It was a startling choice for a toddler, especially for one with a sunny, happy personality. She was right, though, she looks great in black.

Bunny said...

Are you a winter? I always thought they were the only ones who could wear black or pure white. I never would have pegged you for a winter. You look like a spring or autumn in my book, but maybe it's the hair color or Florida tan that is fooling me. Anyhoo, pop some colors in there. I say make it a cobalt blue life. That dress looked wonderful on you. Keep the shoes and pants, at least the best of them, and move on to color. How about a red trench coat or red winter coat? I think you could really rock that one.

RebeccaHoward said...

You can sew. Very well. For goodness sake you give LESSONS. Sew stuff in every colour under the rainbow and you'll find something that will look good together. I stopped buying black fabric when my daughter said 'not black AGAIN, Mum' a couple of years ago. Now I have things in all different colours. I even have a yellow skirt! Think red, purple, yellow green, patterns, checks, stripes. You can do it! By the way, the yellow skirt is REALLY tricky to style. The only think I can make it work with is navy and white striped shirts. Humph.

Vicki said...

Black is a fabulous neutral (wish it suited me). But not all over! How about introducing new colours and prints but keeping the black basics - shoes, pants, bag etc. Look how stylish Fool for Fabric Margy looks in black, white and red. Good luck.

Janine said...

late to the party as usual. charcoal grey is a great neutral it goes with everything including black - lol.