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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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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

And the last word on colour

Wasn't that interesting?

Colour seems to be such an important topic because it is so personal (see comments, and note that teal has more fans than anticipated). Colour seems to be  part of the decision not be be neutral or the personal decision to compliment a neutral.

All of your comments have me thinking.

Here are some of those thoughts, or questions really:

  • How many of you wear your favourite colours a lot, or at least give them a priority?
  • How much of our basic colours are those that manufacturing has presented us with? We all know that cutting one colour for multiple garments sure saves fabric. How much more fabric would be saved if the colour range is contained? Look at this very interesting article from today's NY Times on how we are trained to feel the "Colour of the Year"
  • Really I think a person would be hard pressed these days to sew a wardrobe without black if she wanted. In the winter at least black dominates. Try even finding navy leggings for example, or yoga pants easily in any thing other than black. Can you imagine how much even harder that would be if you were trying to build a wardrobe around teal or say plum?
  • Only sewists have the choice to swim upstream colour wise, but then they can expect to stand out even more in the RTW sea around them.
  • Coordinating is stil tough for many personal palette sewists, which is why many who decide to do this sew in "outfits" rather than separates, or use colour more for stand alone items like dresses and coats than basics. This would be me.
The other thing that impressed me from your comments is that a few of you mentioned that colour often attracted compliments and attention. Just yesterday in a Walmart I complimented a lady on her most beautiful shocking pink sweatshirt - she just looked so happy.

So if you accept the idea that colour can communicate or at least create emotional connection this is a tool of life worth considering.

I hope that none of you who saw this series were expecting a brilliant what French women wear type wardrobe plan in our discussion of personal style.

I am pretty sure that is being done elsewhere and being done well.

I think what's going on here instead is a conversation on how we use clothes, and as sewists we can define those, to talk to the world about who we are, or more importantly speak to ourselves about who we really are.

What's up next of course has to be body image.

Brace yourself for that one.

It's a biggy and will be something I will be pondering as we head west out of Texas tomorrow.


Unknown said...

I went back & read the comments about our favorite colors something pretty cool was, when describing the colors we love it wasn't just the "normal" red, blue, green but variations on those burgundy,navy, teal. Maybe as artistic creators we aren't "normal"?. LOL it made me happy & smile reading the colorful descriptions & the why. Plus most of us have more than one favorite & the favorite often changes. How cool is that 😁

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about favorite colors and remembering what a hard question I found that as a child.....because really I like most colors. Not mustard, maybe, but most others. Love the idea of color creating an emotional connection, something else to ponder.


bbarna said...

Loved this series and the comments. As someone who never (and I don't use that word lightly) wears black, but has substituted navy, I find that it goes in and out of favour over the years. I have learned to pick up leather purses, shoes and any findings that are navy and take care of them, so they last. I got some navy leather dye, and touch up my shoes and purses, and have regularly gone to the shoemaker for repairs, rather than constantly replacing them. I love that I can sew, as that takes care of the clothing aspect of this.
Barb from Prince George.

LWS said...

It struck me after I posted my favorite color that I am a split personality color-wise. The colors I like to live with (decorate my house with) and the colors I like to wear are completely different. My wardrobe if neutrals is accented with cool colors — blues and blue/greens mostly — but I surround myself warm, earthy reds and ochers at home. Does anybody else find that the color they love in a sweater would be loathsome on a sofa? Or that their bedspread is a color they would never, ever wear?

Re: availability, color choices really have declined over the years in retail, and to some extent in fabric. I have a couple of favorite colors that I would love to wear but simply cannot find. I keep hoping next year will be the year that Pantone lifts them from their undeserved obscurity.

Marie said...

Have been reading your blog for several years and I love it. I have to say though that I am really enjoying listening to you on the clothes making mavens podcast. You are so down to earth and funny! Well I knew you were probably funny from the blog but to hear you is great.I am so glad you are going to be a contributor and cannot wait to get your book. Thank you for all you do. I truly appreciate it.

Pincushion Chronicle said...

This year was my color wake up year. I use to buy a ton of blues and greenish fabrics and make lovely thing that I never wore. They looked so pretty in the closet but on me someting was amiss. Finally, I realized my skin is on the yellowish side and the blues and greens really made me super yellow. So I have moved to the opposite side of the color wheel and now I feel happy in what I make.Just took me half a life time to figure it out.....

birdmommy said...

I spent far more than I should have on a pair of leggings the other day, specifically because they are a grey and white stripe. My wardrobe is currently based around grey and black, but I'm transitioning to white as my main 'neutral' - there's not a lot of grey and white stuff in RTW, so anything that I can find gets snapped up.
There's a navy and white striped pair of leggings that I'm probably going to go back and get too...

Lynn said...

My favorite color is orange--not a standard choice--and I wear it a lot! I use it against a base of navy or brown. I've even bought an orange bag. It makes me happy, and since I sew I know that I can always make something to suit my fancy.

Gwen Van Kleef said...

We had a Colours franchise in the eighties. This was a good way to build a wardrobe and add in colour. Essentially there are four *seasons* - winter, spring, summer and autumn. Winter and summer are cool colours and spring/autumn warm colours. Depending on your skin and hair colour, you would be found to look better in the colours from that season. Winter is usually a dark haired, pinker toned skin and with accompanying very white white, the more clear bright pinks, blues, yellows, etc. Summer is usually ash blondes and medium-brown brunettes (not the warmer, yellow blondes - they'd usually be a *spring*). Summer is the more muted versions of *winter* - more pastel pinks, blues and a slightly softer white - but still COOL colours. Autumns are usually redheads or close to it - with the warmer palette - earth tones, khaki, warm white, golds, etc. You can look on Amazon and I think there was the book "Color Me Beautiful" or some such but you get the idea. You can figure it out usually yourself. Spring and Summer wore gold; winter and summer wore silver (following the warm/cool theme). It helped with your wardrobe because essentially everything pretty much matched together and you weren't always trying to match some oddment in your closet.

Laceflower said...

I get stopped by strangers all the time commenting on my clothes, usually a coat as it is more of a stand out/different from RTW. I have a periwinkle fleece, ankle length coat and usually the first comment is how warm and cozy I look. I also have a red fleece coat that is also ankle length with faux fur trimmed hood, and when I finished it and put it on, I exclaimed " I look like Red Riding Hood!" Nevertheless, strangers stop me to comment positively. BTW I also made gloves to match. *G*
Good discussions Barb, keep us going.

Marianne said...

Interesting series of posts. I wear neutrals as pants, and always colour on top. This best satisfies my need to get dressed easily and without fuss, since almost any top goes with almost any bottom. It also allows me to wear colour, something I don't wish to live without.

Sometimes I reverse this, and wear colourful pants with a neutral top.

I think it is as you say, it is good when the clothes we wear reflect who we are inside. For me this is simple, non-fussy, a lover of colour.

My favourite winter coat was red. It helped me stay cheerful in a darker time of year. My current coat is blue, not quite as cheerful, but still OK.

Favourite colours to wear: purples, blues, reds. I look healthy and happy in these colours. The rest are reserved for walls or doors or quilts.

VeraS said...

There are so many wonderful sites regarding wardrobes, minimizing the number of pieces to buy (capsule wardrobes), color and what to wear and one of the places I most frequent is The Vivienne Files. She creates before your eyes a series of options on what to wear with what, usually inspired by a scarf, a painting, a work of nature, all with color and neutrals too. Here's the link in case you'd like to check it out:

corsadriver49 said...

Very interesting series and thought provoking. Comments have been really insightful. Had to pick up on your thought that it was difficult to build a wardrobe without black. I pretty much have. Although it is on my colour spectrum, it’s a bottom-only choice for me, i.e. trousers & skirts. At present, I have one pair of black jeans. That’s it.
Colour choice in fabric in the UK can be a trial; reds for example - I can get scarlet or burgundy but I need raspberry or cherry - the blue side of the spectrum. When those colours are ‘in’ you have to bulk buy, as with cobalt, which was having a moment a few years ago. I get really annoyed that we are pushed down this road by fashion forecasters and fabric producers.
Finding out what your best colours are is a revelation, as someone has already mentioned. Mine are an unusual set but it felt like coming home when I discovered them many years ago.

Leigh said...

I love color, but as anyone else, am at the mercy of RTW for many things. Even fabric tends to have a certain, albeit wider, palette of color. I love teal, majenta, periwinkle, the more complex colors. When RTW makes a sweater in 5 colors, it's usually black, white, red, yellow and some ghastly green. If there's even 5 colors. I end up with a lot of red sweaters. Not sure what I'd do without black skirts of varying lengths and black pants. Even if I liked navy, there's not the selection of navy shoes that there is black ones. So yeah. Black is it. I've always wished to be able to have shoes made for me. Then I'd have some seriously cool shoes. I can't afford the really neat ones online. I saw the best pair for $495 - so not in my budget.

thornberry said...

Thanks for this series Barbara, and I wish that I'd jumped into the discussion earlier!

I wore a bright orange top to work the other day, and received SO many compliments, many from people I don't know! I love orange, feel good in it, and maybe others could see that.

My answer to the perceived impractible aspect of trying to build a wardrobe around colours other than black is of course to sew lots of clothes! As Debbie Cook commented in an earlier post, she sews outfits. That's what I try to do too - I'm not sewing a 'coordinated' mix and match type of wardrobe. And I sew plenty. I think that my wardrobe is still pretty cohesive, because I sew what I like, but it's certainly not a capsule wardrobe or a 'collection'!

I also find that the tougher I anticipate the day ahead to be, the bolder the clothes that I wear. It's like psychological armour!

And as for shoes, I'm lucky enough to be sample sized and have found a terrific eBay seller who sells a brand I love in all sorts of colours, patterns and styles - so I own a lot of (bargain priced) colourful shoes! Not many black at all.

Anonymous said...

I just saw something on wearing colours that flatter you... and this woman explained things very simply. Chances are, that if your personal colouring is high contrast, you will look best in high contrast. For example, a white person with dark hair will most likely look good in jewel tones, and other vibrant colours. A blond, fair-skinned person will most likely look best in greys, whites, pastels, and other bland colours.
The woman who blogs over at emadethis is a great example of pale colours working well together... and by contrast, the woman who blogs as oonaballoona wears bright prints and they don't overwhelm/wash her out.
You know you're doing it right when YOU get compliments... "You look nice", as opposed to "nice whatever-it-is-you-happen-to-be-wearing".