Red Shoes

Color is increasingly important to me.

So I was pleased to see that ChicKnits thought to link her readers with the Pantone fall color forecast. I recently shelled out big bucks at the Whole Foods in St. Paul just to read about Pantone and color. I've thought many times that the best job in the world would be to be the person who names the colors each season.

I used to buy an entire wardrobe in black. Not punk, or goth. Just all in black, because it was easy, a bit academic, a bit big-city. I didn't even have to try things on. One of the few perks in my day job is the clothing discount. I could walk the store, pick out a few black tops and a few black pants and skirts, and I was good to go. Then I graduated to three colors. I noticed, one day, that my closet was full of black clothes, white clothes, and blue jeans. Still calm, still easy and quick to get dressed in the morning, but starting to exhibit different shades of color. Be sure that I did not organize it by color. It's just that I looked closer one day, when I was doing one of my favorite things (throwing stuff out), and noticed the presence of three different schools. That's how I thought of it: as groups that coexisted but retained their own personalities. The same thing was happening in my dresser drawer. Tshirts had evolved to white, black, and sky blue, marine blue, teal. But no navy blue, because navy blue smacks of preppiedom, and I wasn't going down that road.

Two springs ago, I began to have this odd sensation: that my eyes needed to see color, in the same way that I crave sun after a dark February or feel restored by the sight of the ocean. Instead of wanting to wear white or black as a respite from the confusion and overly numerous choices available, I started to enjoy color as something restorative. How can you not smile when you look down and see red shoes on your feet?

I like the surprise of odd colors placed next to each other: a purple camisole underneath a bright lime-colored sweater, a petal pink shirt worn with a moss green skirt, anything orange with anything pink. And I like the happy quality of color: combinations that don't take themselves too seriously or match too well. Yesterday I wore a black tank with my favorite skirt: white, mismatched buttons along the bottom, a hem that is longer on the sides than in the center. Over the black tank, a soft brown linen shirt. On my feet: black Mary Jane Earth shoes in the morning, heavy black Keen Mary Janes in the afternoon, with a yellow triangle at the edge of the toe.

All day long, it felt right. And that's the most important thing, after all. Not what's on the outside, but how it makes the inside recognize itself, and feel good about it.