Since I’ve been consciously choosing my own clothing, I have been making color and fabric choices. Earlier on, color was probably more important than fabric, but now they both carry equal weight in determining if I will purchase and wear a particular item.
Right now, my color palatte is largely comprised of: gray, black, blue, and some green. I have a handful of other colored items…a dark purple tee shirt, a red tee shirt, a neon yellow/green tee shirt, but those function as pops of color when the basic palatte gets boring.
Gray looks good for just about any item or fabric…I love gray tee shirts, especially ones made of soft 100% cotton (although sometimes a bit of polyester or rayon is nice for some stretch). I think the specific type of gray is heather gray? I get most of them from Urban Outfitters. I have a number of gray sweaters as well, in cotton, wool, cashmere. It’s a color that I feel has a wide range of applications and few if any missteps. Grays that are mixed with browns or khakis can be drab though.
Black I like for accessories and shoes, or trim. I don’t wear black clothing very often…not sure I like the way it looks on me. But I do have several pairs of black shoes and some black bags. I especially like black in nylon, patent, suede. Good black leather shoes (regular leather) can easily look cheap, unless done correctly. There are too many handbags and shoes made in cheap, low quality or imitation black leather these days. I think the classic black nylon by Prada is very technologically and aesthetically pleasing. It feels and looks high quality, usually has black leather trim, and looks, on closer inspection, to be very finely woven threads. It may be passe at this point, but I still find it appealing, from an aesthetic perspective.
Blue I love for clothing and accessories. I have many blue shirts, blue jackets, and blue accessories. I wonder if I’ll ever have blue shoes? Navy is always good, but brighter blues aren’t bad either. I don’t know if there’s ever been a blue I didn’t like. I’m not huge on blue cars. My current favorite blue item: this Burberry nylon packable tote. Trust me, it looks much better in person, and the nylon feels very substantial, along with the black leather trim and heavy zipper pull.
Greens – I tend to gravitate towards more olive/army green than darker, richer greens. I have a military-inspired parka jacket that is very light green, with lots of yellow in it. It is one of my favorite items. Green can be beautiful in many forms though…outside scenery, inside plants, evening clothing, gemstones. I’m definitely a fan of green, even if I don’t wear if often.
Favorite other colors/fabrics – My Hermes Ulysse notebook in Lagoon togo leather. It is a perfect shade of aquamarine mixed with teal…very beautiful and intoxicating, especially in such beautifully grained leather as the togo style from Hermes. I’m not sure if they’re still making Lagoon, but if they are, I would adore an entire BAG in the color…
I have a pair of dark brown monk-strap shoes that are just beautiful. I will probably always prefer brown shoes over black (curiously I have more black than brown at the moment). These shoes are just lovely, with the dark, shade-inconsistent brown calf leather with gold metal trim and an even darker brown sole. They look quite good with jeans, on the weekend…and are surprisingly good in wet weather.
Colors that look bad on me/don’t work well: White. I am a natural sweater, probably owing to my Italian roots. White is a bad color to wear if you frequently perspire under your arms…and I think white accessories are rarely classy looking. (except of course, for the ‘stone’ white leather Marc Jacobs bag I bought my mom for Christmas a couple of years ago, which is more of an off-white and is very pretty in the calf leather)
Orange, Red, Purple, Brown, dark Khaki, Pink, Yellow. Except for the odd exception, these colors usually just don’t look great on me. And aside from solid-color items, I also don’t do stripes very often, or patterns. Or embellished, bedazzled, embroidered things. The late trend of embellished jeans and tee shirts and button-downs…it all looks like crap. I think if you want embellishment, you should do it with layers, jewelry, accessories and other pieces, not pre-made by some poor lady in a sweatshop.
All that being said, I think an important point to remember is that what matters ultimately is the harmony between color, fabric and size or proportion. (I feel like Tim Gunn here). I rarely stick to a ‘pre-decided’ set of colors…but what I said before is based on what I gravitate towards naturally. Something that is a color I don’t typically like, but on a fantastic fabric with really good details and craftsmanship…I would have to pay attention to. This is part of the reason I feel conflicted from time to time about Louis Vuitton printed-canvas bags. Aside from the mainly annoying set of people who buy LV for its prestige and status, many of the designs coming from that brand are actually quite interesting, inventive, flattering, and beautiful. Maybe not to everyone, but there is something pleasant about their sturdy brown printed-canvas stitched next to delicate, un-tanned vachetta leather trim. And even more interesting is when they line their bags with something so luxurious as bright raspberry-red alcantara, which is a man-made suede-like fabric that really sets off the brown exterior of the bag. (If anyone is familiar, the Recital is probably my favorite of the type of bag I described).
In any case, there are many beautiful, well-made things in the world. It’s just important to have an eye for quality of construction and materials, as well as harmony between color and shape; with that, it is typically hard to go wrong.