Color Is The New Black

Color ruled the Spring/Summer 2012 runway, and sent me running toward a new idea: that maybe color could be as easy to wear as basic black. Now fall is upon us, and there’s no sign of the color trend abating any time soon. As someone who was born to wear strong, saturated color, I consider this very good news.

For seasons, I’ve admired the sleek look of an outfit in a limited palette of neutrals, black and white (with blush tossed in to give your neutrals a little “pop”), but all the while, I instinctively felt that something was missing. My black and neutral wardrobe was polished, but it wasn’t bold and it wasn’t vibrant — the very things I knew I really was on the inside, and I wanted to let these things show. So when Spring/Summer 2012 rolled around, with its surfeit of color in every shade and hue, I was more than a little motivated to prove my little madcap “color-is-the-new-black” theory true. And so, I set about rebooting my wardrobe, combining old items in unexpected ways, and mixing-in the occasional new find.

Here’s what I learned from my summer of courting brights:

One. A vibrantly hued, solid color dress is just like black, only better.

Two. Slipping into a solid color dress in a strong hue like orange, sunshine yellow, or neon pink, a jewel tone like red, emerald or royal blue, or a saturated pastel pink, green or blue is one of the easiest ways to wear color. Pair it with a statement necklace, and a heel in taupe, brown or beige for an easy, standout look. For fall, make the shoe a boot or bootie, and toss on a neutral utility jacket, skinny leather jacket, or tuxedo jacket.

Three. For a bolder, more effortful look, pair your bright dress with a multi- colored shoe, or a solid shoe in a contrasting color. A black moto jacket and gold jewelry complete the look.

Four. Basic and bright is not a contradiction in terms. Swap your jeans and neutral blouse uniform for jeans and interchangeable brights. Try a top in one color and a shoe or scarf (or both) in another. Mixing three brights is not too much, but if you’re gun shy, wear your bright blouse and scarf with a neutral shoe. Pair fuchsia with red, lavender with mint, red with sapphire blue. Experiment. Mix in prints if you want to (and yes, you can mix and max prints).

Five. Color is not just for extroverts. The revelation of Spring/Summer 2012 is that you don’t have to be an extrovert to wear color. The season offered neon brights and large scale florals for the bold at heart, and demure yet still vibrant pastels for those who want to make a statement without shouting to be heard.

Six. It’s easier than it looks. Pair vivid brights with a dark color shoe, cognac to soften your look, and black to add a little more rock and roll. Or you could wear a contrasting bright-colored or multi-colored shoe. No need to match any of the colors in the shoe to your dress. The contrast is more modern and easier too. With pastels, you can add a hint of romance with a pale beige shoe, or ground your look with a darker beige, cognac or black.

Seven. Once you get the hang of it, and once you’ve built out a basic wardrobe of brights — complete with frocks and blouses, with jewelry and purses and shoes —  you’ll find that color really can be the new black.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY SOLANGE KNOWLES’ My Damn Blog (top, left), JAKE ROSENBERG for The Coveteur (top, center) and TOMMY TON/Jak&Jil (all others).

PAULA PURYEAR is a Lawyer, Film & Television writer, HuffPoster and Founder of Revel In It Mag.

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