Style inspiration: bright colors for dull days
Having figured out what clothes I don’t like, it’s time to figure out what I do like. And near the top of the list must be bright colors.
We’ve entered the most miserable time of the London year — January, February, March. The gray, wan months, when there’s nothing left of Christmas but the credit card bills and nothing to look forward to but SAD, vitamin D deficiency and the distant, dubious prospect of summer. Every other person has a toxic cough. Every third person has a face like a slapped arse. And day follows dark gray day.
The confusing thing is that clothing manufacturers’ color palettes tend to be equally dark and subdued in winter, when what this season really needs is color. Thanks to my old pal GK Chesterton, I’ve come to see gray days as an opportunity to shine.
The enemies of grey…are fond of bringing forward the argument that colours suffer in grey weather, and that strong sunlight is necessary to all the hues of heaven and earth. … It is true that sun is needed to burnish and bring into bloom the tertiary and dubious colours: the colour of peat, pea-soup, Impressionist sketches, brown velvet coats, olives, grey and blue slates, the complexions of vegetarians, the tinge of volcanic rock, chocolate, cocoa, mud, soot, slime, old boots; the delicate shades of these do need the sunlight to bring out the faint beauty that often clings to them. But if you have a healthy negro taste in colour, if you choke your garden with poppies and geraniums, if you paint your house sky-blue and scarlet, if you wear, let us say, a golden top-hat and a crimson frock-coat, you will not only be visible on the greyest day, but you will notice that your costume and environment produce a certain singular effect. You will find, I mean, that rich colours actually look more luminous on a grey day, because they are seen against a sombre background and seem to be burning with a lustre of their own. Against a dark sky all flowers look like fireworks. There is something strange about them, at once vivid and secret, like flowers traced in fire in the phantasmal garden of a witch. A bright blue sky is necessarily the highlight of the picture; and its brightness kills all the bright blue flowers. But on a grey day the larkspur looks like fallen heaven; the red daisies are really the red lost eyes of day; and the sunflower is the vice-regent of the sun.
—GK Chesterton, “The Glory of Grey”
Inspiration #1: Holi
In what is definitely one of the awesomest ideas for a holiday ever, Holi is a Hindu festival held at the end of winter where people light bonfires and fling colored powder and water all over each other. Just looking at the photos makes me happy.
Inspiration #2: The Caribbean
I went on a lot of Caribbean holidays and cruises with my parents when I was young. Caribbean tourism is pretty squicky in a lot of ways that made me uncomfortable even at that tender age, but what I did cherish were the bright colors — houses, birds, fishing boats, clothing.
Inspiration #3: British seaside towns
What better illustration of the power of color under dark skies than the classic British beach house?
The problem with bright colors is that because the delight lies in a multiplicity of tones, it’s difficult to replicate the joy by picking just one color. At least, I find it difficult.
What are your color inspirations?