By Morgan Turner
As soon as the first cold snap makes itself known on autumn mornings, students of the Bi-Co tend to swathe themselves in so much black and gray you’d think we actually attended Hogwarts. And not modern Hogwarts, either – the old school version when everyone had to wear uniform robes and limit all vague individualism to the peek of a house color here and there. Winter is depressing enough as it is; we don’t need to suffocate ourselves beneath four layers of black to rub it in. There are plenty of other winter colors, am I right?
Don’t get me wrong – I, too, regularly succumb to the ease and simplicity of black. It’s so flattering and it goes with everything. Honest to Prada, there is nothing better than wrapping yourself up in two layers of black cashmere when the weather goes to crap. I’ll be the first to admit I wear too much black, and people notice it – including some dude on the streets of Philly who decided to point out that I was wearing black-on-black while walking past City Hall this morning. I’m not even kidding. Let’s be honest, I won’t stop wearing black until someone comes up with a darker color. But, variety is the spice of life, isn’t it? If you wear all neutrals all day every day, you’re not dressing to your potential.
There is a difference between having clothes in your closet and being in possession of a wardrobe. In my senior year of high school, I realized I needed to begin cultivating a wardrobe for my adult life, and if I was going to do that I had better make it a good one. So, sartorially, the past three years have been a long, hard quest to accept color in my life. I’m still working on it. I mean, it’s difficult not to run back to black when your mother is constantly shoving pastel grandma clothes at you – not to rag on pastels, some people look great in them… I am just not a pastel kind of girl.
If I’m doing color, you’d better believe it’s the most arresting shade of blue (for example) you’ve ever seen. Blue that will change your life. Blue that will make you wonder why you were ever stuck in your neutral cocoon in the first place. Blue that makes other people want to be as chic as you are when they pass you on the street. (Don’t underestimate, y’all. It happens.) Don’t be shy about it, especially not in college. You can do whatever you want here and no one will judge you. If they do, you can blame it on your youth.
If you have a pathological fear of colors, or just don’t have the type of personality to take risks, it’s okay to start slow. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Not everyone is brazen enough to head into color blocking or monochromatic territory right away. On a scale of sartorial risk from 1-10, 10 being train wreck potential, these are a 13. Advanced levels only, please. It can be done right, though. For example, in 2009 Salvatore Ferragamo did an autumn campaign using almost exclusively monochromatic tones, and it was absolutely divine.
Beginners, you can mix vibrant colors with neutrals so you have some basic comfort shades on along with the bold stuff. Follow color trends and experiment with them if you’re not comfortable taking the palette by the horns. For example, autumn colors tend to be very saturated and warm. Earthy colors are also popular and jewel tones are never dull. Mustard yellow, aubergine, and deep red are seen often on fall runways, and deep emerald green was huge a few seasons ago. Metallics are consistently popular in colder seasons, because they go with everything and because everyone needs a little sparkle in their lives. Glitter has graced many a runway this fall, and you can’t tell me your face doesn’t light up when you see sequins. Come on! Maybe if we all wore more metallics, we could reverse global warming.
Pantone (you know, the color people) puts out a list of the most universal runway colors every season, and it is the best place to go for color inspiration. This fall, the Pantone Fashion Color Report includes very modern colors in a mixture of warm and cool tones, including “bamboo”, a warm yellow with a touch of green undertone, “emberglow”, a peach-ish melon color, “phlox”, a deep purple with blue undertones, and “deep teal”, as well as a selection of comforting neutrals like “coffee liqueur”, “nougat” and an icy winter gray color called “quarry”. “Honeysuckle”, a lively pink usually reserved for spring seasons, will certainly bring us some visual warmth and perhaps a temporary cure for our Seasonal Affective Disorders as we head into the coldest part of the year come wintertime.
Of course, you don’t have to follow color trends for individual seasons. Like I said, you can always go with earthy colors or jewel tones. I have for some reason been obsessed with finding pieces in pine green, pomegranate, and eggplant of late – all of which are entirely appropriate autumn colors, but not necessarily prevalent in the trending palettes. When it comes to fashion, I think you should feel free to break all the rules – but if you try to wear lime green in December, people will think you’re a lunatic. Lay a foundation of basic sartorial knowledge before you try to take a walk on the wild side. It’s a jungle out there.