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Color Part 14 - Clothes in the shade

Updated on October 27, 2011

Dress Colour Codes

“I will discharge it in either your straw-coloured beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-ingrain beard, or your French crown-colour, which is a perfect yellow.” - Shakespeare, Midsummer Night's Dream.

My friend, a copywriter, has shoulder-length hair and sports one earring. He’s also henna-ed his hair to a deep ruddiness. Now, lemme tell ya that he carries it off very well. The same concept goes for the colour of your clothes. If you can carry it off, do; if you can’t, don’t. You can wear shocking pink or electric blue if you are shocking and electric. If you are a formal and cool person, wear formal and cool colours. If you wear red trousers, blue shirt, white belt and green shoes, you are good for a few laughs.

Forgetting fabric, texture, pattern, cut and all that, let’s discuss only colour for our clothes now. Even though the fabric and it’s texture changes the quality of colours on it. That's because I am absolutely ignorant about those things.

Some colour decisions may be made by the use of logic, not necessarily by an inbuilt colour consciousness or years of experience. Wear black to well-lit parties but white or light colours to an outdoor evening party. That is, if you want to stand out. If you want to be invisible, do the reverse. If you really want to be the centre of attraction at a Christmas party, wear red. With a white beard and a sack of gifts.

If you can do it, when you can do it, dress for the mood, occasion and season. The British rule and influence has really ‘*@%!’ed up India's climate consciousness. Except the Brits moved on, while Indians are still Victorian. No, I didn't mean you, friend, I meant those sweaty bizmen who have to wear ties, or worse, suits, in hot weather. But the most horrible sartorial discovery of India is the safari suit which is more comfortable than the suit, but really hurts the eyes!

By occasion, I don’t mean only black for funerals and white for weddings. For a romantic date, dress sexy. For a date with the CEO, dress formally. For creating impact at a talk, dress for impact. Like that. For a duel, dress to kill.

Wear black if it suits you and you like the suit. Or because your m-in-l gave it you, the suit being her late husband’s wedding suit. Follow fashion but don’t be dictated to. Unless you are a secretary. Be a sexy sec, wear blue formals and hit your pawing boss with a yellow ruler! The Modern Girl is sensible, she won’t be seen in a dress just ‘cos ‘twas intro’d by a cat who walked the ramp in tight shoes. Or a saree because her fave Bollywood star wore it and sang in the rain. Or even if her current bf has given it to her. No boy with sense will buy a girl’s dress. Better to take his credit card and her to the store. But panties are another matter…BTW, I hope you have enough sense not to wear a dark panty under a white skirt unless you want to make that kind of statement!

Black is sometimes funny on your clothes. Now, black and dark colours produce a slimming effect, for the same optical reason as a black dot on a white background looks smaller than a white dot on a black bg. Black tights or trousers on your lower limbs will make them appear slim, but paired with a pale top or shirt can make you look bottom heavy. If your bottom’s too heavy already, better not attempt this!

Now, from my recent research in cyberspace, I learnt that the ‘blue stocking’ look is in. Not literally blue or stocking, but the intellectual look. Designer stubble and the ‘just out of bed’ look is out but clothes like those worn on campus by nerds is in. As long as the colours are o and k, no complaints from yours truly.

Why did Napoleon wear a red belt on the first of May?

‘Cos his pants kept falling off.

The colour of the skin, if a lot of that’s showing, as in shorts, miniskirts or bikinis, is the dominant colour of your sartorial colour scheme. Many dumbos forget this. I knew one who wore light brown trousers, which from a distance made it look like he wasn’t wearing any! Should have been arrested by the constabulary, that'll teach him!

White looks brighter on a dark skin. Turquoise and other shades of blue-green look better on the pinkish skin of white folks than on reddish or yellowish skin. Look for colours that go with your hue and those which show it off to advantage. Haven’t you noticed how a black two-piece blends with a black beauty’s skin without making a statement while the same on white skin says a lot of things? What, you weren’t listening to the bikini? Looking elsewhere? For babewatching gawd-help-uses like you, these babes can wear any old colour they get!

Listen to the colours, baby! Listen to the whisper of Lavender Blue, the screams of Tiger Orange, the commanding tones of Chrome Yellow, the muted appeals of Pale Pink, mantras chanted by Soul Saffron…they are speaking to you!

Colours have clear personalities; and when two colours meet, they converse. Reds and Greens have loud arguments, Blues and Greens have heart-to-heart chats, Greens and shades of violet bill and coo. Basically, contrasting colours shout, harmonious colours sing, pale shades whisper and neutral colours remain strongly silent. Once you’re tuned in to their talk, and get to know their personalities, you will make no mistakes with colours. You will make colourful mistakes, though!


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    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 10 years ago from Chennai

      Oh, I am overwhelmed, but this is like the pot calling...oops, wrong simile. This is like the sun calling the moon bright! Thank you, thank you for making me at least shine with pride!

    • SunSeven profile image

      SunSeven 10 years ago from Singapore / India

      Out there in the perimeter there are no stars.

      Out here, we have Kenny.

      I am stoned, immaculate!

      Best Regards

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 10 years ago from Chennai

      Exactly, Zsuzsy! and GREAT COMMENT as ever!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 10 years ago from Ontario/Canada


      I think what you're saying, 'If it suits wear it, if not don't' my sentiment exactly.

      Great HUB as always

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 10 years ago from Chennai

      Thank you, Pinaki,for this generous comment! And please call me Kenny.

    • pinaki profile image

      pinaki 10 years ago

      Thanks Mr. Wordsmith for this article.Excellent one.