by Ashley Brown
Photography by Jaclyn Locke
Fear is a perfectly healthy part of life. It can motivate us to make positive changes, save ourselves (or others) from harm, or alert us from threatening people, places or things. Fear is not a word we often associate with fashion, however, it is often a motivating factor in the way we choose to dress. The fear of looking the wrong size, not looking (or looking too much) like our peers and, not looking “perfect” are all fear-based motivators that influence our fashion choices. And this is the very heart of the problem.
The fear of color, or chromatophobia in fancy speak, is an incredibly common occurrence for many of us with regards to fashion. In my tiny New York apartment a 12 ft curtain shields my closet from the rest of the apartment and when the curtain opens, it opens unto a sea of black, grey and occasionally a winter white. With few exceptions, most of my wardrobe reads like a 2011 erotic novel, in precisely fifty shades. In the past I have tended to think in very black and white (excuse the pun) terms about color. Was I a winter or a spring, definitely not a fall but perhaps a partial summer? For me the rules of color seemed too daunting and the risk vs. reward too great. Why would I chance wearing the wrong shade of pink if I could just substitute for a perfect mushroom gray? What I have since realized, is that there are ways to incorporate color into any wardrobe that don’t need to be over analyzed and feel risky. The antiquated rules about color from generations past no longer apply. Rather, skin tone and hair color are the best indicators of what will look best on you. I can’t imagine my life now without vibrant hues, royal blue and tomato red being my current favorites. But how did we get here? Why are we afraid to take a risk and stand out? I thought that that was what fashion was supposed to be about.
It seems now a days there are more and more ways for us to tear each other down by ridiculing what the other is wearing, rather than focusing on more salient matters. Fashion Police, Who Wore it Better and a dozen other imitators have made a sport of ridiculing, mostly women, for the fashion choices they make. This fear of ridicule makes many people reluctant to make more daring choices and perfectionism rears its ugly head. Furthermore, perfectionism, whether relating to fashion or not, allows our own inhibitions get in the way of our potential. Under the specter of idealism sometimes lose sight that perfectionism is often a tyrannical master, one that directly opposes our greatest ideas, suffocating our creativity.
And really, who wants to see everyone looking perfectly boring or in a sea of grey and black anyway? Whether on a red carpet or on the street, it is always far more interesting to see someone who is communicating a message or attitude through his or her clothes than someone perfectly put together. When you boil it all down perfect, pretty and prim are often euphemisms for featureless, insipid and banal. Spring is a great time to try one of the gorgeously saturated hues that you’ve been long afraid to try. Whether in brilliant red, emerald green, and turquoise blue you’re certain to find something that allows you to make the leap from a sea of black to an ocean of color, and trust me the water is warm.