Thursday, October 25, 2012

Let The Sunshine In

Not being the type to shy away from bright colours and bold patterns I am somewhat used to people commenting on my use of them. This year in particular I have found more strangers than ever before approaching me in the street, office, cafes to let me know that they are picking up what I am putting down. While I don't need the reassurance of strangers as such, it is still nice to know that someone appreciates what I am doing enough to tell me. Apart from one lady who yelled at me out of her car before chasing me down the street and cornering me in a shop. It took away from the compliment itself and left the whole situation quite firmly in the "creepy" zone. The intense look in her eyes combined with the sense that she was the stereotypical type of woman to own 30 cats sure added to the experience. I think the part that scared me the most was knowing that there is a very real possibility that I will be the same when I get to her age. Maybe if I am brutally honest it could be closer to my outright destiny. I will almost surely be terrifying younger women by chasing them down streets to talk about their clothes when I am old enough to be classed as properly eccentric. I may have a bit more room yet to grow into this impending phase of my life but truth be told it probably isn't even that far away.....

But I digress.

Todays featured outfit certainly isn't one that blends into the background by any stretch. I have been using it to force my own sunshine into Auckland's grey days this Winter and it sure has freaked people out with it's migraine inducing brightness. People just cannot help but comment. Most of these are based around "Gosh that's a bright dress" (which can portray admiration or terror depending on the tone)  or a variation of "You are your own little ray of Summer". (usually from the older end of the age spectrum). Whatever the comment. Whatever the intent behind it. I am well aware that there is a degree of "balls" required  to wear this dress with the confidence it deserves- and on the right day I'm pretty sure I can.

As is often the case the dress found me. I had left the house to get a key cut in St Kevins Arcade and this little number was part of the window display in K Rd's infamous "Vixen". It had me transfixed instantly but I managed to break free of the spell and carried on my errands. It's one thing to walk away from a moment like this. It is something completely different when it comes to obsessing over it afterwards. Once that initial "I love it" seed is planted in my head it can be very difficult to move on. In this instance I recognised early that it was already quite far under my skin and could prove to be very distracting. Instead of letting it dominate my thoughts over the next few weeks I went back an hour later to try it on. I had to be prepared for the outcome either way. If it fit me I was ready to commit to the purchase. If it didn't, at least I could stop dwelling on it and move on. Either way it was the first step to breaking the spell I was under and getting control of my own thoughts again.

 (I feel like I need to acknowledge those last few sentence. Yes. This is an accurate depiction of how such things play out in my head. I realise that not many people obsess over such things the way I do but then not many people have an entire room full of clothes boasting a similar history either.  Instead of being vaguely embarrassed of myself when I catch myself deep in the "over thinking" zone I now choose to look at is as "deliberate and well thought out". At this point in my life I am not just comfortable with my passion being much closer to an obsession. I am outright embracing it. )

I did feel a little bad at making Mikey behind the counter take apart his window display for me to try it on- but only for a split second. As soon as I had it over my head it just felt right. I was already sold but if I needed another sign to push my decision it was the reaction I got when I stepped out of the fitting room. The reaction of an audible gasp followed up with a "You cannot leave here without that dress" was made all the better by the fact that it came from a complete stranger who was just browsing in the store. Someone who had no way to benefit from giving me an empty compliment. There was no turning back. It was definitely coming home with me.

The style of the dress itself has elements of a few different era's. It has the full pleated circle skirt of the 50's while still managing to convey the 70's with it's exaggerated collar and extreme polyester fabric. Not a common mix of decades influence but one that works quite well in this instance. 

Yellow may not come across as particularly neutral but block colours in frocks can prove to be very versatile. There are many options in the colour palette to compliment and set it off when picking accessories and shoes-  but some certainly work better than others. Red with yellow can feel very "McDonald's". Green with yellow can feel a bit like "Australian sports team". It didn't take me long to realise that pairing it with a deep cobalt blue was the best way to get the most out of both colours with the perfect balance of neither toning it down too far or over intensifying an already bold base. I had the basic concept ready but wanted to give this outfit a special occasion in which to unveil it in. As luck would have it there was a friends 40th a few weeks later so I decided to wait till then to bust it out officially. The ensemble was mapped out and complete. I didn't need anything else to realise the vision. Or so I thought....

A week or so later I walked past the window of Vixen again on my way to our local bar. Not only was my eye just caught by the window display it stopped me in my tracks completely. I literally ground to such a halt that my long suffering man (whose hand I was holding at the time) came close to girlfriend induced whiplash. I could feel myself being physically pulled in closer to the window in the same way that cartoon characters float on the smell of a hot baked pie. There in front of me was the most perfect pair of statement shoes to compliment my dress. I don't think I ever could have imagined them better. Yellow vintage pumps from the 70's with a splash of cobalt blue detailing and a smattering of black polka dots. The shop was closed so I took a photo on my phone. I spent the entire next day not just thinking about them but actually dribbling over the picture. Needless to say I ran back there as soon as I could to try them on and they fit. They were now forever cemented as the perfect finishing touch to an ensemble I was already very excited about.

When you put the shoes directly next to the dress there is a subtle but noticeable difference in shades of yellow. The shoes have a warm orange undertone while the dress is definitely has more of a cooler lemon shining through. As I am almost guaranteed to be not just the only person to notice, but the only person to care I can let this minor fact go. The block colour of the dress is offset by the blue leopard cardi to give it some texture (a plain blue cardi was just too flat) and the black tights pick up the black in the pattern while providing the contrast to make both the yellow pop and to further tie the blue in. The shoes work like a dream to pull the entire context together and work just the right amount of each colour to give it balance. Plain yellow, blue or even stock standard black shoes just aren't enough. It isn't just that these shoes match the palette I have chosen here. They actually lift everything to the next level. They give an impression of everything else being carefully chosen to work with all of their elements rather than the complete opposite.

I am yet to even try to get these shoes into another outfit or consider replacing them in this one. Even if this frock and shoes only ever get worn with each other I am still happy. What they may eventually lack in versatility they certainly make up for it by complimenting each other so well. Like Bert goes with Ernie or Lucy goes with Desi. Pretty cool on their own but the dynamic they create together is undeniable. At some point I may well stumble on different wearing options for both pieces but I also get the feeling that I have already tapped into some weird next level clothing nerd chemistry and one that could not be topped. It doesn't often get better than this. I have plenty of other items and ensembles that I can put my energies into fine tuning and testing new ideas. This one is perfect already.

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