Wear What You Make: Does This Color Make Me Look Happy?
How we perceive color is a strange thing: wave lengths of light enter the retina and send information to our brain.
Sonya is wearing: Earth and Sky Shawl by Stephen West in The Fibre Co. Road to China Light; 100 acts of sewing Dress no. 1; and Pants no. 1.
In middle school, a classmate made pronouncements on the relative merits and mistakes of color combinations. I remember her words despite the passage of thirty years. You should never wear pink and red together, she lectured, and if you wore blue with black, you would look like a bruise.
Hearing this spoken with authority, I took it as fact. Save for a shifting series of favorite colors, I didn’t really think about what colors I wore, much less a set of rules restricting certain pairings.
From Middle School to Magazines
While that exchange wasn’t the singular apple of knowledge, thus began the wilderness years of my adolescence and early twenties. I didn’t know what to know and this made me easy prey for magazines and marketers. Adding to all this was being a young mother, my body shifting from one hormonally-fueled state straight into another.
Radiance Shawlette by Tina Whitmore in Freia Handpaints Ombré Sport; Dress no. 2 cut to tunic length; Pants no. 1.
I have spent much of my life in conflict with my body and, sadly, I’m not alone in this among women in the US. It never fails to surprise me when I hear women complain of being fat, when all too often I would give a limb to have their physique. What if the equation was all wrong and the enviable body doesn’t equal happiness, what if happiness needs to come first?
Last year, listening to a radio program, I learned about concept of Enclothed Cognition and the unconscious effects clothing can have on an individual. What we choose to wear either reveals or conceals the body, but the colors and shapes also telegraph meaning to others. Sometimes those garments can also reflect back meaning to the wearer, be it white lab coats garnering higher test scores or the addition of a cape helping a child get over their fear of flying.
100 Acts of Sewing Shirt no. 1; Dress no. 1 cut to tunic length; and Pants no. 1.
Someone once described to me how wearing handmade clothing was a defense to help with anxiety and that each stitch acted as a metaphorical time-release capsule of self-esteem. Clothing as armor is in no way a far-fetched concept and when we knit or sew garments, we get to make decisions on the color and materials. Instead of relying on what is on the page or screen as the predetermined colors for the season, year, age or other construct, you get to be in charge. It seems so simple, yet it is extremely empowering.
Let an umbrella be your umbrella. Forest Canopy shawl by Susan Lawrence in Kaalund Yarns Enchanté; Jacket (own pattern); 100 Acts of sewing Tunic no. 1; Dress no. 1; and Pants no. 1.
Such a notion! Dressing in whatever color sends delight to your brain as it is translated from light waves. Colors can affect emotions and evoke memories. What’s the color of your favorite sweater? Or the perfect cerulean blue that reminds you of that trip to France. Not everyone wants to wear fuchsia and orange together, because not everyone may want to stand out. But by reaching beyond the monopoly that jeans and a t-shirt has on our day-to-day wardrobe, handmade items can help to add a vibrant dose of individual variety.
Dip a toe into wearing more color with a shawl or a scarf. It’s less commitment and who knows, wearing it just might bring a smile to your face.