Some months ago I wrote a column questioning why so many New York women live in black and asking readers for their comments. Here are some of the comments and stories I received.
One young attorney wrote that she’s single-handedly changed the way that the women in her office dress. One day she came in wearing a yellow and black dress (“more yellow than black”), and her female boss commented on how nice it was to see color. The next day her boss wore a pastel dress and soon after all the other female attorneys and secretaries were wearing color.
Of course it can go either way. Another attorney wrote that things were different in her firm. She decided to be really daring and wore a green outfit. One of the senior attorneys took her aside and reminded her that black was the preferred color. Oh, well.
Another reader wrote that she had actually dressed in a red shirt one morning but then “chickened out” before leaving for work and switched to a white shirt. But she promised that she’s seriously thinking of buying a red purse.
It seems that wearing black is a hard habit to break for some. One reader wrote that she’s forcing herself to wear color and is doing it in increments. Pink earrings one day, a blue skirt another. She said she really does feel better in color and decided that she looks better too.
Never underestimate the power of a bright lipstick. One woman said that she doesn’t feel comfortable wearing anything but black in her office but started wearing a bright red lipstick and loved it. As a result, she received a number of compliments from other women in the elevator.
An email from one reader informed me that I didn’t know what I was talking about in my recommendation to wear color. According to her, black is the most flattering color, especially if you’re a few pounds overweight, and it also doesn’t show wrinkles as much. She maintained that black is much more businesslike and professional looking.
Each to their own opinion. But as far as wrinkles go, the consensus is that black worn near the face actually emphasizes them, so try a colorful scarf if you must wear a black polo shirt or blouse.
My favorite message is from one reader recounting her date with her boyfriend after work one evening. She had been trying for months to get him to propose and that morning she reached for a black suit as usual. But then she changed her mind and reached for a pink skirt instead which she wore with a floral blouse. That evening her boyfriend raved over her outfit and proposed! Mazel tov!
Try wearing color and write your own story.
Miriam Silverberg is a freelance journalist and owner of Miriam Silverberg Associates, a boutique publicity firm in Manhattan. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Colorful outfit photo via Shutterstock)