Friday, 28 October 2016

Bland is In The Eye of the Beholder: Making a Case for Beige

 I'm a work in progress, just like this self portrait.

I don't suppose I know anybody who wishes to be or chooses to be bland.  Through blogging I know many women on a mission to be bold and to stand out.  For many, life as a female has taught them that they should not be seen, not be bold, not stand out and the time comes in life to rebel against that.

The popularity of The Fabulous Fashionistas or the women made famous by Advanced Style blog and documentary, certainly indicate that many women resonate with this unstoppable- colourful -me attitude, but I find myself not relating to this at all.  I can certainly admire it, enjoy it and cheer on my sisters who wish to live in technicolour.    I could try mining my life for examples of feeling pressure to conform to the feminine stereotype or to old fashioned ideas of how bold a woman should or should not be and I might perhaps find some, but I've not had the experience of being squashed for being anything that a female should not be, or at least not terribly significantly.

I will admit that I was raised to be a lady as much as one can be in modern culture.  I had to unlearn some of that in order to fit in sometimes and in the end I think it was merely my mother's goal that I should have the skills to be comfortable anywhere.  It takes something more than a good training in table manners to do that, but the point is that if you are not worrying about how your appearance and behaviour are coming across then you probably can be yourself more easily in any situation.  Eventually I had to learn to appear a little less like I was eligible to marry into the royal family because not only was my own comfort important but I needed to make other people comfortable too. 

When in Rome do as the Romans do but be yourself as well.  I learned to be quite a chameleon while always at the same time aiming to be true to who I really am, but I'm not immune to wondering how I am perceived or if I am fitting in acceptably. I've always attempted to balance my own authenticity with making those around me happy too.  Of course it's not possible to please everyone AND oneself but if I am honest, there is a selfish aspect to it.  After all, I am not sure I can say that my desire for harmony isn't just a need to create peace for myself.

Yes, I did say fitting in.  You see, I've never had a desire to stand out and do not equate standing out with self-esteem.  If standing out is what you wish to do, then more power to you, as they say.  I will likely be quite glad it is you standing out and not me.  Not wanting to stand out is likely one reason I've always disliked my height, because generally it does make me stand out.  I am not even spectacularly tall.  I am just taller than average enough to rate as tall.  It has always felt like a mistake to me.  I do not look like I was meant to be a tall person, or at least I don't think I do.

I do not perceive myself as bland and though I don't think I would care too much if others did, I might be wrong about that.  I suppose I would be offended if I overheard someone say to another that this is how she sees me.   I don't lack ambition or even a desire for attention in some form, but I would rather have it for what I do or create than for my person.  I am interested in looking authentic, feeling like myself and being pleasing to the eye enough not to stand out as frumpy or some sort of black-bar-across the eyes fashion don't.  I know that there are aspects of myself which I do not share with everyone, opinions, choices, experiences all that make me who I am and add up to a much more colourful person than I often choose to present. 

Here is one of the many graphics I've collected depicting suitable colours for the Soft Autumn palette.   Looking at it recently inspired all of these thoughts, as I noticed how many of the colours could be called grey-something or browned-something.

 At least half of these are essentially fashion neutrals.  Fashion neutrals, though, are actually colours; they just happen to be colours that are great for mixing with other colours and if you want a particular colour to be the star fashion neutrals will kindly take a step back and allow that. 


I am going to repeat myself : I love fashion neutrals and to me they are colours.  If I wore camel, greyed olive green and gold with a bit of chocolate brown, I would consider myself to be wearing four colours.  Not everyone would, I realise, and I would  choose light to medium and softly muted versions of those which are the very antithesis of bold.  In fact an outfit of true neutrals, black white and true grey, would be more bold looking.

For awhile I worried about this.  I felt something I am not certain I understand yet.  Perhaps it was competition but I  think it was more a sense of letting my sisters down.  I felt I had failed at this whole being visible thing.  I had to admit to myself that I did not have a quality that many of my blogging peers admired.  For a short time I felt a bit down about this.  I wanted to write about it but wasn't sure what I wanted to say.

I am still not completely sure but then much of my writing on this blog is really about feeling my way through things.   I never do know just what I am feeling until I explore the possibilities.  I do know that although I've spent much of my life just wanting to fit (also known as not standing out) and it's strange that I am saying that I am inclined to be classically feminine, generally reserved and to like wearing beige and yet I feel like the odd one.  In a sense it has something to do with realising that I am the thing so many of my sisters are fiercely aiming not to be.

But I know that's too simplified.  And again, this is just me testing out ideas as I always do.  Thinking 'out loud' because someone out there might relate, might have a similar experience and then she will know she is not alone.

1 comment:

  1. Love "black bar across the eyes fashion don't "!
    I love to dress as I desire, and sometimes that is bold and quirky. I am intrigued by unique shapes and not shy to wear them. I don't do it to stand out and am often surprised people comment because it didn't seem commentable to me :-)
    It must be an intriguing and frustrating place you are inhabiting. Just like Cris (my hubby) wants to yell " I'm not a hipster, I've been like this for 30 yrs", you must yearn to explain your love of quiet and soft and greyed.
    xo Jazzy Jack


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