They say that the first step in dealing with any addiction is admitting you have a problem. So here it is: I have a problem with black. I own black jeans, black t-shirts, multiple pairs of black boots, not to mention black skirts and – oh, I would say – roughly 10 black dresses. Carrie Bradshaw I’m not.
It wasn’t always like this. In high school, I was adventurous; I tried every colour and every trend – sometimes all at once. I op-shopped, up-cycled, accessorised, dressed up and dressed down, and I loved every minute of it.
But when I moved to Sydney to embark on a career in fashion magazines, my wardrobe began steadily to fill with black. Partly, I wanted to look sophisticated as I perceived black to be very “fashion”. (Which it was: in the ’90s fashion critic Suzy Menkes famously likened the fashion pack to “black crows”.)
But also black was safe – after all, you can’t go wrong with a LBD, right? These days, I feel bored by my own wardrobe. Sure, it all ‘works’ – I can pair almost any t-shirt/button-up/blazer with any of my skirts/shorts/trousers but does it spark joy? Not really. Marie Kondo would have a field day in my apartment.
So when PRIMER rang to ask me if I’d spend a week wearing colourful pieces from kate spade new york, which recently appointed Nicola Glass as creative director and is known for its colourful yet grown-up aesthetic, I mulled it over for all of three seconds before signing up. It would be a week living outside my comfort zone – but if all else fails my all-back wardrobe will still be there, waiting for me, at the end of the week.
I love this dress; no doubt about it. Those colourful ‘dots’? They’re actually teeny-tiny lips in varying shades of pink and red. There’s also a hidden message scribbled along the hem: “If you can read this you’re too close.” Later I learn that lips are a recurring motif for kate spade new york for spring 2019.
However, I am out of my comfort zone, and I feel… exposed. For the first time, I realise that black has become a kind of sartorial safety net and there is an inextricable link between my style and identity. Do I wear black to blend in?
Slipping on this kate spade new york dress, I realise that wearing colour makes me feel bolder… not to mention more feminine, more positive and even a bit playful. (No wonder the brand’s mission statement is “optimistic femininity”.) These are not emotions I normally associate with my wardrobe.
As you may have guessed, my handbags are all – drumroll please – black. However, the Nicola Twist Lock Bag is a welcome departure from my current wardrobe. (Take a look at the spade heart twist-lock clasp – a subtle nod to the brand’s heritage.) Throughout the day, whenever I catch a glimpse of the bag I feel a pep in my step.
This dress is undeniably elegant. Its autumnal hues are a gentle and uplifting counterpoint to Sydney’s grey skies, and the geometric pattern and gentle ruffles are feminine yet still grown-up.
And apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so. Standing in the coffee queue before work, a nice-looking man stops to tell me that he likes my dress. “It’s nice to see someone with a bit of dignity,” he tells me. “These days, most women walk around in short shorts.” With my feminist hat firmly atop my head, I thank him but add sternly, “I think women can wear whatever they like – denim cut-offs included.” Privately, I am chuffed. This never happens!
The dress is fun and fresh, and the cinched waist is flattering.
As for the coat? I am in love. A deep, head-over-heels kind of love that I didn’t see coming. The pale purple hue and tartan detailing are playful – yet the classic trench style is timeless. It’s the perfect combination.
Throughout the day, people notice the coat. They ask where I bought the coat. They touch the coat. The coat walks into the room before I do and as I get on to the train a woman smiles at me. It is definitely because of the coat. I do not want to give the coat back.
Today is D day (AKA deadline day) and the last day of the challenge. At this stage, colour and I are starting to become friends.
When I step into the Spade Pocket Skirt and the Lips Mockneck Sweater, I feel instantly at home. This outfit feels very ‘me’. It is equal parts colourful and practical. Normally, I would have purchased both of these items in black, white or grey – but today I revel in the pop of colour.
What I Learned
Earlier today, while procrastinating and avoiding writing this very story, I found myself online shopping, and – shock horror – actively seeking out colour.
If this week has taught me anything, it’s that I’ve been hiding behind my black wardrobe; in an attempt to ‘blend in’ I have rendered myself – and my sense of style – almost invisible. Ditching my all-black wardrobe in favour of more colour has given me a sense of polish and sophistication that playing it safe with black never did. (Not to mention an unexpected boost of optimism.)
For me, wearing bright, unapologetic clothing is a style statement that requires a certain level of self-confidence – and, I realise, it’s a confidence that I do, in fact, have inside me, should I choose to use it.
This story was created in partnership with kate spade new york #loveinspades
Find your nearest kate spade new york boutique here. There are eight stores in Australia.