a big beautiful mess

A brief history of my relationship with Orange.

It started with a skirt that I bought cheap when I was in Russia. It had gotten hot all of a sudden, and I didn’t have any hot-weather clothes. The skirt was short, and cute, and it wasn’t like anything that I would ever buy back in the States, I told myself, because, most importantly, it was orange.

Orange, I knew, was a color for people with too much self-confidence, or too little fashion sense, or prison sentences. Orange wasn’t a color reasonable people wore, definitely not pale white people. It washed you out and reflected orange sunlight back at the underside of your face, and it just didn’t go with anything. I knew all this. But, screw it, this was Russia, and I had long since lost sight of who I was or why I was there, or what anything meant.

And it was cheap clothes in Russia, something I had come to look upon the way you look upon a narwhal– you know it must exist, but you categorize it with the fantastic and the long-extinct.

So I bought the skirt, and wore it a couple of times, and went home to America.

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Slowly but surely, the hot weather gave way to the mild “cold” of a mid-Atlantic autumn, and it came time to replenish my wardrobe of mild-weather clothes, because the trip to Russia had stripped my closet down to only holy-shit-cold-wear.

As chance would have it, orange was in that season at the Old Navy. Not a bright neon orange, not a crunchy-warm-90s-mom-turtleneck orange, but a jewel-tone, solid red-orange color that might be mistaken for simply red from a distance. I remembered that book Color Me Beautiful, the single most long-lived impact on my sense of style,┬áhad instructed me jewel tones were good for my complexion, and, screw it, I still didn’t know who or what or why I was, after a few months back in America. So, I bought it.

And I wore it a lot. It looked good on me, actually. It did the opposite of wash me out– it brightened me up in a way that all that gray and merlot-purple in Russia had never done. I liked it.

Quickly enough, spring began to pop up in Pittsburgh, and I found myself once again with a scarcity of seasonally-appropriate clothing, and also once again with an extremely limited budget. So, I took to the hipster-supplied Goodwill on the South Side and found a dress in — you guessed it — orange. This orange was unmistakable, and warm, and it was a whole dress. But it looked good on me– the dress was the right style, and it looked brand-new, and screw it, I was quitting my job and I’d have lots more time to wear experimental things like orange dresses, instead of just a corporate uniform. So, I shelled out $4.99 for the dress.

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And I’ve been wearing it. I wear it with a bright blue scarf. I wear it with a pale, salt-washed blue-white button-down shirt, tied at my waist. I wear it all alone, if it’s hot like it has been.

So, it should come as no surprise to me that when I started my Etsy shop recently, I opened with a line of jewelry based entirely around a bright neon orange I call “Radioactive Orange.” And yet, I’m a little surprised. I guess all that wandering lost in the metaphysical forest of the self was bound to give way to some oddities, such as liking orange all of a sudden.

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Or maybe I’m just being influenced by the trends at Old Navy.

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