Yellow

30 Sep

All sorts of kooky things happen when we are in that stretch of time that connects the end of summer with the beginning of autumn. People aren’t sure what to wear in this changeable weather, so they’ll step into flip-flops in their coats and scarves, or wear autumn boots with sleeveless t-shirts. There is more confusion than consistency, but one thing I notice remains true is that when the temperature dips, Toronto reaches for drab.

Yellow wardrobe pieces add interest and style.

I’ve been shopping for some new fall pieces lately and everywhere I go,  it’s the same story – collections of greys, blacks, and other dark neutrals to camouflage us into the sidewalks of the urban jungle. It’s curious.

“Does the fashion industry conspire to chromatically induce seasonal depression?” I mused, noting yet another shop window holding grey-clad mannequins,  “And wouldn’t it be interesting if the pharma companies secretly lurked behind the scenes…”

Whatever happened to the human ritual of mimicking nature through clothing? It feels natural to wear gorgeous blazing autumnal colours when the time is right; warm browns, deep greens, bright oranges, golds, rusts, and reds, especially if they’re warm and wooly, and even better if they’re well fit and stylish. (Autumn is a fun time to dress because of the sensible layering options for warmth and expression.)

On a cool but humid day last weekend, I was out for a walk to the city’s east end. I passed a very attractive man in a yellow t-shirt.

The vibrant colour (plus the brand done in rhinestones emblazoned across the chest) drew my eye to this handsome dread-locked fellow. He absolutely stood out but not in a demanding way – he was confident enough to wear something he knew looked fantastic on him, and though the colour was bright and quite obviously YELLOW,  it was flattering and blended harmoniously with his colouring and his person. He totally pulled it off.

Yellow just isn’t that common.

I know that many people are afraid of yellow, but when it’s done right, it can be glorious.  I often see pale yellow dress shirts as a choice for business wear and many men own yellow ties. Yellow is a good choice for men because our culture hasn’t labelled it gender-specific, and it is unusual enough to stand apart, but not to the point of alienation.

Yellow is heavy with meaning: caution, happiness, the sun, and jaundice, and it’s uses are varied:

  • A yellow card in soccer indicates a conduct warning
  • If you are called “yellow-bellied”, you are considered a coward
  • China’s Emperor, Wu-Ti, was known as the Yellow Emperor and wore yellow silk robes
  • It is the colour of the chakra associated with the solar plexus and left-brain reasoning
  • Yellow is the colour of the Beatles’ famous submarine

Yellow is a good colour to pair with the dreary neutrals that are forced upon us when the weather cools, and it comes in many forms: mustard and custard yellows, golden rod, tan, canary, harvest gold, butter yellow, saffron, ochre, lemon, banana, and turmeric yellow, to name but a few.

Now that we’re moving into the darker months, give yourself a hint of cheery yellow in a scarf to brighten your outdoor gear, and if you can find yellow shirts and sweaters to suit you, snap them up – I’ve been clutching my wool daffodil yellow sweater for years and I refuse to let it go!

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