Three weeks after Easter, I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about wearing color again. I had anticipated that it would be joyous and fun, that I would be thrilled to have style again. After 40 days of black T-shirts, I planned an explosion of color: a skirt of bright blues paired with a teal T under a royal violet cardigan and finished with a sunflower belt.
While walking to class I began to wonder if perhaps it was too bright — I kept noticing people’s eyes pausing over me as I walked by them. At school, many classmates complimented my loud look, but all I felt was discomfort. I hadn’t planned for feeling so exposed, hadn’t realized I had developed a heightened awareness of the gaze of otehrs. After wearing clothes that go unnoticed for weeks, the sudden attention and eyes on my body felt intrusive.
The next day I wore soft neutrals, hoping to dull the effect. People still noticed and commented. Although the colors were softer, the feeling of exposure, of clothes not being enough, took up residence in every cell of my being. I began to realize that this is something we often do to one another: we look at bodies and clothing, evaluating the other’s tastes and style, gleaning what we can about the other’s self from the items they put over their skin. On some level, we believe we know one another through appearance.
At home I find myself living in black yoga pants and a black shirt. Even going out, it’s mostly jeans and a basic T. In starting this experiment, I had thought that it would rejuvenate my appreciation of fashion and kindle my desire to enjoy being in my body. Instead, I find myself trying to hide, a growing modesty of appearance. Permanent black T-shirts is starting to sound like a viable option.