shades of gray


The world is a complicated place. Many people find life easier to see good and bad as clearcut cases of black and white. I’m much more likely to see both sides of the issues, to see good in the bad, bad mixed in with the good. To see that both sides of a conflict can be both right and wrong. All of this has nothing to do with my affinity for shades of gray.

When I was a little girl, I loved bright colors. I liked to be surrounded by color. The more colors, the better. I even went through a rainbow phase. I still love color, love to find it in artwork and nature, but I’m less inclined to wear a lot of colors. Bright colors make me feel a bit too on display. Most often, I like to wear black and gray. Especially dark gray. Charcoal gray. Most of all, I love items that combine black and charcoal gray. Or black with varying shades of gray.

My affinity for gray and black clothing items sometimes borders on compulsion. I find myself wanting to buy any shirt I can find with black and gray stripes. I own, at this time, at least 3 shirts and 4 sweaters with variations of gray and black stripes. I have 2 winter scarves with black and gray stripes (but they have different widths of stripes! They are different!) and another scarf that is a plaid of grays and black. Okay, I have more than 3 scarves with grays and black. I’m not sure how many. (It’s fewer than 30. Really. Maybe only 6.)

There was the longest time that I was hunting for just the right charcoal gray and black scarf. I learned to knit at one point in part so that I could construct that perfect scarf. (But then I found 2 scarves that were close enough.) I’m sure that at some point, I will acquire more black and gray striped scarves, maybe one that is more gray and black than black and gray. (Have you ever watched Despicable Me? I coveted Gru’s scarf.) Sometimes I will buy items that are gray with white stripes, or gray with other color stripes. But these items always feel somehow lacking. They do not have the magic for me of charcoal gray and black.

Here I am wearing Theo, who is wrapped up in one of my black and gray sweaters.

This was a picture from yesterday with my current black & gray sweater favorite.

One thing I realized, while digging through my photos looking for me in my various gray and black clothing items, is that I have many very unflattering photos of myself in those gray and black clothing items. Those you don’t get to see. But I did find this cute picture of me that John took when we visited London in early 2005. Notice the charcoal gray jacket and black and charcoal gray hat. At that time, my quest for a black and charcoal gray scarf was as yet unfulfilled (though that was the trip when I found the gray plaid scarf). My scarf in that photo appears to be only gray.

(This is my first installment of a project to write 40 posts about things that I like.)

16 responses to “shades of gray

  1. I like black and grey, too, but I don’t any items of clothing with that combination. Phoebe looks like you, and the last picture of you is so pretty!

  2. What a great contrast between Phoebe’s colorful clothes (pink! yellow! turquoise!) and your black-and-grey outfit!
    Also, you look great in that last photo.

    Personally, I like stripes a lot, but I sort of prefer bright colors. However, I do have several articles of charcoal grey clothing and several that are black; I just tend to combine them with something more vibrant. That said, I also understand the feeling that wearing bright colors can make one feel too much on display. In fact, I just looked down at today’s outfit and realized that it consists of a black T-shirt, a charcoal grey hoodie, blue jeans, black shoes, and blue-grey socks without stripes, so maybe I have a greater grey-and-black affinity than I thought (especially since blue jeans don’t really count as a color).

    Still, occasionally I find that wearing an outfit of many bright colors (usually multiple solid-colored articles, each in a different color) makes me feel sort of confident–because how else could I pull off such an outfit, other than by being under age 12?

    • It’s funny how much I enjoy picking out extremely colorful clothing for Phoebe when I prefer to dress in less bright colors myself. (It’s not that I never wear colors. I have quite a lot of clothing in other colors. Well, mostly blues and browns. But some of the blues are fairly bright!)

      I’m glad that you have the uncer-12 confidence to dress in bright colors, Sally! That is a fine thing.

  3. hm. i like color, but find i own a lot of black and grey, too, although perhaps not together. it’s good to know what you like, though. :)

  4. I think we are clothing twins, you and I. except you are way cuter

  5. I’m drawn to gray clothes, to the point where I talk out loud to myself at the store: Do you really need another gray top?

    Now that I’m letting my hair go gray, I find I’m wearing more colors. So.

    • I’m amused by the image of you talking yourself out of buying more gray clothing, De. And interesting that going gray has led to you going for less gray.

  6. I like grey and black, too! And stripes! :)

  7. Gosh, you look just like Phoebe in that bottom photo!

  8. I have a black and grey wool fairisle cardigan that you would love.

  9. Pingback: last night I dreamt of Hogwarts | collecting tokens

  10. Pingback: I left my scarf in San Francisco | collecting tokens

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