“I wish you would incorporate some color into your wardrobe,” Mama complained one day. “You are not a ninja.”
I ignored her. She has been making the same complaint for years.
“Can’t you wear some lovely pastels? You’d look precious in yellow or a soft, pale, pink,” she added.
Where she got this idea, I don’t know.
There have been times I have had a moment of reckless abandon and have bought a non-black blouse and have lived to regret it.
Normally, I feel like a walking Easter egg when I do.
Mama still thinks I need to veer away from my black on black ensembles.
“Black is supposed to be thinning,” I protest.
Maybe it is if you are already thin or just trying to trick the eye about a few pounds. It wasn’t really working for me, but I was sticking to my macabre color scheme.
“You used to wear more color,” she continued.
She must have been referring to when I was younger and didn’t have a say in what I wore.
In Mama’s world, I would still be wearing florals and corduroys.
Thankfully, Granny interceded on my behalf.
“She don’t need to be wearing prints. Or corduroys. That kind of material ain’t made to stretch like that,” Granny said.
A fall season in plaid was a horrible mistake. I am barely five feet and as a child, was as round as I was tall. “Did you really put this one in plaid?” Granny asked my mother. “What in the world is wrong with you, Jean?”
Granny thought solid colors was the best and put me in her favorite color, red, which yielded taunts of “Hey, Kool-Aid!”
I promptly ran back to the florals, despite knowing I looked like a chubby, mobilized botanical display.
And then, sometime in my early teens, something miraculous happened. I came across an article in one of Mama’s magazines – was it Redbook? Ladies Home Journal? – that declared black made you look thinner and chic.
Another small miracle happened: Mama actually let me have a bit of input into what I was going to wear.
I wanted everything in black.
It also simplified things; I didn’t have to worry about if things matched.
I didn’t get the full wardrobe, however; Mama gave me some say but not all.
“It’s fall, you need some lovely sweaters in pretty, lush colors,” she said, picking me out sweaters in shades of peach and deep green.
Then, come spring, she was pushing the pastels again just as she does now.
And when I was a little girl, I didn’t mind them quite as much.
They went well with the white shoes and sandals I couldn’t wait to break out at Easter.
But after I had gone to the dark side, I just couldn’t justify wearing the white shoes again.
Mama was perfectly fine with me denouncing white footwear; she never cared for them to begin with, claiming they looked cheap no matter how much they cost.
“And they get scuffed so easily. You spend most of the time trying to polish them,” she said.
Despite us reaching one point of agreement, Mama still disapproved of my color choice.
“Johnny Cash wore all black,” I tell her.
“You’re not Johnny Cash,” she replies.
A few weeks ago, I was on the hunt for more professional looking clothes.
Just about everything I got was black.
People probably think I wear the same pants every day, when, it is just about a dozen pair of the same color.
I did make the mistake last year of buying a pair of white and black pants – they were a print though, something Granny cautioned me about, being of short statue and waist line.
“Are you wearing your pajamas to the grocery store?” Lamar asked me as I headed out the door.
“No, these are pants.”
He looked at me. “Are you sure they are not pajama pants?”
“I am sure.”
I never wore them in public again.
“It’s time to grow up and stop wearing such a bland color,” Mama said.
I sighed. I was tired of arguing with her.
“Give me one good reason why I should wear one of your precious pastels, and I will do it.”
“It will make you look younger,” she said.
One thing I want, maybe equally to looking thinner.
Vanity had won.
I am now on the lookout for some lovely, youth-invoking pastels.