Sunday, August 17, 2008

Even PINK has been reclaimed

I can’t remember which came first, the inspiration for this image or the text…I confess I may have thrown together this posting as an excuse to post a rainbow of my pink-shade Chucks.

From my journal 7/16: "I actually ordered HOT PINK Chucks today - out of boredom? needing a backup purchase so I won't feel bereft if I return the other pair I ordered?, which are black with colored hearts. I guess with my fashion choices I am trying to reclaim hearts as well as certain colors." Heart shapes had always seemed too girlish to me, not to mention a painful reminder of singlehood during all my years of that status. A few years into my marriage Craig's mother gave me her mother's pearl & silver pendant, which is beautiful and special but a bit too sparkly for my taste. Actually when the heart Chucks arrived I loved them and have since bought two heart-shaped shell/stone pendants to wear with them - one is orange and one is apple green, and the pendants are beautifully chunky and arty rather than girlish.

But back to color reclamation...having successfully repossessed orange - I even have an orange purse ($22.99 pleather from Target) - it's on to pink.

I wrote on 7/16 that I was feeling strong in my pink shirt that day - worn with black pants and pink leather Chuck Mary Janes. Was it the black pants? Black & red and pink karma bracelets? Or had I felt good in other pink tops, with other bottoms? That day's outfit did not remind me of a girlish look...dark pants were definitely better than off-white. I nattered on to say that on Monday I had worn olive J Jill pants with a floral pink top and the same shoes, and that was not a bad look or feel. The previous month I accidentally ordered a 2nd thick-knit pink LL Bean long-sleeve shirt, tricked again because the online description made me think it was a purple, not pink...somehow I fell for the color confusion twice in a row. I wrote on and on about pink shirts...I tried to give one LL Bean shirt to Cousin Amy but it wasn't her size, and she suggested that my keeping 2 pink shirts was not a bad thing. Now I have 2 identical long-sleeve and 2 identical short-sleeve shirts...the short sleeves were another purchase accident, this time at Target, because I didn't double-check as I grabbed things off the sale shelves...but with a $6.99 shirt, it doesn't seem to matter if you have extras. When I bought my very first pink short-sleeve from Target, I thought I would layer it under black or white when I wore pink-print Chucks - actually my bunny-print Chucks are not really pink but more of a coral - which is OK since I have a Target coral shirt too, bought without the Chucks in hand, an impressive case of remote color matching - but I kept that first pink shirt anyway...and it has somehow encouraged much more pink in my closet.

[Note - when I wrote the journal entry I was drinking a glass of wine at ZiZiki's Greek restaurant and did not bother to look down at my shoes under the table - only after getting in my car did I realize I was not wearing pink shoes but black & cream Mary Jane Chucks with a red stripe on the rubber, worn with pink socks. It strikes me as really funny that I unconsciously changed the color of my shoes to fit my writing theme.]

In the early 1980s one of the fashionable pinks was a powdery pale version that I especially liked. It reminded me of childhood, the pastel shades of the early 1960s before the vivid color explosions that came later. One day I wore to work a cotton long-sleeve, kind of Bohemian powder-pink shirt with shoulder pads. To connect the blouse with my pleated denim skirt I wore a wide braided straw belt of multi colors (also very 1980s). I even had pale pink pumps, the perfect shade although thin plastic and cheap construction - the kind of shoe whose heel tip wears down almost immediately so that you're walking on the metal spike, not so great for downtown pavement. I should have carried the shoes and worn tennis shoes from my parking lot but I only had a couple of blocks to walk and I didn't want to break up the total look. When I passed the Dallas Museum of Art, which was across from my office building, I was close to a school bus full kids. Some of them started yelling at me - I couldn't make out the words but the tone was critical. They were on my birthmark side and I felt very exposed as I walked the length of the bus. I associated that experience with wearing pink in public, and maybe my ensemble did highlight the red in my face. I'm not saying I didn't wear pink afterward, but when I did wear pink it was with more self-consciousness than glory in the color.

So it's especially cool now that when I wear pink, I feel POWERFUL. Sometimes accessorizing my pink shirts with red as well as pink crystal bracelets (the red beautifully sets off the pink) has helped my feeling of power - after all, pink is a shade of red, and red is nothing if not powerful.

I once read that in Victorian times, baby girls wore blue and baby boys wore pink, because pink was seen as being so close to red, and red was considered too strong for girls. I loved that factoid and completely believed it...although I have since seen paintings and other images from that era of girls in pink and boys in blue.

Last month Craig made a special trip to the outlet mall in Allen to look for his favorite kind of Nike shirt. He’s not a big shopper, but a very targeted one – like a hunter, he aims for specific items, and if he doesn’t see anything, he doesn’t shoot. To my surprise, he came home with not just a Nike shopping bag but also one from the Converse outlet. He had bought himself a pair of basic white low-tops for, in his words, “family solidarity.” How cute is that? He obviously can’t stamp out my feelings for Chucks, so he bought a pair of his own. The shoes look great on him but there is one negative - I feel internal pokes of guilt every time he complains about how much they cost, which actually was not a bad price for Chucks...I certainly don't want to educate him on how much I pay for mine.

And yes, this touching little story does tie back to the topic of PINK. Craig brought me back a present, a bright-pink Chuck Taylor All-Stars cap. I didn’t want to act like I didn’t like it – I do like it – but I was puzzled why he chose that color, over black, white, blue, red, and whatever else they had. Craig's explanation was, “I thought if you would wear any color of hat, you would wear pink.” How interesting, since Craig has almost never seen me wear pink until this summer, and my pinks are still not frequent. As usual Amy had an insightful explanation – she said that pink is in the same color family as orange, they are both warm colors. I started wearing orange last winter before I branched out to pink this spring. Considering all the reclusive and drab-dressing phases of my life, I consider it a nice thing to now be associated with warm colors. Thank you, Craig, for that…and for the hat.

Last Thursday night I wore the hat to a baseball game – not a big pastime of ours, but Craig had gotten free tickets. I spent a lot of effort trying to figure out what color shoes would tone down the hat, and finally decided that pink shoes with the pink hat would actually attract less attention than red shoes or navy shoes - without pink shoes, the pink hat would stand out like a piece of candy atop a cupcake. I wore a black shirt and blue-gray Capris – not the best fashion dressing, but I liked the total color palate. I don’t usually find caps comfortable but the Chucks hat feels good, soft and airy. Coincidence? I think not! Chucks are special in all forms.

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