Wellingtonians like to show their true colours. And if that happens to be black, black and black, so be it. Drab and sombre as critics may find this, it's what many of the city's dwellers will stick to, no matter what.
After plenty of comments about yesterday's story about Wellington's often funereal look in the fashion stakes, The Dominion Post enlisted Courtney Garrud for a social experiment: a colourful makeover at Country Road in Lambton Quay. Gone were the dark jeans and coat, on came a mix of pastel and neon shades.
But the 20-year-old Massey University student's response was unequivocal: black is best; colour is a more conscious choice.
"I try to get a bit of colour in, but I do wear a lot of black, especially in winter," she said, adding that she had felt self-conscious in her makeover wardrobe.
"I feel very out there. You'd be able to spot me a mile away."
It was no exaggeration: her outfit seemed even brighter against a backdrop of black corporate wear outside the store at lunchtime.
Judging by readers' comments, and those from stylists and fashion experts, the jury's still out on whether Wellingtonians' wardrobes are dictated by a love for black or a fear of colour. "When you see someone wearing colour [and with elegance], you know it's odds-on they're in town from Sydney or Melbourne," a commentator wrote.
Style consultant Trudi Bennett said Wellington was in a sartorial "black hole". "It does look grim. We have this vibrant, culturally rich city, and that's not really reflected in how we dress."
She said corporate dress codes were an excuse. "I've not come across any corporates that have dictated colour, so I think that's people's perception. It doesn't always have to be black."
Frances McMullen, co-owner of Swonderful Boutique in Cuba St, said prints could be a gateway to colour, or members of the black parade could look at introducing white, navy or grey staples to their wardrobe, because these are easier to pair with other colours.
McMullen said vintage fashion could also inspire people to take more risks with colour. "I've got stacks of Vogues from the late 1950s and early 60s, and black hardly features at all."
Bennett recommended that people incorporate colour bit by bit. "People are generally scared to jump into colours because they're unsure whether it's going to work for them."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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