Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Purple tights and seeing red

I was a painfully shy child and I just wanted to blend into the background.  I loved colour but had a fear of standing out and drawing attention to myself.  Wearing muted, neutral colours helps us blend in.  Black, brown, beige, grey.  Colours that do not shout at you.  When I fell in love and discovered sex and my confidence began to soar, it was as if a door had opened and all my suppressed desires were unleashed.  I delighted in wearing bright, vibrant colours, seeking out quirky boutiques to buy emerald green tights or garish yellow socks, which I adored.  (I am definitely a sock person, preferring them to tights, which are so restricting). My partner encouraged me to blossom, to wear what I wanted regardless of what the current fashion trends were.  Throughout my twenties and thirties, when I went for job interviews I always wore my “lucky” red jacket, or a bright colour to help the interview panel remember me.

Glancing through the window the other day when having a coffee in town,  I looked at the crowds of people shopping and noticed that most wore grey, brown or black.  Maybe it is a British cultural thing, the way we shun bright colours. When I worked at a college, and walked through the busy canteen wearing my vivid purple tights I had the piss taken out of me by some of the students, who actually made fun of the fact that my tights were purple and not black.  People can be weird.

When I was ten years old,  my favourite colour was turquoise.  My two best friends each had an identical pair of shiny turquoise shoes with big rosettes on them.  I loved those shoes.  I coveted them.  But my Mum insisted on a pair of navy blue Clark’s sensible shoes, informing me that I would thank her in later life when I didn’t have bunions and my friends did!  (It took me twenty years to realise she was right!).  But I never forgot those pretty, shiny turquoise shoes.

For most of my teens and early twenties, I favoured black (and, after my sexual awakening,  red). Red can symbolise so many things: passion, danger, power, no entry, blood.  Life itself.  Successful sports teams like to have red as their colour as it is supposed to motivate the players and stimulate testosterone. We also use the phrases “Seeing Red” and “Scarlet Woman.”

Black has obvious associations with death and darker themes but is also a favoured colour when it comes to underwear.  My first ever suspender belt was black and lacy, with matching briefs and bra.   Hot stuff – and I felt unbelievably naughty when I wore it!

On the other hand, white, symbolic of virginity and purity, is also popular with a lot of guys I've known, who find females in white underwear especially sensual. 

I sometimes wonder why we use the term “blue” when it comes to movies?  (Can anyone enlighten me on this?) Why does blue equal rude?  Or blue language mean swearing?  Yet we also talk about feeling blue and singing the blues, so the colour is used to describe depression.  Now, if I feel  low, I wear pink or orange or yellow.  The brighter the colour, the better, because it can lift my mood.   I especially adore neon colours like hot pink and lime green.

We also talk of purple prose and in the pink and green with envy. When we write, the way we use colours can reveal things about our characters and their personalities and moods. The psychology of colour can add another dimension to descriptive passages and locations. I find our relationship with colours fascinating.  Rainbows rule. 


  1. Yes, the use of colour is so interesting! I don't know why a dirty movie is a blue movie - I was wondering that myself recently! And why is yellow associated with cowardice - yellow-bellied? It's so fascinating! I was a wearer of bright green and pink stockings in my early twenties when I worked in theatre and one of my ex-colleagues still mentions them! I still love colour but more often than not team it with something black (I love its slimming properties ;-)

    1. Hi Linda - green and pink stockings sound wonderful! I had a range of coloured stockings too in my twenties. You are right about black - it definitely has slimming properties and I always favour it for trousers and leggings.