The Woman In Black


As you know m’dears, I am a woman perpetually in black. I have a no-nonsense all year round uniform and I very rarely veer from the joy that is choosing another black top to go with my black trousers and pretty ballet shoes.One would so hate to get adventurous and risk looking… well I’m not sure what I would be risking, but let it be known here and now that wearing anything other than black is something I consider very risky indeed.

Yes. Clothes are a bothersome business, which is why, seventeen years ago I decided to opt out of the entire affair and embrace darkness. And lip gloss. And big earrings. Not in a Pat Butcher way. More in a bohemian, gypsy way, if bohemain gypsies wore black trousers and sported bottoms to rival Kim Kardashians.

So yes. I wear black and shop for accessories with a vengeance and occasionally get silly and buy something I regret and all this would be fine and dandy if my most authentic self didn’t keep bugging me for frothy lace and Spanish dresses. If my heart didn’t yearn for beige (though let it be known that I look a SHOW in beige) and swishy skirts and tea dresses and mustard jumpers. I love mustard, me. And if my soul would not really prefer to be hopping about in a palette of brown, mustard, aubergine, red and olive green.

How absolutely desperate to be so very divorced from oneself! How devastating to acknowledge and ignore the battle between body and soul on a daily basis! How outrageous to throw all one’s efforts into creating and maintaining a home abundant in froth while prowling around in a stern curators uniform of black!

One simply does not know what to do with oneself beyond embarking upon a course of liposuction or throwing caution to the wind and deciding not to wait until I am an old lady to wear purple.

I have long flicked past the fashion pages of the many magazines I buy, and indulged my aesthetic self with much concentration on creating smoky eyes and pouty lips so other eyes did not need to wander past my neck, but the heart wants what it wants and it can be a persistent bugger when it does. So I find myself pinning beautiful clothes to my Pinterest boards. Curating pretty dresses on my Etsy boards and frequently returning to them to swoon just a little bit. The way others cluck over picture of babies in plant pots and puppies in a muddle. The way most women have always allowed themselves to feel about clothes.

I turn 42 tomorrow. Though this is a fact that shocks me all by itself, what shocks me more is how fast time marches on and how miserable it is to not be living as my most authentic, bohemian self. I do wish there was someone who could help me get out of my own way. I seem quite incapable, yet do not want to waste another year as the woman in black…

And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud, was greater than the risk it took to blossom…Anais Nin.

My frothy, lacy, Muse will be thrilled. 

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15 comments on “The Woman In Black

  1. I don’t have this exact problem, but I know what it is to swing back and forth between different aesthetics, unable to decide. For me, I’m torn between minimalism and maximalism. Sometimes I think I want to have all white and black clothes – chic, neutral, understated, sophisticated french girl, always in style. Sometimes I think I want a riot of color and pattern (look out Anthropologie, I’m a comin’, credit card in hand). So I end up with both, never feeling quite settled. It’s as if I want a signature style, but there are two “me”s inside that are quite different. So, I think I’ll never have a signature style – not just one, at least.

  2. As a fellow Woman in Black I can wholeheartedly sympathise. Sometimes, in a fit of madness, I buy a top in blue, cream, or some other unsuitable colour, before realising it makes me look a fright and is relegated to the back of the wardrobe for ‘one day’.

  3. Jennifer K. on said:

    If I’ve learned anything from reading this blog since the beginning, it’s that contentedness lies in being true to my authentic self. Start small with a top in a pretty color that flatters your face. Choose styles that flatter your favorite feature. For me it’s my chest, so I wear very good bras and lots of v or scoop neck lines in styles that mask my middle section. Really, what have you got to lose?

  4. Julianne on said:

    Be bold. It is always a risk to express yourself openly and risk others not understanding you. However, you do it every day– right here. I work at a conservative law firm and sometimes I get in and realize not only do others not understand my look, but I may have misunderstood it myself! And my bum is way bigger than KK’s.

  5. Heather F on said:

    I’m so surprised. After having read your blog for so long, I would have thought you would dress in color all the time. I connect you with polka dots and a Cath Kidson palate in my head. I, myself, only seem to dress in blue, grey, and brown. Sometimes I try to buy something out of those ranges of colors and it always ends up living in my closet until I give it away.

  6. Have you looked at Gudrun Sjøden’s clothes? They are available from her online shop and on ebay;)

  7. I would start by adding white in- it always goes well with black. After that maybe spluge on some nice colored tops. You can update your wardrobe a little at a time. That’s actually what I’m working on right now. I’m a big fan of black staples but some color is nice too.

  8. How about adding in a floral scarf?
    I went through that for years…black from head to toe…
    I found that it was easier to experiment with color and pattern at the local thrift shop….then when the color or pattern no longer suited, i just donated it back. I remember my first foray into color was a bright orange cotton blouse!

  9. Dolores Lynn on said:

    A very happy birthday to you!

  10. I’m also a split-personality when it comes to fashion. Most of the year I dress rather classic–trousers, cardigans, cashmere v-necks, button-up collared shirts. But late spring and summer I turn into an old-fashioned country girl with floral print dresses, peasant tops and long skirts.

    Would you like dressing in more boho tops in black and other dark colors with your black trousers? I wonder if this online store would be to your taste:

    http://holyclothing.com/index.php/

  11. First, all the gals here have great advice, I wholeheartedly agree with them. Second, I wish I could take you out shopping. I need to tell you, you are a gorgeous woman, with fantastic coloring. As much as I ADORE black, I think all black, all the time, is somewhat depressing. Your face, your complexion, and yes, even your figure; you could wear so much! I know colors are more work, and yes, sometimes they can look ridiculous (so can black, I promise), but don’t we all deserve what we authentically like? I’m sure you have a friend with a good eye that can tell you what would/wouldn’t be a mistake. Be the brave vintage heroine we all know you to be and go get yourself some mustard.

  12. I have to agree with the above poster who feels all black is kind of depressing. What does it say to the world about you? I love a little color. 🙂

  13. I am the last person on earth to give any advice about clothes! So I’d just like to wish you a very happy birthday. I hope you have a lovely day, and that the next year brings all sorts of good things.

  14. Kassie on said:

    Happy, happy birthday, Alison! I’m a nurse and wear a uniform for most of up to 10 days’ straight. You’d think that, for the evenings and days’ off I’d like to dress to suit ‘my style’ – but (having gone from Rock Chick to single Mum of 2 in scarcely more than a heartbeat) 16 years ago, I have spent those times in jeans and T’s, all the better to play footie and climb trees with my lovely boys. That was my black. My boys are now of an age where they consider what they wear and, that, with their encouragement, that has made me do so too. My budget is tiny, so much so that,for me, my fortnightly bottle of lavender oil is a true indulgence…but I would recommend boohoo.com for lovely kimonos – at offer-time – or for many anytime – it’s very good value – and boho chic enough to dress up my jeans and black cami sufficiently, to confidently attend gigs, where, now, it is my sons who are playing (that damn Rock gene is hard to stamp out!) without feeling that I’ve let the side down. Just wondering if a something like that is the way forward for you to try out a bit of colour? Though…trust me, I’ve seen you’re pics, I have to say, you look great anyway!

  15. Trace on said:

    Go to a neat little dress shop. Don’t use the mirror. Choose your dress based on what you think is pretty, and what feels completely comfortable. Then, use it as a house dress, if you must.