Quarantine Is the Time to Add More Colors to Your Wardrobe
Cut out the grey and black and embrace your inner David Hockney painting
These are dark days, my friends. I probably don’t have to tell you that. You read the news.
But besides all the daily doom and gloom, it also just feels a littler darker — literally. It’s that time of year when spring still hasn’t taken over totally; some days are sunny and bright, others are rainy and gray. The latter really doesn’t help our collective mood during this time.
I would have to imagine that what we’re wearing doesn’t help much, either. The toughest sartorial decision for many of us is what shade of blue, black or gray we’re going to wear to work in our apartments.
And I get that. Those colors don’t offer up a lot of risk. I found myself rocking a gray “Cambridge Polo Club” sweatshirt and a pair of jeans for a few days in a row when quarantine started. I felt like it reflected the endless rainy days that we’d been experiencing in New York.
When the sun finally decided to show, I wanted to match it. I put on a green and white vintage rugby I purchased last year from Wooden Sleepers in Brooklyn, a pair of khakis and my Vans Yacht Club sneakers, and, yes, I maybe looked like I hosted a PBS show for kids in the 1990s, but I also felt a little better. Sure, I was getting a little more vitamin D from actually getting out of my house and standing in the sun, but my mood was also better. And if you’re like me, you’ll take any pick-me-up that comes your way,.
Color makes us feel better. It can influence our mood and add a dose of brightness to our lives when things seem dark. Now, I’m not suggesting you dress up like a box of Crayola, but if there’s ever a time to try out new colors, well, this is it.
Know what works for you
My rule of thumb is if it looks like the color could be used in a David Hockney painting, I’m usually a fan. Of course, that doesn’t mean everything works on me. I have a brown beard and a pair of tortoiseshell glasses, so if I wear a hat, I try to keep that as muted as possible so as not to clash with all the brown. I also know never to go overboard with color; I don’t want to look like a cop posing as a club kid from Party Monster-era New York City. Usually I keep the colorful part of my daily outfit to one garment. So if I’m feeling like a pair of blue slacks from Ralph Lauren, then I’ll likely pair it with a shirt that’s maybe a little more muted or only has hints of color. I’m not the hugest fan of wearing stuff with nautical flags on it, but this Kiel James Patrick shirt is a good example of what I’d put on if the pants were the main source of color. It’s a white cotton Oxford, but the flags punch things up a bit.
Look to the wrist
Listen, I’m as impressed by nice watches as you are. But don’t you want a little break from time to time? I find that popping on a fun watch can sometimes be all the extra brightness you need. My personal favorite is the Shinola Gumball Detrola. It’s the epitome of the fun watch. It just looks like something you’d see while flipping through a book of cool 1980s fashion, possibly on the wrist of Keith Haring. If you do end up buying a watch like this, I wouldn’t say make it your everyday timepiece, but have it around when you’re feeling like wearing something a little extra.
Layers and logos
We don’t have a lot of time left for jackets (thank God), but there will still be nights when we’ll need one. For some reason I’ve never been able to figure out, I’m a big fan of the shorts and light jacket look. It’s strange, I know, but there is something so fun to me about a pair of bright shorts and something like a green and blue Ralph Lauren jacket that looks straight out of the early 1990s and works well if it’s raining or I’m near a body of water where the temperatures might be a bit lower. But since I’m an optimist, I’m going to say you won’t need the jacket, and you can get away with a long-sleeve shirt. One of my favorite looks these days is a pair of Patagonia baggies in green or pink or camp shorts from Steven Alan and a shirt with a logo or graphic that does the popping. A personal favorite is the Only NY Saltwater Guide shirt. I’ve also gotten really into pairing shorts with baseball jerseys. A personal favorite is the Ryne Sandberg 1984 Cubs jersey Michell & Ness offers. Not only was he my first favorite ballplayer, but I love that this particular jersey doesn’t have buttons.
What about the pants?
If you want to wear colorful pants, I won’t stop you. It’s worth trying, that’s for sure. For me, this is where I usually take things down a notch. If I’m wearing a colorful rugby, for instance, I tend to wear a pair of chinos or white pants. That’s usually it. But I’m not you and this is all about comfort. You want to wear blue or fire engine red slacks, then by all means, try it out. This is no rules time.
Don’t forget the feet
My low-key favorite pair of sneakers I don’t wear enough is a pair of red Chuck Taylors. The white Chucks get a lot of use, but I pull the reds out maybe once a month, usually with a pair of 501s. But man, I do love a pair of colorful sneakers. It’s just tricky to pull them off without looking like, well, a clown. That’s why, like the red Chucks, I don’t wear those aforementioned Vans Yacht Clubs I own all that often. I also don’t see myself pulling out my Teva sandals often, but I could be swayed since they look so great. I love a fun pair of shoes, but, like the watch, I wouldn’t suggest making them an everyday thing.
Just have fun
That’s honestly it. Right now is the time to try anything you can to eke some joy out of life. Who knows what the future holds, but sooner or later you’re probably (maybe?) going to have to go back to an office setting and dress as close to “professionally” as you can. Why not add a little color? It will brighten up your day. I promise.