Color is the New Black

I have always been attracted to colorful clothing. In high school and college, when many of my friends were dressing all in black, I went for the reds, blues, and purples. I remember admiring the chic, sophisticated, kind of exotic vibe those black-clad beauties exuded, but it just didn’t feel right on me.

That’s not to say that I didn’t have any black in my closet; it just wasn’t the dominant color. You won’t find much black in my closet today either. I confess to owning several pairs of black slacks and jeans, one or two sweaters, and, of course, the “little black dress” someone told us we should all have, but mostly my clothes are more rainbow, less goth.

Apparently even at a young age I was color-blocking!
Apparently even at a young age I was color-blocking!

Lately I’ve noticed that I reach for black less and less. And, when I wear something black close to my face, I don’t feel as energized as I do when I have on something more colorful. When I see pictures of myself wearing black, I think I look tired and drained of color. Not a look I’m fond of.

As I observe women around me who are around my age or older, I see a lot of black clothing. Some are lucky to have that striking “winter” complexion that looks great in black but most do not. Maybe they chose black because it was “safe,” or they think it makes them look slimmer, or they had admired it on someone else (probably a “winter”) and hoped to achieve the same result, or, worst of all, they wear black to help them fade into the background.

I know there are plenty of wonderful fashion blogs out there for women over 50, and I don’t intend for RetirementallyChallenged to be one of them, but I like to look and feel my best and I know that wearing the right colors for me makes me feel great. I also love to see a woman over 50 embrace her age with confidence, joy, and style. She knows which fabrics, colors, and cuts look best on her and she wears those regardless of current trends. She might even feel that she could lose a few pounds, but she knows that black isn’t really all that slimming anyway and, besides, why would she want to fade into the background?

I’ve made a decision recently that if I don’t love it, I don’t buy it. In addition, if I’m not feeling the love from a previously-purchased piece of clothing, it is on its way out too. Life is too short to wear clothes that I don’t feel good in.

As my wardrobe makes the transition from being work-focused to being ready for anything retirement might bring, I know that my business clothes are on their way out. In addition to those items I will no longer have any use for, my favorite second hand store will be on the receiving end of my remaining black clothes.

When I’m there, maybe I’ll look through their racks for a new little black dress… in red.

Author: Janis @

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

4 thoughts on “Color is the New Black”

  1. Even though clothes are only “things”, getting rid of my career clothes was emotionally harder than I thought it would be. At least I didn’t have the silly holiday clothes left from years past that my students adored. Bright colors make me feel alive!

    1. Hi Leah! I am having some difficulty with the transition also. Even after two-and-a-half years of retirement, I have several work outfits in my closet. I know (hope) I’m not going back to work but they are of good quality and… you never know… Slowly but surely I’m letting go. I agree with you about wearing colors – they make me happy and I know I look better.

    2. Leah, like you and Janis (and a few others bloggers as well), getting rid of the work clothes has not been easy for me as well. I’m now past the 2 year retired mark and still have a closet full. Someone recently commented about the “planning” to wear those work jackets with jeans to pull of that “smart look” but then always reaching for the sweatshirt hoodie! I still look at the Talbot’s catalog thinking I’ll recreate that classic pulled together look…. and today it was once again jeans and a Polartec. I promised this year’s fall transition I would get rid of more work clothes and anything I really do not love will go. If I say it enough times, it might actually happen. Best wishes in your transition.

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