Gray is fall's strongest color. And it's not that solid, charcoal "banker's gray" or the serenely delicate dove gray. It's just soot.
Now we need neutrals, beyond black, to cleanse the palette from color overdoses. Gray hides dirt almost as well as black, but better shows off the texture mixes of stylish layering.
Still, the words of Betty Halbreich, legendary director of personal shopping services for Bergdorf Goodman and the author of "Secrets of a Fashion Therapist," come to mind.
"I personally don't like gray right up to the face," she wrote. "I've never seen anyone look good in it. I find it to be too heavy an accent for most people's complexions."
But maybe she has softened on gray now that it's so fashionable. So I rang her up where she still works at Bergdorf's in New York to smoke her out. And here's what she said:
"It's hideous. It's the worst color. I can stand on my head and can't sell it."
She said of the current shade, "It's rich elephant or rich mouse. Which do you want? It's that shade of muddy, dark, funny, gray elephant skin with no blue in it. Mouse is the same color. Very fashion-conscious people will go for this color. But it's hard on the skin. Very unbecoming."
She said the only women who look good in it are gorgeous blondes with light complexions. Come to think of it, the only truly arresting fashion photos I've seen of gray clothes were worn by gorgeous blondes with light skin. Making matters worse, designers often paired gray with black for a truly funereal presentation. What to do? The obvious solution is to confine gray to pants and skirts and top it off with color. But in her book, Halbreich reminds us that soft textures should be employed too. For example, wear your gray flannel pants with a brown suede jacket or vest or with a soft, creamy silk blouse. "This same theory holds true for black women," writes Halbreich, "whose skin brightens not only when they wear luminous, jewel-toned colors, but also in contrast to rich textures like velvet." I like using trends to foil trends. Bow-tie blouses and knit and cashmere scarves are making wrapped throats chic again. So use that to sneak your paisley and animal print scarves back into service as accessories for gray sweaters or dresses. Halbreich suggests topping sweaters and blouses with silver jewelry, very trendy at the moment, as well as beads and with flattering pearls. Pump up color by wearing your gray skirt with a sweater -- say, in burgundy -- and adding like-colored tights .
Or use gray in accessories such as a big belt or purse or any of the many gray shoes, booties and kneeboots out there that look especially fresh in suede. When you shop for gray, be shade savvy. Carolyn Bendall, Memphis color analyst and owner of Fashion Academy, reminds us that it's the shade that dictates how well a color flatters you. If you're cool-colored (you look good in hot pink and silver), choose a cool, blue-gray and wear it with pink, lavender, true red, burgundy, cornflower blue, sky blue or other cool shades. If you are warm-colored (you look good in orange, brown and gold), choose a warm, mossy, green-gray jacket. Camel, orange, rust, lime, Granny Smith apple green will flatter the jacket and your complexion. And finally, watch the guys, who are often more adept at working with gray. The Italian luxury label Domenico Vacca paired a gray suit with a rich, nude overcoat, pale blue foulard tie, and blue-stripe shirt, then spiced it all with a dash of brilliant orange in a pocket scarf. It all went together like black-eyed peas and salsa. Fashion editor Barbara Bradley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Source: The Commercial Appeal. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. Powered by Yellowbrix.