I’ve always loved colours, patterns and prints – in art, design and advertising. I guess that’s one of the main reasons I was drawn to becoming a Graphic Designer – so much creativity, expression and fun! Which is so ironic, as the typical Graphic Design ‘uniform’ is to keep it very simple and wear all black. In recent years I’ve found myself rebelling against this stereotype and becoming #confidentlycolourful instead – celebrating my creative taste through style. P.S. Did I tell you that I’m shortlisted for Best Colour Inspiration in the Amara IBAs 2018? Woop!
(Wo)men in black
For most of my life I’ve dressed in black. Black jeans. Black boots. Black jacket. Black bag. I’d throw in a patterned top or dress once in a while, but the foundation of my wardrobe was simple: black.
2015 Natasha: 50 shades of black for a Graphic Design exhibition private view.
2016 Natasha: An all black, with a dash of khaki and leopard print outfit.
Dressing head to toe in black is classic; it’s cool, chic and effortless. It’s fail-safe and regarded as a smart, expensive look. If you have a wardrobe full of black clothes you can wake up in the morning and put any 2 items on and it will just work. But when it comes to colour, there has to be a bit more thought behind it.
Playing it safe
Growing up in the 90s, all of the photos show me as a kid dressed in colour and prints – thanks Mum. Thinking about it, most of our childhood is spent in drab school uniforms, usually black, grey or navy, so it’s kinda weird that when given the freedom to choose our own clothing we would play it safe. I would expect rebellion? I guess this is a defence mechanism of sorts – we don’t want to stand out too much amongst our peers, we just want to fit in.
2014 Natasha: Monochrome wardrobe, monochrome poses
As a teen (13) to a young adult (21), I think I had terrible fashion style, or lack of. I went through the Myspace phase, the Indie phase and the I don’t have a clue phase. I could blame it on living a sheltered life in a small town with one high street clothing option (good ol’ New Look) but for someone who spent her Primary school years claiming that she wanted to be a fashion designer; I just didn’t put a lot of effort in. As I became a child of the internet, I admired fashion trends from afar but my budget didn’t allow much experimentation. And that’s why black was always such a great option.
For most of my life I have played it safe – if there was a black or red version of a top, I’d always pick the black version. A yellow bag? Oh no! That won’t go with everything – it’s much more cost effective to buy the black version. It’s only the past 2 years where I’ve really started to express my love of colour through fashion.
Changing my opinion
I used to think there was something cheap about colour; that it looked tacky and weird. But in recent years, maybe as I’ve become a bit more confident with my taste, my view point has changed. Now I see colour as something quite luxurious and special. Growing up I was so far away from Fashion Designers, Fashion Week and Designer Trends etc. It was unobtainable and unrealistic for me, a small town girl. Since moving to London it’s hard to escape, especially asa blogger. I’m typically an East London kinda gal but I walked through ‘the Designer district’ (New Bond Street in Mayfair) last year and discovered that Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Hermes and Kenzo were all repping bold, colourful collections. For the first time, I was thinking with my eyes instead of my bank balance.
Back to reality…I didn’t splash out on anything designer. But it did open my mind to trying colour on the high street! As with every scary thing, I dipped my toes in gently – a multicoloured scarf, a blue pleather jacket, red chelsea boots. I started by introducing colour into my wardrobe staples and taking small risks which could transform my outfits from plain lazy to a cool look.
The blue pleather jacket from Zara was a great introductory piece, as it adds an edge even if the rest of your outfit is quite simple e.g. white t-shirt and jeans. Last Autumn I took it with me on a trip to Bristol as part of a capsule wardrobe, and paired it with a purple pleated skirt and a dark blue pleather skirt. Yep, I rocked a full blue pleather outfit – I’d never have attempted this before the blue jacket came into my life!
2017 Natasha: Working blue in Bristol
Fast forward to summer 2018 in Margate, I was feeling my most confident and built an outfit based around a pretty loud pink and yellow leopard print top from Topshop. I paired it with pink shorts, yellow earrings and yellow pencil socks poking out from white converse trainers.
2018 Natasha: Category is… walking, talking Battenberg!
Get the London look
London has a reputation for being the fashion capital of cool – rock and roll, a bit edgy and daring. There are definitely lots of different style crowds in London, but most days if you look up from your phone (whilst also avoiding eye contact with everyone in the tube carriage!), the everyday Londoner is wearing head-to-toe black. Last year I added a bright orange coat to my wardrobe and I found myself sticking out like a carrot juice amongst a sea of black coffees.
Honestly, the looks were a little unsettling at first but then a girl on the Northern Line complimented my outfit – woo! Such a great feeling! You can’t deny, we all enjoy a compliment or, in this social media focused age, likes. One thing that Instagram has taught me is that even though people might not have the confidence to dress in colour/ they wouldn’t wear a rainbow themselves, they still appreciate it. Maybe that’s just because I look and feel happy in my colourful clothes, and they’re just enjoying my energy? I don’t really know. But one things for sure – a splash of colour draws attention in a monochrome world.
All eyes were on me when I wore this lilac double denim look to take some photos outside a tube station in North East London. Although it might be a bit too sugary for some people, this outfit and wall combo is one of my most liked Instagram posts! It’s a similar story with rainbow stripes at the moment – people can’t get enough.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have days where I want to dress in black and I’ll always love a monochrome stripe, but life’s too short to not wear a yellow bag with cobalt blue trousers! I’m strutting the streets in all kinds of outfits that I never thought I would rock and I’m doing all with a smile.
I’m glad that I’m reaching a point in my life where I feel confident enough to experiement with style choices that make me happy. I hope I’ll be like Iris Apfel when I’m an old lady – that’s style goals right there!
But until then, to celebrate and document colourful style experiments, I’ve teamed up with fellow rainbow fan @JaidePoppy to create an Instagram hashtag: #confidentlycolourful. Already we’ve had lots of amazingly colourful people join in, which makes me smile:
If you’re a colour lover, I hope you’ll join in with our hashtag? And if you’re not confident in colour yet I hope you’ll be inspired and build up your confidence to join in soon. I’ve got some blog posts planned to share ways that anyone can work colourful pieces into your wardrobe, so look out for those!
Crack out that colour and wear it with confidence!