In the words of Yohji Yamamoto, "Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy -- but mysterious. But above all black says this: "I don't bother you -- don't bother me.""
Not long after I moved to New York three years ago, a young gentleman stopped me on the platform at the Wall Street stop on the 5 train. "Miss," he said, timidly. "Could you please tell me where the nearest Goth club is?" I looked up, quizzically, from beneath my mop of unruly blonde hair. I hesitated before bursting into laughter. He was serious. Perplexed as I assured him I was not a Goth, he gave me and my patent black Doc Marten's (OK, OK I get it...) the once-over before retreating. I stepped onto the train and headed to my internship writing for a fashion magazine. He stood there, bemused.
On any given day, I can be found swathed in head-to-toe black. It's sharp, it's chic and it's powerful. The only color I consistently wear is red, on my lips (MAC Lady Danger, to be precise). I feel entirely out of place in bright colors, verging on excess; like a lightbulb attracting every gnat in town. Black, on the other hand, allows one to be fully absorbed into anonymity, especially while living in one of the largest, most extroverted cities in the world. Defined as "the absence of light," black allows me to find equilibrium paired with my bright disposition and bleached white hair, like Yin and Yang.
Over the years, my penchant for the color back has dubbed me all the nicknames: Elvira, Wednesday, Morticia, Casper, Rosemary Cullen, Sarah Sanderson (my abnormally fair skin admittedly does nothing to help my case here). I was recruited to play a small role in True Blood, and have been referred to as "Little Stevie [Nicks]" (my muse, and arguably the most flattering of the aforementioned). But unlike Nicks, who ditched her all-black ensembles for two years to combat those rumors of witchcraft, I won't be abandoning my monochromatic uniform anytime soon, no matter how many brooms I am accused of riding through the skies of Manhattan.
I am completely addicted to black. Something about it, for me, is so positively delicious. Certain tastemakers will eschew my choice to wear a head-to-toe black look, frown upon it as being boring, unoriginal, lazy. To each their own, I say. I wouldn't have it any other way. Style is about self-expression, is it not?
I was not always this way, though, as I was raised in a somewhat waspy family. But growing up Roman Catholic, I was always very fascinated by the black garments worn by the priests and nuns. My studies in Italy as a teen quickly replaced my rainbow of Lacoste polo shirts, seersucker shorts and ribbon belts with black turtlenecks, black capes and fine leather goods in -- you guessed it -- black. I was trying to avoid having my cover as a foreigner immediately blown, so I quickly learned to dress the part. It worked -- nobody crossed me. (Presumably out of sheer terror that I would stomp my last-season Prada shoes on them. Fair enough.) It was at this time in my life that I fully realized the magnitude of one's sense of dress; how it can speak louder than words, or not say anything at all.
Black, somehow, allows me to do both at once. As an animated, optimistic, dry-humored person who is simultaneously and very quickly exhausted from overstimulation, I get my energy from being alone and greatly enjoy solitude. I despise conflict; I avoid it and when possible, I run from it. I always have. More often than not, I will let personal calls ring through to voicemail unless it's a family member or very close friend. And while I can certainly be verbally articulate, I would much prefer to express myself through writing, art, and dress. I spend the vast majority of every day inside my own head: thinking, ruminating, creating, analyzing. I am a complete introvert.
I long for meaningful conversations with those to whom I am closest. It's not that I am not social; just selectively so. I adore people, though I have considerably more alliances than friends. I trust precious few. I crave authenticity in my interactions and while I'm outgoing, I much prefer listening to talking. I like to play my cards thoughtfully. Black is a subconscious means for me to put people off, in a way, to stay somewhat hidden, to hold on to secrets, to preserve the unknown. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe there is no sexier quality than to uphold an air of mystery, both in terms of self-disclosure and in terms of dress. Never tell all; never show all. It keeps people guessing.
Black has become my armor, because nobody interrupts a woman for directions or small talk (except for Wall Street platform guy) that appears to be more likely to cast a spell with her black umbrella than discuss a forecast for lightning.