Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day Twenty: Something Orange This Way Comes

Have you ever had your colors done?

About a 100 years ago, I had a part-time job in a temp services office in Louisville. They hired me to do telephone cold-calling to sell our services to businesses. (Yes, I was one of those telemarketers--though I never called anyone at home for the agency. I did do that one evening at/for an investment firm during college. Felt like a heel engaging in that.) Back then, I was terribly shy on the telephone. I found talking on the phone to anyone except my friends extremely painful and embarrassing.

The agency gave me a script, and all I had to do was follow it. I didn't have to say anything that wasn't on the laminated page. Should have been a no-brainer. But I was paralyzed with fear every time I picked up the phone. I didn't want anyone to get mad at me. And this was even waaaaay before the days of caller i.d. Suffice it to say, I totally sucked at it. Made like four calls a day and only arranged two appointments for my boss (who was/is ostensibly the actor Kevin Kline's Auntie Rosemarie). She was quite unhappy.

After a month or so, they took me off cold-calling, but didn't fire me. I guess they must have liked me. The irony is that they kept me on to answer phones! I didn't mind that, and eventually became quite good at it. It's a skill that's served me pretty well over the years--communicating clearly and politely on the phone. But I would probably be much less sensitive in the rejection department in my writing career if I'd stuck with the cold-calling.

What does this all have to do with colors? The agency  offered occasional seminars to its temporaries on everything from fashion to time management to improving typing skills (yes, it was that long ago--word processing was in early days). One evening a woman came in to "do our colors." (If you're not familiar with the whole color season concept, go here. I'm not endorsing these folks, but you can read their info.)

I'm a summer. My skin is complemented by lots of pastels and rich browns and ivory.  Strong colors like bright green, orange, bright red, or black, not so much.

You've heard of Van Gogh's Blue Period? Welcome to Laura's Black Period. Everything I own now that is even vaguely chic is black or gray. (Except for my Norma Kamali red patent pumps and Wine All-in-One-Dress.)

I like wearing black, particularly when I travel. But I've worked hard to get away from it just a bit in recent years, and have done a darned fine job, I think. The starkness of black accentuates my *ahem* wisdom lines. Softer colors definitely still work better for me.

 I don't really mind the color orange: on pumpkins, toddlers, oranges, zinnias, and sherbet. And I really like to be able to spot hunters coming at me through the woods. So, in the interest of keeping my wardrobe interesting and un-nun-like, I tried to branch out with a seasonal burnt orange shirt:

Don't get me wrong. I love the neckline. It obviates the need for a necklace, so I can wear only bronze earrings and some bangles with it. I just felt incredibly conspicuous. And orange!

Hope, one of my style mavens, commiserated with me when she saw me wearing it. She did say that she thought the color was nice, and very rich. Not quite orange. Another woman told me a great story about a sweater she bought but couldn't bear to wear because its back and sleeves were orange. P likes it. For me, the jury's still out.

I bought the shirt in Ivory and Black as well. Will wear them eventually. Don't know about this one. Halloween, maybe?

One more note: Couldn't wear the cardigan pictured because the pintucking (sorry you can't see it--it's pintucked on either side of the "v" opening) clashed w/ the shirt's neckline. And the pants. Ugh. The pants. Cheap poly jersey is just not lovely. The pants feel like cheap yoga pants. Fine for yoga. Or sleeping. Cheesy in the pew or at a restaurant. Like the drape of them. But it's a good thing I bought a pair of Norma Kamali Wide-leg Jersey pants in black, too. I need something to wear with the Ivory and black tops.

White Stag Orange tunic shirt: $10; White Stag Black jersey pants: $10; White Stag Black cardigan: $14; Shoes: Norma Kamali Ballet flats: $20; Jewelry: Earrings $7, Bangles $8 (part of set) Total: $69

Later this week: Appearance time at the Southern Festival of Books. What to wear?!


  1. Laura - you are not alone in that phone phobia thing! I still have a hard time cold calling - the doctor's office, ppl about bills, friends I haven't talked to in awhile, but want to arrange a get-together for lunch... I'm much better answering the phone - at work. At home, I'm so thankful for caller ID!

    The orange sweater looks nice, btw. I bought an orange shirt spur of the moment a year or so ago, and it's turned into one of my favorites. : )

  2. It's tought to get over the phone thing--I totally sympathize, Carrie. My daughter is the same way, and I practically have to force her to call to make appts., etc. Hang in there--And Miss Manners thinks caller I.D. is perfectly appropriate. No one says you have to answer!

    I'm glad orange is flattering on you. What fun to find something special on a whim.