Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Fair Warning, "I wish to make a complaint"

Yesterday I was sad. Nothing world shattering or tragic, just personal. I was looking for something warm to buy to wear for work, so I went to a local department store as there was a sale on over the public holiday. I came away about 20 minutes later feeling really low.

Why? Because I was met by a sea of black clothes. Sometimes the black had a splash of colour on it, but I would say 97% of it was black or grey with black. All I wanted was a cardigan. Something to wear to layer for warmth. I found three cardigans in the entire shop that weren't black. One was bottle green (tick) with a large hole the size of a dinner plate in the back (intentional). Great for summer, maybe. The second was apricot paper thin merino (half a tick), with gold spots on it all over (!!). It was also three times more expensive than I could afford, even in a sale. The third was a hot pink cardigan 4 sizes smaller than I admit to.

This is not the first time I have experienced the black tsunami of gloom in the Ladies Fashion department. One retiring French diplomat quipped, on leaving New Zealand, that he thought that Kiwi women dressed as if going to war. A bit harsh perhaps, and lucky he was leaving the country, but I can't help but agree with him. I wish I had a curry for every time I have been told by retail assistants, "Black is fashionable. It is what everyone wants, it is so flattering" Well, I have news for you. Black is occasionally fashionable, but if "designers" for high street stores actually bothered to attend fashion weeks (London, Paris, Milan, NYC), they would note that it only ever makes up a small percentage of collections. Sometimes it doesn't appear at all. It is NOT what everyone wants. It is what everyone gets served up, so it is purchased, for lack of choice. Black only flatters women with olive/Mediterranean complexions or those with porcelain white Celtic ones (ask any colourist). Heck, even my African American / S. African / Caribbean sisters tend to avoid the colour and they COULD wear it. In other news, black doesn't wash well. It fades, and unless the fabric is top quality it doesn't wear well. Also, there are those of us, over 50 who also associate black with mourning.

So, back to my local department store. I genuinely wanted to cry. I asked the assistant at the till "Who is responsible for choosing the clothes in your shop?" I was told head office. I feel a letter coming on to that senior buyer (who is probably dressed in yellow Armani). The national obsession with black has to stop. Not only that, can we please have some affordable items of warmth (not polyester plastic cotton mixy things). New Zealand has sheep for heaven's sake. We have wool in abundance, and I'm told the farmers can't get a good price for it. And now, ironically, we are an entire country in search of a cardigan.

End of Rant


  1. Oh, Jane! I am so sorry! I can't quite exactly feel your pain in that I actually don't mind black...and, as you say, I would have the colouring for it, so it has never been a trigger of frustration for me. But, I can feel your pain in that I have noticed selections and choices in NZ extremely limited - and expensive. I have noticed some cardigans to be so thin that my first thought was that I'd need to purchase three or four just to feel warm! I hope you will find just what you're looking for in a delightful little op-shop one of these days. If I see something that might suit, I'll text you to see if you'd like me to pick it up!

    1. Thank you for your sympathy, I am actually feeling rather depressed. I have worn the same cardigan for about 8 years and it will soon require a requiem mass saying over it.

  2. Oh no, that really is sad to hear :( Maybe try a secondhand shop? They often have lovely items from seasons past, when perhaps colorful cardigans were more acceptable. There is nothing better than snuggling into a good when when one is chilly - I wish you luck in your search! Otherwise I'm happy to ship you something from afar, when the season brings them into the shops here :)

  3. I live in second hand shops Toby, but unfortunately I can rarely find anything my size, let alone my colour preference. I am too tall and to big for most things to fit. I think I am a US size 20 (UK size 24) a very large frame and overweight. Sigh.