Leaving the Color Zone

Color is the New Black

By Ann Marie Stonecypher | Photography by Dan Doyle

This month’s article could be subtitled “Do as I say, not as I do,” as I’m totally guilty of living in the dark zone when it comes to fashion. I like black and have an obscene amount of it in my wardrobe. But I’ve seen success in breaking out of that zone, and you can too.

It was recently brought to my attention that I look good in red (yes, you can wear red if you have red hair). If there was ever a month to play up your inner vivaciousness and try out a color like red, February is definitely the month to give it a try. If it doesn’t suit you, chalk it up to a Valentine’s Day experiment!

There are a couple of easy ways to stage your Fashion Prison Break. An easy baby step is to add an accessory like a scarf or a wrap. Try something punchy like a red, yellow or royal blue. This is a painless, chic and inexpensive way to test the colorful waters.

Another way to wear your preferred color is a print. Animal prints are always stylish and plaid is hot right now.

At an appointment recently, I was complimented on a patterned dress that was a bit of a departure for me. My boyfriend chimed in, adding that he liked it as well. It was amusing to hear two men discussing my dress.

While the interesting and exotic pattern on the dress was different for me, the darker colors were not. I hadn’t spent a lot of money on it, but it continues to garner compliments.

Moral of the story: Try a print from your color wheelhouse — don’t make it a splurge — and then gauge reactions.

Here’s something else I’ve tried: If you have something you often wear in your favorite color, chances are you’ll at least like it in a different hue. See if you can find it in one that flatters you.

I purchased a lone black sweater from a discount retailer. I found it online by searching the brand, ordered it in Valentine’s Red and I love it. Red isn’t naturally in my comfort zone; but once I was told I looked good in it, I took the leap.

Lastly, I propose shopping with a friend. It was a friend’s suggestion that got me to try bold red. Why would my friend or yours lie? It’s fun to shop with a buddy, and you can help each other break old fashion habits and try new things. When you see each other reaching for the same old black, brown, beige or whatever, step in and swap it out for something fresh.

Remember: Color has other powers as well. Black is considered a color of authority and makes us look thinner. Red is an intense color and supposedly stimulates heart rate and breathing. Blue has the opposite affect. It’s tranquil and is supposed to induce peace and calm. Knowing these things can help you dress for meetings, dates and even negotiations. Who knew simple colors could be so influential?

Bottom line: We often have self-imposed comfort — or “color” — zones, but the good news is we have the power to lift the color ban. The right color can lift our spirits, alter perceptions and shift our mood.

No one ever says: “Let’s paint the town beige.” Today, let there be red! SWM

Ann Marie Stonecypher is an award-winning business woman and the owner of AMS Models & Talent. She is also a stylist, inspirational speaker, two-time breast cancer survivor and freelance writer. She lives in the Syracuse area with her children Taylor and Steven, and her dog Cocoa. She welcomes your style questions and comments at [email protected]. Model Emilya Washeleski appears courtesy of AMS Models and Talent. Makeup by Erin Ford Schinnerer.