Black. It's the king of all colors (or lack thereof) and black's dominance in fashion is undeniable: the sexy little black dress, the elegant black tuxedo, and of course, the classic black dressage coat. All tried and true, right? If you're like me, you grew up clinging to The Number 1 Fashion Rule: You Can't Go Wrong with Black ... or can you?
Well, yes you can, apparently. Studies conducted by color experts in the UK found "unwanted side effects of fashions favourite colour". Oh dear.
Researchers found that black clothing can highlight dark lines under the chin, shadows around the eyes and wrinkles on the face. Wait - it gets worse for us dressage riders. The negative impacts apparently are most prominent when black hats and/or coats were worn. According to colourist Jules Standish, "the effect can be as serious as making the wearer feel drained, self-conscious and introverted." Depressed after that last show? Stop the Prozac! Your problem might just be your BLACK DRESSAGE FROCK COAT and BLACK HELMET!
Standish's investigation concluded that an astounding 4 out of 5 people look bad in black. "Warm skin tones do not cope well with black against their faces as it takes away all the golden glow they have and 'flattens' their complexion. The sad truth is that for most of us, black is simply too harsh.
If, however, you're one of those clear-deep-cool "winters" (remember the Color Me Beautiful craze from way back?), you're in luck because those with cool skin tones can successfully ROCK the BLACK!
So in honor of our loyal readers whose glorious faces reflect the coloring of Spring, Summer and Autumn, we present our favorite "Anything but Black" pick: Pikeur's soft, mercurial color: "Anthracite".
Anthracite is one of those elusive greys, with hints of teal. It's dark enough to minimize imperfections (aka dirt), but has so much more complexity and freshness than basic black. In my closet it's virtually indistinguishable from my black coats, but in natural light, Anthracite's a modern, sophisticated, softer black ... and if the researchers are right, you may well find it significantly more flattering on you ... and on your horse.
Featured is Pikeur's medium-length, traditionally styled Epsom competition coat shown in Anthracite with the optional Bronze McCrown collar. Ireland retailer Orchard Equestrian offers the Epsom in the full availability of coat/collar choices (chocolate, anthracite, black or navy coat color and black, twilight blue, light grey, sand, bronze or coriander in the collar options) for €151.90 (about $210) plus shipping.
SHADBELLY TIP: Don't wait until you have a show in your sights to order one. The Epsom comes in literally 24 different combinations between coat color and collar options, so it's unlikely they'll have the one you want in stock ready to ship.
Like all addictions, we'll never break away completely from wearing classic black, and sometimes it IS the perfect choice:
- Like a lots of embellishments? Keep the coat color classic. The simple sophistication of a black coat can visually stand up to a lot more bling than other colors.
- Wearing something fashion-forward in style? It's smart to stick to the classic color. We just picked one up Pikeur's Bonita Competition Vest for those sweltery summer show days when coats are waived. Competition vests aren't mainstream, so we love it in black, but any other color would scare us.
- Schooling breeches. Love 'em in black. Who among us doesn't benefit from the slenderizing trick of wearing black on the lower half of our body?
- Shadbellies are the exemplification of dressage at the highest level of achievement and formality. While we adore all the new shades of shads out there, sometimes it's the contrast of the buttons and points on a classic black shadbelly that will take our breath away.
Take a few minutes to do your own personal color analysis. Stand in front of a mirror and make sure the lighting is sufficient, then hold up clothing of various colors (try black, navy, charcoal grey, honey beige and soft brown) near your face and observe how it makes you look and feel. If the color itself dominates the focus, try another. You'll find that the right color will actually light up your face, make your eyes look brighter and your hair richer. Now head over the the barn and do the same color analysis for your horse.
And even if you discover that black isn't your perfect match, hang on to that traditional black coat for a little bit longer. Over the next few months we're going to show you some simple changes you can make to it that just might have you falling in love all over again.
Thanks for blogging with SHADBELLY!