CTIF: What if Grey is My Favorite Color?

The color of truth is grey

-Attributed to Andre Gide

Grey is a color of compromise, a shade between. When a brightly colored top spins, it appears grey. Gide thinks grey is the color of truth because it occupies a middle place between polarities, and is often no one's choice. Does that make it a non-choice, though? Picking the middle between two extremes is still choosing. 

Neutral Ground: Lisa Jones of Pigeon Toe

Neutral Ground is a casual, weekly interview series with friends in the industry. Say... conversational breakdowns of what neutrals mean, and what that means when it's time to get dressed. Tune in each Wednesday to see who's who and how creatives of all stripes see the world when color is not included.

Lisa Jones spent her adolescence exploring mediums as diverse as painting and video installation before settling into product design with the founding of Pigeon Toe in 2009. With an aversion to the excess of mass-produced goods, Lisa formed Pigeon Toe with a vision to create uniquely beautiful objects that incorporate and celebrate the extensive history of handcrafts. Realizing that understanding materials on an intimate level leads to refined and imaginative objects, Lisa’s work under Pigeon Toe has evolved with her own artistic enrichment and hands-on study of new techniques and mediums.  Lisa aspires to find fresh perspective through innovative material combinations, harking back to an era where artisans not only create, but inspire.

Lisa Jones spent her adolescence exploring mediums as diverse as painting and video installation before settling into product design with the founding of Pigeon Toe in 2009. With an aversion to the excess of mass-produced goods, Lisa formed Pigeon Toe with a vision to create uniquely beautiful objects that incorporate and celebrate the extensive history of handcrafts. Realizing that understanding materials on an intimate level leads to refined and imaginative objects, Lisa’s work under Pigeon Toe has evolved with her own artistic enrichment and hands-on study of new techniques and mediums.  Lisa aspires to find fresh perspective through innovative material combinations, harking back to an era where artisans not only create, but inspire.

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NT- What are you wearing right now?

LJ- A chambray shirtdress accessorized with brass jewelry and a pair of AGL gladiator-style sandals

 

NT- What Color [or two] do you own the most of within your wardrobe?

LJ- Navy, hands-down. Runner up: Black.

 

NT- How do you approach neutrals when dressing?

LJ- My approach to dressing is similar to my work - it's all about balance. Neutrals are the foundation/bulk of my wardrobe and the 'base layer' for all of my outfits. I've never been a bold dresser; I do own some 'louder' prints but if I wear them, everything else I choose to go with it has the volume turned down so the pattern has the space to shine without competition.

 

NT- In your opinion- IS there a difference between Neutral Colors within the wardrobe, vs. say...Art & Object Coloration?

LJ- I see no difference. Whether I'm getting dressed or designing a new piece, my process is the same. They're both sculptures to me and the same principles of design need to be considered.

 

NT- In the context of dressing only in neutrals, what roll and rules must Accessories & jewelry play by?

LJ- Probably because of scale, I'm more likely to be adventurous with my accessories than my foundation garment choices (kinda like socks, because why not?). Jewelry can be graphic and bold while still being neutral. To me, it comes down to material choice(s) and how the pieces interact with what you're wearing. I think if you took a look at my collection you'd see many neutrals in the form of metallics.

 

NT- Prints seem to generating a lot of controversy, are prints neutral? Is neutral defined only by color or does pattern have bearing too?

LJ- I do think prints can be a neutral. To me it's all about volume, dominance, and harmony. Defining a print as neutral, to me, is directly tied to color choice, but also the proportion, line quality, and scale of the print.

Neutral Ground: Joanna Bean Martin of AfterAll Studio

Neutral Ground is a casual, weekly interview series with friends in the industry. Say... conversational breakdowns of what neutrals mean, and what that means when it's time to get dressed. Tune in each Wednesday to see who's who and how creatives of all stripes see the world when color is not included.

AfterAll is a creative studio headed by Joanna Bean Martin and  located in Portland, Oregon. Her work strives to blur the lines between art and design to create iconic and beautiful experiences.  Specializing in identity development, art direction, creative consulting and surface design. [Also to note- Afterall designed and managed all the Gretchen Jones NYC branding  and web presence[s] & created seasonal custom textiles to accompany GJ's collections. AND curates a killer inspiration site MadrePadre. Joanna, is by far, one of my most prized creative relationships. This woman has talent & in more ways than one.]

AfterAll is a creative studio headed by Joanna Bean Martin and  located in Portland, Oregon. Her work strives to blur the lines between art and design to create iconic and beautiful experiences.  Specializing in identity development, art direction, creative consulting and surface design. [Also to note- Afterall designed and managed all the Gretchen Jones NYC branding  and web presence[s] & created seasonal custom textiles to accompany GJ's collections. AND curates a killer inspiration site MadrePadre. Joanna, is by far, one of my most prized creative relationships. This woman has talent & in more ways than one.]

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NT- What are you wearing right now?

JBM- My favorite t-shirt by Organic by John Patrick, Forever 21 harem pants, Van Doren leopard Vans, Aesa necklace, Arielle De Pinto necklace and vintage african necklaces.

 

NT- What Color [or two] do you own the most of within your wardrobe?

JBM- Chambray / Navy / Gray

 

NT- How do you approach neutrals when dressing?

JBM- When I'm in the mood for neutrals I don't usually do it modestly. I love using them monochromatically: gray pants, grey shirt, grey sweater or denim on chambray on denim. But as a combo palette--I think a white t-shirt is one of the most important features of a wardrobe. I figured out in my early twenties that nothing really beats a white t-shirt, good jeans, good heels and good earrings. And what man doesn't look good in a white Tee?!

NT- In your opinion- IS there a difference between Neutral Colors within the wardrobe, vs. say...Art & Object Coloration?

JBM- I mean, it's all about expression right? My mom gives a lot of thought to how she dresses and always has. It made a huge impression on me before I even realized it. But even though our lives were a little imbalanced because she was raising us on her own, she always looked good. I think this was one of the ways she was showing us that she was gonna take care of things no matter what or maybe she was a product of how she was raised, with Southern decorum. Either way it really taught me about clothing + presentation. And I think the same thing can be applied to art. It's about presentation. Just because something is neutral doesn't mean it's not saying anything. Neutrals can be very loud.

NT- In the context of dressing only in neutrals, what roll and rules must Accessories & jewelry play by?

JBM- Accessories and jewelry transform outfits. They're extremely important. Even in their absence! Whatever the choice is: minimal or "guilding the lily", I think the one rule is, do it consciously.

NT- Prints seem to generating a lot of controversy, are prints neutral? Is neutral defined only by color or does pattern have bearing too?

JBM- It depends on how you define "neutral". Neutral can be defined by a color or an expression. When most people refer to neutrals, I believe they're trying to express: simple, quiet, understated, basic, easy. But if you're talking about neutral solely as a palette it's more multi-faceted. Optic pop prints, for instance, don't read neutral but a leopard print in a tonal cream colorway totally is. I guess it all goes back to color and how you use it.

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CTIF: Color (Language) is a "Tricky Business"

Darwin had theories about more than natural selection and evolution... he also experimented on his children's knowledge of colors, to try to understand how we learn language and conceptualize the world. 

Darwin's children in repose at Down House, circa 1825

Darwin's children in repose at Down House, circa 1825

"I … was astonished to learn that soon after they had reached the age where they knew the names of all ordinary things, they appeared to be entirely incapable of giving the right name to colors … I remember quite clearly to have stated they were color-blind."

Charles Darwin, Biographiche skizze eines kleinen kindes, 1877 (Image via Brainpickings)

It turns out that children's acquisition of language is quite dependent on context, and moreso for colors than a lot of other words. This means you can expect a three year-old to correctly tell you a banana is yellow, but identifying the color yellow, disassociated from a handy piece of fruit? Not so easy.  

NT sympathizes with Darwin's children, and toddlers everywhere: color is a tricky business.  

Weeks 24, 25 & 26 - On Being Myself

“When Peter Parker wakes up in the morning, he has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic that Superman stands alone. Superman didn't become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red "S?" That's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears - the glasses, the business suit - that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He's weak... he's unsure of himself... he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race.”

Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill Vol. 2

 

So the apathy is fading, and I’m beginning to hate neutrals. They’re fucking boring. If you love them, you are too. Fuck neutrals, and fuck being safe. Who wants to be safe? Do you WANT to blend in? If yes, do I ever have the non-colors for you. Attention from acid green? Scary. Fucking up fuschia and getting judged for it? Scarier. Better to be invulnerable in all black! Fit right in, by all means. Fade into the background.

Ok, Jones, cool those jets. Take two: week who fucking cares anymore has me thinking – why on earth do we, the most feeling of creatures, spend so much time trying not to feel anything at all? We get dressed every day, and that’s an open opportunity, right there. It means we get the chance to say something to the whole wide world seven times a week (or more, it depends.) So why does it seems like so many of us take the easy way out, and use excuses to hide? Seek!

When I put on a fucking outfit, I do it with fucking feeling. I get dressed for ME first. If I make anybody else feel anything at all, that’s just collateral benefit… or damage. I don’t care, frankly. My non-cellular skin is for communicating that I’m NOT just another ant walking in line. If I feel good, I dress bold: prints on top of prints, colors piled on colors. Let it be known I am HERE, whether or not you give a damn.

Beyond that, I use clothing to find my people... we who appreciate individuality. Collectively, of course – I may have a high opinion of myself, but I'm not suggesting I'm Superman. Me [and my people] embrace our uniqueness and want our true colors to shine. This exposes us. To ridicule, to fear, but also to the potential for splendor. YOU get to judge, yes, but so be it. It’s worth it.

In nature [beyond the concrete jungle, anyway] the strongest, best genes equate with fearlessness. Those that are doing more than just survive fly their freak flags high. So high, you can’t help but notice (and then want to mate with) them. Forget safe, ‘easy' dressing. It’s not thoughtlessness or laziness that drives people to all black uniforms. It’s fear. Here’s the irony, for me at least: rather than making you look put together, powerful and confident, dressing all in neutrals makes you look afraid. Afraid to be judged, afraid to not have it together. Fuck it!

End rant. But for real, six months into this project and I’m feeling fully over it. I totally want my color back. I miss feeling like ME! I’m well past giving a shit about wardrobe staples. I’m starting to think that the most fundamental thing in anyone’s closet is personal style you bring in there when you walk in, buck-ass naked. So don't put on safe suit reflexively. Don't put on the wrong costume.