My closet is a kalei­do­scope of bright col­ors; I call them ‘happy clothes’

The Tribune (SLO) - - The Cambrian - BY KATHE TAN­NER ktan­[email protected]­bune­news.com

I like vivid col­ors … in art, in fur­ni­ture, in our gar­den and es­pe­cially in the clothes I wear.

My dear friend Liz Krieger of San Luis Obispo com­mented on my bright at­tire re­cently. We’d had lots of lovely chances to chat at length lately, be­cause our hus­bands were re­cu­per­at­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ously in a tran­si­tional care fa­cil­ity.

Liz said my “coat of many col­ors” wardrobe makes peo­ple smile, makes them hap­pier and makes me seem more ap­proach­able, some­how. I’d never thought of it that way be­fore, but on re­flec­tion, I rather like the no­tion. If I can lighten some­body’s day or brighten some­body’s view­point, even for a few sec­onds, then opt­ing to doff a flam­boy­ant jacket is an easy­peasy de­ci­sion.

Es­pe­cially since those are pretty much the only choices I have.

My jacket closet is a multi-col­ored kalei­do­scope, with just about ev­ery color in the Crayola box in there (ex­cept mus­tard yel­low, which makes me look like I’m way past my ex­pi­ra­tion date.). In the mug shot that ac­com­pa­nies these col­umns each week, my silky jacket is a splashed-paint fab­ric of bright royal and turquoise blues, with streaks of emer­ald green and black. It could have been a pea­cock in an­other life. It’s one of the more sub­tle pat­terns in that closet.

My other jack­ets are ablaze with bril­liant geo­met­rics, but­ter­flies, flow­ers, pais­ley pat­terns, just to name a few. Some stop just short of glow­ing in the dark. They make ev­ery day a sar­to­rial hol­i­day, be it Easter, Valen­tine’s Day, St. Pa­trick’s Day, In­de­pen­dence Day, Hal­loween or Christ­mas. Through the years, other peo­ple have com­mented on my de­cid­edly flam­boy­ant style.

For in­stance, Harry Farmer, a direc­tor on the Cam­bria Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Dis­trict Board, of­ten men­tions my showy at­tire. I think he en­joys hav­ing a hu­man rainbow at the meet­ings. Oth­ers tease me by say­ing they re­ally should be wear­ing sun­glasses when I come in the room, but it’s af­fec­tion­ate josh­ing … at least so far.

Some­times I won­der: Do I wear showy prints be­cause I’m an ex­tro­vert seek­ing at­ten­tion, or be­cause I’m an in­tro­vert hid­ing be­hind the cos­tume? A lit­tle of both, I sus­pect. If noth­ing else, my jack­ets are great con­ver­sa­tional ice-break­ers. But I’m not alone: An­other Tan­ner also is noted for “happy clothes.”

Hus­band Richard spent nearly two decades as a white-shirt-and-tie-wear­ing train dis­patcher and an­other two decades as a casino pit boss un­der the thumb of a con­ser­va­tive-cor­po­rate dress code. Now, he says de­fi­antly, he can wear what­ever the heck he wants. So, his shirt closet is filled with vivid col­ors and pat­terns, most of them in hard-to-find vin­tageWestern styles with snaps, flaps and pointed yokes. (Thank heav­ens for Ebay!).

Some have flames on them. Oth­ers have feath­ers, flags, car li­cense plates, light­ning bolts, Na­tive Amer­i­can or Western pat­terns, or broad, multi-col­ored chest bands. One even has run­ning cat­tle splashed across a bril­liantly fiery or­ange background. All are …. um­mmm …. no­tice­able.

His shirts have been known to stop traf­fic, or at least passersby who ei­ther stare openly or ac­tu­ally say ad­mir­ingly, “I re­ally like your shirt!” One woman pegged it per­fectly. As she walked past Hus­band Richard, she said ap­pre­cia­tively, “Hello, shirt!”

In­ter­est­ingly enough, many of the com­pli­ments come from guys wear­ing de­cid­edly neu­tral col­ors … a gray but­ton-down, a chino-col­ored jacket, a dark suit or a beige T-shirt and jeans. So, one won­ders if they truly like Hus­band Richard’s wild shirts or if they’re re­ally com­ment­ing on what they per­ceive to be his brav­ery in wear­ing them.

And then there’s the flip side of his wardrobe. On our hol­i­day, he was con­ser­va­tively dressed, in a Johnny Cash sort of way. As a young fam­ily walked to­ward us, their pe­tite tod­dler daugh­ter danced up the side­walk and ran smack-dab into Hus­band Richard’s knee. Her wideeyed gaze trav­eled slowly up­ward from his black cow­boy boots to his black jeans, black cow­boy belt with the big buckle, black fron­tier-bib shirt and trade­mark black Stet­son.

The lit­tle girl’s eyes got even big­ger, rounder and de­cid­edly alarmed.

The par­ents laughed and apol­o­gized, but the child wasn’t com­forted one bit by their re­as­sur­ances, not even when smil­ing Richard re­moved his hat and bent down to her level. Maybe it would have been bet­ter if he’d been wear­ing the happy flames-and-cows shirt.

Right, Liz?

COUR­TESY PHOTO

Cam­brian columnist Kathe Tan­ner and hus­band Richard.

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