Slate slated to heat things up for Winter 2009

With wintertime the usual season of unflattering puffy coats, static cling-inducing itchy wool hats, and all kinds of accessories to keep turkey and stuffing potbellies hidden, winter doesn’t generally seem the sexiest of seasons. However, leave it to designers to find a way to deliver sultry clothes even for the coldest of months.

While black is a go-to for many outfits, its nice to see a movement towards the less commonplace and (slightly) more colorful gray, which has been spotted on runways in the form of dresses, tights, shoes, belts, and any other kind of garment or accessory that can be considered wintery. See this prim and proper Lanvin ensemble in slate:

Gray goes with almost any other color, but jewel-toned accompaniments are both chic and appropriate for end-of-year months. Check out the icy-gone-eco looks that trotted down the Rodarte runway, which infuse varying shades of gray with aquamarine, emerald, and even some citrine (though the thigh high boots are perhaps ill-advised on anyone who weighs more than 90 pounds, lest you be confused as the trophy wife of the Michelin Man).

Although I find this achromatic shade to be a refreshing alternative to the ubiquitous black standard, there’s no mistaking that black can be considered elegant, sleek, and formal, while gray is usually associated with dreary, melancholy, and bleak dispositions. In Thomas Hardy’s poem “Neutral Tones,” the naturalist late-Victorian writes:

“We stood by a pond that winter day,
And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod,
–They had fallen from an ash, and were gray…

…The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
Alive enough to have strength to die…”

Granted, Hardy’s well-documented bouts of depression are certainly manifested in his poetry, and perhaps his works are not the best to read, say, after a break-up or when one cannot sleep at night. However, Hardy lived in a time of great transition, and his poetry reflects the concerns of such rapid changes occurring during his life, as he lived around the Industrial Revolution that essentially massacred the beauty of much of the English countryside.

There are obvious contemporary parallels with Hardy’s poetry and novels, which were deeply concerned with dull colors that represented his position in the “gray area” between Victorian beauty and technological advancement. We, too, are now entering a time of transitional unknowns, facing forward to promises of diplomacy but very possibly leaving an era of great hegemony. It’s good to know that while we have to stand in line to trade in our dollars for yen, we’ll be absolutely fabulous in these recession-reasonable five inch textured Chanel heels. We’ll even pair them with the stone-colored tights for added warmth when we can’t afford the electric bill.

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