Some of us are already Jonesin’ for our pumpkin spice lattes now that the clock has struck midnight on Labor Day, even though it’s still eighty-five degrees. So what? It’s 2021, and there are no rules.

Fall just can’t come quickly enough for me. It’s my favorite season. I love the cooler temperatures: something rarely enjoyed when I lived in Florida for twenty years. I’d always envy Facebook friends who posted Fall family pictures! We don’t really have Fall in Florida, so, naturally, having actual Fall to enjoy here in Mississippi excites me. It reminds me of childhood memories, growing up in Boston. Before you know it, the leaves will be changing colors, and, with that, I’ll get to switch out MY shorts and tank tops for jeans, flannel shirts, scarves, and jackets! Woohoo! Living my best life here!

 So, let’s talk about Fall fashion. Neutrals are always popular choices for Fall wardrobe. I see a lot of muted flannel shirts, black or brown vests, and neutral scarves out there (and I own a ton of these items myself). Some great earthy neutral colors for Fall include:

· Sage green

· Brick red

· Denim blue

· Charcoal gray

· Tobacco brown

 I came here to say that you do not have to put away the bright colors now that Summer is over. Use your neutrals, but punch them up with colorful pieces, as well. Pink, purple, orange, green, blue and more, there are several bright colored pants that you can find in the market and pair with your favorite sweater, coats or jackets for the fall and winter. For some, bright blue or green may feel much more practical than shocking pink or sunny yellow.

Now, it’s not because I have anything against dark colors. In fact, I used to wear black all the time, about six years ago, until my friend, Lorraine, gently suggested I “stop hiding” and start wearing bright colors. I didn’t realize I was doing that!

Was I hiding? I never considered that. At first, and for about a year, I just couldn’t go through with it. I felt depleted emotionally, spiritually, and physically. My life was draining me. I had lost the “color” in my life because I was unhappy, and felt as though I had lost my vibrancy. It was as if I couldn’t bring myself to wear color. It just felt wrong to put it on. With my unhappiness also came unwanted weight. I was an emotional eater. I ate my emotions instead of dealing with them. I felt unhealthy and no longer felt I looked my best. Maybe I WAS hiding by wearing black.

I wasn’t feeling very happy in those days, and I guess I subconsciously displayed my dark feelings by selecting a dark wardrobe. Not saying that everyone who loves black does that, but I am saying: for me, there WAS a connection between how I was feeling on the inside and how I was presenting myself on the outside. I was VERY overweight, tired all the time, stressed out from my teaching job, and a littl3e depressed. Being gently told that I should try some color made me realize: I don’t feel very colorful. Maybe I should work on myself to feel better about life. And, although it was a process, I did finally get to the point where color felt good to wear!

You probably didn’t see this “twist” in the column coming, and, honestly, neither did I. I didn’t intend to write about my own journey back to restoring color in my life. I thought I was just going to write about Fall fashion trends, but here I am, sharing something personal, just in case there’s anyone out there who maybe isn’t doing so great lately and can relate. So, how did I bring vibrancy back to my blah life? It required me getting brave. I had to stop being a victim and to recognize—and then, break-- some unhealthy patterns. I had to change my thoughts about my situation and stop being negative. I had to love myself enough to fight to break out of the “black phase.”

I had to shed anything which drained me of my vibrancy, including dead-end jobs, fake friends, and a marriage that was just never going to work because I couldn’t fix it alone. I also had to lose one hundred pounds. I was in a dark place, and my choice of dark clothes reflected my inner state.

I had to eat better, keep a positive mindset, and remember who I was before the “black phase” took over.

Making those changes took me getting fed up enough to not want to settle anymore. I didn’t feel like myself. I wanted to feel happy again, and that is an inside job. I had to advocate for myself.

So, I began taking small steps to get happy again. A big help was reading “Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy” by Sarah Ban Breathnach. My mother gave me this book as a gift. She knew I was struggling. It changed my mindset and gently helped me get back to myself. You only read a few pages a day, and before you know it, a year of transformation has been completed!

As I got happier, guess what?

I started subconsciously gravitating toward color in my wardrobe.

I never would have worn an orange coat before. The orange swing jacket that FGG bought me is now one of my very favorite pieces.

FGG recently observed, “you rarely wear black. I bet you would look great in it.”

And I realized that the entire time we have been together, I’ve been wearing colors.

He hasn’t known the “black phase” me at all.

What does that tell you?

I’m still a work in progress. We all are. And, I still enjoy wearing black on occasion! I wore it on Friday night, and loved every minute in my black gown.

Thank you to my friend, Lorraine, for helping me to see that there was a correlation with how I carried myself and what I wore to how I was feeling inside. I’m not saying every person who loves to wear black is advertising to the world that they are having a hard time— not at all. What I’m saying is that it certainly was true for ME. My inner world was reflected in my outer appearance, and I didn’t even realize it.

I feel brighter now, and it happens to show in what I choose to wear.

I’ve majorly transformed in nearly every area of my life. I don’t even feel like the same person! I guess you could say, based on being here in the newspaper every week and on social media, I am not hiding anymore.

Maybe you’re not on “the struggle bus,” like I was. Maybe you are. Either way, my one two takeaways for this column are: 1.Don’t be afraid to add color to your Fall wardrobe if you tend to gravitate to neutrals.

Tip: Stand in front of a full-length mirror when you’re dressed. Ask yourself, “What is one change I can make to this outfit to make me smile today?” Then, throw on an orange jacket. Or don a red scarf. Or put on a brightly-colored flannel shirt. Or add leopard earrings!

2. How are you doing? Take an assessment of your happiness level. Are you happy?

Tip: Each day, ask yourself: “What’s the one thing I can do today to bring some happiness into my life?” Then, go grab a copy of Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach and you will begin to feel better, day by day.

Adding color to your Fall wardrobe will elevate your style— and mood— faster than you can say “pumpkin spice latte”!

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