“So, You Like Brown?” or Yet Another Clothing Crisis

I don’t know how to dress. I’ve lost my sense of style. It’s a calamity. I am in desperate need of help from my fashion-savvy friends!

I thought things had gotten better. I had gotten rid of much of what I started with and spruced up my modest wardrobe with purples and oranges – all was well in the world again. Then I arrived in Hoi An – the land of a thousand tailors. Hoi An is known for its beautiful, ancient architecture, gourmet food and endless tailor shops – in one block, I counted all but one tailor shops! I tried not to pay them much mind and had no interest in getting more clothes (most of them were high, fancy fashion); but on my last full day there, I succumbed.

I just stopped by one place to look at some comfy, flowing pants they had outside. In no time, I was besieged by the woman running the place – “I can make some in your size, no problem, no problem.” Before I knew it, I was inside and she was taking my measurements – damn, how did that happen?! I ordered three pair of thin, gauzy flowing capris – hhmmm, what colors should I choose? I already have purple and burnt orange, no need for more of those – somehow I picked black, white and olive green. I even added in two tops from the same material, one in olive green, one in orange. I was to return later that evening to pick them up. Somehow I ‘forgot’ about my aversion to solid, primary colors and monochromatic outfits. The trouble had begun.

When I came back, I noticed a pair of red capris – they had some embroidered geckos on them and were nice comfy material – the woman didn’t miss a beat and showed me another pair in brown with white dragonflies embroidered on them. I tried the brown pair on and with slight alterations, they would fit me perfectly. “Okay, I said, I’ll take these, too. And make me a pair like those red ones, please.”

Really? Brown? I never wear brown. I have nothing brown in my wardrobe. The last time I owned something brown was something like 10 years ago when I lived in Germany and it was a heavy winter coat. I remember when my friend Felicia came to visit and as soon as she saw me put on that brown coat, she let me know it had to go. “It’s all wrong for you, Chris, brown is not your color.” Ohmigod, where was my Felicia when I was making these ridiculous decisions in the Hoi An tailor shop?!

And red? I don’t wear red. It’s a fine color. It’s just not my color. Except now I have a pair of red pants!

I realize now it was the damn geckos and dragonflies that seduced me – damn them!

The other shopping I did in Hoi An was for a new backpack – Vietnam is known for its copycat backpacks – I’m not sure how they get away with it, but they make all these North Face and Deuter (famous German brand) ‘fake’ backpacks for a fraction of what the real ones cost. The quality may not be up to those designer standards, but the Kipling day bag that I bought awhile ago is holding up just fine and I love it (and for $4 as opposed to the $70 I would pay in Macy’s, it was an easy sell!). So, I got a new backpack which I love. And a North Face day pack which will be great for day hikes at home. And well, there was also that nice purple Kipling wheeled duffle that I couldn’t leave behind. And a matching purse that was great. And a great purple beach bag! And then that nice orange over-the-shoulder, roomy duffle bag. Ohmigod, I was in a frenzy of bag buying! (I have a thing for bags – it goes way back and it’s ridiculous!) I couldn’t resist them and all of them put together were still a fraction of the price of what one would be. I bought them all!

Okay, now what? What the hell am I gonna do with all these bags? Hoi An is ready for such dilemmas that seduce and befall the unsuspecting traveler. The post office will come to my hotel, pack everything up and send it home for me – fantastic!

So, the evening before I left, I organized everything I would keep and everything I would prepare for the post office to send. And herein lies the ongoing fashion trouble saga. I sent home the white capris, (they would certainly get too dirty out here), the new orange top (why oh why did I do that?) and for some unbelievable reason that I can’t possibly explain, I sent home the ‘old’ purple and orange capris! That left me with a pair of black, brown, red and green capris – yikes! And I have a multi-colored orange shirt (one of the last that I started with), two white shirts, a black shirt and the green one that matches the pants. Oh yeah, and the black sweater I bought in Dalat that has come in handy in some of the cool weather (yeah, but black?!) and the light-weight beige jacket I started with (beige?). All earth colors, mostly all solid color and nothing that resembles anything close to what I am comfortable wearing. Are you getting tired of reading about all this yet? Yeah well, excuse me, but I’ve got to live with this mess now!

Sure enough, the post office came and did their thing – I kept my new backpack and the orange duffle that is lightweight and can easily fold into my backpack when I don’t need it. Everything fit perfectly into the box they prepared and I should see those things sometime around Christmas! It wasn’t until some days later that I was faced with the chagrin of my faulty decisions. I’m back to boring clothes!

Add to that the day I was in Ninh Binh and I needed a rain poncho – I ran across the street from my hotel to the local small market that had ponchos for sale. Guess what? They only had two left and they were … beige! So, now I’ve added another beige item to my utterly loathsome wardrobe. To make matters worse, on that same day in Ninh Binh when I was returning from my rainy motorbike ride in my <ahem> brown pants and beige poncho, the man at the hotel looked at me and said, “So you like brown?” How could I possibly respond?

Then, these many days later, I was sitting atop the boat deck out in Halong Bay, again with those dreadful-colored brown pants on. It was coming onto evening and I went downstairs to get my sweater. I returned to sit with two of the lovely British women who were on the trip. They were adorned in beautiful, multi-colored tops, really pretty, really nice, really, well … me. I complimented them on their beautiful clothes, but really I was coveting them. And I sat there, in my solid brown pants and my solid black sweater and I felt like a dweeb. I don’t really know what a dweeb is or how one feels, but the word feels like it fits. It certainly fits better than any of these stupid clothes do!

Help! I’m stuck in a monochromatic, solid, earth-colored mess of a wardrobe and I can’t get out! Call 911! Is Las Manos still in business? Tell them they’ve got to re-open – it’s an emergency! Someone from Hawaii, quick, send me some aloha wear! Do something, anything – rescue this pathetic, fashion-starved friend before she blunders again!

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6 Responses to “So, You Like Brown?” or Yet Another Clothing Crisis

  1. Bear says:

    It sounds like you are further along in this journey than I thought……getting deep into the shadow side, the addiction to bags, the secret desire for browns and beiges, the need to blend in……. 😉 I have no doubt that you will find your way through this latest trial, and come back to your colorful self soon. The trick will be to recover without doing too much further damage to your budget….. loving you from a distance, and sending aloha, Bear, sitting here in my pink polka dotted, oh so sexy PJs that I’ve been wearing all day and just might wear to dance…..

    • Christina says:

      Ohyikes, Bear – do you really think it’s an addiction? Say it isn’t so! I hate the thought and prefer to just think that I fancy them, but maybe I’m in denial. I hope you’re not thinking intervention right about now. Secret desire for browns and beiges? That’s even worse. How else might I live that out if it’s true? And blending in – well, I’ve never been very successful at that and here’s hoping my failure rate keeps up!

      Now I’m envious of your polka dot pajamas and I don’t even wear polka dots (but then, I supposedly don’t wear brown and red either!). I hope you did wear them to dance after all – all the women here wear their pjs in public, why not in Puna?!

      Lots of love your way!

  2. flea says:

    Surrender. That’s what I say. It is pretty clear that the Trickster Color Goddess has been invoked by someone who doesn’t like you. Perhaps it was the VietNamese women that you wouldn’t buy the ticket from. Anyway, I think you need to just accept the earth tones. But not the red. Definitely not the red. Unless you dye your hair jet black. But don’t do that. My (unsolicited, free) advice is lay low in the brown for a while. Don’t let the Trickster Color Goddess know that you are on to her. Soon she will relax her grip from you. At that point, you can speed the process along with the following ritual: when you see a beautiful, colorful place (i.e. flower field, a rainbow…), quickly build an altar to the Trickster Color Goddess and offer her a prayer filled with as many color references as you can think of in order to get her attention (i.e. “Your sparkling green eyes enliven my blood red heart…”). Next, chant the names of many colors starting with neutral colors: beige, ocher, sienna brown. Then begin gradually slipping more appealing colors: magenta, royal purple, lemon yellow, turquoise. This will dazzle and confuse her. And before you know it, the spell will be broken and you will once again know how to chose color and dress properly.
    No need to thank me. Just happy to help.
    KIA Flea

    • Christina says:

      Ohmigod, Flea – this is BRILLIANT! I knew I could count on you to come through on the fashion front! Maybe in your spare time you can set up an 800 dial-a-ritual number for such emergencies! Good that you gave me some examples of the names of neutral colors – they’re pretty unknown to me, so I might have been lost otherwise. Here’s a question though – I am in the 3rd world after all – does it have to be a ‘beautiful’ place or might a colorful pile of garbage do? They’re plentiful, easy to find and have all the colors of the rainbow! I don’t want to upset the TCG any more than she may already be, though, so your advice in this area really is critical!

      Oh and totally off the subject – I know you love and pull off the earth tones – is it still proper to pick something up for you in said colors if I see something that I think you just have to have? Just checking. I don’t know how far I have to take this thing! Don’t get your hopes up now, the TCG may still have more tricks in store and she very well may take them out on the spell-breaking instigator!

      It’s true – you really are a KIA! (Do you know how many years ago that’s from – a kazillion! We’ve known each other for a kazillion years. And well before that, too!)

      Lovelovelove you!

      • flea says:

        Well, I think a pile of colorful garbage should be just fine. After all, it may appeal to the trickster aspect of the TCG. I say, give it a try.

        And thanks for the 800 idea. I could use a little extra cash (of course I would ask for donations only, on a sliding scale of, say, $50-$500, depending on the complexity of the spell needed) I love the idea of using my deep spiritual, intuitive nature to support my earthly needs. It makes the money more sacred.

        As for the question of buying me a small or large or mediumly expensive and valuable gift, I will leave that up to your trustworthy intuition. BTW, I think that olive green and orange/rust tones go so nicely with beige, brown and white. Don’t you. Of course, the right purple goes with everything.

        So good to talk to you.

  3. Christina says:

    And you’ll be happy to know that Mary gave a big ixnay on the red, too. “Ohno,” she said, “red’s no good! And brown, you’re not brown!” What would I do without the two of you?

    Gee, it seems you’re a little concerned about my ability to choose colors for you now, too. It’s understandable, god knows what you might end up with without reminding me of green and orange! I’ll be sure to keep my eyes open! Don’t count on expensive, though. I’ve wasted all my money on the red and brown pants!

    Love you Love you Love you back!

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