It started slowly at first. Shoes, of course, were a given. Socks were par for the course, though she always ensured they were as close to the original pairing as possible. Being the same colour and style wasn't enough. They needed to be of a pretty exact equal length, equally worn. At least bought at the same time, even if it wasn't possible to ensure they were a 100% matching pair from those bought.
She rarely owned matching knicker sets. Apart from the few sets of His Pants for Her pastel no-underwire bras and panties she had in early high school. Most days she could only match her blacks and her whites when it came to her bra and knickers.
So she settled for matching her tops, knickers and socks instead, where she could. If she wore a red top, you could be certain her underpants and socks were also red. If she wore a blue, black or white top, her socks and jocks would match. If she couldn't match them, she at least tried to work with complementary colours. In those days, her wardrobe consisted of blue denim and corduroy jeans, black trousers, black skirts (often worn over the trousers), a scuffed-up pair of 8-up Docs, and a navy blue pair of scuffed-up Converse One Stars. Variety in terms of colours was restricted to her tops, underpants and socks.
The colour-matching of socks, jocks and tops became a bit of an obsession. Sort of like a lucky charm wrapped around her to get her through the day; keep her safe. And it stretched on for many years until finally, she settled on a favourite skirt style and her mother offered to make her skirts for work based on that.
Standing in the fabric store with her mother she picked out various shades of blues and purples, and a burgundy. Her mother matched the material with lining and disappeared into her sewing room to make the skirts for her. Voila! A full week's worth of skirts and a variety of tops to match with them. At that point, her colour coordination obsession really started to amp up. She still had plain black or white shirts. But now whenever she went looking for more tops for work she would ensure they complemented the selection of colours from her collection of skirts.
Pretty soon she had her top and skirt combos down pat. A bit of switching between tops depending on the weather, the season, or her mood, but she had a colour-driven uniform. Her opaque tights and her shoes were still black, but from neck to knee she wore one colour, sometimes just one tone.
When she wore dresses they were vibrant and colourful vintage dresses or pastel 'granny' dresses found in charity shops. In the warm Melbourne summers she rarely wore tights, but in winter she would pair dresses with black opaque tights.
Until she discovered a treasure trove of vibrant and colourful opaque tights in a local mall and fell in love. By this point, the arse had literally fallen out of her last pair of secondhand men's Levi 501s. That gave her the perfect excuse to buy a pair of opaque tights in every colour (except yellow or orange, because ugh!) She even managed to overlook the misspelling of the brand of tights as 'Tention'.
In high school and college, she favoured black and white film for her photography. She found colour distracting from form and composition, and felt her colour work was always weaker. More likely to be 'record' shots than anything creative. In the moment, all she could see would be the colours. But when she got the prints back, all she would see was the bad composition and lacklustre images. Her wardrobe had always been pretty colourful, but that sense of colour hadn't managed to translate into her photography.
Now she started visualising photographic ideas with colour as the starting point. Her self-portraits and portraits were often inspired by an outfit or a setting, and without fail, that usually came with a particular colour. The colour of the material; the colour of the interior of a space; the colours of the landscape. She learnt to work with the colours first so they were integral to the image, but didn't distract from it. Remembering the colour theory she'd studied at college, she could now create a palette for a shoot before raising the viewfinder to her eye or setting up her tripod.
By the end of her self-portrait project, she'd fallen in love with green with red, green with pink, and pink with red. And blue with orange, blue with pink, and blue with red. And blue and green, though others told her they should never be seen without a colour in between (for what it’s worth, the sky and trees beg to differ).
As soon as she thought about a new-old dress she'd bought at a charity shop she could think of exactly where she wanted to set her next self-portrait. The ideas would bleed into her mind in full colour.
And then she moved back to London. And rediscovered Hush Puppies. And fell in love with colour even more than she already had been. Her work days were head-to-toe colour. Solid blues, reds or purples. Vibrant colour combinations. Or a single eye-catching accent colour to brighten up a black dress and shoes.
That obsessive colour-coordination may also have seeped into her home with linen matched to wallpaper, paint or photographs hung on the walls.
She surrounds herself with colour.