I’m from Melbourne so perhaps it’s no surprise that the colour of my favourite piece of clothing is black. I have, over many years – make that decades – attempted to bid farewell to black. I mean, how difficult is it to find what you’re looking for in your wardrobe when everything is black? And so I have ventured into other palettes, diversified, taken risks so that I might inject a little colour into my life. But always I return to black. What is its allure? How long do you have? Black renders invisible that which you wish to disappear, gliding seamlessly over hips, nipping in waists, drawing attention to a crème de la crème decolletage. Black drapes, it sculpts, it clings, it floats. Black is classic, it is vintage, it is chic. Black is Hollywood glam, it is punk and goth and funereal. Black promises drama – tell me you don’t look when icy black silk swishes into a room. Black is bewitched and bewitching. Set against its inky background, pearls gleam, gems flash. Every now and then, a poor deluded someone declares black to be oh so last year. They are always always wrong. Timeless or reinvented, black sweeps back, florals and pastels and that year’s must-have colour left to skulk in its shadow. Black, you will agree, is ageless.
Now to my favourite piece, not quite as modish as Coco’s LBD, but a lovely concoction nevertheless. Off the shoulder – I wear it with a lacy bandeau should the neckline dip too low – ruched bodice and cinched at the waist, it flares into a voluminous below-the-knee taffeta skirt enhanced with an applique of flowery swirls. My LBD would traditionally be worn with heels but I much prefer boots that skim the ankle. Black, of course. If the evening is cool I reach for a faux leather jacket. Black again. I wore my LBD to The Palais Garnier in Paris – a dream come true – and to a rooftop party in New York. I adore it.
I have never forgotten a coat the eleven-year old me refused to wear. Buttoned tight to the neck, it was stuffed with what I imagine was foam of some sort, making it balloon from my body much like a parachute. A gust of wind and I’d have been transported to a galaxy far far away.
I have no idea what happened to that coat and there are no photos to confirm the coat was the travesty I thought it. I do remember, though, my mother pleading with me to wear it, and although I begrudgingly wore it to church on Sundays, her entreaties were otherwise ignored. That the coat still haunts me is not so much about the imagined sins against the style of the day but because it makes me think of my mother, whose love I wish I’d cherished more.
My objet de desire is anything Audrey Hepburn: from the LBD in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to her capri pants and ballet flats. The Breton, too. And her hats – all of them. Bring back hats. Somehow managing innocence and sophistication, Audrey was forever chic. She was also, I was later to learn, a humanitarian.
Trish Bolton’s novel, Life Itself, is forthcoming (2024) from Allen & Unwin. Trish has a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing from RMIT and has lectured and tutored in media and politics at Melbourne, Monash, and Swinburne universities. Her novel, Stuck, was the recipient of a Varuna PIP Fellowship and Varuna Residential Fellowship, longlisted for The Virginia Prize for Fiction (UK) and the Mslexia Women’s Novel Competition (UK), and was joint-winner of the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) Unpublished Manuscript Award. Trish’s script, Alzheimer’s: a love story, was runner-up in the FAW Whitelight TV Drama Script Award. Trish has also worked as a media adviser, and a researcher and policy adviser in women’s health. Trish’s writing—features, opinion, travel, book reviews—has appeared in The Age, The Sunday Age, Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times, Herald Sun, Overland, The Big Issue and NewMatilda, and elsewhere. There are more than a few gardening articles floating around, too.