Orange Ambivalence

Love it? Hate it?Apologies to my Dutch friends, but I’m on the fence about whether or not I like vivid orange.  Usually, with strong colors, I know where I stand – and I bet you do, too. Ultramarine cobalt and I are good pals. Chartreuse/acid yellow and I are totally married – my friends send me links to chartreuse items. And my hatred of of hot pink is so furious that, in Casa de Scrumptious, only the Japanese body-scrub cloths are allowed to be pink. With orange, I was traumatized in 2002 – 2003 when I worked for a startup that had Very Orange Offices. But it irresistibly draws my eye – look at the image I picked for last week’s Friday Follies post. Red hair (which, as with many redheads by choice, is in the orange range), orange lipstick, orange feathers. Made you look, didn’t it? Does it mean that I like a color if I can’t stop looking at it?

At least I have plenty of company – this fascinating article about color psychology says that orange is the least favorite color of 30% of people. We think orange is cheap and trashy – but it’s also fun. And, next to red, we can’t stop looking at it. And Teal and Orange: Hollywood, Please Stop the Madness links this insidious orangeness to changes in movie color technology.

Vivid-to-neon colors are still around. Especially orange. I’m guessing that there has been some technological advance in the past ten years enabling all these supersaturated colors, especially with leathers, but I’m not able to find anything about it.  Gazing at a rack of incredibly orange clothes in a store recently, I asked the cashier, “Are people…buying that?” She said that they were and that she always recommended wearing orange with black. Orange with black? Isn’t that…Halloween?

It seems to not be an association down under – witness this gentleman pairing orange and black without evoking the Great Pumpkin – but I’d be more inclined to wear orange with greys, beiges, whites/creams, and sages. This post by The Dreamstress shows how they were styling ultra-vivid orange when it was Louis XV’s favorite color in the 18th century – if you must orange, this is a great guide to how to do it. Use orange accessories against neutrals, or force your children to wear it in large quantities!

Pigeonwood berries in the NZ forest.

Pigeonwood berries – just a tiny shot or orange against the vast green NZ forests.

Things that are orange, and it’s OK: the blog Whorange. And The Orange Cone’s Twitter.  The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition. Occasional pieces of insane vintage. And items that are, in nature, naturally orange, like sunsets,  pigeonwood berries, the beaks of kereru and the undersides of kea wings,  the insides of conch shells and, dare I say it, oranges.