Stylin’ Maine

Gabrielle Attra: Give the color red a try

Allow the color to come over you, and through you
Mon, 12/02/2019 - 6:30pm

On a rainy Sunday in November, as late autumn prepares us for the holidays, I popped into an antique store. Looking for a couch I ended up with a handful of sweaters and red seemed to be the theme. In the bathroom, which also served as a changing room, I tore off my shirt and pulled on a vibrant red cardigan with gold buttons. I looked in the dusty mirrors hanging on the wall and found myself feeling the color red. Have you felt red? 

That morning, red transformed my tired old perspective to one of possibility. Red brought about a new sense of pride and self-esteem. I work at a boutique and recently a woman stopped in for a dress. She told me that she had just bought a brownstone and she envisioned herself strolling the streets of Boston in a care-free easy flowing frock. She picked out many dresses all in darker tones: black, striped blue, and unflattering polka-dots. 

“Did you see the red dress in the window?” I asked. 

I pulled it off the mannequin and hung it in her dressing room. When she re-emerged, her hair, which was a light shade of grey, shone and her eyes, a bright shade of blue, became full and visible. It was evident that this was the color and the dress to accompany her in the next chapter of her life. 

I believe that’s what red can do. Red can uncover a part of ourselves that we hadn’t yet met, a confident, smiling, laughing person at ease in their community and world. I began to look for cues in nature to help inspire red in my wardrobe. 

I notice in the fall that red first appears with the changing of the leaves from bright green to deep reddish brown. As the trees become bare, red emerges again in bushes of red berries lining the sides of the dirty roads. 

In winter, cardinals contrast with the stark white snow as they flutter from tree branch to bird feeder. 

Red is the color of cheeks flushed from skating on frozen ponds. It is on tongues, which rarely make an appearance in public except to catch a falling snowflake. 

I wrapped a dark brown scarf over a red crewneck sweater and noticed my eyes looked fuller. I fitted a red brooch on a soft cream colored boatneck and noticed how brilliantly the cream came through. I strung a garnet beaded necklace around a black turtleneck top and found myself feeling celebratory and excited. 

If you haven’t felt red, I urge you to give it a try. A pair of socks, a simple tie, a floral brooch or a patterned scarf--wherever you find red aim to pull it into your life. Allow the color to come over you, and through you, and into visions of yourself on the streets of Boston and even the coast of Maine. 

Reach Gabrielle Attra at