Little black number

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how differently black is perceived in the West and here in the East.

In the west, fashion has been dominated by the LBD (little black dress) for decades. When we want to look chic, we wear black. When we can’t find anything else in our wardrobes, we throw on the standby black trousers, black shirt and black shoes. Super easy, unless you’ve washed your black clothes into shades of grey, you can’t mess up the colour coordination.

In the East, however, it’s a whole different kettle of fish. Black is ultra-conservative: think the all-encompassing chadors of Iran, the face-obscuring niqabs in Egypt, how in Oman men wear white while women wear black gellibayas (the long shapeless gown that falls to the ankles think LBD again, but in this case, Long Black Dress). Here, to wear black is to state that you’re conservative, respectable, religious, even. It’s the flamboyant, fashionable girls who are mixing gold and purple, splashing spring green with white, as opposed to flashing flesh.

In both instances though, wearing black is conformity – conformity to fashion or conformity to conservative mores. Repeat after me: we are all individuals.

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