The Neon Color-block Experiment

Walking the line between fashion crime and what could possibly be really cool.

From the looks of my time at the India Design Forum (IDF’2012) earlier this year at Delhi, just as Pantone named Tangerine the color of 2012, it began appearing everywhere, and I mean orange… EVERYWHERE. Bags, wallets, shoes, jewellery, dresses, denims and coats. Slightly insane, I mused as initially it was quite amusing how tangerine had proliferated style and persona at all events, stores and streets, but as months wore on I began noticing how tangerine had always, always been one of those colors of India, just like Jaipur’s much touted pink. Travelling through winding streets, I saw tangerine in its many avatars, the nylon sari, the ubiquitous nightie, a banian or a dhoti and some super crazy shirts and pants that looked like it was zapped up from 60’s cinema. Orange was indeed everywhere in India, along with pinks,reds, greens, yellows, blues and purples. As a country, we’ve always had our own style brights.  Always. Like they all say, real style is forever. Fashion and trends can come and go.


Rajasthani girl in tangerine traditional attire

So, other than being the much-touted color of the year, tangerine (highly saturated orange with a reddish undertone) in all its other avatars – coral,salmon or a true orange is quite the flattering shade on most skin tones, especially Indian, from the north to the south. This color steeped in our traditions and garments is sometimes lovely and sometimes blatantly eye-searing. Anyway, this spring-summer-monsoon ( we don’t have much of a distinction here in India do we?) seems to have become almost entirely about orange and it’s lovely friends mint, kelly-green,  hot pink, citron yellow and some mystical shades of blue. Living here in Coimbatore, I can’t really see myself going all out on this trend (blame social conditioning and sensibilities or mental color-blocks literally thrown at me from all sides) but I catch myself repeatedly trying to find that one perfect tangerine accessory anyway. Something that would not be dated, expensive or ridiculously novel that I would only use it once or twice. I passed over all the lovely wallets and bags for the very same reason (but also because I’m currently in forever love with brown leather messenger bags, you see). Finally, on a day when just another pay-check had only just arrived, I saw this skirt on a relatively new website. I’m going to get ahead of myself and say that although ‘nineteen‘ is staffed by quite a tasteful group of 20-something entrepreneurial women and bravo to that, PLEASE DO NOT COMPROMISE ON QUALITY for the sake of better pricing. One of their tangerine offerings was an interesting asymmetrical skirt, that according to their style blog could also double-up as a tube top of sorts. All for Rs.799.


Why not ? I ordered some quaint looking accessories to round-up the figure, and a prompt delivery later – I loved the charms bracelet with leather cord work as well as the colorful enamel stack rings that I’d ordered but the skirt !! Argh ! It was traffic cone orange, of inferior knit material (Tirupur t-shirt kind) and nothing like you’d ever imagined tangerine to look on you really. I put it away sadly into the same smashed box it came in, to return it for something else, like their interesting shoes and other accessories- but I completely forgot about it for a month or more afterwards.

Until…I began this blog and wondered again, why not!

So here’s the  first and according to my lovely sarcasm-spouting sister, the last ever time I try out this orange skirt. Let me know what you think.

BEFORE THAT, here are some real tangerine stunners, with the same color-block combination I tried out.



Is Dior channeling India this spring ?



Hot but still very cool.

       Orange pink dress


And…..Tada. (Click to enlarge on gallery view)

I’m wearing a thrifted basic hot pink knit tee (Rs.300), Asymmetrical hem Orange Skirt / Nineteen (Rs.799), Blue wedges/Inc 5 (Rs.799), Brown Leatherette Messenger Bag / Westside (Rs.1299),  Antique style floral Silver ring / Fabindia (Rs.699), Turquoise Blue beads thrifted from Besant Nagar, Chennai (Rs.30), Traditionally crafted Silver earrings (gifted), Black-purple Aviators (Rs.2800), L’Oréal Nail Polish in Rendezvous 480 – (gifted) and Chambor 101 Black Dazzle Eye Pencil Liner (Rs.480). And no, I’m not happy with the hooting passersby or my cellphone photographer.

The weather was absolutely wonderful though, what better day to wear these crazy poppin’ colors than a cold,blue-grey,rainy afternoon with the monsoon winds making my skirt dance to its thunder. Sigh, it only made me all the more noticeable in an unnecessarily traffic-stopper kinda way. Ooooo let’s slow down to drive by in annoying fashion and stare down this mad girl in the hastening rain. *wretcheffhhdfizzllegrumlbehmpfh* 

I’d actually tried all sorts of other shirts and blouses to go with the skirt earlier, whites,blacks,greys, but the cobalt blue was the most stunning. Still, it would have been too much to wear out into this little city, so I had to settle for one of the very few pink things I had that sort of worked. I’m not completely satisfied with this outfit, but it was worth an amusing try.

Stylenotes – Colorblocking, using either families of similar hues or crazy contrast colors, is clearly more than a few seasons old – but I believe it’s always been subtly here to stay in our country. So, pairing one neon piece with another coupla bright-hued items did not seem such a bad idea. Why not go all out, or so I thought. In retrospect having people do so many double takes and go, “what the hell is she wearing, hahaha”, doesn’t seem that disturbing. Really. Although wearing various shades from head to toe does scream eccentric (no, not weirdo thankyouverymuch) it also does feel good in a who cares what anyone else says sort of way. So… do try it at home? hot pink top, orange skirt, blue wedges, sometimes you just have to try. I think the point is to not use more than three different colors but hey, there’s nothing wrong with experimenting.  Have you tried walking out in neon? What was your experience?


For those who’d like to try, look at some sensible examples on this  ‘How to wear Neon’ guide by Ashley Flagler on

So, should I have subtly stuck to finding something like this instead of going completely nuclear?  XD

You know what ? I did find the perfect elegant orange addition to my closet after that- a cotton voile top with asymmetrical flaps and a brilliant gold zipper running down its back, as well as a neon-yellow shirt, but more on that later. Such a compulsive shopper, this mad girl… 😉