This past winter, Laura Saldarriaga, 26, noticed that her Instagram grid was square after square of herself in all-black outfits. The Williamsburg resident decided it was time to lighten up. She started spicing up her wardrobe with cheery pastels. A favorite new look is a bold purple shirt dress that she’ll pair with a pretty pink purse and rhinestone block heels for a girls’ night out.
“After COVID, I was sick of wearing boring clothes. I want to take a picture in any outfit that isn’t all black,” said Saldarriaga, who credits Gen Z fashion influencers with showing her that “I don’t have to wear black to look sleek and chic.”
Sleek onyx looks, long a staple of many a New Yorker’s wardrobe, are now being pushed to the back of the closet as Gothamites embrace clothing in bright, bold colors — from garden-party florals dresses to chic monochromatic suiting.
“It has to do with the psychology of being locked down for two years and not wanting to dress in what the Southerners call mourning attire,” Shawn Grain Carter, associate professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, told The Post. “Wearing color is more of an escape from what’s going on. You’ve got a war, economic instability, new waves of COVID madness — people want to feel good, and so you put on a pink dress or a beautiful yellow set. These are happy colors that make people feel mentally stable and emotionally comfortable.”
Manhattanite Lara Bogossian typically wore all black – save for a swipe of red lipstick – but her wardrobe palette changed after spending some time in 2020 in Los Angeles, where she’s originally from. When she returned to New York City, she had a new outlook and a number of new jewel-tone tops.
“I didn’t want to look like a neon sign or a piñata by any means, but I said, ‘I have enough dark colors. I need to brighten up my look,’ ” Bogossian, 30, told The Post. “I was elated to be back. I was optimistic.”
Designers are taking note of fashionistas’ hunger for new hues.
“We’re noticing our Wild Pink, Sky Blue and Radiant Yellow styles from the summer collection are best-selling colors at the moment,” designer Ramy Brook told The Post. “New Yorkers are going for brighter shades.”
For some, opting for more color is about growing up. Brooklyn native Christina Izzo, 32 and a writer living on the Upper West Side, remembers adapting the all-ebony uniform in middle school, adorning herself in mesh tops and leather cuff accessories from Hot Topic. The self-proclaimed former goth kid leaned into a more Stevie Nicks aesthetic in her late teens and early 20s, wearing oversize charcoal caftans, heeled leather boots and black blazers.
Her milestone 30th birthday inspired her to embrace more shades.
“I felt like most of my life, I had been wanting to hide and was literally covering myself in shadow and darkness to do so,” Izzo said. “But I think stepping more firmly into adulthood and into who I am, I started realizing how quickly it all goes by and how much I wanted to express parts of myself that I previously wasn’t allowing myself to.”
Her fresh new outfits include a periwinkle crop top and matching pants and a pastel pink pantsuit that she wore to her sister’s bridal shower, puzzling even her closest family members.
“A cousin came up to me saying, ‘Is this … you? This doesn’t feel like you.’ But it absolutely is me — just a part you haven’t met yet!”
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