The notion of a beige cable knit cardigan being a head turner may strike you as a contradiction in terms. Tonally speaking, beige may only be a hair's breadth away from its modish cousins, "camel" and "taupe", but it has traditionally been the runt of the neutrals palette. Beige is the colour of choice of those who lack imagination and flair - indeed, the very word "choice" may be overstating the case, because plumping for beige suggests a lack of thought, a lazy, "line of least resistance" option. It is the fashion equivalent of magnolia paint.
Beige also connotes ladies of a certain age who have become invisible. They have long ceased to wear the top button of their shirt undone, if indeed they ever did. It is fawn by any other name, and that way lies no-iron Farah slacks (never trousers) and comfy skirts with elasticated waists. Yes, beige items belong in the small ads at the back of Sunday supplements, along with the offers on Stannah stairlifts and mail order bedding plants.
And though the title of this post reads "Eclipsed By Ecru", eagle-eyed readers will have spotted that that was merely another Bonkers alliterative liberty, for since the 50s, "ecru" has carved out a more stylish niche for itself: it is the unbleached, "milky tea" colour of delicate lingerie. Why, even the name is redolent of gallic raunchiness.
So all in all, beige has had a bit of a bad press - and yet my cardigan (the blandest item in my wardrobe after a clutch of plain white Tees) is almost universally complimented wherever I go: by family, friends, neighbours, dental receptionists, shop assistants, and an assortment of other random strangers. Not by Mr Bonkers, admittedly, but he usually speaks up only if he thinks something doesn't suit me. There again, it could be that the cardigan is in fact so bland that it doesn't impinge on his senses at all. He may be "sartorially anosmic" to its unassuming colour and understated pattern...
Meanwhile, the popularity of my cardigan is bugging me, because I never receive compliments about the perfumes I wear. And even allowing for my modest rate of application, you would think that somewhere along the line in the past two and a half years of daily fragrance wear someone would have said unprompted: "Oh, you smell nice!" I have occasionally elicited compliments from people under duress, by shoving my wrist under their nose and demanding feedback - much as I do with Mr Bonkers - but those results may be a little suspect.
The rivalry between me and my compliment-garnering garment has reached such a pitch that I have been trying to think of perfumes I could wear to offset its appeal. Now you may think that the answer would be a totally over the top, lush white floral of some kind, to knock the cardie right out of the park. The new Lust from Gorilla Perfumes, for example, which is the most obscenely tropical scent I have ever smelt. Or Amaranthine, which is relatively sedate by comparison. Or possibly Carnal Flower or Fracas.
But I think that is the wrong tactic - people could be put off by such powerhouse scents, however well done. The cardigan's popularity is all about its muted tones and versatility as a wardrobe staple - its very beigeness, basically. That is the scent style I have to replicate to be in with a chance of outshining my own outfit.
And before you say "Chanel Beige"!, I don't think that fragrance is quite right either, notwithstanding its on-message name. For Beige is a sweetly honeyed floral, but it feels no more beige to me than Tuberose Gardenia, say, which has the same feminine prettiness, albeit with very different notes. And actually, as you can see from the photo, one of my Beige samples has turned from translucent to amber! So even the colour of the juice doesn't particularly connote beige.
There's a bunch of other scents I quickly dismissed, because although they are in that comforting "mohair sweater" territory, they conjure up WHITE to me, not beige - scents like Perles de Lalique, Acqua di Biella Kid Mohair (thanks to lovethescents for the heads up on this one) and Bvlgari Omnia Crystalline, for example.
No, I think I have found the one...it is beige in colour, beige in smell, and even comes in a beige box!
It is LACOSTE POUR FEMME.
This is a very different scent from Touch of Pink, and could easily have been named Touch of Beige instead.
top notes: Jamaican pepper, purple freesia
middle notes: white heliotrope, Iranian jasmine, hibiscus blossom, Bulgarian rose
base note: Himalayan cedar-wood, velvety skin (sic), Mysore sandalwood, incense
Created by Olivier Cresp in 2003 (one of the noses behind Kenzo Amour and Amour Indian Holi, also Angel!), the "story" behind this scent on Osmoz is as follows:
"A free spirit, the Lacoste woman aspires to be swept away, and acts on impulse. Authentic, open-minded, captivating, a bit wild, she’ll try anything once, and she knows how to take advantage of the surprises life can offer!"
Ignore all the above - this is the scented equivalent of beige cashmere, end of. Yes, Lacoste Pour Femme is a snuggly, slightly powdery scent with a lovely woody/vanillic/incense drydrown. Now ambrette seeds are a note I am beginning to think I must like, though I don't know as I would recognise them if someone slapped a handful of them down on the desk - or their smell, for that matter. Heliotrope, on the other hand, is a note I don't care for normally - I don't get on with Herve Leger, for example, or Barbara Bui, specifically because the heliotrope is too pronounced in those - but I don't mind it here.
I must admit to massive prejudices about Lacoste as a fragrance brand, but Pour Femme is the jewel in its crown. Do they do opals in beige? Okay, then, maybe quartz or the beigey end of pink jasper.
So that is my plan - I will fight fire with fire - confront my cardigan with its scent nemesis, and report back. But hold on a minute....on closer inspection I think my cardigan might not be beige after all. In that photo it looks pretty darn "mink" to me. Or "pebble" perhaps. Why, "mink" is the pale-skinned younger sister of taupe! No wonder my cardie is such a show stopper! I may have to have a complete rethink and look for furry flagstone scents instead. Or if that sounds too hard, I guess I could always just wear a sweater.
Photo of skirt from binbin.net, photo of lingerie from bobbydene.com, photo of Lacoste Pour Femme from parfumuri4u.com, other photos my own.