Burgundy is thoughtful


Burgundy is thoughtful,
The taste of burgundy is tourtiere
with ketchup on the side.
The sound of burgundy is your boss,
announcement to the staff.
The feel of burgundy is cotton
Sensible and cheap.
Burgundy is professional
A blazer with a skirt.
never wrong but never right.
Alone and independent.


According to the almighty internet, burgundy is a reddish brown, and maroon is a brownish red. So this shade is halfway between the boldest colour on the spectrum and the muddiest neutral. I must confess that while I don’t dislike any colour, burgundy is far from my favourite. Perhaps I find it a bit tough to work with because it can’t decide if it’s a colour or a neutral.


I firmly believe that any colour can work with any other colour as long as you pick the right tones, but colours also appear different in various settings, depending on lighting, so an outfit that looks fine at home could be jarring at work. This is where burgundy can be tricky. You might think you’re wearing a sedate and professional blazer only to enter a room with florescent lighting and realize you’re a bright beacon of ridiculousness. But why not be ridiculous?

So maybe I take issue with burgundy because it’s like a red that couldn’t commit. It’s red that rolled around in the mud, because it didn’t want to stand out in a crowd. It wants to play it safe, but still be bold, rich, and opulent. Burgundy is so smug, ’cause it gets to have it both ways. Burgundy and navy should get together and start a band, called the colourful neutrals, and they can roam the urban landscape, being utterly inoffensive and work appropriate.


So by now you’re guessing that I shun burgundy in my wardrobe. But no, I’ve got tons of it. After all, sometimes you need to be inoffensive and work appropriate while still privately enjoying that you’ve got some red in you.


If you read my post on turquoise, you know colour perception can be subjective and ambiguous. I decided to make turquoise a separate Colour Theory category from both blue and green because of a particular dress I owned that turned out to be divisive in terms of what colour people perceived it to be. The exact same thing has happened with purple and burgundy, so I’ve created a board for plum.


One day, at work, I wore the outfit pictured above. In my mind the main colour displayed was burgundy, but I got called “purple lady” and was accused of dressing like a grape. Interesting, I thought. Then, months later, as I was mentally preparing to write this blog post, I went in to work in an outfit that to my mind was decidedly purple, and another coworker commented that she liked my maroon outfit. Clearly there is a very fine line between purple and burgundy. You could argue that there is a fine line between any two colours that sit next to each other on the spectrum. The word spectrum itself defines a continuum. But I’ve chosen to write an entire post about plum because the line between purple and burgundy seems to be particularly fine. I’m not even sure the word “plum” is the right one to use. Unlike turquoise, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive name for the colour(s) between purple and burgundy. Fuschia and magenta could fall within this range, but they have more of a pink, rather than red influence, so for the purposes of this exercise, plum will have to do.

As I was creating my plum photo collage, I struggled to decide what belonged in the purple camp, what was more maroon, and what plum really meant. What do you think of my choices? Do you think plum even deserves its own category? If plum does, doesn’t indigo? After all, indigo (midway between blue and purple) is an actual colour on the spectrum, so why not give it equal treatment? Well, the answer, for me, is that no one’s ever accused me of wearing blue when I thought I was wearing purple, and vice versa.


Interestingly, as I was scouring my neighbourhood for plum objects I discovered that a lot of foods fall into this colour range. Plums obviously, but also grapes, onions, beets, eggplant, and blueberries when smooshified. So perhaps plum, as a colour, is symbolically indicative of health and vitality, while also conveying depth, and brooding moodiness. It doesn’t really know what it wants to be, and refuses to be pinned down, but is also plentiful in nature. Plum: an enigma, wrapped in a smoothie.