Spreading Sexiness on Monochrome Monday

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A holiday, legacy, and hidden gem of Boxer culture

I sit in our booth at Diversity Cafe in disbelief. Delaney Nigma and Katie Gillam are seated across from me, the founders, visionaries, and trailblazers of Monochrome Monday. Amidst beaming smiles and leisurely sips of their Friday morning mimosas, a tradition they faithfully observe weekly, they regale me about their invented holiday; their sheer passion capturing the essence of the blossoming spring season. 

   But something does not add up. 

   “Can you repeat that just one more time?” I ask, stupefied. 

   They both laugh, and Nigma begins, “Monochrome is about comedy,” to which Gillam finishes, “not fashion.”  

   Mondays epitomize drudgery. Early mornings, lingering hangovers, and the weight of impending deadlines make it a stressful day. As Gillam notes emphatically, “Mondays just suck.” Pair that with the State of Oregon, and you have an unbeatable combo. 

   For months of the year, Oregon is a bleak, languishing in endless shades of gray and sheets of rain. So why not plan a weekly holiday to add a little sparkle to Oregon’s Monday blues? After all, even the depths of depression can emit sparks of inspiration that eventually kindle flames of creativity and personal expression. 

   Last semester, on a cold day in October, Nigma and Gillam coincidentally crossed paths with a lesser-known campus celebrity. Their encounter was brief but memorable: the unnamed celebrity strutted through campus, dressed entirely in maroon, including their hair, appearing oblivious to the social faux pas associated with monochrome ensembles, a style typically reserved for elementary school librarians, middle-aged aunts, and four-year-old children.

   Since then, Nigma and Gillam have channeled the uninspiring essence of monochrome attire into a holiday. Every Monday, they dress in solid colors to highlight the complacent style standards of our era and, hopefully, bring a splash of vibrance to a campus desperately in need. Nigma reminisces about a Monday on which she arrived to class late, clad in hot pink. She laughs, recalling when she accidentally spilled her coffee, injecting chaos into an otherwise monotonous lecture.

   The idea behind Monochrome Monday is straightforward, but its rules are strict. Nigma and Gillam have crafted a set of eight guidelines that must be honored to participate in the holiday: 

1. You must wear as much of the same shade and color as possible. 

2. Black, brown, white, gray, and beige adjacents do not count as monochrome.

3. Denim does not count as blue.

4. Denim on denim does, however, count as monochrome.

5. Pattern on equivalent pattern count as monochrome (ex. zebra on zebra).

6. You cannot wear the same outfit more than once.

7. You cannot wear the same color on back-to-back Mondays.

8. Extra style points for matching accessories such as hats, bandanas, shoes, or our favorite mugs.

   They note that one of the most important rules is number two. Shades of gray, white, brown, and black are not hues of color but rather the relative absence or presence of light. To the unfortunate soul who unwittingly wears all gray on a Monday, alas, your “groutfit” does not qualify as monochrome.

   Nigma and Gillam are also considering adding a ninth rule to encapsulate the value of sustainability. As outfits are not allowed to be repeated, most of their attire is acquired at the Pacific University’s free store. Nigma states, “You can’t be going out and buying things; fast fashion is wasteful.” Gillam agrees, expressing her mantra, “Beg, steal, and borrow.” 

   Monochrome Monday has entrenched itself in the Pacific community. A group small in number but mighty in spirit comprised of Pacific’s Dance Department, Unified Dancers, and the Department of Kinesiology adored Dr. Philip Schot have begun dressing in monochrome. However, there have also been detractors. As Nigma hesitantly commented, “There are monochrome haters… people who are unsupportive.” These individuals are often devoted “multi-chromers,” and as Gillam observes, the distinction between them and “monochromers” is that of “monos and multis.” 

   With Nigma and Gillam set to graduate this spring, the future of Monochrome Monday hangs in the balance. They propose, “We want a call to action for all changemakers. To all of those who need a little more joy on a Monday.” They foresee their holiday leaving a lasting imprint on the Pacific community. They assert, “Monochrome Monday was invented for the joy and benefit of all.” It would be a shame if future generations of Boxers missed out.

   As I hear the tell-tale slurp of the bottom of our mimosas, the scattered fragments of my understanding begin to rearrange themselves as an elegantly designed mosaic. Does it make sense to dress from head to toe in a singular color to honor, as Nigma and Gillam say, “spunk, laughter, and sexiness”? Not really, but maybe that misses the point. Monochrome embraces its irony. It strives to be paradoxical. The words that started our interview now ring clear through my mind, “Monochrome is about comedy, not fashion.”


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