What do you think of when you think of the color grey? Or gray? We can't even agree how to spell the word! I think that nebulousity, to form my own word, is the essence of grey's nature. It is the in between. It is the spirit world, the mist, the mystery. It softens, it cools, it brings mellowness... it is a remote color. Not a particularly approachable shade, grey - although it's highly touchable. (The opposite of yellow, which is highly approachable and highly untouchable).
Grey lives for wool. There is no better fabric to convey "grey" better than a wool. Whether we're talking about a soft grey suited to a foggy spring morning or a charcoal grey suit straight from Wall St., grey is all about the wool. Grey in cotton almost invariably means workout clothing. Grey in satin or silk? The ice maiden lives.
To me, grey is far more gothic and supernaturally scary than is black. It's the in between that leaves much to the imagination. Ghosts are grey.
If I am going to use the CMB seasons (which I sort of want to move away from, especially if I ever do copyright this stuff), grey is all about the "Summer" season. Certainly other seasons can wear grey.. but summers *own* it. Summers are cool and muted - and what is grey, but both of those together? Warmer seasons can generally manage to deal with charcoal grey, and sometimes a grey-brown. Winters can wear the clearest and coldest greys. Grey is the color that I recommend to summers who want that edge of mystery. Pair grey and purple, and you are *all* about the spooky. Grey and yellow? All business, a sharp edge. Not expected, but intense & reliable. Grey is *fun* to pair with other colors, you can really get some good mental dichotomies going. It's a "ol' reliable" but it's been out of the mainstream for long enough to not be expected.
Grey is of course a neutral color... there are many many shades of it, and all of them look best in good fabrics. Grey does very poorly in poor fabrics, think of an old grey cotton tank top, even without stains... it looks stained just from wear. A grey wool skirt is going to look grand for the next century, to contrast. Grey is ill-advised to be in the highest of fashion. Its natural mystery has to be forced into the lines of fashion, and that forcedness shows by going out of fashion quickly.
Grey is not for children. This makes me antsy, as my daughter looks amazing in grey. But little girls (and she is seven) do not wear colors that can be associated with death and mourning. Elders *do* wear grey, and rock it. The softness of grey suits most as the skin softens with time and the hair takes on a cooler hue. This does not mean that grey is about age, although it can be a color that conveys a certain conservativeness and authority. It can also simply be used to soften another color in the outfit, bringing it into balance.
Grey - the color of mystery and the color of the conservative. Ambivalent, indeed.