It's not easy wearing green

Celtics fans don the green for game time. Celtics fans don the green for game time. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff/File)
By Beth Teitell
Globe Correspondent / June 10, 2010

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It’s terrific that the Celtics have made it to the NBA Finals, except for one thing. From a fashion perspective, the series poses a real challenge.

“Green is a tough color to pull off,’’ said Lauren Festa, 20, an Emerson College student, as Game 2 started on Sunday night. “I don’t want to go out to a bar and be the girl in that green shamrock shirt.’’

Waiting for friends outside the Coolidge Corner Clubhouse, a sports bar in Brookline, she was dressed in barely fair-weather fan garb: cute blue jean shorts, yellow top, black tank.

The Red Sox and the Patriots are easier teams to support, she explained as her pal nodded. “You can look adorable in red or blue.’’

Megan McGregor, 22, a support analyst from Brighton, said she thought about wearing Celtics green and then thought better of it. “I like it as a color,’’ she said, sporting a pink headband, jeans, and a blue shirt, “but not to wear.’’ Kermit got it right. It’s not easy being green. It’s even harder to wear it.

Even the fashion director at Lilly Pulitzer, one of the country’s top purveyors of preppy green, acknowledged the, er, situation. “A little bit of green goes a long way,’’ said Jane Schoenborn.

The Lilly customer, she revealed, rarely chooses a green top to go along with her signature Lilly-printed skirts or pants. “Green is one of those colors that’s hard for us to sell on its own.’’

No less a color authority than Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, proclaims bright green “not an easy color to wear.’’

“It has a yellow base,’’ she explained, “and if you have very fair skin, then it is not going to be particularly flattering.’’

Since 2000, the Pantone Color Institute has been naming a “color of the year.’’ This year the group chose turquoise, because it reminds people of escaping to the tropics, and for its associations with protective talismans.

If the Celtics take this year’s title, could shamrock green take the color championship next year? Don’t bet on it. “Right now it’s not fitting into the zeitgeist,’’ Eiseman said, adding that the color is associated with leprechauns and “strange little creatures.’’

But colors, like teams, can surprise you. “Who knows?’’ she said, “in the next few years the whole thing could be surrealism,’’ in which case, the little creatures would fit right in.

If there’s one tiny bit of good news, it’s that the Finals fall after Memorial Day, when it’s OK to wear white, said Karen Fabbri, owner of the Moxie shoe and handbag boutiques on Beacon Hill and in Wellesley. “You can do white skinny jeans,’’ she said, “and suddenly you look both fashionable and sporty.’’

Melissa Malamut, author of “She’s Got Game,’’ gives the green-averse permission to dress however they like: “I suggest wearing whatever makes you feel beautiful.’’ One plus with basketball, she added, is that “it’s the dressiest of all the major sports. It is the only sport you can get away with wearing high heels.’’

But it turns out that green, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Adidas reports that four of the 25 top-selling jerseys belong to Celtics players. The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant is tops, the Cavaliers’ (for now) LeBron James is second, followed by Kevin Garnett. Paul Pierce’s shirts are eighth most popular, Rajon Rondo is 10th, and Ray Allen is 21st.

And, go figure, green Celtics jerseys outsell the white ones.

As Shawn McBride, a vice president at Ketchum Sports & Entertainment, put it: “The bottom line is, at this time of year, fashion becomes second to fandom.’’

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