Thursday, December 20, 2012

Two sides of the whole "color" system question

sculpture of Janus, the god of portals, doorways, beginnings and endings
Janus, the god of portals, doorways, beginnings and endings


I was appropriately named (if spelled differently), in that I can see two sides of many issues.  And that's certainly the case with the question of having a personal color season, or palette, or other scheme for clothing and personal adornment.

First off, I believe that it's absolutely essential for almost all of us to limit our wardrobe color palette to a manageable 6 to 8 colors.  Ideally, I'd think three neutrals and three to five accent colors.  This limitation makes it much easier to shop, to coordinate garments and accessories, and to have those serendipitous moments when (this happened to me this morning) your can reach into your closet and grab a scarf that exactly matches the stripe in the argyle of your sweater.  This is not boring, this is disciplined, focused, self-aware...
a color scheme of black, white and two grey neutrals, with accents of red, blue, purple and pink
my colors, currently...


And I do think that there's merit in getting opinions about colors from another person, especially someone who's trained to do that sort of thing.  We all have varying degrees of blindness in terms of looking at ourselves; an objective opinion can be useful.

HOWEVER...

I abhor anything that puts people in pigeonholes.  I do not WANT to share a season with 25% of all people on the planet.  While I might share certain commonalities of coloring with many people, I have enough unique qualities - mine alone - that a pre-packaged palette of swatches offends my sense of individuality.

And I've never quite bought into the idea that a person is entirely "cool" or "warm".  I am very fair skinned, with ash brown hair turning white, but my eyes are almost orange, with a purple ring around the iris.  Just in my eyes alone, there's a combination of warm and cool.

Belovedest is another case in point; golden blond hair, freckles, red beard, and icy blue eyes.  Very warm coloring, and looks particularly handsome in cool shades of blue.  There is a lot of merit in the idea of using colors opposite of your own to accent your distinctiveness.

So my bottom line on color choices - trust your gut.  What did you want to wear when you can first remember wanting to choose your own clothing?  (in my case, it was black!)  What colors do you just plain like the most?  What gets you the most compliments?  What resonates with your psyche?

I have a theory that a wardrobe could be build around any six colors.  It might be incredibly difficult, but I believe it's possible.  The more unusual, the better - be your own person.  Get your own style.  Wear your own colors.  And then go on with the rest of your life and do amazing things.

love,
Janice

Artisan Crafted Jewelry
 
 

22 comments:

  1. I have a question - do You mean "colour" like "green" (that includes lots of shades) or like one particular shade of it ("pine green", "olive green" etc.)

    I'm just so into blues, but having different shades of it is hard to manage.

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    1. Oooh, that's a good question. Certainly something narrower than just plain green, because any single color like that opens the door to dozens of possibilities. Maybe something that you define for yourself... For example, in my colors, I allow pretty much any shade of grey, but the blues have to be something muted, along the lines of chambray. Red can only be a true blue-red - nothing persimmon or orangish at all.

      I think self-defined is the answer to all of these questions. Now, we just have to figure out how to see ourselves and our preferences clearly enough that our self-definition sings to our hearts...

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  2. Janice, Thank you so much for addressing this issue. I have been told by several people that I am Summer or Ice (cool pastels), I feel better in jewel-tones and I do wear black.... who doesn't? Although I do think I look better in navy. Your combinations help tremendously! I appreciate that you responded to our questions about this. :)

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  3. Black, definitely black. As a child everyone wanted me to wear chocolate brown to "match" my eyes, and I look dead in brown/tan/beige - all of them. Just wrong. You are giving me new confidence to go where I want to go. thanks. Hope your holidays are spent with the ones you love, wearing something you adore!

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  4. Thank you so much. I have been waiting for this post. Definitely food for thought...I need to work on choosing my six colors and that will be tough. I think it's a good solid strategy and am excise to start the planning and implementation.

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  5. This post is very timely. I have just reevaluated the colors I think I should be wearing. Your advice of going with your gut is great. I agree completely that few people are completely warm or completely cool. I have very neutral coloring. Looking at the 12 Season system I most accurately fit the Soft Autumn, which makes tons of sense since I have always loved olive green and dusty peach/apricot colors. These colors just make me relax and feel so effortless to wear. Last year I took the Dressing Your Truth course which indicated that I was a Type 2, Soft and Subtle, but the system really focuses more on cooler muted colors and I have been struggling to incorporate that into my wardrobe. When I looked at the Soft Autumn palette, things just clicked. This explains why I have an olive jacket that I find an excuse to wear almost every week. I searched for art work that might represent the colors that I love and found A Bouquet of Roses and Jasmine in a Delft Vase by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. I did upload this image into CSS and extract a palette but am now struggling to cull down to the 6 to 8 colors you suggest. If you are still taking Start with Art wardrobe requests, I would love to see a wardrobe based on this painting.

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  6. That should have been excited not excise! But I did notice on your colors you have eight, why is that? Would I have to use blue as a color if I choose to include denim?
    thanks. ronda

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  7. Good question "Anonymous" I was wondering about denim too. Janice do you change your accent colors in the different seasons?

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  8. I am new to reading your blog and have begun reading your back posts as well. Excellent! I've culled my wardrobe down to a 333 for Jan-Mar and am loving the freedom and flexibility the approach has given me. Your advice today is another great addition to the store of knowledge that can be found here

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  9. Your eyes!!! Fabulous.

    Interesting to wear the opposite color--as for your belovedest.

    Sadly, I look terrible in some of the colors I love--like camel, beige, etc.

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    1. Wear those colors on the bottom, skirts, pants, shoes

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  10. Another factor to consider is that the colours available each season are limited by the fashion industry. So if I decide one of my colours must be brick red for example, I may have a hard time finding it for some years. And even then the item of clothing made with brick red may not be my style at all.

    The internet does provide more choice perhaps, but I still like to try my clothing purchases on and see the colours and quality in person.

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    1. I so understand this concern; for as long as I can remember (I'm 55 this month) I have been either ahead of or behind what is available in stores. With fair skin, blue/grey/green eyes and red hair my coloring wasn't "in style" as a teen and young adult. I NEVER wore red, pink or purple until I was in my thirties! And looking for browns, olive greens and tomato reds during the 1980's was an exercise in frustration. Finally I just decided that I was going to wear what I wanted and hang the "experts". So I wear what colors I want according to the season and my mood. As I've gotten older I find that I look much better in deeper jewel tones and darker colors rather than the softer ones of my younger days. I really enjoy the wardrobe ideas on this blog. Thanks for sharing.

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    2. I've known a lot of people with red hair in my time, and I've got a few redheads in my family. My great-grandfather was a 100% Scot with a fiery red beard and hair; blue-blue eyes. My aunt got his coloring. And so it perpetuates in the family tree. They are told all the time that their colors are greens and browns. For the women, they consistently gravitate to reds and pinks, the precise colors they've been told to avoid! I'm thinking, you go girls! Do what you want! They know what they like, they feel good in those colors, so it reflects their happy mood and, in the end, they look FAB! You have to feel good in what you're wearing and what you're surrounded with (I'm feeling liberated just writing this down, Janice!).

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  11. I've been struggling with the colour question for a while. Would love to be able to go with what I love but can't see myself in head to toe turquoise! Accent colours seem easier to choose, it's the neutrals that are difficult for me. It's easy to buy black because 1. it's readily available and 2. it's so accepted/expected for work wear. But does it show me to advantage or am I just used to seeing it? Perhaps some people have a better eye for colour and what looks good on them. I feel I need some guidance so have decided to have a colour analysis done, hoping this will set my mind at ease so I can get on with it. Thanks as always Janice for your wonderful posts.

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  12. You make a lot of sense. It's made me really think about the part about what I was drawn to when I was a kid (fave dress) and I see a long line of continuity there (it's the turquoises/aquas/teals ala ocean/marine/tropical blues). Everybody used to tell me red was my color but a little bit of red goes a long, long way with me. I think we automatically respond, like when you walk into a room that instantly stirs good emotions depending on what colors have been used to decorate...or, yeah, a scarf, a color photo, art on a wall. What sings to you; what feels good. More for me to ponder, Janice. But it's like anything in life...whenever I've gone outside myself and tried to be somebody else, it never works (to thine own self be true). I could never live in a mid-century (1950s) aerospace/minimalist-looking home. I can't wear certain trends in clothing without feeling like I'm in somebody else's bad skin. Abstract art doesn't do it for me. I'm not into tiny, designer dogs; I like big 'ol sloppy labs and retrievers. It's like a fingerprint, we're all of us different than one another so, really, how can any one person say what style or color I should be wearing and if too much black is depressing me, maybe 2013 is time to break out into some other basic. I have to get it out of my head...things I've heard all my life...that women of a certain age shouldn't wear rainbow ice cream/Easter egg colors (or chartreuse or Barbie-doll hot pink!) and instead need to keep to non-harsh and not-jarring neutral separates, age-appropriate, that don't scream too much color. Right, and who said that? When? Thirty years ago? Okay, I hear you! Sail my own boat, ride my own wave; gotcha.

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  13. Excellent post, as always. I particularly like the 12-tone system which provides 3 types of each season. In addition to the "true" (traditional) winter, spring, summer and autumn, each season has two siblings, for lack of a better word. All of the extra categories are closer to neutral than extreme warm or cool, so they cover a lot more types of coloring.
    I enjoyed learning more about color by studying this system (in books) and I did determine my own color category. But I don't wear those colors exclusively - I take colors from some of the other seasons and when I do, I understand better how to combine and use colors to fit my mood. In the end, I deduced the same things you mention: trust your gut, pay attention to what you like, pay attention to what generates compliments. I love color and love expressing myself with it.
    Love your blog!!

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  14. i am lucky to have blue eyes that turn to green depending on what I wear, so for me blue/teal/green are great colours for me and I often get compliments when wearing anything in that range. And they go well with grey, stone and beige. Colour is fun.

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  15. I'm glad to see this because when I first started reading, you were posting a lot of travel packing and I thought you were saying we should just have two colors. Impossible! So 6 - 8 seems a good plenty!

    I've been shopping more than in the past several years and following your ideas is really helping. I have a long way to go though. For a future post, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the skinny pants trend for less than perfect figures...and less than young ages! Can you rec some skinny jeans or black pants that are not also very low rise?

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  16. After trying on a few of my old skirts and still loving them as much as the day I bought them, I realized that there are truly clothes that I love that don't get old and boring to me. However, Janice, you have helped me better understand what basics I need to really make outfits "work," have convinced me to try layering (I never got the beauty of cardigans/jackets before), and realize that while my one hit wonder skirts could look great with a basic, it makes my closet much more interesting to have coordinating colored shirts for my skirts that also work with the basics in my wardrobe, giving me much more versatility. This last month I have been shopping with more focus and found a few basics and some tops that add a splash of color, but still coordinate with things I can still wear in my closet. As you mentioned in a Vivienne post, these items really "speak to me," and I love putting them on. I think that is the essence of deciding what to wear, but it's also having the discipline to focus on what you need and how to put things together to make a variety of outfits. Your posts so clearly teach how to do this!

    Thanks so much for all the time you put into this blog. I know that such things as clothing sometimes seem insignificant, but you truly have a talent for style (not everyone is born with that or has learned how to hone it) and for analyzing style and breaking it down into understandable segments both with words and visuals. It means a lot to girls like me who have spent years looking dowdy and really needed the help. You help the world be a more beautiful place and bring some whimsy into a sometimes cruel world.

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  17. Thank you for this very intelligent post.

    Not only are you completely correct; "the seasons" were far more about marketing and separating fools from their money than anything approaching accuracy. Furthermore, the original system was not only pigeon-holing but designed for Caucasians only! Later it was "expanded" to include that all racial minorities were "winter".

    Given how many examples of gorgeous women of all colors there are that are breaking most or all the rules of the seasonal colors, I liken the system to snake oil. I can't believe that people still buy into this, but they do; I have been told (unsolicited) what my season is even are recently as last year and there is more than one professional stylist who can be found on the internet still touting the virtues of this malarkey.

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  18. Thank you for your post. I have come to much the same conclusion myself after many years of thinking I was supposed to fit into some sort of colour box and never did. I have very fair skin, warm amber brown eyes and hair which in my youth was warm brown with copper highlights. I "should" look good in warm burnished colours but I don't and just this morning have purged my closet and makeup drawer of all those shades which make me look dull and my face dirty. I really like your idea of narrowing one's colours down to a group of neutrals and colours and sticking with that.

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