All About Color, or What I Learned in Orlando, Part 2
This woman's colors flatter rather than overwhelm her
A reader asked me yesterday about color, and the timing is perfect, because I thought a lot about color during the Association of Image Consultants International conference last week, in Orlando.
” … I’m wearing black, white, and grey today — and none of those are great colors for me. My brand-new super-fabulous earrings are in the cool-ish palette. Even my bag (which I love) is the color of cement…. [M]oving into super-professional clothes in my best colors (spring) is proving challenging.”
Ah, that’s certainly a color conundrum. The kind of clothes we may like are available in colors that don’t flatter. (Add some budget or figure challenges into the mix and you can really get frustrated.) In any event, here’s the short answer to the reader’s question: This is a GREAT time to find ways to make those wonderful cement gray colors work for warm complexions like yours. Gray with gold metal or yellow or orange looks current, and when those warm colors are put next to the face, can transform a cold gray into something that flatters warmer complexions.
Here’s the longer answer: Occasionally most of us find ourselves wearing colors that don’t flatter. It could be because we saw something we just love and have to have, even though it won’t flatter our face. It could be we’re short on time or money or have trouble finding things that fit well … so when we see something in an olive green but we ourselves are really cool in color, we get it anyway.
What I found striking in Orlando was the number of women who, for four days, managed to stick to their best colors. Now, in my opinion, this can go too far, as with the woman with warm, Spring coloring whose coral nails matched her strawberry blond hair and who wore amber jewelry and rose gold with her leaf green clothes. It just somehow was too much after a while. (A little orange goes a long way, even for me, and I adore orange!) I think it can be a mistake to be slavish about anything, even the colors that are most flattering.
On the other hand, I found that consistency to be attractive and, on the whole, a good thing. I think it’s because the colors many women wore became an extension of their personality, and so this consistency showed them to be predictable — in a very good way. (As opposed to inconsistent and unpredictable, the way a woman is who shows up to work one day in dungarees and the next in a formal tailored suit. It’s hard to know who she is, and we might feel a sense of distrust as a result.)
I was lucky enough to attend a session during which a panel of four self-described color geeks batted around thoughts about color. Some of their thoughts:
1. Learn to identify your best colors.
Your best colors will make you look much better all around. If you don’t know what they are, ask a friend for help (or contact me about my newly expanded color services). See the woman in the big picture up top? (The blogger behind my favorite new blog, Atlantic Pacific
, by the way.) The colors she’s wearing and indeed the backdrop for the photo make her look pretty; stronger colors could overpower her, so you’d notice her clothes rather than her.
2. WEAR your best colors. I mean, why NOT wear them? Aside from the reasons I gave above, really, why not? It’s like a free and painless facelift.
3. Do a regular audit of your wardrobe. Are you sticking to the metals in jewelry that will flatter? (In general, silver for cool tones, yellow metals for warm.) Are other accessories in the same color family? The great thing is that when you stick to the right colors, all those colors look good with each other, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of getting dressed in interesting color combinations. On the other hand, are there pieces in your closet that DON’T work? Be strong — find them a new home. Also, as we get older, our coloring cools somewhat. Regularly check to see if you are dressing for your coloring TODAY.
4. Be discriminating. If you find a new trend you love, take the time to find it in the color that suits you best. For one thing, it will work better with everything else that’s in your closet (if you are, in general, sticking to your best colors).
5. Consider custom. If you need a couple suits and really can’t find them except in black and gray — and if those aren’t your colors — then consider finding a seamstress who can make you a suit or two.
6. Going dressy? Go darker.
At the conference, one color pro was asked about alternatives to the LBD, for those who don’t look great in black. She recommended looking for your usual best colors, but in darker shades. Case in point: This image consultant
looks wonderful in a dark copper, and she says she’s what she looks for when she’s shopping for a dressy occasion. Here she is:
See how even the gray she is wearing has a coppery sheen to it? That color repeat her hair color — and it’s one she wore beautifully through the four days of the conference.
So … what are YOUR color challenges? Are there colors you want to wear but feel you can’t? Have you learned useful tricks for incorporating your “wrong” colors into your wardrobe? Do you respond emotionally to your best colors — or do they leave you cold? Leave a comment and tell me all about it — I love color and want to know what you think about it!