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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hi everyone! I'll be out of town some this week, so no blog this Friday- but I'll be back with a blog next Friday! Have a great rest of the week!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Colorful Perspective

P= primary, S= secondary, T= tertiary. 
"Colors must fit together as pieces in a puzzle or cogs in a wheel." ~Hans Hofmann 

My friend suggested a topic for my blog- and it's a good one, especially seeing as how I took a course in makeup artistry recently.  She's says she's looking for suggestions about how to pick makeup colors in relation to the colors in your clothes.

Before we get started, here's a rather interesting and important fact; years ago during a department store makeup application I learned that just because you wear a certain 'family' of colors in clothing doesn't mean that's the family of color for your makeup.  I had been thinking that I just didn't look good in makeup any more- turned out I was just wearing the wrong colors. In terms of clothes, I wear cool muted colors, but that day I learned that my makeup needs to be muted and neutral/warm.  One of my best lipsticks is a pale, coppery color. If I were to put on a dress in this color I'd probably look sick.  Put me in a slate blue dress and I look great.  Put me in a blue-based pink lipstick and I look dead. Now, if I put on the slate blue dress with the pale coppery lipstick- or even a warm pink- I look my very best. Go figure.  I learned in my makeup artistry class that the majority of people have olive undertones, so don't be surprised if you need neutral or warm colors. Cool, or as they say in makeup, 'pinky-beige' is fairly rare.  If you don't live near me and thus can't hire me for a makeup application, then go to a few makeup counters and ask for makeup applications, and discuss whether you need warm (olive,) cool (pinky-beige,) or perhaps like me, olive/neutral.  Or hire a local makeup artist. Or just do some experimentation for yourself. So, now on to the business of combining your colors….

In makeup artistry school we were taught to use the standard artists color wheel to determine visually interesting combinations- and it works beautifully for our purposes here, too.

First, a little primer on color: as you may know, the three primary colors are red, blue and yellow.   There are 3 secondary colors, which are two primary colors mixed- red plus blue makes violet, red plus yellow makes orange, blue plus yellow makes green. There are 6 tertiary colors- they are a secondary color mixed with a primary- red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet. (See illustration above.)

Another important point- remember that for many colors there are warm and cool versions- so when I use 'violet dress' as an example, this assumes you would choose a warm or cool version to fit your needs.  Green, red, purple- all these have the potential for both warm and cool versions. There are even fairly cool versions of yellow. And also, my examples assume you've chosen the proper intensity or brightness for your coloring. Ok. Moving on.

If you look at the color wheel (less than $5 at your local art store) you'll see there are different combinations for 'harmonious color schemes.' One is complimentary, or colors that are opposite on the color wheel- such as violet is opposite to yellow.  Then there's split complimentary- lets take violet again-  for split complimentary we use the two colors on either side of the opposite or complimentary color- in this case, as the opposite is yellow, the two on either side are yellow-orange and yellow-green. There's also the triad- three colors on the color wheel that form a triangle- or the two colors 1 farther out from the split complimentary- again with the violet, this would be violet, green and orange.  See? it makes a triangle. 

In makeup class we were taught that we can choose from these different combinations to have a more visually interesting outcome.  This can also be done with your clothing- say you're wearing a green top- you can choose a purple eyeshadow and a coppery lipstick.  This would be your classic triad combination. (If copper isn't your color then a nude or other very muted lipstick that won't interfere with your color scheme. Or if you're into it, a purple lipstick.)  Or you could choose a complimentary scheme- red-orange top with a blue-green eyeshadow. If it's right for you, also a red-ornage lip color. Personally I like to be careful with blue or green shadows if you have blue or green eyes- I like to be sure the color you choose is duller, or more muted than your eye color, or you risk the eyeshadow 'wearing' your eyes- making your eye color look 'dull' by comparison.  Done wrong, all you see is the eyeshadow. Done right, it can be very, very pretty.  

Another option is an 'analogous' combination- between 2 and 5 colors right next to each other on the color wheel.  And lastly, there is the monochromatic option- the same color- possibly varied with tint, tone and shade, and different textures. This can be a very sophisticated look.

Also- remember that these colors can be as bright or muted as suits your coloring and taste.  The differences can be very subtle, but they'll still be effective. 

Happy Dressing!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Parking in the Validated Zone

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. ~Dr. Seuss

The other day I read something in a blog that struck me as being worthy of more thought- who you are isn't defined by what you wear, rather what you wear should be defined by who you are. The blog was written by a woman who was concerned about how to speak to little girls in such a way as to affirm them beyond the traditional comments on their appearance. And it's a good point, too- little girls are all too often complimented on their appearance vs their intelligence, skills or abilities. Being judged on your outside ignores the obviously more important part- who you are as a person.  And as we only have so much control over what we look like, if we buy into being judged by appearance we give the power of 'validation' to others rather than keeping this important tool for ourselves. 

Yet we are a visual species, and can't help but notice that which is interesting to us visually while 'not seeing' that which isn't interesting to us visually.  We are attracted to what we are attracted to, and cannot help that.  In other words, we judge by appearances- this is our 'first impression,' and it's pretty much automatic. So what to do about this conundrum? If you know what your best colors and design lines are (by hiring me, of course) and put that knowledge together with what you love, and what you want your appearance to say about you, then you'll be attractive, no matter what.  There's just something very attractive about a person who feels good about themselves. There's a certain 'sparkle' to them.

Take a room full of people- look at the ones who are basing their appearance on what pleases others; they may be attractive- they may have picked the 'right' clothes- it may make the 'right' status and taste statement;  lets say they also know what looks good on them. They may even have started out with the advantage of being slim and having good bone structure. There are certain margins that apply when dressing to please others- margins of 'accepted' good taste, margins that are generally accepted as defining 'good looking,' and they stay within them.  They can't risk losing that external validation.

However. There's probably not going to be much room for self expression- no individuality allowed here. Nothing too interesting, please….

Who do you think is going to capture your attention more in that room full of people- the bland and pretty people, or the ones who not only know what flatters them, but take it a step further and have the courage to express themselves? The ones who stand out? The ones who show a decidedly more interesting personality, a streak of independence? Which do you think you'll have a more interesting conversation with? A more fun friendship with?  Self validation has many rewards, and this is one of them.

Interesting and unique beats bland and pretty any day of the week. 

Happy Dressing!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mirror, Mirror.....

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. ~Confucius 

There are three types of self image- how you see yourself, how others see you, and how you imagine others see you. (Clever me, I got that from Wikipedia.) All three are important for many reasons. 

How we see ourself is important because we need to have a realistic idea of what our physical image is saying about us.  It's not unusual to have an outdated self image- one example is the image left over from the 'glory days' of high school or college… we fail to notice that we've changed in lots of little ways. Perhaps the fear is that to admit these changes means to admit we've gotten older, less attractive. This is a totally absurd, unnecessary trap to fall into.  Truth is, if you're trying to dress in clothes that don't suit you as you are now, then you simply aren't going to look your best. Better to go for looking good than looking young. Trust me- you'll wind up looking younger if you make a point of looking your best as you are now. Or better to go for looking good rather than looking 'smaller.' Or taller. Or whatever. In short, let go of that outdated, or unrealistic image in your head and accept reality- make peace with it and work with what you've got. Appreciate and respect what you've got, and thoroughly enjoy it. For one thing, I can pretty much guarantee NO ONE ELSE is as critical as we are of ourselves. More importantly, life is just too short to spend being unhappy about things you can't change.

How others see you is important for lots of reasons.  If you don't put any effort at all into your appearance, and essentially just put clothes on to cover your body (the 'whatever fits and is clean' mentality)  then you risk becoming 'invisible.'  You not only miss the opportunity to express 'who you are' but also people just aren't as likely to notice you. No, really- literally, people are more likely not to see you. You risk saying (non-verbally) that you don't have much respect for yourself, and/or that you're not a very interesting person. And we know that just isn't true, right?? That could translate to potential missed opportunities- you may be less likely to get that job, that new client, make friends with people who you'd enjoy knowing, getting a date, etc.  Who knows all the potential negatives to not paying attention to your appearance.

How you imagine others see you- ok, now it gets trickier.  If I feel like I look good, if I feel like I'll make a good impression, then I have more confidence.  I have a wee extra spring in my step. Maybe that little bit of extra confidence helps me take some positive risks I wouldn't have otherwise. If I feel I'm showing my 'best' self off, then psychologically I've given myself a bit more of an edge out in 'the big bad world.' And everybody needs that from time to time.

Put your crazy-best, most good looking, terribly interesting sexy-beast self out there. Make sure everyone who crosses your path can see your particular beauty. Work it for all it's worth, your whole life. What have you got to lose?

Happy Dressing!