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Friday, November 9, 2012

My Favorite Subject Again-Color

“It is important to be chic.” Roberto Cavalli

I guess that's what I mean when I say you should wear colors and design lines that flatter you, right? Mr. Cavalli says it more eloquently than I do. Anyway, the next logical step after last weeks blog about foundation would be about adding color....

Remember when you determined first shade and then undertone for your foundation color? You may have found that the undertone that works for your foundation is 'warm,' (which also means the colors you'll wear in terms of makeup will be warm) and yet you know you need to wear 'cool' colors in your clothing.  Or vice versa.  No, you've not made a mistake- and this isn't unusual. Yes, this means you won't exactly 'match' your makeup colors with your clothing colors, (as in matching red lipstick with red dress) but it may mean you'll create even more interesting combinations because you may have to get more creative.  Or maybe your makeup and clothing are in the same family- if so, there's still good information here on getting creative. 

I've suggested this before: if you haven't already, then go to your local art supply store and get yourself a color wheel. In my July 20, 'Colorful Perspective' blog I wrote about using your color wheel to choose makeup colors to wear with your clothing, or just how to combine colors for makeup. You can go to look at this blog to review or learn about different, classic color combinations- complimentary, split complimentary, and triad. Don't forget you can always combine one color with neutrals, as well. (But don't forget to pay attention to whether these neutrals are 'warm' or 'cool.') You can stick with different versions of one color…this is one way to deal with wearing opposite 'families' of makeup vs. clothing; a dress in a cool red, and a lipstick in a warm red, for example. I have this green dress I love; I look at the color wheel, and the split complimentary combination for that is green, red-orange and red-violet. I wear a pale, coppery lipstick (red-orange) and coppery-bronzy and brown eyeshadow (still in the red-orange family, the brown is a warm neutral) and often add in a warm, plum purple eyeliner (there's your red-violet.) I may skip the purple- you don't have to use all the colors in the split complimentary or triadic, just use it as a general guide.  Now, remember- with each color there are often very subtle variations that mean the difference between 'cool' and 'warm.' This green dress is a deep, cool forest green. And it's beautiful with the pale, warm copper. But let's say I wear warm clothes and cool makeup; I could make the dress a deep, warm green, and the lipstick a cool red-violet and probably skip the red orange altogether.  Or do a red-orange dress with the cool red-violet lipstick and a deep green and purple (from the red-violet) eye makeup combination…you get the idea. Work that color wheel!  If you do you'll find you come up with combinations you might not have thought of before that are really quite beautiful. One thing I've found is that I find combinations that I stick with- the 'copper' one, for example. I also like red lips and a neutral/pale brown eye makeup. (That's actually a standard classic.) Then there's my (warm) pink lip with gold/copper eye makeup, purple eye makeup with copper lip, and so on…and because I know my best clothing colors, and have chosen a small handful of these colors to stick with within my wardrobe, it's easy to decide which makeup 'palette' to wear with a given outfit. 

Ok, last notations here; you know how I'm always going on about how much contrast and intensity you should be wearing in your clothes? Well, same goes for makeup. Generally speaking, that is. (More on that later.) 

Whether you wear cool or warm clothes and cool or warm makeup- across the board, you have to stick with the contrast and intensity in your coloring or you won't look your very best.  If you have a big difference in how light or dark your hair, eyes and skin are, then you're high contrast. (Platinum hair,  black eyes and skin, or black hair, pale blue eyes and alabaster skin, for example.) If you have very little difference, then you're low contrast. (pale blond with alabaster skin and light eyes, or black hair, dark skin and eyes.) Whatever your contrast is, that's pretty much what your clothing and makeup should also be. Meaning, if you're low contrast, don't wear a dress with a bold, geometric black and white pattern. If you're high contrast, don't wear a pale blue, tiny, calico pattern.  If you are high contrast and wear too little contrast, you make yourself look drab. If you're low contrast and wear too much contrast, your clothes and makeup will wear you.  Now: intensity- however bright your coloring is is also how bright your clothing and makeup should be. No brighter (again, in general) or it'll wear you. Or- too dull and you again make yourself look drab.  When it comes to your makeup, you'll see right away if a color is too 'sharp' for you, or is too 'dull.' If it's too sharp (too intense) it will look harsh on you. If it's dull (too muted) it may almost be invisible on you. 

The preceding are all general rules; now lets get down to breaking those rules. Lets say you have low contrast/low intensity coloring, and yet you love to wear brilliant red lipstick every day. You have to find a lipstick that's firmly in the proper 'family' (warm or cool) for you, and in my experience, it has to be exactly bright enough and no brighter. Keep in mind that what looks bright on someone with muted coloring might be verging on muted for someone with high contrast coloring. And you may find you need to experiment fairly extensively with eye makeup - you may need to stick with pretty neutral, understated eye makeup, or you may have to do a black (or close to) eyeliner and heavier mascara to pull the whole look off. Either way, it's going to be a 'stronger' look in terms of makeup.  But that's the great thing about makeup- you can create illusions and make adjustments to what nature provided you with.  You can express your love of a more glamorous, femme-fatal look, or create an illusory 'no-makeup' makeup look. You can sometimes use your makeup to help you wear a color or look in clothing that you might not be able to without makeup. If you're clever about it you can make yourself look like you have more contrast in your coloring, push the 'intensity' of your natural coloring, and so on. 

That's the beauty of makeup. 

And on that note- I'm going to take a little break from my blog for the next few weeks for the holidays- I'll be back the first week of January….:-)

Happy Dressing!