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Friday, January 31, 2014


"Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways." ~Oscar Wilde

So this week I'm reviewing 'color'- how I determine a clients best color, and I hope I've made it so that you can do this for yourself…

The first thing to determine about your colors is what color 'family' you belong to.  Many people already know this- they know if they look better in warm or cool colors. If you don't know, then here's what you do; find large pieces of paper or cloth in bright orange and bright, clear blue and hold them up in front of yourself, right up under your chin, in front of a mirror. This is best done in daylight, but my guess is there's a good chance that even in bad bathroom lighting you'll still be able to tell. One will look decidedly better than the other. For most people, one color will look at least 'ok' if not great, and the other color will make you look just awful. There's one possible exception- if you have been fairly ill, or bright colors look awful on you no matter which family you belong to, then this might not work. If you just can't tell, then find 'muted' versions of orange and blue. The orange needs to be orange, and the blue still needs to be a clear, cool blue- they should just be much 'softer.' Whichever method you wind up using, wait a day and check again. Just to be sure.  

Which brings me to the next part. Now that you know if you wear 'cool' colors or 'warm' colors best, you have to determine if you look better in bright or muted colors. If you had to use the second method to find your color family, then you already know you'll look your best in muted colors, so you can skip this. If you were able to get your answer using the bright colors, then you need to find a 'soft' version of the one you chose. You may be surprised to find you look better in the soft version. The only way to really fully understand this is to see it for yourself, on yourself rather than just have someone tell you - that's why I take pictures and put them in a notebook for my client. So when they start mooning over some garment in the wrong color family/intensity, they can have a look at their notebook for a dose of reality; it's great to love a color, but you should only wear color that loves you back by making you look your best.

Now on to the last component of the color puzzle- contrast. How much contrast will look best on you depends entirely on how much contrast is in your coloring. If you don't know much about contrast, head down to your local art store and get a 'value scale.' On this scale you'll see 10 little squares ranging from white, at 0,  to black, at 10, and 9 shades of gray in between. Hold this scale up to your hair, and note which shade most closely resembles how light or dark your hair is. Next hold the scale up to your skin, and make a note of where your skin falls on this scale, and lastly, your eye color. compare the numbers- if there's a range of 6 or more, you're high contrast. If it's 4 or 5, you're medium contrast. Anything less is low contrast. Whenever you get dressed, hold up the value scale to each garment- in any outfit you put on,  your clothes should have about the same range of contrast as your coloring. That will make you look your very best. If you have high contrast, you need to wear high contrast- like black and white, for example. If you have low contrast in your coloring, you'll do better in a soft pastel and white. You can do this with the different garments, or in a print.  If you wear too much or too little contrast for your coloring then you risk looking washed out, or 'flat.' When you wear the right contrast, your coloring will sparkle. 

Next week: on to a recap of Design Lines!

Happy Dressing!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Hit the Reset Button

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal."~ Hanna More

I'm so very predictable. It's January, so I'm in a tizzy of organization. This year it's taken the form of me creating a morning schedule for myself so I can get more done. Namely, promoting my business. In view of this I'm devoting this blog to a review of what exactly I do for my clients, and why it works. 

There are 3 distinct areas that I work with- first, color. Using photographs I do an analysis of which color family works on my client; warm or cool. Next we see the proper intensity- how bright or muted those colors should be. Lastly, I use the photos to determine how much contrast my client should ideally wear. When you wear colors that don't  flatter your skin tone you wind up looking sort of 'unhealthy.' If you wear the wrong intensity or contrast level you usually look washed out. Proper color family, intensity and contrast level combines to make my client look the absolute healthiest that they can- and that's what looks good.

Next we take a photo of my clients figure, and I do a brief analysis of what design lines work on said figure. There are hundreds of books (that I've found so far) that tell you what works on various 'types' of figures- IMO, this approach has some serious limitations. It fails to take into account how all your various proportions relate to one another- and how your various bits and parts relate to each other is the most important factor in how you're going to look in any design. That's why I do a personalized analysis.

The last part is all about developing personal style. We've all got preferences and favorites, so it's a matter of pulling them into your wardrobe, with respect to what works with your color family, intensity, contrast and design lines.  I help my client get started on this process, but truth is it's an ongoing process- which is a great thing. As I'm fond of pointing out, life is full of disappointments, unpleasantness and limitations placed on us by various circumstances. One area of life where we have opportunity for self expression is through how we dress. Why not take advantage of it?

Next week I'll review color in a little more depth, the week after design lines, and the week after that, I'll go over developing personal style. 

Happy Dressing!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Secret Crushes

“Good resolutions are like babies crying in church. They should be carried out immediately.”~Charles M. Sheldon

So it's a new year- how about one, small new goal?

You know that thing you could NEVER bring yourself to wear? But that you've secretly loved all your life? That style that's just too, too different for you- maybe a color that's too bold- or jewelry that others would think was too ostentatious for you…

Well, remember that life isn't a dress rehearsal, and truth is you don't have much to lose. How about this year you make it a goal to go 'there.' Pick that thing you've secretly loved and make it work for you. Maybe you'll feel silly and awkward at first, but that's a small price to pay to have something you've always wanted, right? A little effort and change, and you have a little bit more happiness for the rest of your life.

Maybe it's a style that you love but seems to you to require a certain level of confidence you've never had with clothes. Or maybe you think the design lines wouldn't work on your figure. If there's just no way to make the design work on you, then look at what it is about the style that you like- what does it convey that appeals to you? How can you 'get' that in design lines that work for you? Be willing to experiment. And then experiment some more.

Maybe it's a color that you secretly lust after. Maybe you're known for your conservative style but secretly love vivid, brilliant purple. Yet you have nothing that's vivid, brilliant purple because…whatever. It doesn't matter why. What matters is that life is too short to deny yourself such a simple avenue of self expression. So, after you've found the version of the beloved color that's in your color family- cool or warm- and in your proper intensity- bright or muted- you can find a way to wear it. If you feel it's not an appropriate color to wear to work, maybe wear purple 'underthings.' And maybe you wear nothing but that perfect purple all weekend, and every time you go out in the evening. Again, whatever. However you can work it, and however it makes you happy.

Same thing with the jewelry- start slow, don't invest a lot until you know if you really do like it- and like it on you, and if all goes well, change your attitude or self image enough so that you can make it work. 

The point is to expand your horizons- in terms of your wardrobe- for the new year. It may take time to figure out how to make it work, and that's fine. If you have to do lots of window shopping first, make pinterest boards and so on, that's good. It's all fun work, and in the end, you may find you're able to add something you've always loved to your wardrobe. 

Happy Dressing!

Friday, January 10, 2014

New Year, New Plan

"I am definitely going to take a course on time management... just as soon as I can work it into my schedule."~Louis E. Boone

Like many, at the beginning of January I get all excited about goals, potential and possibilities for the coming year. 

So the first weekend after New years I made my calendar for the coming year. Last year I read a book called 'Getting Things Done,' by David Allen. Though geared toward the corporate manager, I found much that was helpful to incorporate into my little repertoire of organizational tools. Recently I came across a different style of self-organization- by Leonie Dawson. I'd describe David Allen's approach as being 'left brain,' and Leonie Dawson's as being 'right brained-' more organic as opposed to Allen's linear. Seems to me the things that help us humans stay on top of all our stuff are all sorta similar; I think how it's packaged determines whether or not it makes sense to each of us. I found that each approach helped me understand the other better, if that makes sense.

Last year I made a very pretty little notebook dedicated to planning my wardrobe out a week in advance. I even blogged about it. Was convinced it would work. Pfft. It worked for all of a week. After reading 'Getting Things Done' I had started doing a 'weekly review'; you go over your master list of things to do and plot out what you want to get done in the coming week, among other things. My idea was to do my wardrobe planning at the same time; great idea, but for some reason I never seemed to remember to do it at the time. I guess I never managed to make it part of the routine. Between filling out my son's school schedule on the big calendar, meal planning, grocery-list making, plotting out what to accomplish business-wise, oddly enough the pretty little gold wardrobe-planning notebook just got lost in the shuffle. Most of the time, even if I'd remembered, I'd run out of time. 

This year I'm trying something new. In my 'week at a glance' I've made a small section just for wardrobe for each day. As much as I like planning it out the night before, I'm thinking that planning a week in advance is even better. Some evenings I run out of time or just forget to lay out tomorrows ensemble, and then I have to rush in the morning to get myself together. Which makes me feel frazzled. Not good. With doing it a week ahead I should be able to make sure that everything as it should be well in advance of needing it.

With all that I'd like to accomplish this year it's important that I give myself the the best chance at succeeding- which includes looking my best, of course.

We'll see if and how this works…

Happy New Year, and 
Happy Dressing!