"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!