Who’s Afraid of Big Bad . . . Color?

I absolutely love color in my home, a vintage cottage that we’ve painted and decorated in warm colors:

I love our gardens too:

I am a sucker for a colorful purse and I adore pretty earrings, bracelets and pendants. I have red shoes, olive shoes and even checked flats. My signature lipstick is Rose Velvet, not Nude.

But when I posted  that I was chicken to wear a pretty turquoise blouse, Terri and Paula pointed out that we don’t need to fear colors in our clothing! Thank you, ladies, you got me thinking.

For certain, I like fairly muted/neutral bottoms. For me that means skirts or jeans, as I don’t often wear trousers. I have skirts in black, black, black, navy, dark brown, grey and my favorite, dark denim. Outerwear and toppers are almost all neutrals: denim jacket, work blazers in ivory, navy, black and grey. Cardis in ivory, navy, grey.

I like to mix up the cuts and fabrics of all the above; trust me you’ll never mistake me for a Brooks Brothers catalog! For example, I love my long knit black skirt and I love my crisp brown corduroy skirt. I have a soft navy velvet blazer that I adore.

Sooooo not me, even though I love my neutrals!

Next to my face, I have preferred subtle neutrals. I’m very pale-skinned, with light hair (enhanced by modern science), and light eyes. I think I look washed out in brights, and I don’t care for pastels. Pastel tops on me look too juvenile or (gasp!) aging. Busy prints near my face are definitely too distracting, although in a low neckline I think they look OK. The only colors I wear close to my face are olive and a shade of purple, as both seem to complement my green eyes nicely.

I had my “seasons” done about 25 years(!) ago, and the consultant couldn’t decide if I was a “summer” or a “winter”. Definitely a “cool” they said. I’m still a little skeptical about the whole seasons thing though, because olive is truly one of my best colors and it’s allegedly warm. I also look good in black, which is not supposed to work on pale blonds. Anyway!

I am not so sure about this . . .

I am mostly content with my existing wardrobe colors, and at the same time I have committed to stretch myself. So I think I’ll add some color to my tops, starting with inexpensive tees this summer. It will be a fun experiment, and whatever I don’t love can go to the Humane Society thrift. Because the only firm wardrobe rule for me is : Wear (Only) What You Love!

I’d like to hear how you have experimented with adding color, or if you (like Paula) already rely on brights to help make your fashion statements. Did you stick your toes in the water or plunge right in?

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  1. Hi Patti: Sorry so late checking back. I think the book helped me, but not by solving all my color questions forever! But it divided those with reddish hair into 2 groups, not just lumping them together in "Autumn." That to me was helpful. I felt more resonance as I viewed all of the colors that were shown for my group. (Which was warm and soft, I think, rather than warm and clear).

    But I still find it challenging. No matter how many hues they show in the book, I'll find colors in real life that seem close but are subtly different. And then I can't tell if they have the same essential qualities or not. I also occasionally find that surprising colors work or don't work, which makes me wonder again if I've typed myself wrong. But I don't think I have…..

  2. Terri – from your pictures, I can definitely see that you would wear the cool colors well, and I so agree about our natural color softening over time. Keeps things interesting : >

    Angie – good thinking. Certain colors and patterns always draw me in when I'm buying curtains, etc, that "speak to my heart". Many prints from Anthropologie capture my senses.

  3. I think you should play with color a bit this summer.There are so many hues of a color that it's impossible not to find one that looks great on you.A doog trick is to buy a few scarves in patterns and colors that speak to your heart and study their colors to see what fits youe skin tone.

  4. I was identified as a "winter" when I had my colors done–25 years ago. I wonder though if the emphasis on bold color may have shifted slightly as my hair color goes grey. I have been experimenting with color this year and I always get compliments on turquoise when I wear it. Look forward to seeing/hearing about your experiments. But, like you, I am most comfortable with neutrals.

  5. Anne – I have browsed through that book, and did find it helpful. I think I liked the "soft summer" colors the best. Did you find that it helped you at all?

    Hi Paula – yes, I get compliments when I wear green — that *is* a good question to start with. Thanks for your feedback, and have a colorful day!

  6. I was a "Color me Beautiful" consultant for a while and understood their philosophy. I'm glad to see they have made it more sophisticated as color can be complicated.
    Let me ask you, do people compliment you more when you wear a certain color? (a typical CMB ?)
    And definatly wear only what you love! But try something new too–and see if you may love that too!

  7. LOL, I often joke about my fear of color, so I hear you. Try playing around, though. Because once you find a vibrant color you like, it's WONDERFUL. And yes, many color systems seem too limiting to me. Colors have all kinds of complexity — undertones, and whatnot — so I can truly never know what works until I wear it.

    I did browse the latest "Color Me Beautiful" book at the bookstore, and they've changed it up. They've moved away from seasons, and are taking many more factors into account now. You might want to take a look. (I think it's called "Color Me Confident)." Good luck!

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