Before we can even begin to consider a huge closet clean out we must be environmentally responsible and work though analysing our style to see why we are at odds with our current closet contents. This will take quite some time but is a really fun and exciting process and something I have been personally working with throughout the entire 365 day Wardrobe Workout challenge.
You all know my personal obsession with the wonderful-magical-goddess-of-closets Anuschka from Into Mind. I cannot speak highly enough of her work and her book Personal Style and the Perfect Wardrobe is my bible. However, I am not in a monogamous relationship with Into Mind and have branched out to many other personal styling options that I would like to share with you. Many of these reference guides are ‘vintage’ but like they always say ‘they don’t make ‘um like they used to’. Many of the modern reference guides are too directed at telling you what to wear or what not to wear rather than cultivating personal style.
Today we will look at the 1980 classic Colour Me Beautiful by Carole Jackson. I found this copy in a thrift store and have found some of the knowledge it imparts to be pretty useful.
The basis of the style analysis and tips is ‘finding your colours’ and is broken down into the four seasons. As this book was one of the founders of colour analysis some of the methodology has changed since and the analysis has been broken down further. Using Jackson’s analysis I have identified myself (with assistance from my better half) as a ‘Summer’ colour way. However, using some more updated tools including the Cardigian Empire website (which you can now look at) this was broken down further to identify as a Soft Summer. Being a summer, or a soft summer means that, according to the theory, I will look best wearing the soft summer colour pallet as the colours will best flatter my complexion.
After colour identification Colour Me Beautiful continues on to show you how to understand the use of your colour pallet through an analysis of each season. Summers are soft feminine pastel and neutrals women, autumns are warm and can wear most colours well except blues, springs are complex folk who need to take care shopping only clear, warm and crisp colours, while winter women are the rulers of the colour black and look best in clear colours and sharp contrasts.
From this point Colour Me Beautiful extends beyond the idea of colour and starts to head into analysing your clothing personality (romantic, sporty, classic, ingenue or dramatic), to looking at body shape and clothing proportion, to hair and makeup, putting it all together, and creating wardrobe plans.
Colour analysis, while helpful and definitely a great starting point, isn’t necessarily the right tool for everyone. While yes, perhaps summers like myself do look good in pastels, pastels may not work for my lifestyle. Anyone who has worn a pastel shirt to work in a garden all day would likely agree this may no be the wisest choice. So while the overall goal of ‘colour me beautiful’ is getting you in the ‘right’ colours here are the takeaway points I have found most useful.
1. Colour analysis does makes a difference but you don’t have to marry it.
Jackson states that ‘everyone is born with an inclination to certain colours’ and that the colour we are drawn to as children are usually the ones that suit us best and that ‘by the time we grow up we have lost a portion of that personal colour sense’ due to a bombardment of advertising and trends. When I was growing up my favourite colour was blue. This changed over the years but I have always come back to blue in my wardrobe and it turns out that blue is a staple colour for the summer pallet. While wearing ‘your’ colours can lead to compliments it is best to keep in mind that you are the one who has to wear them. I personally know that there is no chance of me ever having a closet based around pastel pink, blue and yellow as it doesn’t suit my personality or lifestyle. Use the colours that suit your personality and season to their advantage and don’t feel your need to be a slave to colour. And sorry Carole, you will have to pry the black clothing in my closet out of my cold dead hands, I don’t care if it ‘only suits winter colourings’ I like it!
2. Assess what works best.
The chapter titled ‘your clothing personality’ is very weak and in my opinion a bit of a cop out. It classifies each person into a personality category loosely based on their season then mostly based on facial features, height and bone structure. Then using these you fit in a category. This give little regard to your actual personality and is virtually impossible to determine from the weak guidelines. However, this section does recommend that you take time to categorise your own best look using a list you can tick what clothing styles suit you best and start to get an overall feel for what looks good on you. This is ALWAYS a good idea. Take the time to analyse your own closet and scour online to create your own list of styles that suit you best. This can be a handy reference when sorting out what you do and don’t like about items you already own and a great tool for future purchases.
3. Fashion and Style.
Some of the best advice from this whole book is:
‘Fashion is only as good as it looks on you. Some women seem to be able to wear the latest lines every year, but most of us cannot’
From here Jackson breaks this down into advice on proportions. This is an idea that is so often overlooked but so brutally important in the ‘make or break’ decision of buying a new garment and includes some points I had never ever thought of. Such as face shape and neck size and neckline choices and shoulder shape and necklines. She heads on to look at arm length, bust size, waist size, hip size, bottom shape, thighs, legs, height and weight, and what you should look for in a garment. These seventeen pages make Colour Me Beautiful an essential read. While I can’t give you all the info here without breaching copyright I can point you in the direction of some great resources on proportions (here, here, and here) but I haven’t found anything online that is as useful as the book itself.
4. Make me up!
Finding the right makeup. Some of us are great at it. Some of us suck. I’m in the latter category. Having headed out for advice from trained artists on several occasions I have sometimes returned home confused and unhappy. After reading this book I have worked out why. My colouring is borderline between a soft Summer and a soft Autumn. Which is a world of difference in makeup land! Summer is a cool base and autumn is a warm one. Having previously bought ‘warm’ colours at the advice of those who assessed me as warm I know they make me look sallow.
Even if you can’t work out specifically what season you are assessing if you are a warm or cool base will help with makeup choices. To do this drape a cream piece of fabric around your shoulders and look at yourself in natural light, then do the same with a pure white one. Whatever one looks better (ie: you don’t look wrinkly, saggy and dead) will determine whether you are cool (the white looked better) or warm (the cream looked better). This will make makeup shopping so much easier! As far as the rest of the makeup stuff goes head to a professional or finish your colour analysis and use the swatches as a guide. Colour me beautiful has a pretty decent makeup guide that is worth a read, but as with all ‘vintage’ books there are some things that are a little dubious, for example ‘rouge gives eternal youth’. This coming from a book printed at the beginning of the eighties, the decade of rouge overdose, are best overlooked.
5. Hair Advice.
Short sharp and to the point. When Jackson is asked what colour people should dye their hair she responds with ‘nature usually does it right’. Excellent eco friendly and cost effective advice! However, the once season that get the go ahead with colouring their head is summers like me, who have mousey hair that can come to life with a few hi-lights.
6. Creating a wardrobe that works.
Jackson is spot on when she suggests that having a wardrobe based around colours makes coordinating a breeze. If you were to follow her advice and stuck to your specific colour pallet (or an even more specific update version of this advice) you could pick pretty much anything from your closet and know it will go together. However, as we are focused on a sustainable and eco friendly approach to updating your closet, throwing out things that aren’t in your colour pallet that you love to wear isn’t the best option. Her advice (somewhat similar to the INTO MIND approach) on tackling your closet is to evaluate your lifestyle, and to start with a few good basics and keep it simple. For us, this means working with what you have (dying or altering whatever doesn’t quite work) then slowly replacing things that get worn out with sustainable and ethical options that suit your colouring, body shape and personality.
7. The survival wardrobe.
This is the most basic possible wardrobe you could live off, the skeleton of your closet. Jackson goes on to list ‘basic survival wardrobe items’ but like any ‘must have’ list this is never going to fit all lifestyles. Living in the subtropics most of these lists include things I don’t need. However you can always google ‘essentials’ for a climate similar to yours and use your lifestyle analysis to work out what is important. Again, INTO MIND has some great tools for this.
8. How to shop and stay sane
Jackson provides fabulous advice on the dos and don’ts of shopping that we can all use.
- Shop with your colours, and only look at items in your colours– I say use your colours as a guide but keep in mind that if there is a colour you love that isn’t on your list don’t banish it for the sake of a book. You are an adult, you can do as you please.
- Be aware of the fashion industries colour cycles. Be open minded about which colours you will buy: This is a great tip for environmentalists. Fashion cycles can be a trap. Just because a colour is in fashion doesn’t mean it will look any good. That being said, if you are drawn to something and its a colour you don’t usually wear check out your colour analysis and if it suits your season and would match some items in your existing closet it may be worth a try!
- Learn to say ‘No’: So important. The sales assistant will not cry if you say no, no matter how helpful they have been. You can say no. It’s very environmentally friendly to do so! Saying no means you are fighting that consumer urge to buy stuff that might not be exactly what you want or need. You can also say no to advice. For example, books that tell you not to wear black. 🙂
- Find a sales person who is your season: This advice is ok, but I suggest finding a celebrity who ‘looks like you’ colouring wise. Mine is Kerri Russell. Since finding out I am a soft summer she was my closest match and I have been e-stalking her since working out what she looks good in. Use Pinterest to pin outfit they have worn that you like the colour combos of, this makes a great reference while shopping.
- Don’t shop with a friend unless they understand your season: While probably great advice, this isn’t going to make your ‘unenlightened to the world of colour analysis’ buddies very happy. Take them shopping and ignore them if they tell you to buy things that you know don’t suit you. Then you can keep your friends and stay colour savvy. Easy. Don’t follow Jackson’s suggestion and start preaching about colours to friends who don’t want to hear, you will just annoy them. Wait until they ask why you are looking so darn gorgeous all the time and then tell them about colour analysis.
- Don’t buy impulsively: Doesn’t need any further explanation. Just don’t do it. It’s a waste of money, time and will result in unwanted purchases. Stores are designed to make you buy stuff that you don’t need. Go in with a game plan and stick to it.
- Do spend the most money on clothes you wear the most: Having spent a year ‘shopping my closet’ with virtually no problems with things falling apart I am a preacher for buying quality. The more you wear it the more likely it will be to cop a serous beating. Invest in quality denim, jackets, shoes, handbags and jewellery. These are key pieces that get rotated less. Add a bunch of different tops and scarves to this mix and no-one will realise you are basically wearing the same thing every day. In case you hadn’t realised I pretty much spent a year in the same pair of shorts and tee or tank with different accessories….
So there you have it. Colour Me Beautiful in a nutshell. As you can see from the review above Jackson has really aimed the publication at driving home the message of ‘wear your colours’ but the book is far stronger as a guide to proportion and wardrobe planning than it is colour analysis. This is due to the age of the publication and recent advances in colour analysis. Highly recommend giving colour analysis a go as it will definitely help you assess what will work, but as with any advice, use your critical thinking before diving in head first and basing your life around a set of fabric swatches. Before we can even begin to consider a clean out there we must be environmentally responsible and work though analysing our style to see why we are at odds with our current closet contents. This will take quite some time but is a really fun and exciting process and something I have been personally working with throughout the entire 365 day Wardrobe Workout challenge.
The photos above are the result of a Spell Designs Christmas gift-card and a brave decision to ‘be open minded about the colours you will buy’. Deciding to branch out ‘shop my colours’ I bought a turquoise kimono and purple jumpsuit, two colours I would NEVER usually look at. I nervously awaited their arrival and held my breath while trying them on. To my surprise the purple looked incredible. Having worn it out twice already and receiving many compliments I feel like it was a great decision. I even looked good on a sweaty humid evening in fluorescent lighting, that NEVER happens. The turquoise kimono looks good. Hubby mentioned that it doesn’t work with my ombre hair and that it would look stunning with my natural colour. This comment took me back a little as it was like the had read the book himself. Jackson mentions that summers wearing their ‘correct colours’ won’t have ‘mousey’ looking natural hair. Overall I feel that we correctly assessed my colouring and I will take on board the idea of dressing for my ‘season’ but I am still not planing to give up my addiction to black. 🙂
Have you ever dabbled in colour analysis? Comments below please!!! We love hearing about your experiences.