Morning duck billed platypodes! Some interesting facts about platypadillos – there is no universally accepted plural form, and saying platypi is a hatchet job of inappropriate Latin endings on Greek words. Also, Platypodes (the technically correct plural Greek form, according to Wikipedia) are one of the few venomous mammals. And here I thought that it was only looks they had in common with Lucy the hound!
Science lesson over, let’s get down to business. Spurred on by my love of lists and fascination with capsule wardrobes, I have been plotting a ‘classic style’ wardrobe checklist. You know. One trench, one cashmere sweater, one men’s white shirt… all that stuff. You DO know, don’t you? Something along these lines. I’ve always loved the simple, clean lines of white shirts and trench coats – a look I associate in my head with Jackie O, although image searches of her yield more dresses than simple trousers. In any case, as much as I love the idea of stocking up on classic wardrobe basics, a lot of the items generally included in ‘wardrobe basics’ lists are not that flattering on me – a white button up shirt? Holy tent-like if it fits in the bust area. Black sheath dress? I will resemble a sausage wrapped in a trash bag. So I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a ‘classic wardrobe,’ using super fine materials and seizing the opportunity to work on fit and finally get a great white button up shirt with a menswear vibe that fits me properly. And then I started to wonder – white shirt or cream?
Ah! Now, finally, to the point of my post. Flattering colors. Prior to making my own clothes, I was often at the mercy of a rather limited selection of clothing options – if I liked the way something fit, I’d often buy it even if I didn’t like the color that much. Now is the perfect time to finally figure out what colors look great on me! I was flipping through Me-Made-March photos and pulled these two pictures – on the left, I’m wearing a creamy white sweater. On the right, a bright white blouse. Notice anything?
Here’s what I noted – I look sort of corpse-like wearing the cream sweater. Yellowish skin and seemingly brown hair. Lately more than one person has informed me that I’m not a redhead. Apparently, my hair has faded as I’ve gotten older. I’d like to do as much as I can to hold on to that red appearance!
This morning I suited up to start my color research. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the Color Me Beautiful method of splitting people up into the different seasons based on their hair, complexion and eyes and suggesting the most flattering colors from there. I haven’t read that much about it, I just had a vague idea that I’m an autumn and should wear terra cotta, brown, olive green and NEVER wear bright white next to my face, only creamy whites. I even pitched a small fit to order my wedding dress in the ‘ivory’ color. I loved my dress, but never really thought it did much for my hair. In my wedding photos, my complexion can be somewhat discounted, as the nice girl from Bobbi Brown had me so plastered with makeup-that-wasn’t-noticeable that I’m surprised I could move my face. She eradicated all rosy tones from my normally rather pinkish face…
Since I opened up the wedding folder, here’s a completely unrelated photo of my bridesmaids. Aren’t they adorable? I made my maid of honor’s dress – the black polka dots – and was almost ready to make her wear the ivory dress with the gaping neckline and let me have the polka dots. Also, note the ostrich feathers on the back of her heels. Sigh.
Back to colors. I aimlessly tried to adhere to the autumn color scheme for a lot of my 20’s, thinking that those were great colors for me. Plus, I really love rich fall colors! The thing is, I never loved the way my skin looked in some of my favorite colors. Today when I started reading up on color palettes, I saw where part of my problems were potentially located. While I certainly have red hair, which immediately puts me into the ‘warm’ seasons (spring and fall), I don’t really have the corresponding eye and skin tone. My eyes are blue-ish grey and my skin seems to me to have red undertones, not the gold and peach of the warm palettes. I raided my fabric stash and opened up the window to take some rather alarming photos of myself in natural light. First, white versus cream – supposedly the baseline test to check for warm versus cool complexions.
Gah! I have a sort of googly-eyed kooky look in a lot of these pictures! Also, I’m posting sans-lipstick. I hate seeing myself without lipstick and wear it even if I’m home with the platypus all day. But I’m partial to a particular shade of red with blue undertones that changes the game a bit. We’ll get to that.
I saw the same thing in these photos as the other ones. My hair looks more mousey with the cream silk (oooo… it’s charmeuse!) and my face looks yellowish, my eyes dull. Compare this to the white – my hair seems a bit more vibrant, eyes sparkly and complexion, while definitely looking more pink, in general looks a bit brighter. Thoughts? Anyone? Ok. Let’s move on to another neutral test: grey, black and brown.
Out of the three of these, I think I like the grey best. I still love me a pair of wide legged black trousers and a black ribbed turtleneck, but I don’t think my hair looks that great with the black. Conversely, my hair seems much deeper in the warm-neutral brown in the center photo (where I’m rocking the friar tuck look), but my skin seems to have that same flat tone against the brown. The grey appears to me to add the most sparkle to my eyes and skin, while not totally washing out my hair like the black. Again, is this wishful thinking on my part? Is a life spent wearing athletic grey sweatshirts not in the cards for me? I think it’s time to pull out the big guns.
I read a lot of sites with a lot of ‘how to determine your season.’ Again, I kept having trouble because my red hair put me so adamantly in the warm camp, even though I’m lacking the chocolate brown eyes, olive complexion and general earthiness that the autumns seem to reflect. I’m a little Scandanavian girl who should probably have been born with the same mop of fair hair that everyone from back home tends to have (I’m from Northern Minnesota. There are a lot of Norwegians, Swedes and Finns there. I’m Norwegian with a wee bit of native American – a true Iron Range mix!)
I stumbled upon this site which proved the most useful to me. There were nice cheat sheets of each season (and did you know that the seasons are further broken down into “deep”, “clear” and “soft”? So much to consider!) I read through and picked out the most likely suspects for my coloring and made these OCD little test boards in Photoshop. I think they’re pretty self-explanatory – on the top is the name of the season, then my big mug surrounded by “the” colors for that season. On the bottom are samples of my hair, complexion and eyes (slightly creepy, I’m aware) with the same samples from the season cheat sheet for comparison.
Clear Spring is probably one of my favorites. My eyes and skin tones aren’t really a match – but at least this is a ‘warm’ palette that allows blue eyes! These color swatches are colors that I’m really drawn to.
Deep autumn also is a palette with colors I love. I didn’t test any winter palettes (think Liz Taylor or everyone’s favorite blogger Gertie!), but the skin tones and eye color of deep winter are similar to mine (although red hair is NOT ALLOWED) and the deep autumn palette has some crossover with deep winter colors.
Summer is another season I’m banned from due to my red undertones in my hair, but I sampled it anyway because the eye and skin tones are exactly what I (think) I have. Once I put it together, I was really drawn to the colors. I think they draw out my eyes and all those pinks and magentas are up my alley and I actually like them with my hair!
Warm autumn is the palette that usually came up for me if I went through a questionnaire to determine my season. This doesn’t make that much sense to me, as the eyes and skin are completely off – I supposed I could have ivory skin tones, but honestly, you can see in the sample that I have a lot of pinks and reds in my skin – characteristic of the cool seasons, not the warm. Also, I think all these colors are mealy mouthed, like Rita from Dexter. I hate them. I think I look like a washed out train wreck with all those swatches. I hope to god this is NOT my season palette!
Warm spring is the final board I tested, and it may very well be the closest match to me. That porcelain skin tone could be close to mine. Blue eyes are mentioned, and the hair swatches look close to my hair swatch. Also, each of the cheat sheets had photos of celebrities with the coloring of the cheat sheet and Christina Hendricks was listed as a warm spring, and apart from my mess of freckles and darkening hair, I’ve been inspired by the colors she wears, as we seem to have close-ish coloring. Of course, the colors I love her in (emerald, fuschia, eggplant, teal) are nowhere to be seen in these swatches, and she totally rocks them!
Oh yes! About my lipstick. I have worn this shade for years. I occasionally try out something different, but I like red lips and this seems to work for me the best. It’s a very deep, blue red. Totally NOT something that should work on a “nice warm, autumn” like me. Here’s the white and cream test with and without lipstick.
And here’s the soft summer board (a no-no palette for me) with and without lipstick. I just love these colors so much, and think the lipstick makes ‘em even better.
And that brings the OCD Photoshop segment of this post to a close. So where does this leave me? Alone, bereft. Doomed to wander the earth in ill-suited shades of white, loyal platypus by my side? Likely. Of course, this project is equal parts pure stubborness (I WILL NOT be relegated to wearing terra cotta for all my days) and vanity (people WILL acknowledge I’m a redhead!) Of course, I’ll still wear pink, purple and teal because I think those colors look good on me. And I love hot pink. I’m not looking to find my palette and cruise around with a swatchbook in my bookbag, measuring all clothing and fabric purchases against them to make sure they’re ‘my’ colors; but I would like to get a handle on what works for me and use (or abuse) that knowledge at will. What’s your guys’es take on this – your colors, my colors, the confusing mix of cool complexions with warm hair. The willfull blindness and/or ignorance of girls unwilling to accept their innate sallow skin… share!
In closing, while Lucy can obviously wear a bright, clean white, we think that she’s clearly a warm autumn. Look how those shades bring out here eyes….