Hey there cats and other cats!
This spring I’ve been on a bit of a clothing adventure. What started as a project to sew a few fun, new dresses morphed into a 16 garment capsule, then a 16 garment capsule made from thrifted fabrics, then natural fabrics, then grew into a 25-garment plan. Along the way, I revisited a decade-long obsession with figuring out what ‘my colors’ are and eventually I asked an expert, Your Color Guru.
As a life-long redhead who has faded from dark orange-red hair to blonde over the past five years, I honestly didn’t know what colors work best on me. I also have a bit of color dysmorphia. I can look at other people and see if they have warm or cool undertones. But when I look in the mirror, I can’t see my undertones. At all.
I try the tests… white vs. cream fabric. Silver or gold. Are my veins blue or green? And for some reason, I literally cannot tell.
However, I was hot on the trail. Earlier this spring I went on a bit of a makeup deep dive, figuring out exactly what kinds of makeup I like, and in what shades. As a result of buying and returning what felt like the entire inventory of Sephora, I knew that I prefer cool-toned lipsticks and eyeshadow (Charlotte Tilbury Pillowtalk Superstar gloss on the lips, Laura Mercier Caviar Strapless, a pink-taupe, on the eyes). So I suspected I wasn’t as much of an Autumn as I’d always thought.
Nevertheless, I was shocked when I got my color report. Turns out I’m not an Autumn. I’m not even a Spring, which I’d suspected.
I’m a Summer. Not only a Summer but what Your Color Guru calls ‘Sunlit Summer’ and many other systems call ‘Light Summer’. Here’s the card of my ‘best’ colors.
Seriously, my felines, this is not only not what I expected, but there are some colors on that card I have actively avoided my entire life, the primary example being… lemon chiffon.
I mean, I have actively disliked pastels, preferring deep fall colors like burnt orange, forest green, creamy beiges, and golds. Now I’m to understand that not only are those colors not great on me, but I should look for pastels?
I’m still processing this.
Also, I have a little tip that makes sense now that I’ve been working with this for a bit.
If your favorite color lipstick that looks the most natural on you clashes with the fabric/garment you’d like to wear, then that color fabric is probably not great for you.
All of this has been fun but posed a more practical, financial concern. While I was building up my sewing plan, I was also building up a stash of fabrics. And not all of them work with my newly identified colors.
For the most part, I’d gone with neutrals that do actually work, but I ended up with four fabrics in particular that are really much too warm for the new plan. Here’s the stack.
From bottom to top we have a warm white and black jersey print, a lovely raw silk plaid, an AMAZING embroidered gold-green silk, and a dusty reddish-orange knit. While this stack is beautiful, if you scroll back up to my best colors you can see why they were put in the do-not-use stack
I tried to sell them off on Facebook with no bites. Not surprising. And honestly, I think both of the knits (the top and bottom fabrics) will be ok on me — they’re warm shades, but as a Light/Sunlit Summer, I’m right on the edge, veering towards the warm-toned Light Spring… these probably wouldn’t be awful colors on me.
But the two silks. They really weren’t going to work. I have photographic proof. Here’s the greenish-gold embroidered silk.
I mean. That is morning hair and no makeup, but you can see this really isn’t a great color on me. It looks OK with my hair, but it accentuates my ruddiness and the hollows under my eyes.
Enter RIT Color Remover.
I’d heard about this magic powder in a Facebook fan group I’m in for the Kantha Bae brand. Kantha Bae makes clothes from Kantha quilts, and the fan group is RABID in their love for the garments, but Kantha quilts can be quite colorful so a lot of the wearers of KB stuff will run their garments through RIT Color Remover to tone down the colors.
It was super nerve-wracking to run the colors through, but my thinking was that the two silks were just too great to not use. And if I wasn’t going to wear the colors and couldn’t sell them, why not try rehabbing them before donating?
The process is super simple. You boil a pot of water, bring it down to just below boiling, then put in the fabric. Stir around for up to 20 minutes, dump everything out, rinse, then wash.
The results created two lovely pieces of silk that are a creamy white and much more wearable… I mean, check this out!!
I’m including a closeup so you can see the details on the fabrics. The embroidered silk is just so lovely. And the other piece of raw silk is the EXACT fabric I wanted to make a pair of bloomers.
This picture shows how the green vs. ivory silk looks on me.
It’s a bit misleading, because the lighting in the 2nd photo is more flattering, but I think it still shows how much better the ivory is vs. the green-gold.
All in all, a good experiment!
Both fabrics were treated for the full 20 minutes. I also tested scraps of the two knits to see if I could lighten those up, but, not surprisingly, the color remover had no effect. The instructions say that it works much better on natural fibers like silk, wool, linen, and cotton.
I also had a lime green linen shirt that I’d just bought and really wasn’t a great color for me that I processed for about 3 minutes and lightened up from lime green to a light yellow, but… I forgot to take pictures, so have no proof of this alchemical miracle.
A note of caution if you decide to try it too… the chemical smells bad. It reminded Jeff and I of the smell when you get your hair permed. And you need to wash the smell out of the fabric after. Also, if you start this, it’s probably best to have a pot and stirring implements that are just for your dyeing work. I used a set of tongs that have plastic and we can’t get the smell out.
All in all, I’m pleased. I really love the creamy white of the embroidered silk, though I think the ‘best white’ for me is still a bit closer to bright white. The raw silk is a bit too warm to fit with my new ‘colors’ but I prefer a less-stark white, especially for pantaloons. Since it won’t be next to my face, I don’t mind as much. Though, I am tempted to make the two fabrics into a lovely white-on-white Metamorpic dress. We shall see.