Sunday, 29 June 2014

Who Is She When She's At Home?

Yes, I am an over-thinker.  You will have to take me as I am and love me or leave me because there is no changing this brain of mine!  Besides, if I wanted to change it I would have to think an awful lot about how to do that!  Lately my thoughts have been focused on my closet as a whole, not on how to create individual outfits but on the whole collection of stuff I have accumulated.  I have considered the possibility that I have more than I need, and of course the answer is that yes, I do.  I have also considered the possibility that I have more than I want and I think there is something in that.  Why else would I be responding with "yes, but.." to the people who tell me it's just fine to have what I have and not to worry?

Last night I pulled some items out and put them away in a different closet.  They are items I like a lot but which may not really fit with my lifestyle and my general aesthetic.  Some of them fit with who I once was, but that is changing a bit and wearing things that don't match that make me feel a bit like I am in costume.  I also have a few things that are essentially duplicates.  At least four of the black skirts I own are so similar I have to ask if I really need them all.  Of course as soon as I ask I answer myself with "yeah but.."  So the solution is to put these things that I deem surplus away in a different closet and see if I miss them.  Will I go and get something out?  Will I forget they are there?  It remains to be seen.

Next I turned all of the warmer weather clothing so that the hangers are backwards on the dowel.  Each item has to earn its place by being worn.  That seems quite fair to me.  For whatever reason, I am happy with stacks of books all over my home, and piles of sliver bangles on my dresser, content to keep a basket overflowing with pretty scarves I may not wear often, but the clothing that hangs in my closet is begging me to be pared down to much loved and frequently worn items.  There may not be any logic in this or any way of saying oh yes well that fits completely with your identity as a minimalist/maximalist or whatever label might be applied to my identity. For some reasons having the questionable items hanging in my closet is bothering me.  it may also be the fact that my closet has no door which is causing me the trouble.  Everything is visible all the time.

Finally I have decided there are a few things I have been slow to recognise or perhaps resistant to acknowledging.

Being minimalist or maximalist is polarised thinking and of course I am somewhere on the spectrum. I am just not sure quite where.  I might, on a whim, even say my style is minimalist boho, which I rather like for it's tendency towards oxymoron.

What I really want is to throw my clothes on and go, minimal effort and in the same vein as Parisienne Chic only without the same clothes.  NOTE: no white button down shirts for me!

I wear jeans a lot.  I just have to get over it and embrace them.   Skirts were part of my teaching world and when I was a teacher I wore a skirt every day.  It worked but it isn't working for me now.  I love skirts but am wearing them less and that's okay.  It will take a bit of time for me to figure out how many I need or want. 

 Not everything that I like the look of works for me.  It may look good to my eye but not feel comfortable or appropriate to my life.  It may not feel right.

 I can have a staying home style and a going out style and they don't have to be identical.

 I probably got a bit carried away with accumulating things for my going out style.  I've played with it and now I'm ready to edit it and leave it alone for awhile. I need to concentrate more on the staying at home style.


These two are keepers.  I'd wear them home or out.  I haven't bothered to accessorise, since I was home all day when I wore these two outfits.  I don't even bother with shoes if I'm home unless I want to take out the garbage or check the mail.  I try not to do those things very often. 

Note:  experiment with going braless showed me that I like the look of myself in a bra better, but it's not the end of the world if I don't wear one
These shoes are also an experiment.  I wondered if I would find nude flats useful.  They aren't exactly 'nude' as they aren't quite my skin tone but they were a very inexpensive and not real leather experiment.  They aren't very comfortable though they are kind of cute.

Bare feet and a cardigan=perfect for curling up with a book.  If you have any plans for wielding power in this world, don't copy my body language.

Bare feet+Baggy jeans+Blue blouse= Sunday comfort.  You can bet your booty I added the beloved blue cardigan to this too.  These jeans were an inexpensive foray into the boyfriend jean style.  I like them a lot but they are a bit too low rise and are always falling down.  They are Joe Fresh for anyone who cares to know.  I might investigate more boyfriend brands in future.  Or go to the thrift shop and try on actual guy jeans.

At home I am sure to be wearing my signature accessories:  My ubiquitous silver earrings, the rings I never take off, a belt to hold up the pants, my glasses and a makeup free face. That's a signature look I practically wake up with every day.  Now that meets my criteria of effortless!

I'm linking up to Patti's Visible Monday which is also quite effortless and always worthwhile.  For women much more stylish than I am, trot on over and check out the other bloggers who've joined in.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Blame it on Gemini


I always say I am not much like a Gemini and can't identify with the supposed attributes.  Not that I believe in the validity of personality traits appearing due to the month when one was born, but lately I have been thinking I might be more like a Gemini than I ever thought.  The symbol of a Gemini is twins and I am very dual-natured about many things.  Clothing is one of them.

For the past few years, essentially in conjunction with some major life changes, I have been exploring my identify and sense of self in many ways and one of the more significant ways has been through how I dress myself.  I enjoy clothing as a form of self expression and dressing as a creative expression.  I love fabrics and some of my wardrobe could be viewed as more of a textile collection.  I love colour, are perhaps I should say I love a certain selection of colours and I really enjoy playing in my closet and making up outfits in the same way I loved dressing my Barbie when I was a little girl.  I also have to admit to a love of shopping.  I love the hunt for something new to me and interesting.  I say new to me because I do a lot of second hand shopping so much of what I buy is not actually new.

And then there's the part of me that is almost completely the opposite.  That is the part of me who instead of being excited to have a closet full of variety and options, feels a bit guilty about what could be called excess, craves a bit of simplicity, admits to a liking for clothes that don't suit her lifestyle, and increasingly finds herself buying black.   What the heck is going on?  I wonder if I have been playing for a long time and am just about ready to stop.

When I look into my closet lately I have the urge to pare down and yet there is nothing I actually wish to get rid of.  I am well aware that I have many items that get little wear.  I have experimented with my style in terms of the type of clothing that both suits my personality and suits my body but I have somewhat ignored lifestyle.  I wanted to alter my wardrobe so that it was no longer the wardrobe of a teacher but in fact what I have created is the teaching wardrobe I always wanted but didn't have when my previous life presented financial restrictions and before the existence of Value Village in my home town, a somewhat controversial* but large and thus very tempting second hand shop.

Skirts are a huge problem.  I love skirts and I have many.  Too many.  I also have dresses, but due to more fit challenges with dresses I tend to prefer skirts. I have, here comes the confession, twenty-five skirts.  When I was teaching I wore skirts all the time.  In fact most of the time.  I did not own twenty-five of them then.  Now I wear a skirt a couple of times a week at best.  I usually wear one if I go out with a friend or if I go for lunch with my parents.  That does not happen once a week so I could be fooling myself about how much I wear them, confusing it with wanting to wear them. 

The reality of my lifestyle is that I am home most of the time, I do some  housework, possibly grocery shopping and I read, write, paint, all of which are basically sitting activities and so I am most comfortable in jeans or in leggings and a tunic/short dress.  I did not even include my smaller number of dresses in that skirt count.  As you can imagine, what is taking up the bulk of my closet is a collection of things I don't wear very often.  But I love them or I love the idea of them.   So one of my Gemini twins says I should part with at least half of them and the other says no no no!  I have set myself a no more buying clothes rule, except for underwear as needed, and I have thought through my options and come up with this list:

1.  Just forget about it and leave everything as it is.

2. Turn all the hangers backwards to track what I wear and get rid of what isn't worn in a month's time. (Do this for each season or at least dividing summer and winter)

3.  Be very very realistic and keep only casual clothes with one dressy outfit per season.

4.  The same as number 3 but two dressy outfits.

5.  Go for an all black wardrobe-consider experimenting with this before getting rid of things.

6.  Throw everything on the bed and be really honest about what I truly wear and only put back the things I have worn recently.

7.  The same as number 6 but don't get rid of the surplus just yet.  Put it in the spare bedroom and see if I miss it.

What would you do if you were me?  I am leaning towards trying number 7 but I can just picture it now.  I will stand in my closet and pull something out and then think, but I'm going to wear this any day now so I'll just leave it here.  Just between you, me and the cat, I suspect I will go with option number one.

* Controversial due to allegations of mistreatment of employees and as well for the fact that it is both a for profit business  and a donation to charity type of shop.  Their prices are also sometimes a little high.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Dress Your Body Beautiful

No, I haven't suddenly forgotten how to use English properly, it's just my new slogan with a double meaning due to dodgy grammar.  That's a thing, isn't it?

I'm thinking of making a sign to hang in my closet; a reminder to see my body as beautiful and to dress it well.  It's so easy to focus on the flaws, so easy to say I can't wear this and I shouldn't wear that and if only this bit were smaller/bigger/firmer.  We all do it and even those held up to us as examples of perfection do it.  Because there is no perfection and all of us are perfectly imperfect. 

I can't say that I love my body and sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed by this whole movement designed to make us love our bodies because sometimes all it achieves is giving us one more thing we aren't succeeding at related to our bodies.  Damn, I'm not thin, curvy, strong, tanned, or X,Y and Z AND I don't love my body.  I sure am failing.

No, strike that out.  It's not my goal to be any of those things nor is it my goal to love my body.  It's my goal not to think about my body very much, except when I am using it.  And then I intend to be kind to it.  It works hard.  It has struggles, and it has battle scars but it's been with me my whole life so really I guess I am rather fond of it.  It is part of me, but it is not all of me.

I will feed my body nourishing things, keep it clean and tidy, decorate it according to my own tastes and take it out for fresh air and exercise.  I will give it long soaks in a bubble bath and restful sleeps in a comfortable bed.  I will dress it in purple.  And I will remember to be grateful that it can do all the things it can do and that it carries around my brain quite successfully, which is really what it is meant to do.

And here are some thing which to me are beautiful and make me feel good when I wear them.  This dress only has a label which says made in Hong Kong.  There is no brand on it and it has a hand painted picture of a dragonfly and lotus. I would love to know if the dress came that way originally or if some talented person decided to paint here dress.  There is no size label on it either but when I saw it hanging in the window of the thrift shop I just knew it was for me.

 I love the colours in this skirt and it's daringly short so it makes me feel a bit sassy!

Gak-a close up!  I'm trying to show my earrings.  They are one of my favourite pairs which were given to me by my ex husband after I pointed them out at a jewelry booth during Music Fest several years ago.  I have a lot of earrings given to me by him.  He knew it was always a good bet as a gift and had a pretty good sense of my taste.  Likely because I made sure he did.

             Okay, that's it.  We're done.  Thanks for coming, lovely people.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Bits and Pieces

I have been fighting a horrible headache for weeks.  I have had one or two days free of it, but today it's back with a vengeance.  It definitely gets in the way of my fun so I've not been as creative as I would like to be though I did get out for a lovely morning and fantastic thrifting experience on one of my non-headache days.

The bit of art I managed looks like this...I have to admit it is done more from memory not while looking at a photo so sorry, Keit, if you look at it and think who the hell is that!

And the non-clothing part of my thrift shop haul is here in this photo...

....not including the books, which are always sitting on my table, nor the earrings in the little box, which I bought new on a sale table.

The pewter drinks set is carved ornately and has some colour added to the images.  Being pewter I can't actually use it but I love it anyhow.

The belt is totally my style and perfect for jeans.

The mug is brass and also has intricate engraved designs on it.

The blue and green pottery vssels just appeal to me for the colour, and you can see in the background I have a blue bowl that is similar.

The little wooden cat will stay indoors instead of joining my outdoor folk art cats.

The large silver bracelet has detailing on it that doesn't show up in the photo, the colourful bracelet is wood and the charm bracelet  will probably have those charms removed and new ones added by me. There are some jumbo hoop earrings too, which I don't think are silver, perhaps surgical steel.

The earrings are purple so of course I had to get them!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Currently Coveting

There have been a few things on my wish list this Spring, and in my hunts through the thrift shops and Winners, I have been keeping my eye out.  Lately I have been picking up an awful lot of black things, not all of which will be worn in warmer weather though some can.  Given my propensity for buying either blue, black or purple, I think I should be renamed The Bruise.  I had some fantastic finds at the thrift shop this weekend though nearly everything was black -Quelle Surprise!  I also bought a red dress, made in Hong Kong, Chinese styled and with a dragon fly and lotus hand painted onto it.  It looks shapeless on the hanger but takes on my shape just fine when I wear it.  The joy and the frustration of thrift shopping is that there are finds like this, but rarely do I find the items actually on my wish list.

Wanted:  Culottes  cropped or long with a mid rise, a flat front and soft draping fabric, in styles similar to these (but I'm not crazy about the prints.  I want paisley of course).

Source: ASOS

Wanted:  Turkish tapestry inspired just about anything.

I saw these Just Cavalli jacket and pants in a magazine and could not take my eyes off the page.  I want these pants like I want air to breathe.


Wanted:  Fitted denim vest

I scour the thrift shops looking for something like this but no luck so far.

 Source: Etsy
And when I am outrageously wealthy I will have clothing made for me by Cavalli and Valentino.  Of course Valentino will very kindly make lower necklines for me. 

Once on the wanted list but recently acquired:  wide legged or palazzo pants.  It's difficult to get some that are not too bulky around the waist and tummy, which are long enough in the rise and inseam and come in a pattern and colour combination I like.  I suppose I'm picky.  But I did find some I love and I wore them like this.

With a sweater in the morning because I was a bit cold.

And like this when I popped out to have a coffee with mum and dad.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Private Parts, Pirate Parts and Purple

Recently I got myself all dressed up with nowhere to go, so I decided I had better go somewhere.  I took mum out for a coffee and a treat which is always a pleasant experience and makes me giggle to watch us sit across from each other at the table and make all the same gestures.  We will fold our hands in the same way at the same time and then suddenly switch to a new but identical position at the same time.  It's like a circus act though maybe not as entertaining to anyone else but us.

The weather is not at all summer-like though I suppose it is typically spring-like for this part of the world.  I decided to make it feel summery by wearing some tie-dye meets batik and of course purple makes me quite happy.  My hair, makes me less happy.  That's because on a whim I coloured it and I don't like it.  I wanted to play with making it a touch darker so  I bought temporary dye called espresso brown.  There was nothing remotely red looking about it but I have ended up with auburn hair.  Oh well.  It won't last.

Here is the fabulous purple tie-dye and auburn hair look, ready for going out.  It's not too auburn looking when it's not in direct light so now the photos are making a liar out of me.  It looks VERY auburn with a light shining on it.  When I picked mum up the first thing I said to her when she got into the car was "What colour is my hair?"  After giving me a funny look she said, "it's auburn." 

I had started the day like this pic below but when I decided to go out I thought I would match my shoes, belt and purse because now it is very OUT to do that and I like to be contrary.  Yes, I know I have cut off my head.  I think we have all had quite enough of my face for awhile.

This is the only sunshine around today...

Now, I know you came here for the private/pirate parts so I won't delay any longer.  This is my helpful tip of the day for those of you who are planning a red carpet appearance or even just a trip to the grocery store and have your heart set on a gorgeous but revealing dress like this one.


Or this


I'll bet you thought you would have to go commando!  Well I am here to assure you that no, you can protect your lady parts from, well, whatever they need protecting from.  What you need is this:


I decided not to enlarge this photo.  You're welcome.   The pirate patch for your private patch.   Clever crafty people could surely make one of their own and save a bundle!

That's it from me!  Amazing, right?  It's almost a short post.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Worms, I'm Rather Fond of Them Really

 A general Response to all the Great Comments I've had Recently.

Okay there are no actual worms in this post but dear Beate suggested to me that my recent posts were rather opening a can of worms as the saying goes.   To that I say, YES!  Worms should not be in cans.  Set the worms free.

I also say this:  It's Just a Guideline (quoting some pirate dudes I know )

Seasonal colour analysis is often practiced by people who aren't very good at it, and thus you get results like Vix being decorated in frosty pastels (which is not what you will find in that link)  And as Val says, the increased selection of colour categories is definitely because you can't slot people into limited categories.  Glenda pointed out that people get frustrated with being assigned a season and a colour swatch because those colours aren't always available when they go shopping.  That is quite true.  In fact it is my dislike of or not looking good in the colours available is directly responsible for a lot of blue in my wardrobe.

However, Imogen Lamport made a video which shows really clearly how to use those swatches if you have them and not get all caught up in trying to match all the individual colours with what's in the store.  The simple solution is to fan out the swatch and hold it against the items you are looking at and see if it goes with them, if there is some harmony between the colours of your season and the colour of the dress in the store.

Given that, unless you really want to narrow down your season and carry around a colour swatch for the most part it is simply helpful to have a general idea of what sorts of colours suit you.  Warm or cool, soft or bright, is often all a person really needs to know.  Of course you can wear anything you want, and if you do it with confidence you will probably look good.  Celebrities do this.
I would argue that the first two dresses don't make Halle Berry glow as much as the last two do.


But I would not argue that she looks bad in any of them.

Value contrast is also quite possibly something that is intuitive in people.  I love analogies so I am going to attempt one here.  It isn't perfect.  Knowing what your value contrast is and how to use that to your benefit is a bit like knowing the chemical components of water.  Without knowing those chemical components you still know that water quenches your thirst and that you need it.  Without knowing how it works, you can still be employing the principles of value contrast when you decide what to wear based on what looks best.

The point is, that I was not trying to give anyone any rules, I was trying to show the fascinating (to me anyhow) facts behind why some things look better on us than others and what we are probably employing unknowingly when we make choices.

Beate suggests that I can turn worms into butterflies.  If I could do that I would probably be very wealthy or more likely burned as a witch.

I figured then that for today's sofa lounging session I would dress like a witch, in black, and wear a shirt that pays homage to worms.  That's with stripes of course.  Worms, stripes, they are similar, no?  And what about the butterfly?  Well I am the butterfly too.  Everyone knows witches can turn themselves into something else.  It is some other witch, and not I, who turned yesterday's warm sunny weather into today's grey and cool disappointment.

You Are All Individuals!

I am quite fond of The Life of Brian, and if it is even possible to have a favourite scene, given that the whole movie is probably my favourite scene, I might choose this one as a favourite.

When I am not entertaining myself by thinking of colours and value contrasts, or worms for that matter, I like to ponder this concept of individuality and uniqueness.   In the western world we live in a culture that values this concept, and most of us take pride in our own uniqueness and we love expressions like 'marching to the beat of her own drum'.

In the reality of life most of us work to find the right balance of our individuality and of fitting in.  Because sometimes we are compelled to fit in, to be a 'team player' to wear a uniform or follow a dress code.  There are times in our lives, the teen years being typical, where we may want to fit in and look like we belong and sometimes this can happen in adulthood too, if we find ourselves in an environment where certain ways of dressing are the norm and we do not wish to stand out.   This can happen in smaller and more isolated environments because not too many people wish to be the town weirdo.  Sometimes we need to present a united front and individuality takes a back seat, as they say.

If you live in a larger community there is more social acceptance for being different because there is a larger proportion of people who differ from others.  It's just a matter of numbers.  You would be hard pressed to be THE eccentric of London or New York, whereas in my small town the woman I used to see frequently (I do wonder what happened to her and where she has gone) who styled herself in long flowing velvet dresses with capes and laced up granny boots, wore her dark hair down to her waist, and used deep red lipstick to contrast with her very white skin, THAT woman stood out. 

What does it mean to proclaim that we are all individuals?  Well simply, it means we can think for ourselves just as Brian instructed us to.  Although he is not the Messiah, and is just a very naughty boy, he is quite right.

Many of us are followers, dressed in dirty white linen and shouting the same words over and over.  A few of us stand out as unique, which you can clearly see by looking at Brian and noticing how different he looks from all the others in his town.  Some of us achieve unwanted or undeserved fame and every once in awhile it is good to blend in with your group and belong or to pick which group you will blend in with so as not to mistaken for a  Despicable Roman.  Clear so far?

If you wish to truly stand out, give yourself a distinctive name such as Biggus Dickus and if you have lovely long legs, show them off.

And if all else fails, and following these rules for thinking like an individual is too difficult, then try this simple bit of advice.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Value Contrast: What It Is and How to Find It

Quite Possibly my Longest Blog Post Ever.  Sorry.  Nah, I'm Not Really.

I am fascinated by the use of contrast values to understand which colour combinations are most flattering.  We often respond instinctively to this but there is an explanation as to why you just don't feel your best in some combinations or why some cause that well known phenomenon of the dress wearing you instead of you wearing the dress.  We all fit somewhere on a value contrast scale, which can be roughly divided into low, medium and high contrast colouring.  Whichever contrast level we are in our personal colouring, will look great on us repeated in the colours of our clothing.

Finding your value contrast level is most easily done with a black and white photo, which shows how much difference or contrast there is between your darkest tones and your lightest.  So I took this photo and made it black and white in an attempt to compare the values.  This is about as natural as I can get.  I'm in bright light, which lightens up my colouring a bit, without makeup and I'm tired.  It's the real me complete with allergy eyes! Even in colour you can see I am not high contrast.  I have fair skin, light to medium eyes and medium toned hair.  The whites of my eyes don't pop and if I were showing my teeth, they would not be Hollywood white.

So now I want to look at the contrasts between my lightest and darkest values.  There are some charts which can help with that.  I found this chart below on a cool blog for men called Effortless Gent.  The information is just as useful for women  so here  is the link.  This chart below allows you to use a simple mathematical formula but you don't really have to.  It is also intuitive.

So it's a bit of a guessing game, but a black and white photo makes it easier to see the contrast between my lightest value and darkest one.  If I look to see where I think my skin tone falls on the contrast scale  I'm inclined to think it's a 2 maybe with some 1 highlights.   My hair is probably 7 or 8 in the darkest spots.   Now it's time for some arithmetic.  I subtracted my lightest value from my darkest and since it isn't precise I calculated a range.
According to the Effortless Gent, a low contrast score is a difference between one and three, a medium is between four and six, and a high contrast is between seven and nine.  I think I am a medium with some potential to lean in the high contrast direction.   If I dyed my hair a bit darker I would slip into the high contrast category.  I think dying my hair lighter would still make me medium contrast.  Generally blondes who are high contrast are those with very dark eyes and low contrast with very light eyes.  I think my eyes keep me medium but I could be quite wrong.  I have no plans to become a blonde any time soon.

What does all of that mean for choosing clothing?  You can completely ignore it of course, but it does help to explain why we all look better in some colour  combinations than in others or why we may feel  uncomfortable in some combinations.  If we are wearing something that makes us look washed out or that overwhelms us, it could be that the value contrast isn't compatible with our natural colouring.

If you are in the high contrast value range you look great in clothing with high contrast.  That could mean very light and dark, or very bright and dark or black and white. 
Some High contrast celebrities are:

                                          Winona Ryder

                                          Gwen Stefani

                                                 Alek Wek

If you are low contrast, where your skin, eyes and hair are all very similar in value you will look best in light colours paired with light, or dark with dark and medium with medium. It doesn't mean that you will look bad in a higher contrast value outfit, but that it could be the outfit that stands out more than you do.  There is an excellent illustration of this on the Effortless Gent blog.

Celebrities who are low contrast:

                                              Jennifer Aniston

                                          Cameron Diaz

                                           Leona Lewis

Medium contrast allows room to experiment, which is a mixed blessing if you are someone who likes rules or clear guidelines.  Because this is about where you are on a scale, so you will be slightly closer to high contrast or to low contrast.  I favour more low contrast outfits if I am mixing colours but don't mind a medium contrast of a darker toned colour with black  I am going on instinct  that but I feel a bit uncomfortable pairing really bright colours together or pairing black with a pale colour or white with a dark or bright colour.   I rarely wear light colours paired together because really light colours tend not to suit me.  I will usually increase the contrast to a medium level if my outfit includes a lighter colour. 
From Inside Out Style Blog (links below) I borrowed some pictures of celebrities whom Imogen identified as medium contrast, turned the photo into black and white and then compared it with my own. Well that was brave of me; maybe I should have put makeup on!

Then I started playing with clothes!

In this slightly blurry photo where I have cut off the top of my head, I believe I am pulling off black and white, a high contrast look, though one thing I like about this shirt  is that it's a softer white which tones down the contrast every so slightly.  It may or may not be my best look, but I seem to be close enough to the medium/high contrast border that I can get away with it.  I grabbed a bunch of shirts from my closet to experiment with and I would not necessarily put these things together but for what it's worth, I did here. 

The red and white and the blue and white are also pretty high contrast and while I don't think I look terrible because the individual colours suit me, I think the combination and contrast might be overwhelming me a bit.  Sandra  would absolutely rock this sort of contrast because she has high contrast colouring.  If you aren't a high contrast person but want to wear some high contrast it helps to include a transition medium tone and this might be found within a print of mixed colours or mixed tones such as ombre. 

Here I am all dressed for Christmas.  YIKES!  I would probably not wear this combination but it feels like it is working better for me than the higher contrast of the white and red.  What do you think? The colours contrast because they are complementary colours and I think I can pull that off, but the value contrast is low.  I would, however, quite happily mix pink and green, which would be a high value contrast as well.

Despite the fact that I may have just turned into a zombie, I would feel comfortable in this one because my motto is Blue and Green make me a Queen!
The contrast here is low-medium with the green a bit darker in value than the blue but not significantly so.

So the idea is to have the contrast between the two colours I'm wearing about the same as the contrast between my darkest and lightest values which in my case are hair colour and skin tone. 

Looking at that colour value chart again.....
Suppose you want to create an outfit pairing teal and violet.  For a low contrast outfit using the violet and teal, you would choose the two colours from the same numbered row, so teal 3 and violet 3 would be a low contrast.  Teal 1 and violet 9 would be high contrast.  Violet 7 and teal 5 would be a medium contrast combination.  My personal inclination, of low contrast but dark colours would be to pair the teal and violet from the same row anywhere from 7-9.  Ten is getting too black for the colours to really register.

This is not the same as colour contrast.  The examples I chose, violet and teal, are not analogous colours (side by side on a colour wheel) which would give an even softer, subtler look overall if that is what you were after.  You can use both colour and value to give what you wear significant impact through contrast.

I love this colour wheel pictured below.  I wasn't able to enlarge it any further while still keeping it in focus.


You can find more detail and interesting posts about this, including pictures, on Imogen Lamport's blog, Inside Out Style Blog

A slightly different take on it is here, where the focus is on just low and high contrast with no concept of medium.