Saturday, 27 December 2014

Drifting Towards the New Year

I have mentioned before that I am an introvert who often functions like an extrovert.  In many ways this was necessary to perform my job and now that life has changed I have been able to behave a bit more true to my nature and am enjoying that.  Still, somehow I have to find a way to balance my love of people, the deep affection and joy in the company of family and friends I hold dear, both online and off, with my persistent need to retreat and withdraw and the fact that I can and will feel regularly overwhelmed by social interactions.  The Christmas season, a time generally associated with parties and people and events and frantic shopping, is a difficult time for me even though there are many aspects of it which I enjoy.  For the past three years I have held a Winter Solstice party for a group of about ten friends, my one annual event to demonstrate my love by providing a cosy home, a warm fire and homemade food.  In my world food is love and if I love you I feed you.  I feed you things I have laboured to make giving careful consideration to your tastes and preferences.  I find this exhausting but deeply satisfying, however this year I did not have my party.  In consideration of my struggle to keep my head above water the past few months and the fact that many of my friends find this time of year overwhelmingly busy, I have deferred my party until February. 

Christmas is a very low key event in my world, for which I am grateful, and although it came and went and was quite pleasant, there is little to show or tell of it.  I enjoyed the company of my son and my parents and a little more food (chocolate) than I would normally eat  Over the past month I have mostly spent time alone, often exhausted but sometimes able to indulge in bursts of creativity.  I have done some painting.

The blue girl, while not a self portrait, seems to have been a response to hearing the news that a dear friend of my mum's has been diagnosed with cancer.  I painted Blue Girl the day I found out.

All of the colours are very much inspired by the look of winter here, and as usual the subjects are mainly just from inside my head.  The small painting is inspired by, though not a replica of, the view of sky, islands and water that I see from my windows.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

I Think Endlessly about Colour

Since I do not need to show you what I look like in a pair of jeans, bare feet and a sweater, an overall shape you have seen on me before, I am concentrating on close up images in a study of what wearing my best colours does for my face and in particularly the softer versions of my best colours.  My goal, in choosing what I call 'best' is to identify colours that don't require me to wear makeup or even make me look as though I am wearing some.  Here, with this soft taupe sweater I have powder for the camera glare and some pink lippie which to me feels bold.  I am currently so in love with this taupe sweater it's a good thing there was only one on the shelf or I might have bought two!

              This pretty taupe colour matches the shadows under my eyes! 

One of the personal colour theorists I have read, David Zyla, promotes the idea that our best colours are the ones that already exist in our own colouring-eyes, skin and hair.  In a nutshell, this means I look best in soft pinks, warm/ivory whites, grey-blues, taupe, cool browns, pink-browns and greyed green/teal.  I have found this to be quite true.  I have always gravitated towards raspberry pinks and mid-toned blues that skewed grey or teal.  My closet contains more in the blue-grey-teal range than anything else, closely followed by purple-pinks.  Sometimes our instincts know best.  Believing them to be somehow stronger looking (yes putting on my personal armour again) I tended to choose the darkest versions. 

I find it more difficult, when shopping, to find or determine, the cool brown taupe shades and to find the best greens.  What is on offer and what I am attracted to will often end up skewed warmer, with yellowish undertones. There is nothing yellow or golden about me anywhere.  Even the brownish flecks in my eyes are a taupe brown and nearly match my sweater.  My freckles are even rather taupe.

I suspect there are more sophisticated programmes for doing this, but since I am not aware of them, I used the free site Chip It by Sherwin Williams.  Sherwin Williams is a paint company and on this site they will take a photo and identify the ten predominant colours in it and match them to their paint colours.  Then they give you a palette sample.  I don't think it's perfect by any means.  I have seen photos were it looked to me as though certain colours were ignored and they are matching existing paint colours to a photo rather than creating a paint colour to replicate a photo, but for what it is worth I submitted a close up of my iris, my hair and my skin to get an idea of what colours I naturally embody.

                                        This was apparently my eyes.

This was my hair.  Green and blue are a bit surprising. My internet research shows me that Tricorn Black generally reads as a soft black with a very dark brown undertone that shows up in indoor lighting and it looks more charcoal grey in daylight.

This was my skin.  I can only imagine that Thunder Gray represents the shadows under my eyes.

These colours make a very good starting point for choosing colours to wear.  The colours I wear don't have to be identical but rather obviously should work with these colours.  They might be a deeper tone created by adding grey or black to deepen one of the lighter mauves, for example.  Experimenting with colour won't go wildly astray if the colours I choose suit these tones above.  The Aged Wine colour from the skin tone palette would make my version of a red lipstick.

Back to the psychology of my own experience, I am experimenting now, or perhaps more accurately stated as allowing myself to wear, the softer and lighter versions.  Where once I thought that I had to outgrow pink, that I had to look tough to be strong, at the advanced age of 47 I now know better.  I am both a stronger person than I have ever been and yet also at a safer place in life's path.  It is time to take off the armour.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Seasonal Colourings

I am not one of those people who gets depressed by grey weather, which is fortunate since I live on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada.  The natural colourings for much of the year here are greys, taupes, browns, greyed greens and blues.  I actually love those colours and love to wear them too.  I find that as winter blends into a softened greyed look I want to do the same thing with what I am wearing.  By March I will be getting weary of this though and ready to transition into spring. April will have me longing for some colour.  Again, this fits with the natural seasons, as there are sunnier days with a bit more intensity to the blues and greens, purples, pinks and yellows are emerging in the wild flowers.  I don't wear yellow comfortably, but I will be happily dressing in more pink and purple by April.  Summer sun is high overhead and that intense light makes more saturated colours a good choice since the bright light washes out the softer ones and I am never sporting a suntan which would give contrast to pale colours and make them stand out.   I gravitate towards deeper pinks and teals by mid summer.  Autumn weather can vary here though the sunny days usually extend into mid October, giving way to the grey and wet days by the end of the month.  It's another transition time.

In this picture I am wearing my dark neutrals.  It's a mix of charcoal, dark denim and dark brown.  The lighting inside is dark this time of year and even with a flash and lightening the photo in my basic editing programme everything looks a little more intense and dark than it actually is.  I notice that with my hair as well as the clothes and the fact that my cross body bag barely shows up.  My hair is light brown, my sweater is charcoal-slate grey. I am also wearing makeup here and although the colours are very soft and I used a light touch, I think it looks quite a bit more dramatic than my usual bare face.  While my clothing changes with the seasons my makeup doesn't other than the amount I may choose to wear.

 Makeup. I do wear it sometimes.  Usually on my blog posts you see me bare faced as I don't wear it often but I do actually know how to use it.   Here is my stash of makeup and tools.  I have more than I need and as you can see I don't bother to organise it. 

What makeup am I wearing in this photo?  In this photo I've done eyes and lips and a light dusting of powder to compensate for that camera flash shine.  If I were going somewhere fancy or if I felt I was looking pale or unwell I might use a tinted moisturizer but my skin is quite fair and most can look orange on me.  It's tricky to find one that is very pale and cool in tone.  I seek colour names like ivory and vanilla but those turn up in heavier foundations more often.  The tinted moisturizers rarely are light enough for me and they usually contain sunscreen which I don't want in it.

Why no sunscreen?  I am rarely outdoors in the sun or even on a cloudy day for long periods of time.  If I were going to be I would use a separate sunscreen.

So here are my favourite emergency face products that do not make me orange or look too dark on my skin.

Almay Smart Shade CC cream and Almay Smart Shade pressed powder in Light

Eyes probably get the most attention when I bother but I prefer neutrals.  If I lived the sort of life where I went out at night or attended parties I might play with some colours but I don't so I don't.

Great Lash mascara by Maybelline in brownish black.  The eye shadows are Revlon and in the above photo I am wearing the two lightest shades of taupe on the far left.  The greys in the palette on the right are very silvery and look quite glamorous on me.  For the photo I experimented with the darker brown in my brows but it is too dark for my liking and not ash enough.  I feel overdone with powdered brows.  The pencil is by Annebelle and is called Rich Chocolate though it seems to be quite a dark taupe.

Lips instantly make me look made up even the most subtle shades.  I favour soft mauve/pinks and am always looking for the perfect one in the perfect formula.  I want light, sheer and long lasting.  Those qualities don't really go together.  The closest I have come to that is the akwardly named Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey.  That is the chubby pencil in the photo.  The bullet is L'oreal lip balm which goes on soft and sheer but of course doesn't stay on long.  Overall, while colour on my lips looks nice for the way it gives me a rosy glow, I don't really like the shape of my mouth and don't like to emphasise it.  It might help if I were less self conscious in photos and could smile more. 

 Th top one on this piece of paper is the L'oreal lip balm and the bottom one is the Revlon Stain Balm.  Straight from the tube I find the Revlon one too thick and heavy so I always blot it.  For the photo of myself today I experimented with putting the L'Oreal balm on top of the blotted Revlon.  It looks and feels like too much to me.

I am always aiming for nearly natural but slightly better.  Some pale pinks are too pale and frosty looking or too bright on me.  A slight mauve undertone is usually good.  The L'oreal has a slightly more brownish tone than the Revlon does.  I am not a bright lipstick person.  There are other colours which look good with my own colouring but I don't feel comfortable wearing them.

Half an hour later, and two cups of tea the lip balm has worn off (it wouldn't have it I'd used just the Revlon.  And here, is a scary closeup just to prove I do  not, by any means, have flawless skin but I am confident displaying my real skin to the world:  I am human.  I have pores and freckles and only photo shop is going to get rid of my dark circles.  I took this photo by the window to get natural light and more accurate colour.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Another Chapter

There is another chapter in the Scribblings Page and there is another chapter in my closet.  There are also five huge plastic garbage bags full of clothes that have been accumulating in the spare closet as I set aside the things I was not wearing or not feeling comfortable in.  I have to admit that many of them are thrift shop purchases.  It has been a way to experiment at less cost, though perhaps the cost of the overall experiment has been a bit high.  In the end I think it was worth trying everything I liked the look of on a hanger in order to confirm for myself what I really do want to wear and what feels like me.  Just because I like it that does not mean I am happy wearing it.

It's funny to me that I was less of a clothing conformist in my youth.  I wonder what happened?  Several things, I suppose but now I feel like I am back on track.  I am sure I will still make mistakes but I think I will make fewer.  I will still want a wardrobe that allows me to experiment and create layers, but overall I know what colours, fabrics, shapes and textures I want.  I know what silhouettes work for me.  When I look at my rail of clothing, at the stacks of tee shirts and sweaters, at my rack of hanging scarves, I see nothing but colours that make me sigh with happiness.  I see fabric I want to wrap myself up in.  I see that it looks like Shawna lives here.

I am wishing everyone a lovely weekend and not I must dash off and build an ark.

                                       From the Sophie Archives

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Making and Changing: Keeping a Busy Brain Occupied

I have never identified as a girly girl and in my mind this would mean dressing like Katy Perry.  Since I am not interested in sparkle or glitter or bright pink things, high heels, manicures or cupcakes I used to think I was not feminine. It takes me all of five minutes to do a full and dramatic (for me) makeup and I rarely do it.   I do not meet the typical definition of a girly girl but I am quite feminine nonetheless:  I adore shoes and throw pillows.  Believing that I could potentially be ignored if I didn't dress boldly, I shunned any sort of soft look most of the time, doing my best to ignore the fact that I simply am soft looking and have a soft personality too.  In teaching I was surrounded by bold and dramatic people.  I tried to fit in with that.  I am not dramatic, exotic, sporty or in any way suited to angular lines, graphic prints, dramatic touches or red lipstick but I think many teachers are and that was the world I was caught up in.  I thought that I was in danger of being ignored, not taken seriously, not noticed at work, not authoritative when I needed to be, and so I denied my inherent softness.  I forgot that soft does not mean there is no strength.  I tried to make myself spiky and sharp, edgy and tough, and I built an armour with defiant short hair and lots of black clothes.  I tried to prove that I am fun and creative, just look at these bright colours I wear! 

I have been an introvert trying to dress herself like her idea of an extrovert, afraid that soft meant weak or boring or too young or old and frumpy. Soft can be very strong though.  Soft may bend but not break.  I have been making things in my wardrobe softer and more suited to me.  Not wearing black does not mean only wearing pale colours.  I am embracing brown and grey because I have always loved them best.

 I began with boots and a handbag, but as is typical with me I didn't think to take before pictures of everything.  I had a cognac coloured shoulder bag I loved for it's style and size and a pair of cognac boots I also loved but I was not enjoying or feeling right in cognac.  So I dyed them both a deep, dark brown.  I have always loved this colour despite the funny looks I get when I say so.  It's a smelly and messy job, this leather dying and I never think to put gloves on so my  hands have really been suffering.  They are dry and cracked and a strange orange colour with brown stains under my nails.  I look very dirty. I don't normally wear nail polish on my fingers but I might have to for awhile to look cleaner.

Dark brown boots and shoulder bag: This has always been a brown that I love.  Seriously, it moves me like black does not. I get a little catch in my breath and my heart skips a beat over distressed dark brown leather. They still need a few touch ups perhaps but I rather like them looking imperfect. I think I will scuff up the toes a bit more.

I made some faux-boot socks to put with these boots, using a thrifted pure wool sweater I felted, cut up and added a bit of tea-stained lace to the tops.  I like my boot socks a bit slouchy and loose.  These give added warmth to my legs and visual interest without adding bulk to my feet inside the boots. Again, the colours are not quite accurate but they are close. The lace is more beige than white after tea staining, and just to explain how inaccurate this colour is-that wall in the background is more gold coloured and yet looks grey-beige here.

This is a better image of what the tea-stained lace looks like.  I took this photo while I was still working on sewing it.  I hand stitched it, of course, but here it's just pinned.

I love these camel coloured boots for comfort and style but not the camel colour.  It was too butterscotchy yellow for me so I got brave and dyed them a deep grey-blue colour.


After:  I am pleased with the results.  Still a bit 'distressed' looking but with grey tones now.  I used a dye meant for suede and it took a lot of dye to do these boots.

A thrifted wool cloche needed a little bit of a repair.  Someone must have tossed it in the wash and the flower had become felted and was a sort of lumpy ball that did not look much like a flower but mainly like, well, a lumpy ball of felted wool.  It was glued on quite aggressively but I managed to cut it off without damaging it and then I spread out the pieces and folded and rearranged the 'petals' until it looked like a nice flower as I assume it did once before.  I sewed a silver button in the centre and glued the new flower back on to the thick glue spot that was still there on the hat.

Speaking of flowers, I recently made a couple of purple silk flowers from a blouse that just wasn't working for me.  Here I have the flower pinned to a tee shirt. The colours are not actually as bright as they look here but I can't get an accurate picture in the indoor lighting lately.  The choices are too dark or too bright.

And then I made a pair of socks into some fingerless gloves.  I would do a few things differently next time but mostly I like how these turned out.  I do not have any chance at a career as a hand model.  The sock was cut into two pieces and sewn together.  I added decorative buttons which you can barely see but I'm not sure how I like the look of them.

The rounded toe caps I cut off looked like cute little hats for dolls but I don't know anyone with any dolls.

And speaking of troubles with the indoor/winter lighting, here is a somewhat dark picture of a trial outfit.  There is no black here though nothing is pale.  The colours are somewhat muted though the waterfall sweater is getting to be more jeweltone.  This is a dramatic look for me and I would not wear the necklace or belt if I were just staying home.  The main trial here is the waterfall cardigan.  I love it in theory but am not certain about wearing it. 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Re-thinking Black and Accepting My Softness

How many selfies does it take for me to figure out that my colouring is primarily soft, that I should probably not dye my hair too dark and that black is no more right for me any more than warm tones are?  Well, it takes about this many:

 I get a reddish tint in my hair in some lighting but regardless of hair colour I think it's quite obvious that softer colours are better.  I don't  have makeup on in these pictures and yet the soft colours can make my complexion quite rosy.

Compare those soft colours with this black intruding on the purpe colour and see how tired I look.  While I love it, I am not  sure that the purple with gold is working for me but I do think it is better than the black.

                                   Deep blue is better than black.

     Deep chocolate brown seems to work, especially with my hair a bit darker.

 Sexy shoulder! This sweater slips off all the time so I only wear it at home.  Here, I think grey is working better than black  although this sweater is actually a mix of tones and reads a bit muddy in the photo.  Perhaps I look nice in mud.  I have lately been obsessed with a sort of muddy grey-brown and pinning lots of clothing of this colour on Pinterest.

I always love jewel tones and I think they work but are perhaps better for a dramatic look involving makeup, which I rarely do. There is definitely makeup in this picture.  This is my glamorous look.  Glamorous school teacher?  Sexy librarian?  Okay, I know a big baggy sweater is not sexy.  There's my Supermodel Sophie in the background.

                   Here I think the purple works but the black doesn't.

I think even this grey and camel combination is working better than black too, though I am doubtful about camel on it's own.  I got rid of this camel sweater but it's the overall softness of this combination that I think is working for me.

Black is not flattering on me.  At best, it is "not bad" but blue and grey are clearly more flattering so why waste my time with black? I look tired and puffy here and I could well be tired but I am also tired in most of these photos since I am tired most of the time. (grumble, moan, complain)

Why did it take me this long to figure it out?  It took a collection of photos, which seem to reveal more than looking in the mirror does, to show me what I truly look like.  It also took acceptance of the fact that overall I have a soft look.  I used to think that I looked boring and that soft, muted colours would make me disappear.  I have changed my mind and it's about bloody time!  Soft and muted does not equal dull and boring. I feel 'right' in those colours.  The neutrals I want to work with are cool browns, taupe and charcoal grey.

This is where the excessive thinking part comes in and I have had to edit this several times so as to get it down to a small selection of rambling thoughts.

In a nutshell, or the closest thing to nutshells that I can do, I want to eliminate black and I am the sort of person who once she decides on something jumps right in.  There has been plenty of thinking.  Now I want action.  BUT it isn't easy.  I have a large collection of black things most of which I love for the style and comfort if not the colour.


* eliminate black clothing but still use black in hosiery/footwear (I suspect this will annoy me for feeling incomplete)

* change hosiery to grey but still wear black shoes/boots and embrace contrast (confess to not liking this idea as I like a more blended look)

* dye my shoes/boots/handbags (big job and risky but possible)

* sell the black shoes/boots/handbags (see concern listed below)

* put the black items away out of sight, live without them and don't make any other decision yet (also called procrastination)


* it feels wasteful and frivolous to abandon a large and good quality collection of boots/shoes/bags GUILT

* I really like the shoes and boots for their style and comfort

Does black work for you?  Do you care?  If you don't wear black, what do you wear instead? How do you treat the hosiery/footwear relationship?  I would love to hear about what you do.