Saturday, 25 June 2016

Personal Colours Update

Think, think, think, it's not Winne The Pooh you are eavesdropping on it's me.

There are a few problems with wearing the True Summer palette that I haven't been able to escape so they've been rattling around in my brain like dried peas in a whistle.  I've found my colouring difficult to pin down because sometimes I look very cool, and while I do lean towards cool I often have a reddish tint to my hair and always have, though my hair is getting darker and ashier as I age.  My skin is cool-neutral and my eyes are cool though they contain a taupe colour that while a cool taupe still warms them up a little bit as opposed to pure grey or blue.   I have always been drawn to soft, warm colours though they never looked quite right on me if they were very warm and yet, at least some of them also do not look terrible.  They may, in fact, be better than bright cool colours.  The signs are pointing to my not being purely cool after all,  although I can sometimes photograph that way.  In looking at many photos indoors and out, to get a sense of what I most typically look like, I am more neutral than predominantly cool.  Although my photo experiment lead me to conclude I was a Cool Summer I have changed my mind based on real world experiences and in looking at a range of photos.

I will attempt to succinctly explain why.


Although I've always had difficulty with yellow I have discovered a yellow that is good.  It's not easy to find in the shops so I may not have it in my wardrobe any time soon but I have it in an old sheet which I've kept because it's the yellow I love.  On  a whim I wrapped myself in it and it looks good!

 I want to say it's butter yellow but that depends on which brand you buy.  I hate to say it's margarine yellow but it might be.

As usual, I am frustrated by the inability to accurately capture the colour in a photo so you will just have to trust me, I am wearing it well though no plans anytime soon to wear a bed sheet outdoors.


Then there is the fact that I've received compliments in a warmer pink shade than I thought would work for me, again suggesting that there is a subtle warmth in my colouring. 

The True or Cool Summer palette is often pretty looking on me but you see the clothing before you see me.  It's the difference between saying "oh that's a pretty top" and "you look great".  I've learned that one of the ways to see this difference (because we all have lots of colours that look second best, good enough, and nobody would say oh that isn't doing anything for you) is to see if the clothing blends with you and looks like part of you, or rather if it makes your head/face recede.  That's when you get the effect of seeing the clothing first, then the person.  The more saturated the colour, the more I get that effect.

 If it's softened a little, very slightly more mauve or rose pink, a touch of brown in it instead of a bublegum pink, then it harmonises with me and looks like it belongs on me.  There are few if no pinks I look terrible in, but it's a matter of finding which ones are best.   The lipstick recommendations should have tipped me off to this sooner-I look best in the Soft Summer colours and most of the True Summer coloured lipsticks are a bit too much on my face.


Another small incident that made me reconsider the True/Cool Summer palette was not only my favourite pink tee shirt but my favourite green one.  I compared it to  True Summer  greens and it was not quite as pure and cool, and I realised it was a Soft Summer green and not a True Summer Green.  I had been drawn to it for it's softness.  Although I find the True Summer colours very pretty they still feel a bit bright to me despite their being less saturated than Winter colours.  I told myself I was choosing the lighter colours of that palette but really I was choosing Soft Summer colours.

Here is my favourite green tee shirt draped against my face.  Forget that; the image refuses to be uploaded to Blogger.  Trust me, I look amazing.

And here is a darker version of green in a favourite teal-green blouse.  It is also in the Soft Summer palette.  The Soft Summer palette darks that feels right to me and I have otherwise been shunning darks.  The 'darker' versions of colour on the True Summer palette are too  saturated.  I feel like I am wearing a candy store even with the darker colours.

Speaking of candy, in addition to feeling squeamish in bubblegum pink, I've never been fond of mint green and yet as a True Summer I should be able to wear it.

This lovely collage from here features the candy colours I just don't feel right in.

This mint is too saturated, too intense for me.  But this silvered or greyed mint found here looks like it could be a soft summer version of mint green -more of a silver sage-and I would definitely wear that.

Another green incident that made me keep questioning my palette is a winter parka I have in a rather odd green that is not quite warm and not quite cool.  It changes somewhat with the lighting actually and it's a somewhat drab colour and yet I consistently get complimented when I'm wearing it.

 Receding Head Syndrome-you don't want it

This beautiful scarf was a gift from Joni and the mossy green in it goes well with that parka (which I've just called 'odd' but I do really like it)  It also goes perfectly with me, the ivory matching the 'whites' of my eyes, the blue-grey picks up the blue-grey in my eyes.  Neither my head nor the scarf come forward at you, but look balanced, I think, and you notice my face.  I think the scarf is more in line with the Soft Autumn palette but that's a palette a Soft Summer is likely able to dip into.  The fact that this Soft Autumn scarf works for me is another indication of my not being a True/Cool summer.

What do you notice first here, my face or the colour of my shirt? I think the pink and the mauve-pink are better than the lavender and the mauve-pink is the most harmonising. I feel good in it, whereas the other pink shirt I wear to sleep in because I don't feel quite right in it.  It feels too bright though I think that is more about my personal taste. The lavender is okay but possibly it stands away from me a little bit and I think it's just a bit too saturated and not muted enough to be best. 

Point of Note:  Just because my colouring is muted and blended doesn't mean everyone will look as muted/soft/blended as I do in their best colours.  Looking muted, soft and blended is what suits me best.  If your colouring is deep, clear or saturated you will look harmonious in colours that also are.

You might think I am being too picky and for goodness' sake, most pinks, blues and purples are good enough.  I am being picky.   It matters to me and interests me because I feel out of balance when I don't wear colours that visually harmonise with me.  I think this is probably akin to people with stronger colouring feeling blah in muted colours and the pervasive fear of beige.


I don't usually wear beige, though I do wear taupe and now that I have said I don't wear beige I did buy a tee shirt that probably qualifies as beige.  I don't look horrible in it.  It's not a wow colour but it is a harmonising colour and it's still a beige that skews cool.   Pink-beige also works for me.  Essentially they are my versions of wearing nude but if I use them I use them along with other colours and accessories.  That is, unless nobody but the cat will see me.  Still, here I think that while you won't say "wow that's a great shirt", you will see my face.

                                 I seem to be attempting a fierce face but it's just squinting into bright light.


Soft Summer colours are what I have instinctively bought in makeup because I prefer a natural look. I want me but better, not to change my colouring.  Even back when I was misdiagnosed as a Winter I tried to argue with the analyst that my best lipstick shade was a mauve-rose.  (My mother told me I was being rude and clearly I've never forgiven her.)  True Summer colours are pretty and sort of suit me but they sit on my face and could look clownish if I didn't use the bare minimum and blend blend blend!   They are too blue, whereas the Soft Summer pinks have a brown tone that warms them up a little without them actually looking warm.  One sign that you've got the right palette in your makeup is that it's really difficult to put on too much.

There was time, back in the winter I think, when I experimented with a red lip.  It never really felt right but the closest that did was a red that was slightly warm, not a blue red.  I was briefly fond of Revlon's Rum Raisin and it almost worked.  It was the nearly the right kind of red (Although bit skewed to Soft Autumn more than Soft Summer, something about my natural lip colour tempered that) but it turned out to be much too saturated.  I tried wearing it very blotted but eventually gave up on it.   A mauve-pink applied straight from the tube tends to read as a red lip on me.

I tend to paint my toenails in colours like this mauve-pink, a long-time favourite.

                                             Demure Vixen-found on

Working My Way to a Conclusion

I read an article on finding your colour palette that said if you've got the right palette every colour in the palette will suit you.  It might not be your favourite and there will be some within the palette that are your very best while others are supporting players but it's not your palette if you say "I wear all of the colours except the Xs because they don't look good on me."  I found I was doing this with the True Summer colours, cherry picking just a few as the ones that I would use.  As I began to find words for how I was tweaking this palette I realised I was tweaking it into a Soft Summer palette and I had instinctively bought Soft Summer colours even though I thought I was trying to select True Summer ones. 

The Soft Summer palette is honestly my favourite of them all, but I was afraid to let that sway me.  Since I am attracted to many colours from all of the palettes I didn't trust my sense of "Oh I like that" to be accurate for what suited me.  And perhaps I was right not to trust that until recently, as I became better at seeing myself.  Previously I thought that while Soft Summer was my favourite, what suited me best was the True Summer and that I could learn to love that because it would make me look good.  I've had a difficult time seeing myself clearly but persistence is getting me there.  I am mostly cool, a little bit neutral, soft and muted.

Not everyone will agree with me as we all bring our biases to colour assessments.  For some people it's nearly impossible to get past their liking for or dislike of a colour and see how it works for the person wearing it.   Some people have very specific taste which happens to match their appearance, essentially getting lucky in finding and wearing their best colours without really trying.  While my own taste should have gotten me into the right ballpark sooner (I had to drag out an old metaphor eventually) I was too influenced by the opinions of others and went astray.

Opinions that Sidetracked Me:

*A colour consultant deciding I was a Winter Season, thus for years I tried to work with that

*Being typed a Winter made me certain I must be very cool in colouring

*The general attitude among many that soft colours are boring ( As though I owe it to    anyone not to be boring!)

*The general belief that brighter colours are happier and perk up one's appearance

Here is my best attempt at natural light and a white top for neutrality and some red dents left by my glasses at the sides of my nose.   I would wear some of the colours from the True Summer palette, but I would wear ALL of the colours from the Soft Summer one and the colours I own now are in line with the Soft Summer palette.

And here is a comparison of Soft Summer and Soft Autumn.  I think it shows that Soft Autumn wouldn't be awful but that Soft Summer is better overall being slightly cooler.  I'd probably wear just as many colours from the Soft Autumn palette as I would from True Summer, or more.

Soft Summer  and Soft Autumn palette shown above found on PInterest via here

True Summer palette shown above found on PInterest via here

A Note on Personal Colour Authorities
There are differences among the palettes offered by different companies though the basic principles are the same.  Some Soft Summer palettes seem a little warmer than the one shown above and photographs and computer screens will also affect the way they look.  I have taken this into consideration in all my research.  Due to my love of and interest in colour theories I've ordered a book by a highly respected personal colour analyst Christine Scaman who uses a system  based on a scientific understanding of colour mixing and you will see it refered to as Sci/Art or 12 Tones.
Christine's blog is called   12 Blueprints.  I've ordered her book called Return to Your Natural Colours and expect to review it on my blog eventually.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Epiphanies of Late

My mind works in epiphanies. Aha moments are frequent.  Little discoveries and realisations excite me and I am quite open to improving on them or changing them since that only leads to yet another 'Aha!'  For years I felt a bit as though I must be a very dull person, as I am not a thrill seeker but....while I am not much of a physical thrill seeker I am a mental thrill seeker.


I am very much NOT in my own body.  If anyone needs yoga, I do.  I live in my head and this is partly, or perhaps entirely, why I have accidents.  Usually they are minor.  I trip over things, bump into things, walk into the door frame as I seemingly have no concept of how to allow for my physical self to pass through spaces.  Recently I fell down the stairs.  In trying to figure out how this happened, I can only say I was not in my body at the time and thus I somehow missed the last three steps.  The resulting pain and my bruised, swollen, sprained ankles are currently reminding me of the body I tend to ignore.

I tend to mainly share self discovery on this blog.  Sometimes I worry that it misrepresents me as a self absorbed navel gazer.  But sharing my thoughts about other people isn't appropriate and I do experience the world in a self-centred sort of way as we all do.  I experience it as me, with my senses, my thoughts, my interpretations and quite often my discoveries are about how I am functioning in this world.  Those are the ones I write about here.  Because I am willing to share personal things, to talk about my feelings and to explore them verbally or in writing, people often assume that I am an open book.  In some ways I am, but I am a book that is open only to the pages I chose to show you.  No matter how much I reveal, much more is hidden.  It had not occurred to me until fairly recently that some people would not know this.  I assumed it was a given but I suppose that for people who are a totally open book, my unreadable pages are not an assumption and for people who are closed books, the fact that I show any pages at all is unrelatable.

Although my interests are strongly attached to philosophy and psychology, I usually stick to personal image topics-style, clothing, colours, home decor.  I cannot imagine giving advice or considering myself an expert on anything so I prefer to share information that I have gathered or describe what has worked for me.   I could study a subject in depth for ten years and I would not consider myself an expert.  Perhaps I never would as I am always so aware of what I do not know.   I always see the 'what ifs..?' or the 'yeah, but this..' that makes every pithy statement on life interesting but ultimately unsatisfying. 

The entry is so full of the word "I" that it's cringe inducing.  In fact I very carefully typed that sentence so that it did not say "I am cringing".  Seeing everything not as a fact or a given, but as just the way "I see it" makes essay writing a challenge.  The standard format is to write all your opinions as an assumption.  The statements should say "It is the case" not "I think it is so" and that is hugely difficult for me. 

And thus I think that my I-focus is not as self centred as it may at first seem, but rather a result of my awareness that I am but one small spec of dust in the giant dust bunny living my life, making my observations, having my epiphanies and sometimes writing about them here. 

 Less Deep Epiphany:

If the internet is to be believed, everyone is trying to figure out how to look effortlessly chic.  I doubt that, but still I have come to some conclusions (they may be temporary conclusions) about how to achieve effortless chic.  There are essentially two methods.

Method One:  The best method for most of us normal people.

Have deliberate hair and an anything goes attitude about your clothing.  Grooming is paramount.  Get a good haircut, something that looks intentional, flatters you but isn't time consuming or something that could get totally ruined in the rain.  Use makeup that flatters and isn't obvious, but chose one of the following:  a bold lip, exotic eyes, or one statement accessory.  Wear anything you like so long as it is clean.  Be confident that you look great.

Method Two:  For models and the people who look like them.

Wear something expensive but simple looking, a bit shapeless but that's okay because you haven't got any body parts that get in the way and ruin the simple, clean lines.  Use bold colours, geometric shapes, deliberately very stiff or very fluid clothing.  Go for something slightly ugly like a drab colour or unflattering silhouette.   Wear things that don't make sense like a giant blanket scarf with open toed sandals in winter.  Keep your hair deliberately messy and unkempt, consider a bad haircut, no makeup at all and if you don't smoke take it up immediately.  Be thin-that goes without saying, but I'm saying it.  It's more important than being tall, young or pretty but if you can be those things too, be those

If you are not aiming for Effortlessly Chic:

You  want to look like you made an effort because you did and you look awesome.
You  want to look like you made no effort at all because you didn't and you don't give a feck.

If this is right for you then do that.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

What Would You Expect?

I've realised I'm a minimalist with useful stuff and less so with the pretty stuff.  Applying the question, 'Is this something I find to be useful or beautiful?' is relatively easy and has helped me to declutter so much I may have gotten rid of half of what I had.  I didn't really count or measure but it has been a somewhat embarrassing amount.  There is at least one charity shop in town which might currently be entirely stocked by me.  I've still got clothing set aside to sell but it's not the right season so I"m storing it.  I find that I can't  wait to get rid of it, though haven't yet let go of the possibility of making money from it. There are definitely still things I could get rid of, things I am keeping just in case or for sentimental reasons and yet they are hidden away in a cupboard.  I have a set of pots and pans that probably includes one or two more pots than I actually need but I can't bear to break up a matching set.  It has never been my goal to be a minimalist and to assert that I only have X number of things or only exactly what I use every day or anything like that.  I will probably always have more than I need, but it is my goal not to have much more.  It is my goal to simplify and to continue to simplify.

On the other hand, I have allowed myself possessions whose function is purely decorative and I have so many of them my decor is in no way minimalist.  It is, and probably always will be more of an eclectic/bohemian/librarian/hippie looking sort of home.  I like a home that tells you who lives there and I am not a minimalist.  Minimalist principles are a tool I use to guide my life in a direction that is comfortable for me because it is simplified.  Most of my decor is not precious nor even sentimental, I simply like it.  If I grow tired of something I generally have no difficulty giving it away.  I have five hundred books after carefully culling.  I have 45 house plants, candles beyond what I'd need in a power failure, bits of pottery and bits of nature all over the place.  I don't find bare surfaces appealing.  I like the texture of some textiles and personal items around and I have my own sense of what is too much and what is not enough.

Imaginary guest (a rude one):  "Why is that pewter cup sitting on your hearth there beside all those rocks?"

Me:  "Because I really like it."

Guest:  "Is it an antique?"

Me:  "I dunno.  I doubt it. maybe vintage."

Guest: "Why is it on the hearth?"

Me:  "Because I put it there and left it there and found I liked seeing it there."

Guest:  "And what are all the rocks for?"

Me:  "They are not for anything.  I just like them, but I agree I might have too many.  Their abundance causes me no distress."*

Yeah, I really talk like that sometimes.  That's what you'd expect from someone whose home looks like mine.  I think.

Friday, 3 June 2016

The Life Changing Magic of Doing What Works Best for You

Let's face it, the minimalist aesthetic can look beautiful if your home is architecturally beautiful but if it isn't then a minimalist home just looks like student digs or a temporary living space.  For some people minimal homes are peaceful and relaxing but to me they are devoid of personality, seem incomplete, characterless and transient.  Anything beyond the basic needs (and even then defining basic needs is a challenge given various levels of privilege) is what tells the story of who the inhabitants of that home are.  Whether its art, craft, inherited treasures, bits and pieces brought indoors from outside, books that display interests, a few signs of living life scattered about, these are the things that to me indicate a home and not just a place to sleep at night.  For some people, a place to sleep at night, eat breakfast and hang their hat might all that is wanted or desired, especially if life is almost entirely about being away from home.  These people are often extroverts.

The minimalist movement gurus, especially the younger, often childless couples or single males, seems to promote this kind of life.  Do things, go places, see people, travel, get immersed in culture or nature.  Just don't stay home.

Another movement is the Kinfolk homesteading type where the ideal is more about staying home and growing all your own vegetables and preserving things in jars to also display attractively in your pantry.  Have people over often and serve attractive home cooked meals.  Wear simple linen clothing.  Dreadlocks are good, as are ugly sandals.  I confess I could become this stereotype more readily than the previous one as I am more likely to be a homebody.

I like nature and culture and travel but getting out and doing is tiring and I don't have much energy or stamina.  I like cooking and feeding friends and family and comfortable at home social gatherings, growing my own food and making jam but again, that also takes energy I don't have.

However, I do spend most of my time at home.  And for me the perfect environment has a moderate amount of tidy clutter.  No minimalist mantra of current times is as perfect, in my mind, as the words of William Morris, who is reported to have said "Have nothing in your house that you do not believe to be beautiful or find useful."  It's the inclusion of things of beauty that minimalists seem to leave out.  Or else their idea of beauty is empty table tops and blank walls.  Too much blankness makes me restless.  I don't know where I am as there are no visual clues.  At the same time, disorganised mess, objects with no home, unattractive things left out in the open and too much visual clutter also make me agitated.

Some people talk about practical minimalism or refer to a minimalist lifestyle as a journey and not a destination.  If I cared to I could join that camp.  My aim is to live only with things I truly want and need and for what is visible to be visually appealing to me.  Storage spaces full of stuff that I never use seem pointless and burdensome so I attempt to clear out that kind of clutter.  I have no number goal, no dogma about what appliances I should live without in order to be a minimalist, no desire for my home to look like I haven't gotten around to buying furniture for it yet.  I spent several years without a microwave by choice and didn't miss it.  At this point in my life I find one very useful.  A house is not a home if it isn't full of plants and books.  To me there is beauty and joy in those even if there isn't regular use.  Although I have not read her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I believe that Marie Kondo has a similar approach to choosing what possessions to live with.  The mantra attributed to her is 'does this item spark joy' but I think that is the question to be asked once past the first question: do I use this and need this? The focus seems often to be on sparking joy though I cannot think she is unaware that a dinner plate doesn't spark joy but is typically very useful. 

Ms Kondo's approach, while associated somewhat with the minimalist movement, is more about  simplifying.  For some people this is what a minimalist journey is also about.   Reducing the unneccessary possessions, activities, people, thoughts and square footage of your home are all part of the simplifying journey aspiring minimalists focus on, but the goal is to not have to focus on these things so your focus can be on what you value most.  It's reasonable to assume that the journey towards this goal might at first require more focus on the stuff as you begin to eliminate it then will eventually be required.

For me, my goal is to live a comfortable and simple life with time and energy to focus on what I value most.  I experience stress and anxiety from mess and from an accumulation of items that do not prove their usefulness nor seem to me beautiful.  It may require regular reevaluation to determine if any given item continues to meet those requirements but it's true that the fewer possessions one has the less time need be devoted to that.  I won't be getting rid of my books, plants or candles, the beach stones, decorative plates or sofa cushions any time soon.  I like a bit of layered texture in my home and I have no need to feel unfettered and ready to toss my five belongings into a backpack and travel the world.  By the definition of some I am pursuing a minimalist journey and by others I am not.  It doesn't matter what it's called; it only matters that it works for me.