Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Quest for Rest

I frequently get caught up in the trap of trying to be all things to everyone.  It's a lesson I have to re-learn over and over as I go through life because two competing aspects of my nature fight each other.  Yes, it is exhausting but nothing has helped me cope with this more than learning through the  Myers Briggs typology that I am an INFJ.  I actually learned this years ago but didn't know what to do with it.  I learned it before the internet existed and I could study it.  Controversial and instantly dismissed by some, the Myers Briggs typology does not tell you everything about your personality, but it does describe your cognitive style which has a significant contribution to who you are, what you think and do, and it is particularly appealing to those of us who are a little bit atypical.  There is good information and misinformation about Myers Briggs types on the internet.  There are things meant only for entertainment purposes and should be taken with a large grain of salt.

I seek to connect with people, to help, to be of service, to interact regularly, and in most situations I can mimic the behaviour of an extrovert.  I will do this because connecting with people is something I value highly.

But I am also very much an introvert, probably somewhere on the HSP (highly sensitive person) spectrum and I live with a chronic illness that is fatiguing.  I put myself out there, and then I withdraw.  I make too many friends and then cannot cope with what I expect myself to give them, so I panic and run away.

For what is probably close to 90% of the time, I want quiet, solitude, serenity and rest.  I am not by any means a lazy person.  I have a very active mind and a desire to be active doing many things, thought most of them are solitary.  I forget to give to myself at the same level that I give to others and then suddenly realise that I have to and spend months in rehab mode. 

I seek softness in my life the way a moth seeks a light.  Although I have tried to make it otherwise, following my typical pattern of attempting to be bold and brash and strong in a visible way, to prove I am not dull, meek, or a pushover.  Although sometimes I am a pushover.  If I have decided you are worth it, I will bend over backwards to accommodate you at the cost of my own needs.  I will lose myself and not realise it until I am literally floundering and panicking.

Finding my way back to wearing the right colours, soft and muted, de-saturated, and soft feeling clothing is amazingly empowering.  As empowering as understanding all that I have come to understand about what it means to be an INFJ.  My passion for neutral tones, which has developed intensely over the past few years, was not so much a need for no colour as the first signal I had to decrease the saturation. Turn down the volume.  Is there anything more instantly relaxing for me than cuddling a soft taupe and grey kitten? 

I am currently highly withdrawn. My partner, son and parents are my world and I haven't got time or energy for more than that.  I make a brief appearance on Facebook once in awhile, an effort to indicate that I am still alive. I still struggle with guilt about that but am improving.  I ask myself, why the guilt?  Do I think so many people are so invested in my attention that if I withdraw it they suffer?  No, I don't actually think that, but I do need to remind myself that I don't. 

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Living In Soft So Far

 Rambling Preamble
We all have our biases and individual perceptions about colour.  I am attracted to soft and muted colours, both the warm ones and the cool ones, and have always said I like colours that are slightly dirty looking.  My mother, likes only the obviously cool muted colours and would choose a purely cool but more saturated colour before she would choose a muted warm one.  She has an aversion to orange and most yellows and it's a reasonable instinct as those colours really do not suit her.  Although our colouring looks similar, I think it's possible that she is a Cool True Summer or that I am a more neutral version of Soft Summer whereas she is a very cool version of it.  She might be that newer  (and in some cases unacknowledged) category Deep Winter Soft.  She has always pulled off a darker lipstick than I can.  My son, I strongly suspect is a Soft Autumn. I pointed out a swatch of fabric to Mum recently,  I think it was a curtain or a table cloth, that was a lovely muted salmon colour.  I said to her that D could wear that colour and her response was a bit of a shudder.  Ugh.  I had to laugh.  On me the colour would look slightly off.  The seasonal palettes that are on either side of Soft Summer- True Summer and Soft Autumn-both have colours that are my second best, though there are more of them in the Soft Autumn palette because soft and muted is my most dominant feature, more so than cool.  I am cool neutral and can take a little bit of warmth.

My home is decorated in something closer to the Soft Autumn palette except my bedroom, which skews a little cooler in colouring though is still soft and muted.  I buy non-clothing items in Soft Autumn colours often and will likely dip into that palette for clothing as much as I think I can.  It can be tricky to mix purely warm and cool colours but it's easier when they are a bit more neutral and if they share another quality such as mutedness. 

 While I can wear the softest of the Cool Summer colours, I seem to be able to wear the coolest of the Soft Autumn colours and those are en even better option.  I have purchased two Soft Summer colour fans, and so far one has arrived.  I took it into my closet and made some comparisons and found most of what I have is Soft Summer, as I was beginning to instinctively choose it.  The point is not necessarily to match the clothing to the colour fans exactly nor is it to only wear the 60 or so colours you are given in a fan.  The fan is a guideline.  My Soft Summer fan points me towards cool-neutral and muted.  Comparisons are always necessary and not only do our personal biases get in the way of determining the warmth, coolness or saturation of a colour, so do the other colours we see it near.   This is what makes personal colouring important.  If I am soft and muted I will look insipid nest to a highly saturated colour.  So will my Soft Summer fan when placed next to more saturated colours.   A brightly coloured or deeply coloured person needs to wear colours that have equal brightness of depth.  But how do you tell?  Generally you tell by looking at colours side by side because these qualities can be relative.  Cool Summer and Light Summer are less saturated than Cool Winter and Bright Winter even though they are all cool colours.  

I think that I've already written about the various reasons why I could not sort out my own best colours.  There were several psychological obstacles but seeing ourselves clearly is often harder than seeing others clearly.  How often am I looking at myself?  Not often.  I like guessing other people's best seasons, but I don't do it by looking at their own colouring, which can be very deceptive, so much as by looking at which colours flatter and which don't and what the commonalities are.   I don't get the opportunity to observe myself in this way.

Thoughts on Soft Summer Swatches
The first of my Soft Summer palettes is from Unique To You and I like it because they are laminated fabric swatches on a ring which I can remove and play with.    And I cannot stop playing with them!

I tested them against some of my clothing and took photos but as always, colour accuracy is not perfect in a photo.  Comparing the same colour family is one method, and placing the entire colour fan on a garment to see if it looks like it belongs is another.  I also did with my scarves but have no photos.  It was interesting to find that the two scarves I felt uncertain about and tended not to wear were not a good fit with the palette.

The blue and green are perfect, the rose is more muted in reality than it looks in the photo. The exact shade isn't in this palette sample (though I have seen it in other brands) but I feel that it suits the palette ( especially in reality and not the photo).

I'm doing okay selecting blues.  Denim blues are in my palette and I definitely wear a lot of denim-usually a mid tone.  I don't like super dark or super faded.

I tested my whites (a sweater, a blouse and a tee shirt) and the sweater and blouse were suitable off white but the tee shirt is quite a bright, clean white, not in my palette.  Although the off whites might look dirty next to a pure white, they do not look dirty on me.  They look like white on me because they are the same kind of white you find (eyeballs and teeth) in my own colouring.

More than anything I just like spreading the colour swatches around and making colour groups.  It's like being in Kindergarten all over again! 

I separate the colours into colour families, I put all the dark, the lights and the mediums together, I made a mini palette of only neutrals, and I sometimes play around making colour combinations.  I'm mad about the yellow of this palette but it's a yellow I rarely see in stores.  It's a soft buttery yellow.  Delicious!

Sort of Digression but Mainly Still on Topic
My camera bleaches out yellow-which is one of the reasons I saw myself as purely cool. I cannot get a photo of this colour, which is quite frustrating as I am infatuated.  I want to show you all of the colour groups I make but there is no point.  Not because you will think I am insane, but because I cannot get photographic colour accuracy.

So I have borrowed a photo from Pinterest and Instagram.  This lovely woman is a Soft Summer and is wearing some of the drapes from her colour analysis.  On her the colours do not look dull.  See that pretty soft yellow?  Sigh.  Even in this photo it's a bit paler looking than my swatch but the difference is subtle and I am obsessed with it.


You would even look at that palette  and think some of those colours are bright.  They are.  They are brights for a Soft Summer.  But looking at this you might go away saying, okay this woman can wear hot pink and yet, you could easily select the wrong hot pink for her in the store, without a comparison to find the muted and soft version.  Some will overwhelm her, some will be too cool or too warm.  She won't look terrible in them but she may need more makeup or people may compliment her dress instead of her.

Back to Swatches
I've indicated that there will be some difference between the two palettes I've ordered, both called Soft Summer. 

 I have this one from Unique To You This picture is from their website and it's reasonably accurate. 

 And I have ordered this one from True Colour International in Australia.   It shows a wider range of pinks and some deeper yellows which almost seem a bit too much to me.   The fan above has a large quantity of blues and greens.  This fan below also seems to show some lighter versions of the colours which might be helpful.  The Soft Summer tones tend to be very medium in value and the Unique To You Fan has an overall medium feel to it.  The True Colour International fan appears to show more range from light to dark and I like the paint swatch style arrangement of colours.

There are definitely differences between companies though I am sticking to companies that claim to be using the Sci-Art colouring.  That allows for consistency.  A palette does not contain every possible colour you could wear or it would be unwieldy.  It's a sample, a range, and what each company chooses to include will vary.  Having more than one palette fan allows a bit more opportunity to learn all of the colour options.  Some fans are more manageable than others too, in terms of carrying in your purse when you go shopping.  The fan yet to arrive is the one I expect to be my portable fan.  The colours cannot be separated and moved around but are easily arranged for holding up to garments in the store.  The fan I have know, with the removable individual colour swatches would allow me to take just one colour with me if I wanted to match it.  I might do this if shopping specifically for something in red, off white, or the dark charcoal-navy colour that is my black.  They can also be good for finding makeup colours. 

I know, when shopping, that what I am looking for are cool-neutral ( maybe just a tiny bit warm) muted colours with low saturation.  Knowing that and finding that are not always the same thing.  The purpose of the fans is to make that easier.  Also, they give me colour swatches to play with and admire and I am someone who is happy doing that. 

General Interest:

One drawback to the laminated swatches is that the plastic can cause a glare or reflection making it difficult to read the colour.  I find myself angling it around in the light to get a better sense of it and photographing it accurately is a challenge.  This windowsill is the best light I could get.

The blues and greens really blend into each other, many of them seeming somewhere in the teal range.  Many of the blues are dark and greyed, sort of like denim or dusky navy and unless held in bright light, it is difficult to see how they differ. 

The two darkest colours are a wine and a grape-purple. The camera is cooling down the pinks a little and in reality there slightly more of a brown tint to them though they are not

I'm in love with these super pale neutrals.  The palest of them are being a bit bleached out in this photo.

Darker browns are either grey-brown, taupe or a pink/mauve brown.

This is a selection of what appear to me to be the brightest colours of the set.

I don't love the silver and gold samples provided but I get the point.  I can wear both, though silver is usually better and both are best antiqued.  Gold is especially best if antiqued or matte and not too yellow and the attempt to show that is with a black and gold speckled fabric swatch I find quite unappealing.  Rose gold isn't included though it is often recommended for Soft Summer as well.

Pros and Cons to this Swatch Set in Summary:


*Easy to  manipulate and play with-every individual colour could be carried separately
*Stay clean and protected
*Inexpensive compared to other swatches available to me
*I received it in the mail promptly


*The plastic coating is problematic for perceiving colour
*Many samples provided are so similar it seems other options could have been included instead
* If I play with them too much I will wear out the holes in the plastic where the ring is inserted-of course that will be my fault.  I usually leave them off the ring.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Return To Your Natural Colours- a Book Review

 I enjoy looking at the website authored by Christine Scaman, and because of this I decided to buy her book Return To Your Natural Colours ( you can buy it here )  In my own colour journey Christine Scaman's work has been helpful though not the only resource I used online.  Hers is the first and so far only book about personal colour that I have bought.

A Review of Return to Your Natural Colours, by Christine Scaman

 Personal colour analysis is based on the theory that we all have our own natural set of colours, the colours that we are in skin, hair and eyes, and that this means there are colours of clothing, makeup and accessories that will best suit the colours we  naturally are.  In the particular system used by Christine Scaman, the author of this book, only skin tone is used to determine your season and whatever hair and eye colour nature gave you is naturally right and perfect.  There are no errors and there are both typical combinations and unexpected ones.  In some systems there are no redheads with a cool season.  In this one, it is a possibility.

 It is crucial to understand that the colours we are and the colours we wear skew warmer or cooler depending on how much blue or yellow is used in them.   The warmer seasons will have more yellow options and fewer blue ones, with the blues having a yellow tint that makes them more teal or turquoise.  The cooler seasons will have more blue and few yellow options.  There is a green for everyone but your best greens will be more blue or more yellow depending on your own colouring.  There is no orange in the true cool seasons.  Your best pinks and reds might be more blue-based or lean more towards rust or peach.  It's possible you have some idea of which palette is best for you because humans are apparently better at detecting warmth and coolness than any other aspect of colour.  Comparison often helps because we see things that way.  Is this a muted colour?  Muted compared to what?  Is this a bright colour?  Bright compared to what?  Personal Colour Analysis provides you with a swatch of colours that are in your best palette.  The way you use this palette is not only attempting exact matches but as a comparison tool.  When the colours fanned out are held next to a garment in the store you can see if that garment is cool and muted or warm and saturated.  I know that I am neutral enough that I can wear some warmer colours but I am neutral-cool so the cooler ones are better and some are too warm.  It's difficult for me just to eyeball a particular green shirt in a store and know if it's too warm or if it's a warmth within the range that suits me.  Practice helps.  So does a colour swatch fan.  That tricky colour olive green-just try googling it and see how many variations there are for that colour name.  Some are much cooler and some much more yellow based.  I cannot state that olive green is a colour I can wear well but I can state that some olive greens are.

My theory about olive green is that sometimes the name is used in reference to olive tree leaves which have a grey-green tone and sometimes in reference to a green olive itself which is more of a yellow green.  Just think of how great it looks with that orange-red pimento.

Here I Attempt to Summarise:

The book is well priced and easy to read though perhaps best read in small doses as the prose gets a bit purple. It is organised into sections and subsections with chapters but no index.

You could potentially assess yourself with the help of this book and other sources, but that is not the view of the author, it is my view.

She lists some recommended resources at the back of the book as well as a glossary of terms used. 

There are sample colour palettes which give you an idea of what each palette is like, though it's an approximation of colour due to printing limitations.  

The book will make you feel good about your season and the qualities you share with it.  this is helpful for those seasons that are sometimes erroneously deemed mousey.  There is no such thing as mousey but a person with soft and muted colouring will not shine next to bright and bold colours, she will be dominated by then and thus she will look meek and mousey.  There is nothing about her that needs fixing with hair colour and makeup, it is her colour palette that needs to change.  She will glow softly in the right colours.

The seasons/palettes of the 12 Tones system include two purely cool palettes, two purely warm palettes (True) and eight palettes that are more or less neutral with four leaning cool and four leaning warm (Dark, Light, Bright, Soft)

True Winter, Dark Winter, Bright Winter
True Spring, LIght Spring, Bright Spring
True Summer, Light Summer, Soft Summer
True Autumn, Warm Autumn, Soft Autumn

In this system it is skin tone that matters and hair and eyes, although they will naturally work with your skin tone, are irrelevant to determining your season.  Other systems will state, for instance, that there are no red heads in a cool season but not this system.

Draping is the only way to tell what your season is and this book does not intend to guide you to assessing yourself.

Although she asserts that draping is the only way to know your season, she also describes personality traits, shapes, and hair colours likely to be found. 

There are no photos in the book of clients or celebrities because the author says this is of no help, but she does show clients on her blog/website.  We are not served by trying to compare our own colouring to the colouring of someone else.

I particularly enjoyed the sections where she describes how each season enhances it's natural beauty and what detracts from it.  This is where the advice is crossing over slightly into  style as opposed to merely colour, on the theory that  certain colours make sense with certain lines, textiles or accessories.  Each season and its inherent colouring gives off a certain vibe that you are best to enhance and not fight or detract from.  

Here I Attempt to Say What I LIked and What I Disliked:

I am torn between enjoying the flowery prose and getting bogged down in it.  It's a matter of personal taste really and taste aside she writes well.  Her ability to see and describe beauty in all of the seasonal palettes and moods is a gift to those who may feel theirs is nothing special or does not fit with current trends or tastes.  I personally spent some time feeling as though I was supposed to make myself bolder, brighter and more visible by adorning myself accordingly and that if I didn't I was letting down the sisterhood.  I came to realise that I am truest to myself when I wear the colours that are naturally mine, and that I am most drawn to those colours when I forget about what I think I am supposed to like and just go with what makes me feel good.  The very definition of 'feel good' will vary and for me it is feeling peace and contentment whereas for others it might be feeling alive and vibrant.  Christine makes it clear that these are all differences to celebrate and one is not better than another.  I should add that only going by what colours I am drawn to does not instantly lead me to my best palette but it gets me close.  I am drawn equally to Soft Summer and Soft Autumn but aware that since I lean cooler, the entire Soft Summer palette works for me but only half to 3/4 of the Soft Autumn palette does.    I actually thought I could not be either of those palettes because I liked them.  I didn't trust myself to choose objectively and thought I was derailed by bias.  THAT is something this book and Christine Scaman's blog have helped me sort out. 

The book is also potentially useful if you are interested in becoming a personal colour analyst yourself and want to know more about it or want to build a library of resources.  I would love to do this but it's not feasible in a small town as it's a service most likely to be used by professional people.

What I dislike mainly is that I do want pictures of clients, I do want a more complete colour palette at the back and this book does not offer those.  This is deliberate.  On her website she states that this book could have been massive, much bigger and thus much more expensive so she had to make a decision about what to include and what not to include.  I can see how that would be the case.  Also, it was not her intention to write a guide to finding your own palette.  It was her intention that the book will either encourage you to have a PCA done or that it will support what you are learning about your palette and yourself after having one done.  It would be useful in that aspect if several people in one household with different seasonal palettes were to share the book. 

There are two aspects of her philosophy with which I personally disagree.  I am skeptical about attaching too much meaning to the seasonal colour palette as a guide to personality.  There are other systems which do this too, but I need some harder evidence that physical appearance and personality are linked.  I do think that physical appearance can influence how people treat you which can impact your developing personality.  I am also not convinced that the only way to ever know your personal colours is to be draped in person by an expert.  I believe that it is a good way, but not the only way for everyone.  It's also not an option for everyone so many of us will rely on our own abilities.  These abilities, I believe, vary in skill.  Just as we now know that not everyone tastes a tomato in exactly the same way it seems to me it must be true that not everyone sees colours the same way.  Not everyone has perfect pitch and can reproduce music just by holding the sound of that music in their minds. Neither is everyone completely tone deaf.  I believe some people can hold a visual image of colour in their minds better than others can and thus while most people are not colour blind, some are better at mentally manipulating colour than others are.  Christine claims not to be able to hold colours in her mind and thus she believes that drapes are the only way.  That may be true for her and by all accounts she is very skilled with the drapes, but I don't accept that it is true for everyone.