Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Fear of Colour

Fear of colour, or discomfort with colour, can be the result of having difficulty making it work.  In home decor I think this is usually a result of not understanding undertones and of the challenge presented to us by lighting.  My living room walls look slightly different at different times of the day and in natural light compared with artificial light.  I find it difficult to choose a paint colour I love in every potential situation but I've managed to get one I love most of the time. 

I have never had as much confusion with decorating colours as I have with what to wear because decorating was always purely about what I liked whereas what I wore might make the difference between looking healthy or ill. 

With clothing, I was having difficulty finding colours that flattered me and developed colour exhaustion.  I had not had good experiences with saturated and bright colours so when I was told in 1984 to wear the saturated and cool colours of the Winter palette I was so put off by them I ran to the refuge of their darkest versions.  Darkening a colour does mute it and this made it more comfortable for me to wear them and I just got stuck there.  functioning poorly with old beliefs but not knowing where to go next.

Eventually I began to see that the darkest versions of cool colours still weren't doing me any favours.  Dark cool colours, and also black, make me look pale and greyish.  This meant experimenting but  there are plenty of colour qualities to experiment with but I had some biases and misunderstandings that weren't helping me. I tried bright colours and soft colour  and wasn't getting anywhere that seemed right.


The second time I ran away from colours I went to softer, muted barely colours at all such as light taupes and greys.  I love these colours and they remind me of soft and fluffy bunnies, but they still aren't the best colours for me to wear if I want to glow.  The warm grey that works best for me is pushing close to taupe or green.  They are safe but not exciting, the colours I might choose for loungewear or pyjamas when I want a visual rest.  Turning to taupe, fawn and grey was like clearing my palette before tasting a different wine variety.  I was overloaded visually and mentally with trying so many different colour variations and nothing was working the way I thought it should.

 I wondered if I would be happiest and best served with just a wardrobe of neutrals, but I realised that even with the neutrals there were good, better, best and I hadn't gotten a handle on that yet.

Black and Neutrals

Many people are choosing to only dress in black for the simplicity and what they perceive to be elegance but black doesn't do any favours for at least half of us.  For the same reason I have abandoned black, I have abandoned navy blue;  It is too cool and dark to flatter me. 

In colour theory only pure white, black and the two combined to make grey are the actual neutrals but in fashion and home decor a wider variety of colours are called neutral.

Sometimes the term fashion neutral is used.  In this sense neutral means colours that go with just about everything and let other colours be the star of the show.  We think of earthy colours as neutral, browns, greys, dull greens such as khaki or olive, all the beiges and greiges and off whites.  Navy blue is also a good fashion neutral as there is little that doesn't look great with it and dark green can work this way as well.  Mother nature seems quite aware that every flower colour looks great with green foliage.  Many of us choose dark fashion neutrals so the closest to black versions of blue, green, brown and burgundy can function that way.  I had tried the extremes, and found the dark colours drained me and the lightest colours washed me out.  High contrast of light and dark seems too busy and puts all the focus on the outfit.  Neutrals are supposed to make life easier but I was struggling with those just as much.


The struggle was because there are certain fashion neutrals that work best in conjunction with the other colours that belong to a specific palette and best harmonise with an individuals own colouring.  I hadn't found my neutrals because I still hadn't found my palette or properly seen my own colouring.  I feel a bit foolish now as it seems so obvious, but am reminded that because we see colour in context, I was never seeming myself in the context of my best colours.  I had very rarely worn them so they were quite far off my radar.

I Don't Wear Neutrals Much

The True Autumn palette, while certainly earthy, is not really neutral.  By definition it's warm, medium-deep and medium-soft.  When the colours are all from the same palette they mix together really well and I don't hesitate to combine several colours.

The outfit in the photo at the top of the page includes a darker mustard camisole underneath which shows a little around the hip line because the shirt on top is short.  The jeans are not as dark as they look in the photo and are medium denim with a teal slant.

For going out to the store I added these items which increase the colour mix, olive-green parka, teal-blue boots and scarf, multi-striped fingerless gloves.  In total and not including the brown of my bag, I wore over five colours combined and loved it.

I achieved maximum grumpy face and stumpy legs with this photo but since the only point was to show colours cropping it made sense. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

Oh, Mum

My son comes over every Saturday night.  We have pizza and nachos and chocolatey things, play a strategy board game and watch various anime shows which he likes and wants to share with me.  We both have a taste for plots that involve philosophical issues and a bit of mystery or fantasy.  He has a greater tolerance than I have for violence and blood though I have to admit it can seem quite benign when it involves animated format and an unrealistic plot.  We generally have always had a great rapport and gotten along well, and for this to have transitioned into a relationship between parent and adult child is very rewarding.  We chat easily about our own lives, observations and this shared interest we have in philosophy and psychology which boils down to why do people do what they do and aren't people strange?

Recently I've been wondering how many things I say leave him laughing and shaking his head in private.  This is, after all, something mothers tend to be good at.  He has said to me more than once "Mum you're a bit weird but I love that."

One of the things I remember about my grandmother (and grandmothers are are also mothers) is that whenever she saw you she immediately looked worried and asked, "Are you okay, you look a bit pale?"  Everyone knew was code for I love you and I am prone to being worried about you.  Although it was perhaps mildly offensive and could leaving you wondering if you really looked as awful as she seemed to think, you assured her you were fine and laughed about it later.  Funny Grandma.

I am beginning to notice this sort of quirk in my own mother.  Compliments were never generously doled out in my family.  You certainly knew they were sincere if they did come but for the most part my recollections of childhood involve being praised for being well behaved and if I were dressed up for a special occasion there was praise along the lines of 'you look very nice' which meant your efforts at marking the special occasion were noted and appreciated.  I am sure that performance in a school concert or dance recital was given some sort of acknowledgement and a drawing or essay that earned a good mark was probably also praised or admired, but my point is that praise and compliments were not a significant part of my upbringing.  I suspect this was part of a child-raising philosophy, conscious or not, meant to avoid conceit or over-confidence.  It was probably also due to my mother's English background.  And certainly in comparison to the strategies employed by my own generation as parents the praise and compliments would seem sparse in retrospect.  I wonder how my son remembers his own childhood and how similar I ended up being to my own mother.  I am fairly certain I was probably more like her than typical of my own generation. 

I feel compelled to express that there is no lack of demonstrating love and affection in my family; it's a matter of showing it more than saying it and I am speaking more specifically of compliments and praise not love.

But I am digressing a bit (amazing that it's only a bit) from my original thoughts on the strange things mothers say.  Or in this case my own mother.  Over the past several years, after I survived a difficult divorce and admitted to having been in an emotionally abusive relationship, my mother rather endearingly made significant and obvious efforts to make up for the suffering she perceived her child to have endured.  I was showered with words of love, affection and praise to a point where it was almost comical although I am moved and touched by the sweetness of it.  In contrast to this though, the slightly odd observation/comment-not quite compliment that her own mother was so prone to is beginning to fall more frequently from my own mother's lips. 

Today, meeting my parents at the cafe as I often do, I arrived knowing my hair was not performing at its best but determined to keep calm and carry on.  Growing it out means inevitable awkward stages and my perpetual dilemma is my bangs, or fringe as my British friends say.  I am aware that the opinion of most who know me is that I am more flattered by wearing bangs than not.  At this point in my life I am beginning to not care much about that and find bangs a bloody pain.  So frequently I just want them off my face though I admit that many times in my life I've intended to let them grow out and then been talked into cutting them again.  One of the advantages to aging is increasingly caring less about what others think and if my comfort is greatly enhanced by not having bangs then it's time to do something about that.  So with that in mind lately I've been pinning them off my forehead.  It will be the only solution as they grow but even now while they are still eyebrow length I find significant relief in pinning them back. 

Digressiony Bit...Some women can't wait to take their bras off when they get home and I have never been one of those women.  I am not uncomfortable in a bra but I imagine that pinning my bangs off my face is the same feeling of relief that bra removal brings for some.

So as I was saying, I arrived at the cafe with less than desirable hairstyle and bangs pinned.  Mum said something like this...

"You've pinned your bangs back"

I replied "Yes, I have decided that bangs annoy me."

Mum nodded.  "It looks okay."  She paused a bit and then added.  "It looks deliberate."

Later I thought that this is fairly typical of her.  She appraises something I am wearing or a way I've styled my hair and then comments that it's okay.  As though I may have been in any doubt that it was working for me and needed some reassurance.  I suppose there was a time when that may have been true.  Perhaps in her mind she hears a much younger me asking the question, 'is this all right?'

Now I chuckle to myself privately.  I didn't ask her if it was okay.  If she thought it wasn't okay I would still do it.  I am getting too old to care.  People say this happens in your forties but if that's true I am a late bloomer, as I'm  four months shy of fifty. 

I have not yet begun to worriedly ask my son if he feels okay because he looks pale, not to spontaneously give him approval for something he didn't ask about but I can't help but wonder, what odd things I say that make him chuckle to himself, shake his head and think, "Oh, Mum."

Monday, 6 February 2017

Compliments, Coral Pink and Eyebrow Pencil

Learning to accept compliments graciously has been a long and difficult lesson.  I'm much better than I used to be though still it's not one of my greatest skills.  Most of us usually get compliments of the easiest to manage type, which is a comment on something we possess.  "I like your shoes"  or, "Cool car".  I am now quite able to smile and immediately offer a gracious thanks, but will probably not manage to refrain from adding some facts.  For your benefit of course.  I am a firm believer that everyone wants facts, so if you admire my car I will begin to tell you just about everything there is to know about it although I will not actually make it through the entire list since somewhere around five facts in I will suddenly realise what I am doing.  Perhaps this is due to the look on your face or the fact that you've fallen asleep.  Still, this is a great improvement on my one time inability to accept compliments at all without basically arguing against it.  My mother pointed out to my younger self that to refute someone's compliment is not the modesty I believed it to be but rather an insult to that person's taste and judgement.

So now, I am highly aware of the need to smile and say thank you and I am also aware that I am generally supposed to stop there but often I don't.  If the compliment is about my person, "I like your haircut" or "You have nice eyes" I will be uncomfortable enough that a thank you is about all I can manage before awkwardly trying to change the subject or to return the compliment despite being fully aware that "thanks, you have nice eyes too" possibly sounds a little insincere.

Compliments about my character or abilities, such as "You are so ( insert nice thing here ) almost tip me over the precipice, body flailing forward, toes clinging to the very cliff edge.  It's at this point that I will usually cling to the spindly branch that is my sense of humour.  My sense of humour is dry, usually self-deprecating and often black.  Frequently this is the point where the branch breaks off in my hands.

It's a basic formula.  Receive a compliment, panic, tell an awkward joke which might be misinterpreted or simply not understood and proceed with hoping for some greatly distracting even to occur.

Speaking of compliments.....

I am growing out my pixie AGAIN!.  And this time taking into consideration that the problem is probably not length but style and also the fact that there are awkward phases which one must make the best of.  I am not really sure what I am aiming for but I know it will be layered and I know it needs to be a feeling and look of more hair than a pixie.  Despite liking the look of the pixie from the front I rarely like it from all angles.  It doesn't matter how many other people tell me they like it, if I am not comfortable I need something else.

So, in those awkward phases of growing out one does not expect an compliments on hair.  Mine is slightly wavy or often more accurately described as having sticking out bits.  It is not at all symmetrical and grows in different directions on either side  with the right side of my head wanting to curl forward and the left side to curl back.  The back of my head is curly enough that when it's long I nearly  have ringlets and my bangs and nearly poker straight.

ARRGGHHH!    At the moment I have been giving myself little trimmings now and then to avoid mullet territory and as I can never really decided wither to grow bangs out or keep them, I sporadically trim them and then leave them to grow longer.  On some days my hair cooperates and looks pretty good and almost like it's in a deliberate style.  Not every day though.

On this day it was not cooperating at all and I just wanted my bangs off my face.  One purpose of this photo was to get a sense of whether or not this hair arrangement looked reasonable enough for public viewing.  The other purpose of the photographs was to examine the colour contrast of my coral pink top ( it's lighter in reality that it looks here ) with the beige ( I want a better colour name-bisque? Almond? ) cardigan.  I tend to dislike two-colour high contrast and this seems more contrasting to me than what I usually wear.   While it may not be my favourite colour combination in just a pairing, I would add a third colour if going out, in the form of a scarf.  I think the contrast of the colours is actually working fine with my own colouring and it's just my personal taste hesitating. 

 Oh what the heck, let's test that addition colour.  The light is already changing; darn that quickly moving sun.  I will grab my camera, just a moment.......

 Oh my goodness I don't like this lighting.  Everything is already looking slightly greener, including me!  I think it was a cloud that was to blame.  I like the tri-colour combination better but the overall look is a bit bundled up and I don't care for the pink of the top showing through the open weave of the cardigan.

Note to self:wear this cardigan with lighter colours

This next photo looks better and so does the outfit.  More classic styling than my typical boho-redux  looks but I am wearing it with faded boot cut jeans and if I were going out would likely add some dangling leaf shaped earrings.

 In Case You Wish to Compliment My Eyebrows

I am also road testing some eyebrow pencil.  I applied it in a manner that felt a bit
heavy-handed but I realise I am cautious.  I've examined it in a mirror in natural lighting and while I have determined that anyone familiar with makeup would know it's there it doesn't look as fake as I thought it might.  My eyebrows are naturally quite light and can tend to disappear on my face.  The pencil is a light golden brown, something you would give NIcole Kidman to use and it seems to harmonise with my hair colour and to be balanced with the rest of my face.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Confession of an INTJ Female

I tend to like to correct people.  My instinct is to point out when someone is in error and provide the facts or missing information.  For a long time I privately and sadly thought that this was because I am a secret jerk.  Why else would I want to do this?  Most of the time I refrain as I am quite aware this is no way to win friends and influence people.  My inner voice was quite harsh and certainly the outer voice, also known as my mother, kept me in check as well.  I was raised with a good understanding of what makes people comfortable and how to achieve it as well as the concept that the most desirable thing is everyone's comfort.

From the point of view of aiming for harmony and smooth sailing, this does make sense, but it happens to go against most of my instincts so it isn't too surprising that I might conclude I am some sort of secret bitchy person who must be restrained at all times.

Nobody is actually harder on me than I am on myself and secret fears that I am horrible  only point to my desire not to be horrible.  At the same time the desire to be true to myself is also strong.  Learning about MBTI and continuing to learn about cognitive functions, a related and perhaps more in depth parsing of what MBTI is based on, has helped me to come to terms with these instincts and to better accept myself.  I don't secretly want to correct people because I am mean or feel superior or get some sort of kick out of it.  I value accuracy highly.  I want to have all of the pertinent information in order to make the best decisions and judgements and if I encounter someone coming to a conclusion while clearly lacking information I want to address that.  To me it seems helpful not only for that individual but to make the world a better place.

I instinctively value accuracy and thorough information more than I value everybody's emotional comfort but I have been taught that this perspective is wrong.

Over the course of my lifetime I've had to learn that most people do not want me to provide them with more information and that my method of doing it may also seem rather terse and blunt to people when to me it is just efficient.  I've learned to pick and choose carefully when I might offer more or better information or suggest alternative viewpoints but not doing this is almost physically painful.  Of course I am sometimes wrong myself, misinformed or poorly informed but if so I want to know

Through study of personality and cognitive types and in learning about my own I am better able to see that I am not wrong but I am not typical and that is why it is difficult.  That is why I do not fit well and may be perceived as wrong.  It may be quite true that societies function best when most members are concerned with harmony and each others' emotional well being, but societies also need people who ask questions, point out flaws, challenge the status quo and are willing to go against the grain.  It's just not easy to be that person.  It doesn't lead to popularity though popularity has never been my goal.  Squelching my own instincts and personality doesn't necessarily lead to my own personal happiness although I have been told that it will and it should, because are we not all happiest when there is harmony?

Perhaps not.  I am beginning to think I sound like I have a martyr complex and that isn't what I mean at all.  I can't pretend it isn't still a daily struggle to behave as expected and to balance my instincts with what I have been taught the society I live in values most.  I find myself frustrated by little things, such as wandering around on Pinterest and encountering someone who cannot accurately identify warm colours or who thinks that introverts are always shy.  And don't get me started on the grammatical and spelling errors!  I confess I indulge a little in leaving corrective comments on some of the Pins I come across.  I haven't got anything to lose there if I am ruffling feathers.

If there has been a missed chance in my life it is probably to have become an expert in something and then made a career out of disseminating information.  I could never be an expert in anything by my own standards but at least I would be forgiven for spending so much time focused on attempting to force-feed information to people.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Coming Home to the Right Colours

I am excited to be dressing myself in the same colours I love to decorate with.  While it's not a given that our favourite colours or our decor choices will match our personal colouring or dressing preferences it is certainly a possibility and it is the case for me.  If it could be described as earthy or spicy I probably love it and my colour choices tend to line up with all three of the Autumn palettes in the 12 tone systems.

If it's a bit faded, aged or muted or could perhaps be described as looking a bit dirty, then I love it.  I'm not sure I'd want to live with walls this rustic-looking but the effect is appealing in a photo.  The colours of the chair aren't quite doing it for me but the walls, the golden glow of the light, the brown tones of the accessories all give me a feeling in the pit of my stomach that is probably only produced otherwise by chocolate or the sight of a loved one.  I want a mossy green chair here, maybe with some teal-blue. 

                                                   Source: Anthropologie

                                           Gorgeous collages on this blog.

There's more darkness in this collage than I can balance on my person but I use this level of contrast in my home decor. 

Often when looking at colour palettes I find myself on blogs or Pinterest pages dedicated to wedding colour schemes.  



The pink of the dress on the top right isn't quite working with this palette.  It isn't quite warm enough but it's not competing for attention either. The orange in the photos is perfect but in the colour squares at the bottom of the collage it might be a bit too bright and clear for Autumn and looks possibly like Spring.


Not my Polyvore!  This blogger has explored her own colouring and ended up happiest with an Autumn palette.  She puts together some really great polyvore collages that inspire me to find the colours shown.



I love colour and can get excited about a variety of palettes and combinations but the warmer colours really have a much stronger emotional pull for me.  I once thought that these colours didn't flatter me so I contented myself with decorating in them and wearing cooler colours that I honestly didn't love as much. I love the Soft Autumn palette but as I began to experiment with it I discovered it wasn't quite enough.  Not enough warmth, not enough saturation.  Finding out that these are the right colours for me after all really is like coming home. When you get there it seems really obvious that you should have been there all along.

Here is a good visual example of coming home by wearing your best colours.  Actress Mariska Hargitay in purely cool colours just doesn't look right.  I've seen myself looking like this, as though I had been decorated with cool coloured frosting, the makeup, clothes and accessories just sitting on me just the way they are sitting on Mariska.  This image is from the fantastic site Truth is Beauty and along with this picture Rachel says that when a colour is so obviously wrong she looks to the opposite to find what's right.  Perhaps I would have gotten to purely warm colours sooner if I'd taken that approach when I realised how wrong the purely cool colours were for me.  Instead I waded slowly into slightly warmer colours before finally ending up with the purely warm ones.

Here is Mariska in warm colours and looking like the clothing and makeup all belongs on her.  It looks like she found home.


Here is another example from Dressing Your Truth.  In the DYT system this woman is a type 3 which fits with any of the  12 Tone Autumn types.  The wrong colours just sit on her face and even a small amount of makeup can look like too much.  When you get the colours right it's difficult to make it look like you are wearing too much because the colours blend with you.  I get a big kick out of this miserable looking 'before' photo and the happy 'after' though if I were here I would be happier about that makeover too.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

By Request

My last post is not an example of my best writing but then I never did promise that on this blog.  I have just re-read it and cringed a little but I will leave it alone.  Jazzy Jack said she'd like to see some photos so I am obliging.  I don't take too many photos these days as I'm not experimenting as much and am mainly living in my jeans/top/scarf/boots formula.  If I don't go out it's just jeans and top so I figured that's not very exciting or inspirational.  However because I want to see the effect of new colours and there is something about photos that is different from mirrors I have snapped a few.  Having said that, the frustration of colour accuracy still exists with photography even though I have gotten a better understanding of how to adjust my white balance.

In very bright light my skin looks quite fair and paler than what I normally see in the mirror or even if I just glance down at my arms and hands as they type this.  In normal daylight I can see how I am fair but rather golden, even a bit of an orange tone though not Trumpian orange. 

This photo is in bright  early morning sunlight which always seems to give me a paler, cooler looking complexion.  I'm wearing my ubiquitous rust coloured cardigan. a favourite gold scarf and a coral pink knit top which feels bright to me but I like it when it's mixed with other colour layers like this.    I untied the scarf so the top would show in this photo.  While the clothing colours are quite accurate, my skin tone is not.

Let's see what happens in bright light, midday.....

                                   The queen of awkward poses has returned!

The photo above is bright daylight but taken in the centre of the room whereas the one below is taken with the camera parallel with a sunny window.

There is a degree if brightness to these photos which is enhanced and which I did not do on purpose and cannot alter, though I tried.  Colour accuracy is good but the shirt has a more muted appearance in reality and the brightness shown here would be more suited to the Spring palette.  I am wearing a nearly matching lipstick in one of the photos, heavily blotted.  The tone of my skin here is pretty much what it looks like to me in daylight and the way my hands on the keyboard appear right now.  This is the golden, slightly orange tone I keep mentioning.  My hair looks this red in some lighting and definitely brown in others.  In some photos when no light hits my hair at all I have seen it looking very dark brown, nearly black.  That always startles me a little.  That is not the hair I am used to seeing.  Take the skin from the photos above and give it the hair of the first photo in early morning light and you get how I generally see myself in mirrors. 

I have studied the few celebrity examples of True Autumn who are fair skinned like I am and observed how they also look different in various photos and different lighting.  Paparazzi photos of Julianne Moore or Marcia Cross give us very pale and pinkish looking women, a bit more like how I appear in the first photo.  Other lighting makes them look more golden and warm.  My red headed son is also like this sometimes looking pale and pink and other times quite warm and golden, depending on the strength of the light.  

Later in the same day, still the orange shirt and colours just slightly more saturated than normal, the lipstick has worn off and I'm exhausted from grocery shopping but I really love my recently purchased earthy-toned scarf.

Here is an old photo I recently shared on Facebook.  It's a professional portrait, obviously, so I think there is some enhancing going on.  I really doubt that I look that tanned in November.  My first thought is that they probably warm everybody up, but then I have looked at other professional portraits and they don't give warm skin to people who don't naturally have it.  I find the  sweater I am wearing a little jarring next to my face. The background colours they gave me harmonise with my colouring much better and I think this woman looks like she would suit an outfit in rust, teal and gold.

 I think the sweater is almost right but not quite.  It's not warm enough but it could be worse. My memory of that sweater is that it was a little brighter and I wonder if the photo-refinishers toned it down a little.  My eye is drawn to the sweater and not the face, which isn't an effect you really want and I can see how the silver earrings I am wearing also don't really relate to my face although it does look like I have a silver tooth and I can assure you I do not. 

I know I am fussing about colour accuracy and lighting. I am a fusser.  I like accuracy. I want good evidence to back up what I am saying and I want to be able to present that evidence here.  If I wasn't worried about that this would be a much shorter post that says, here I am wearing some clothes in colours I like.  These colours suit me because I say so.  The End.

A Brief Study of Marcia Cross

Marcia Cross outdoors and looking very pale...


                                   Source:  Daily Mail, I refuse to link to them


The white shirt doesn't seem to be doing her any favours either.  Her character in Desperate Housewives was usually dressed in Autumn colours but paparazzi photos indicate that Ms Cross is either unaware of or indifferent to what colours suit her best and she tends to wear black, white or very pale beige colours.

Golds and warm greens are stunning on her and a Pinterest Site I found dedicated to Marcia really shows the colours that are hits and misses.  I'm not sure about those earrings and I want to warm them up.  They appear to be pearls but I'd like them to be more golden.

Although looking obviously warm and golden is a good sign of being a Spring or Autumn, it isn't the only way to judge. Putting the colours on is the only way to tell and sometimes there are surprises.  Sometimes a person you might think of as looking pale, pink and cool still looks best in the warm colours.  That's why draping is the ultimate method of colour analysis as opposed to trying to fit your skin, hair and eye colours into a pre-determined set of norms.  We don't all fit the normal range.

Enforced Stop.  Abruptly perhaps but if I don't make myself stop I will just keep typing my thoughts.