Friday, 4 August 2017

More Colour Talk...I Can't Help It

I have just updated my Facebook profile picture to this, the most summery photo of me that I have taken this year. Yes, it's a selfie with the timer, it's outside on a cloudy-bright day, with the sky dimmed by smoke drifting in from the fires of interior BC.

It has been a long time since I've seen outdoor photos of myself, in natural lighting, showing that I am indeed warm-toned and summer has brought me some freckles.  Believe it or not that is a suntan though admittedly a light one. 

This is a makeup free face except for my Peach Me lipstick and the dress is my new favourite pink  colour, a pink that is warm, perhaps best described as a soft coral pink. I wear a lot of peach and coral these days.  It's one of the more easily found warm-muted colours at this time of year.  I feel fantastic in it to the point of being in danger of making it a signature colour. 

Although there are warm and cool versions of just about every colour, with a few exceptions as there is no cool orange, while cool yellows and warm blues can be tricky to identify, I find I like my appearance best in the very warm colours, that is the warmest versions of the colours that come from what most of us know as the warm side of the colour wheel. 

The right blue, which is something approaching teal, feels dramatic and perhaps it is.  In a sense, it is a complimentary colour to my golden skin tone as opposed to the analogous or more harmonious effect of the right versions of colour from the yellow/orange/red side of the wheel.   Cream and brown and olive also feel harmonious and natural, making good neutral bases.  

I Can't Wear Blue/Yellow/Pink/Green...

It's easy to rule out a colour if we've only ever tried wearing one or two versions of it.  It's also easy to mistakenly think all versions of a colour will work if we find that one or two do.  I have heard people say things like "I can't wear pink" or "Blue is my best colour" but these statements always need to be qualified.  I used to think I couldn't wear yellow but I now know I'd only tried the wrong yellows.  I didn't know that yellow could be made warmer or cooler, brighter or more muted, and when I wear the wrong yellow for me it makes me look yellow in a bad way.  The right yellow makes me look golden and glowy and more tanned than I actually am.  I made assumptions such as, if bright, clear orange looks bad on me all oranges will.

This was before I understood the three properties of colour which can all be understood on a scale.


Getting all three properties right will lead you to your best colours to wear.  Often people instinctively get one of them right and there are personal style/colour gurus who tell people it's only necessary to get one property, your dominant one and then they offer up a selection of colours so wide they are really just leaving it up to you to figure out which ones work for you and which don't, whereas other systems will work that out for you and explain why.

I am of the opinion that we don't all see colour in the same way but that some of us see more nuances.  If you really can't get your mind around the three properties of colour, or learn to recognise them, you won't want to bother about them when choosing colours to wear.

 We all have a best fit for each of the properties and a dominant property.  Knowing what these are helps us select the best colours to wear because our best colours share properties with our own personal colouring. 

We see and understand colours best in comparison so we understand a warm blue or a cool yellow, a muted red or a bright red in comparison to other blues, yellows or reds but we can also learn to recognise them more readily with practice.

We have biases and personal preferences and many people identify the colours that best flatter them as their favourites, others wear their favourites without either recognising or caring that they aren't flattering and I have met people who are so fixed in their preferences they see the colour of the shirt and not the person, and thus believe everyone looks good in their favourite shade of blue.  I have to gently accuse my mother of this and thus she didn't look at her daughter and see someone for whom she should buy an orange shirt, she bought for me and later encouraged and complimented the cool, soft colours she favours herself and which happen to suit her.  She now admits with astonishment that I look amazing in peach.

There are colours I generally do not care for or would not use in my own home decor or on my person but can admire them when they are worn by someone who suits them.  Context is everything.

My partner loves bright colours and those that lean warm, and it does seem that what looks best on him are the colours of the True Spring palette, clear, fresh, bright and warm colours. Colour warmth is confusing to him and I probably bore him to death when I try to explain it.  It gets even trickier when I tell him that yes, he and I are both predominantly warm but that my best warm colours are a bit muted and earthy, slightly dirty looking even, while his are clear and bright.  I think I've mostly got him convinced to trust me when I say "this yellow is better than that one although they are both bright."

 Why Am I Obsessed?

Every once in awhile I stop and ask myself why I think it matters so much to wear the most flattering colours.  I know there are people who believe that if you like it you will look great.  Anyone who says this to me leaves me wondering whether or not I should tell them that they actually don't look great in every colour I've seen them wearing.....I always decide not to.

It's true that I don't very often see someone who makes me think "Oh dear that colour looks awful on her and she looks like death warmed over."  (Though there is a chance that is the case with many people wearing black.)  I think it is a form of perfectionism that I must confess to.  I tend to believe there is, if not 'a right answer' then 'a best answer' for most things and I have difficulty settling for less.  When I see someone wearing a colour that overpowers them and makes them look faded, or conflicts with their warmth or coolness level and makes them look a bit ill, I think 'don't you want to get it right?"

But many people really don't care and there is no good reason I can think of why they should.  Sure, it can be argued that looking your best, which can in part be accomplished by wearing the most flattering colours, is a form of presenting your best self to the world and thus increasing your chances of success.  For me, it's relaxing to achieve sensory harmony, and wearing the colours that harmonise with my natural appearance actually feels like a gentle resting place.  Like an evangelist I want that for everyone but I promise that I haven't yet begun knocking on doors and asking people if they know about personal colour analysis and offering to share the good news.


  1. I too struggle with my season, my hair isn't particularly dark - ash blonde as a young child, darkened to light brown with some red highlights, brown leather worked well with my hair, blue-grey eyes, fair complexion (aided by SPF 50 sun cream, only able to get a slight tan, used to be freckled and easily sunburnt.) slight shell pink blush but unfortunately now have a couple of spider veins that are a deep pink. Blue and green veins still visible. I love peach and coral too. I feel at home here!

    I don't wear high contrast looks although small check navy and white gingham is nice.

    I struggle most with red, true red is too cool and I look like I have pink eye. Burgundy, cherry red, water melon red, even scarlet are better I think. I am mainly soft summer, not quite enough contrast to be a true summer but because my skin is kind of neutral I can wear some soft warm shades. We are probably lucky to have a wide choice but being a definite palette would be simpler.

    Have you come across Zyla? I like the fact that it uses our natural colouring to devise a palette.

    1. Hi Chrissie, yes I have read David Zyla stuff online. Theoretically all colour systems are using our body colours, but Zyla zooms in on the actual colours that we can see. I find it quite impossible to 'see' what my romantic/red shade is. I can see just about every version of pink/red/orange in a medium darkness so that didn't help me much with any narrowing down. LOL I do think he is on to something with our best colours being those that reflect our own body colours. I look best in creams and peaches, a gold-camel and a soft burnt orange which all go with my skin, a teal that goes with my eyes and browns as found in my hair and those tend to be my favourites to wear. Having settled on True Autumn, and getting to understand the wide range of options within I find myself preferring to narrow the selection to certain favourites. It sounds like you might be soft summer who can lean slightly towards soft autumn or dabble in it. Maybe soft is the most important quality. Some people think it's good enough to just go with your one most dominant quality, while others say it's best to get all three accurate. Being a perfectionist I'm in the latter camp but I can understand the desire for simplicity too. You might want to look at the Style me Confidant website. In my opinion she is wrong in her criticism of other systems and simplifies things too much but I know that will appeal to some people. In that system you might use the 'muted' palette and the colours are both basically a mix of what we might know as soft summer and soft autumn. In my not so humble opinion she is just offering people lots of choice, letting them narrow it down for themselves or giving them a palette where the colours are good enough. :-) There is also a fun site that she links to where you can upload your photo into some sample palettes in a circle and see which suits you best. Have fun!

    2. I mean Style Yourself Confident website.


I love visitors and I love comments. I will try my best to respond to everyone! Thanks for stopping by.