That’s right, it’s the little packet of colour swatches that I was searching for back in August! I practically turned the house inside out looking for it back then and ended up cleaning out all twelve drawers in my bedroom, but it was nowhere to be found. Then, this week, I started cleaning out the basement storage room, a job that badly needed to be done. I’d long given up any hope of finding the colour swatches, but there they were in the very first bin I opened! Interestingly, I was already planning to write about colour this week; the difference that colour can make.
First a little background. As I’ve mentioned before, it all begins with skin tone. Knowing whether your skin has cool or warm undertones can help in choosing the colours that are best for you. When I had my colours ‘done’ back in the 1980s, I learned that my skin has warm undertones and I was given the little packet of fabric swatches in the colours that were deemed to be most flattering for me. While sticking to a specific palette might seem too restrictive, knowing which colours make you come alive and which, especially when they’re worn close to your face, make you look tired or washed out can definitely help you look your best.
Let me show you what I mean. For the purposes of this exercise, I’ve kept everything the same except the cardigans; same plain background, same lighting, same makeup, same wild and crazy hair, same grey striped Breton top and dark wash jeans. (I’m thinking that my high school science teachers would be proud of me!)
Let’s take a closer look.
Black is not a great choice for someone with my complexion. It drains me of colour making me look pale and haggard. The grey panels on the shoulders and in the top help, but this is still not a particularly good look for me. I could improve it somewhat by intensifying my makeup or wearing a brighter top under the sweater.
Oatmeal, or vanilla as my swatches call it, is one of my recommended colours. It looks a little drab against the plain wall, but it’s less harsh than black and looks better on me. Can you see the difference?
I promise that I didn’t add any makeup before this picture was taken, but look at the difference in my face! Teal is a universal colour that suits everyone. Long before I had my colours ‘done’ I knew that it looked good on me. You probably can’t tell in the photo, but it even makes my grey eyes look blue!
If you aren’t sure whether your skin has warm or cool undertones, one easy way to figure this out is to look at the veins on the inside of your wrist. Do they look blue or green? If they appear more blue, you are cool-toned; if they’re more green, you’re warm-toned. The study of colour can be a complex one, but essentially, if you are cool-toned, take your inspiration from the cool end of the spectrum. Bright blues, deep purples, emerald greens, and frosty shades of lavender, ice blue, and pink will look good on you. If you’re warm-toned, look to the warm end of the spectrum for your best colours. Think fiery reds, peach, coral, oranges and rusty tones, creams, camel, and earth tones.
According to the experts, we can all wear virtually any colour – it’s simply a matter of figuring out which shades suit us best. For example, everyone can wear red, but it’s a matter of knowing which shade is most complementary to your complexion. Those, like myself, with warm skin tones should choose orange-tinted reds, while those with cool skin tones look better wearing blue-based reds.
Now that I’ve finally found my swatches, will I stick only to wearing those colours? Probably not, but I am going to go through my closet and take a look at how far I’ve strayed from the colours that are my best. I know that I’ve instinctively made a lot of good choices, but also some, like the black sweater, that are not so good. I’m definitely not planning on doing an entire wardrobe overhaul, but I do intend to do a better job of taking what I know about colour into consideration when I’m making decisions about which items to keep long term and what to buy in the future.
Now I need to get back to cleaning that storage room. Who knows what else I might find!