The Common Thread

A lot of people have difficulty figuring out how to put colors together so they seem to “work”. Whether you’re working with colors in a room or in an outfit the same rules apply. In order for colors to have a pleasing relationship they must have a common thread. One common thread could be color temperature. All of the colors in the group could be cool – with a blue undertone – or warm – with a yellow undertone. This common thread will make the colors work together. Another common thread could be value. Value means how dark or light a color is. All colors of the exact same value will have a relationship based on that value regardless of hue. Yet another common thread is intensity. All colors of the exact same intensity will appear related regardless of value or temperature.

When certified Essential Colors consultants analyze someone to find their most flattering color palette, they pay close attention to all of these factors. Some palettes will have a dominant characteristic of temperature. Others of value and still others of intensity. A palette is chosen to “work” beautifully with the natural coloring of the individual being analyized. It’s a lot like shopping for furniture and accessories that will look beautiful with the colors that already exist on the walls, carpeting and draperies of the room you want to decorate. The wise decorator would take color samples of those existing room colors when she shopped. The haphazard decorator could wind up with a room full of colors that have no common thread (visualize a hot pink easy chair in a rich earth toned living room). Rooms that we perceive as the most beautiful will always have some common thread.

Every Essential Colors palette has a common thread. I call it the palette’s ‘dominant characteristic’. That’s why shopping with your palette results in a cohesive wardrobe where separates, accessories, and makeup all “work” together beautifully. A cohesive wardrobe color scheme results in the need to own fewer clothes because the ability to mix and match components is much greater. When you need fewer clothes you can afford to spend a bit more. When you can spend a bit more you’ll usually get better quality. And when you buy a better quality you’ll quickly discover (and love) how much better you feel and look in quality fabrics and construction. You’ll notice how quality fabrics drape nicely on the body and look good a lot longer.

Find your personal common thread and you’ll benefit in more ways than you might imagine.


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