Wearing the Wrong Palette? How Can that Be?

I remember the first time I saw a professional color consultant back in 1980-something, I was told I was an “Autumn”, a seasonal category that was one of the 4 possible categories that “all people fit in” according to my consultant and the most commonly used color system being used in color analysis back in those days.
(The photos at left show a woman – not me – before and after learning to use the colors that are essentially optimal for her body coloring.)
I was beyond excited that I was “a season” at all. Any season. I finally had a little packet of fabric swatches to use as a guide for selecting the clothes and makeup that would show me in my personal best colors. Prior to this consultation I had been clueless. If I ever wore flattering colors before my consultation, it had been purely by accident and certainly not consistent. I owned lipstick colors in every version of pink, coral, red, rust, mauve, wine and fuchsia. I struggled to match tops and bottoms so they didn’t seem at odds. I had had no direction with color and now……Eureka! I had been enlightened. I rushed out to the stores and began looking for clothes to match my swatches and I discarded a large chunk of my BC (before color) wardrobe. I bought rust and gold and olive and browns and anything else that matched my color swatches, with little regard for whether the style was right for my personality or the cut for my body. Color was king. If I wore my colors I’d look awesome.
I never questioned the accuracy of my new color palette because when I used it to co-ordinate my clothes and makeup my look was noticeably better than it had been BC. My tops matched my bottoms. My lipstick matched my clothes. And my blusher matched my lipstick. I was consistently color co-ordinated for the first time in my life and for me that was a big improvement. It wasn’t until I noticed in some vacation photos that while I did look color co-ordinated, I didn’t necessarily look enhanced. When you looked at me you saw my colors but you didn’t notice me that much. The clincher came when a friend had the audacity to say to me “I’m no expert but I don’t think that’s a good color on you”.  I was stunned. What did she know? I had paid a professional to determine my best colors. Out of types A, B, C, and D, I had been clearly designated as a D.

The lesson here is that if you are given the wrong set of colors as your personal best, you may not realize it if you, like I was, are excited  just to be color co-ordinated in your outfits. I meet women all the time who were given a palette of colors years ago and they have adhered to that palette for 10 even 20 years! The longer ago a woman had her colors analyzed, the more likely it is they are not ideal for her since early color consultants typically had little training and were working with a color system that was simplistic and limited. This left lots of room for error. Also, a palette that may have been right for her 15 years ago, most assuredly would need adjustment with the passage of this many years. Aging does change our coloring.

Why would women not recognize if they were dressing in colors that didn’t flatter them? Because even those of us with a great eye for color and an ability to see what flatter others, will often have difficulty seeing what is best on ourselves. It’s hard to be objective about ourselves.

We all have a range of neutrals and colors that are inherently compatible with our body coloring. These colors will seem at home on our bodies. They will bring out the best in our skin. They will  draw attention to our eyes and away from any blemishes, wrinkles, or shadows. They will make us look better even without makeup on. And finally…..they will also co-ordinate with each other for a well put-together look. If your wardrobe and makeup colors aren’t doing all of those things for you, you’re not taking advantage of one of the most effective appearance enhancers we all have the ability to utilize. Color.


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