Jul 132009

For quite some time now, I’ve been trying to come up with a way to explain, step by step, what’s in my head about developing and using a simple color palette based on your own coloring.  I’m not there yet.  In the meantime, however, a friend asked me for some help figuring out what to pack for a trip and, when I thought about a simple color scheme for her -well, one just popped out.

Since the last person to ask me about this topic asked specifically how to “match” hair color of varying shades of blonde and this color palette has an answer to that question built in, I’ll share it here. 

  • Blue is the color my friend looks really great in (her eye color).
  • Ivory, khaki, camel, brown is her continuum of neutrals (and her hair color).  Yellow is another form of her hair color.
  • Light, warm, springy greens suit her natural personality and form an attractive color scheme when combined with the other colors here. 
  • Her winter coat, and another color which she can mix in for variety, is hot coral pink

Simply, but not necessarily exclusively, my friend is looking for blues and greens to wear together, along with warm neutrals from ivory to brown. 

While I realize that many who read the blog like more variety, I personally prefer to direct my advice toward those who dislike shopping and become easily overwhelmed.  (They need the help more.)  My best advice remains, for both ease and frugality, to develop a simple color palette which works with both your personal coloring and idiom, and stick to it. 

Which is easier said than done.  What challenges do you run into trying to coordinate your colors?  What suggestions do you have for overcoming the challenges inherent in sticking to a simple color scheme?

  18 Responses to “Personalized Color Palette: Yellow Blonde, Blue Eyes”

  1. The greatest challenge I encounter is trying to stay away from black. It seems like as soon as I am almost away from black completely, I have some requirement to wear it (like for an event or uniform). Or something is only available in black, or nearly everything has black as an accent. I haven’t figured out quite how to cope with that.

    However, I think a good substitute for black shoes and bag for glam occasions would be metallic. Which leads me to another thing that messes me up all the time: should I pick gold or silver? They both look good on me. 🙂

  2. All of my favorite colors seem to be neutrals. Greyish shades of blue, outright grey, dark brown (hair color), black. Dark red (nearly burgundy) is the lone exception. At least I’ve stopped wearing navy. I guess that’s a start.

  3. Simple, unchanging palette is where it’s at for me. I happily wear a lot of black (very little craving for color here!) with gray, a muted teal (eye color), maroon (who knows why it works?), and an occasional red-violet. I can wear certain shades of brown, but those are too much trouble to coordinate. This simplifies life immensely — I own one handbag, only need one color of shoes, and can mostly wear the same accessories with any outfit at a given level of formality.

  4. Hmm, I’m interested to hear what you come up with!

    My eyes are gray-blue but sometimes look green depending on what I’m wearing. I like to wear my red specs to accentuate my eye color via contrast. Recently I got a darker pair of specs with contrasting turquoise accent color, but the darker outer color is burgundy so still red-toned.
    Since I color my hair red and have pale skin, I look good in green. This spring I tried to wear it quite often. My favorite winter coat is a knee-length single breasted wool coat in forest green. When I wear a green top my eyes often look bluer.
    Blue has always been one of my favorite colors, and vice-versa to what I wrote above, when I wear blue on top my eyes look greener.
    I like to wear red, chestnut, or reddish-brown shoes. It’s fun to echo my hair color with my shoe color.
    Lately I also like to wear “nude” shoes – I am quite pale, so off white shades usually function as a nude next to my skin.

    These are my favorite neutrals & possible connections with your color palate theory:
    Navy blue/denim – possibly echo my eye color, but are a much stronger, deeper shade than my eyes are.
    Gray – also possibly echoes my eye color.
    Chestnut brown or burgundy – subtly echo hair color
    Cream or white – I feel like they make me look LESS pale by contrast, particularly when I wear them on top.

    A lot of my color choices are unconscious, so some of the time I work backwards to analyze patterns in what I’m wearing and why they work for me. The exception is that this year I have deliberately tried to be bolder about color mixing, especially in response to Academichic’s color theory series, and it has helped me become comfortable wearing multiple colors at once. I enjoy playing with colors, but it’s great to have a list of foolproof staples for when I’m stumped.

  5. One big challenge is lighting (what’s it going to look like/what color will it be) where/when I’m going to wear it.

    Suggestions for sticking to scheme: (1) experiment with texture (2) mute or intensify the color

  6. Great post!. If you don’t pick some base neutrals and colour ‘families’ you end up buying way more than you need, and have a bulging closet where not much goes with anything.

    I did do that colour by seasons thing decades ago and it turns out they were right, so I have the wallet. I don’t shop with it in mind but when I think of my most-worn things, they are these “winter “colours.

  7. The maroons, burgundies, and reds mentioned are probably a shade of the color of your gums. Maybe?

    Kari – your comment does a great job describing getting to a color palette with a different set of natural coloring. And I do love to see you in green!

    BTW, I like a nude shoe too, especially with shorts or dresses. I think it’s because I have shorter legs. I’ve noticed that some of my friends think that “shoeless” look is strange; these seem to be the same people who look normal in shorts worn with socks and shoes – a look I just can’t do!

    Mom – you’re right. Which is probably why trying to match two different of any color (especially two browns or two greens!) is so risky. Muting or intensifying helps. 🙂

  8. Rebecca, I’m in the same boat as you too – short legs (that is, proportionally short compared to my torso.) I think nude shoes help us quite a lot!

  9. The reason burgundies and red-violets work is that they are reminiscent of lip and cheek colours and actually work the the hemoglobin in the skin to make us look healthier.

    Hair colours are great for – coats, belts, shoes and pants (especially if you have darker hair)

    Eye colours are great for – tops, jewellery, swimwear

    Skin colours (pinks, reds, burgundies, browns) – are great for tops and glasses frames and lipstick/makeup colours and underwear.

    Having a palette of colours to work with is great because it makes it easy to mix and match – but your palette can easily extend past these few colours if you get bored – it’s worth getting a professional colour analysis if you want a wider selection.

  10. Thanks for that list, Imogen! It’s really helpful! 🙂

    One of the things I’ve been thinking about in conjunction with this post is the flip-side of the last thing you said: many people these days know their colours, but need to trim it down in order to come up with a mix and match wardrobe that really does.

  11. Time to “share” from your wardrobe???

  12. Rebecca wrote:

    “However, I think a good substitute for black shoes and bag for glam occasions would be metallic. Which leads me to another thing that messes me up all the time: should I pick gold or silver? They both look good on me. ”

    Have you thought about bronze? I bought a pair of bronze flats–slightly pointy-toe, but not exaggerated, criss-cross elasticated straps over the instep–a couple of years ago when I first moved to England. I looked at them, they were on sale and I bought them more as a joke than anything: my ‘ballerina-gladiator-whore’ shoes. But they were Clarks, and £14.99, which was dirt cheap so I figured if I didn’t wear them much, they were a fun bit.

    I wore them to death. I cried when I realized that I could not do any more polishing, re-heeling, etc., to make them good again (and the straps were shot by then too). They were so comfortable, and versatile.

    I’ll never again be without a pair of bronze flats. You can wear them with anything you would put with brown, but they’ve got a bit more panache.

  13. I haven’t commented before, but have been a lurker for quite some time….
    This whole concept appeals to me because of it’s simplicity: I love it! However, I struggle with it because of my coloring. Like Kari, I have red hair. It’s a natural “red-red”, and while I like it as hair…it’s not a color I could ever see myself wearing in shoes, coats or any other piece of clothing. Burgandy echos red, but again..not a color I especially like. Am I missing other colors besides brown, that I could use in place of reddish-orange?
    My eyes are blue-green, and I love wearing both of those colors…so no problem there.
    My skin is pasty-Irish white, and I look washed out when wearing white.
    This is all rather disjointed, but I am trying to figure out how to make this work for true “red-orange” redheads. 🙂

  14. Yes, I like bronze. But what did you do about the rest of your metals: belt, earrings, etc? Did you just wear whatever you wanted? I have a pair of brown patent sandals with bronze metal on them, and that’s what I did last night. I just wore them with a belt with silver and silver earrings.

  15. I mostly wear black or very dark brown (to match my hair) and jewel tones. My biggest hurdle is incorporating prints so my outfits aren’t so boring. I get the most compliments when I wear a very blue turquoise. My eyes are yellow hazel; wonder how that plays in?

  16. Rebecca – try a matte gold or silver for shoes – with your colouring you can go either way.

    Erin – with your high contrast colouring you will look great wearing complimentary colours together – so what’s opposite orange on the colour wheel – blue – try some warm navy colours in place of browns. Chartreuse green will also be really flattering for your hair colour.

  17. About brone shoes and ‘other metals’:


    is my favourite belt, my ‘stegasaurus’ belt, because it evokes my inner cave-tart. 🙂

    But as far as earrings, I think if your ears are a good distance from your feet (I think mine are), you can probably wear whatever earring metal you like. Most of mine are an antique-y looking silver, so the slightly burnished look works very well.

  18. Great color discussion – I need to read back through the color posts as we get closer to fall. Even though my coloring hasn’t changed, I’ve noticed I’m moving from neutrals and black/navy to incorporating colors and having browns (dark chocolate to khaki/taupe) as my base.

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