Apr 092015

You walk outside, look down … aaaaghh! It “matched” in the house! Now what to do? Unfortunately, not much. Maybe mutter under your breath that you’ll never try to match beiges again.

Pairing orange and purple, or chartreuse and teal, is not usually the source of the stealth clash. No, usually it’s something like trying to put orange-brown with purple-brown, or wearing chartreuse-taupe with teal-taupe. They’re neutrals, right? And neutrals go with everything, right? Uh, not exactly. Even blacks don’t all go together.

This has been on the metaphorical front burner ever since my very practical daughter decided she wasn’t going to buy green pants, because she likes to wear green shirts (and she should – she has green eyes). The hero also avoids green trousers, either from fear of clash or fear of looking like a green bean 😉

Some thoughts on building a wardrobe without clash:

  • Always buy the coordinating piece if it’s available. Lol
  • Be very careful in trying to assemble a do-it-yourself suit. It may be better to choose another color the contrasts or blends.

  • Consider undertones. Interior design color expert Maria Killam says there are three types of beige: pink-beige, green-beige, and yellow-beige. They don’t blend; they clash. Grays and browns also have undertones. I recently ended up, via thrifting and the clothing exchange, with a (purple) gray pair of ankle pants and a three-quarter sleeve (green) gray blazer. So close, but yet so far …
  • Using a pattern with a small amount of the color you are trying to match allows being less precise.

What thoughts would you add?

Captain Obvious says: save this link and use it when you shop Thank you so much!

From 4/23/2007, originally. I am gonna go out on a limb here, in April, 2015, and declare my neutrals: yellow-beige (goes with my hair), purple-gray (for the ring around my iris), and orange-brown (the other day, one of my little grandsons saw my eyes in the sun and said they were orange!). Making the statement should clarify my shopping.

Mar 172015

This is a fun season. I don’t mean spring, although this year (my first with an empty nest) is not bad so far; I mean this season in my professional/sartorial life. After years of reading, studying, talking, blogging, and generally obsessing about what to wear and, more significantly, how to know; I have a whole new world of technical information available to ponder. And one of my favorite things to do is to ponder a number of ideas concurrently. You never know what insights might emerge.

So, one day last week, these two excellent posts landed in my inbox on the same day:

And these two posts really got me thinking: about why I haven’t warmed up to the capsule wardrobe concept, about why it doesn’t really feel like it would work for me, about for which body types the styles pictured would work. Along with all the other resident concepts knocking around in my brain recently, these two confirmed my thinking that a capsule wardrobe is doable. But I don’t think it is as easy as we have been led to believe.

The three complications:

  1. silhouette: ideally, if I am to wear a fitted skirt, it will be with a top with a little volume, and vice versa. The best capsule wardrobes would be assembled of pieces which, when combined, create a unified silhouette.
  2. proportion: how many times have I tried to make an outfit with a really great top and bottom that don’t actually meet in the middle? It will be easier to create a cohesive capsule from pieces with length proportions which play well together.
  3. color harmony: even if I get the color values right and there is no apparent clash, there are just some colors I don’t feel as comfortable wearing together. Color combining preferences seem to be rooted in personality. What color is your coat? The simplest capsule wardrobe would include pants only in colors you like with it (your coat probably covers your skirts, otherwise same concept).

This is not a comprehensive list, just a peak into what that burning smell is coming from my ears. After chewing on this for a few days, an example of a smart casual capsule wardrobe that I think really works with these concepts arrived in my inbox via Youlookfab.


Mar 122015

As part of the slow process of updating the information on my blog to match what I know now about applying artistic principles stylishly, I am trying to pull out an old post once/week and edit/republish. Originally posted October 18, 2006, this deals with combining colors, aka “color harmony”.

Some 2015 blog readers may not be aware that in the early days there was a convention of taking outfit photos without faces. Lol! I will also point out that my 2006 self was wearing pants that were slightly too tight. See the horizontal lines? And this look would have been a little better with a shorter jacket and top.

On what appeared to be the final sunny Saturday of the Fall, I chose this outfit to wear to a women’s conference. Doing so, I stumbled onto an extremely useful color combining technique.

When I bought this jacket, I wondered if I would be able to use it. Although it fits nicely, the color is much too intense for my personal coloring. Actually, I now know, as a trained stylist (2015), that intensity is not the problem with this violet, but the principle remains true. But here’s the trick: the top is the same color as the jacket — only TINTED (white added) like my hair and skin. As I discover my signature style, I am finding a monochromatic color harmony featuring a bright and either a shade, a tint, or both is a good formula for me.

More good ideas on this topic:

  • Jennifer commented: “This is a great tip! It works in reverse–if you’re darker, like me, and you get the urge to wear light pastels.”
  • My dear, late, blog-friend Wendy added: “I also think that if there’s a neutral that particularly suits you (i.e. black, gray, brown) you can take the brights you might not ordinarily wear and mix them in. It works particularly well if the neutral top has a collar or high neckline.”
Jan 272015

Now that I have completed my training as a Personal Stylist, I’d like to put up some posts explaining what it is I do. Spokane readers can reach me at to inquire about Color Analysis and Closet Consultations. Most other services are available via email.

About Color Analysis: The system I use has 16 palettes based on temperature, value, and resonance. From those 16 palettes, I can add or subtract individual sticks to create a completely custom color harmony. Your unique palette supports your coloring and your personality.

IMG_3538.JPGHere is mine, a mix of warm and cool, plenty of light color values and a few darks, primarily tinted and saturated, straightforward hues.

I realize Color Analysis is a complicated and somewhat controversial topic. I not here to disparage any other system; I just love this one! Fine print: the swatches are custom-made to order, so there is delivery time, and I have you do a little bit of homework ahead of time. 🙂

Dec 192014

By now you have probably heard that Pantone announced its 2015 Color of the Year: Marsala. When I saw that, my first thought was “not for me, thanks!” Then I thought, “somebody who is a better style blogger than I will undoubtedly do a “How to Wear Marsala” post. Find that here.

While I think that alot of that particular shade would be tough for me to wear, I can see it on quite a few of my friends and family. If you can wear that color lipstick, you should absolutely put a pair of Marsala shoes or boots on your shopping list! Women’s Boots & Shoes are now 50% off at!! Shop now during our One Day Sale!! Valid 12/19-12/20

Nov 132014

Throwback Thursday. The pictures in this old fashion lab illustrate a good way for a woman with my body type and proportions (hourglass with short, curvy thighs) to combine color values when wearing jeans tucked into knee-high boots. The picture in the middle is, in my current opinion, the best: the sweater (too bad I don’t still have it) maintains the arc through the waist perfectly, among other things that are working.

In comments, my late friend Wendy mentions mid-calf scrunch boots for shorter women; since boot heights are currently in transition, I would like to mention something else I have been thinking about:

Boots which stop short of reaching the knee can be used to fool the eye into adding some of the lower leg to the upper leg, thereby optically lengthening the thigh.

When I first noticed the practice of tucking jeans into knee-high boots being revived, I thought to myself, “I’ll just sit this one out”. Until one day last week November 2006. Walking at noon with my husband, I happened to notice a lady on the other side of the street. Her boots were very like mine, and she looked quite normal wearing them with jeans tucked in. With the color value similarity of the dark jeans and brown boots, her legs looked like legs (not hams on pedestals, which was my fear).

The other thing I noticed was that her top was a light color, in contrast to the pant/boot combination.

“Ah ha!” Maybe that’s the trick.

So here you have it:

  • What I actually wore today. Since I was the greeting mentor at our MOPS group, I wore my Eddie Bauer Seattle Suede jean jacket over my sweater.
  • The look I am testing: dark jeans, tucked into knee-high boots, topped by a light colored top. I think it works!
  • For the sake of comparison, the same look only with a dark brown top.

What do you think of jeans tucked into boots? What techniques have you successfully used?

Oct 022014

Knowing that I started blogging with an incomplete understanding of the principles involved, part of my strategy in posting reruns on Thursdays is to clean some stuff up, clarify the concepts, and correct where I was wrong. Like in this case (originally posted October 23, 2007).

I found it amusing, when considered alongside what I said here, that Bridgette Raes just posted Why You Need a Green Handbag (my apologies for not providing a link, but my linker appears to be broken and I cannot devote any more time to it right now). But I have no problem explaining the ideological discrepancy:

Within one’s inherent color palette, the greens will harmonize with the other hues”

As I move more fully into the color component of styling, I am super-excited about the potential for the custom color palette. For example, I just did one which ended up being six parts one palette, three parts another, and a single stick of yet a third, but blended into a beautiful, harmonious whole.

Recently it occurred to me that green, while an easy color for many to wear, doesn’t necessarily lend itself to mix and match. A quick trip around the color wheel reveals why:

  • yellow: too 1960s. Not bad if you’re young and you throw in white.
  • orange: resembles the autumn landscape. Do you want to look like a deciduous forest? To approximate a single tree, pair green with brown.
  • red: at best, red & green are reminiscent of 1990s interiors; at worst, a color-challenged Christmas. Pink is sometimes doable, but grass green and pink is too young and sweet for me to wear.
  • purple: throw in the right shade of brown and it works.
  • blue: safer than most other color combinations. Just wear your green sweater with blue jeans and everything will be just fine.
  • green: when combined with hunter orange, two or more greens make a perfectly coordinated “sport” ensemble.

Which leaves the neutrals:

  • black: the hag chorus in Little Women is wearing mostly green and black.
  • grey: finally, an option that seems current!
  • white: a better choice for Christmas outfits.
  • metallic: ditto the above.

Which leads me to easy ways to wear green. In a print.

Or as an accent.

How do you like to wear green?

Sep 152014

Perhaps not surprisingly, I talk to a lot of people who are interested in letting their hair go natural. Or so they say 😉

Recently, I have nailed down some of the concepts in dressing that change when your hair is gray. Of course, it does make a difference what gray you have. That, parenthetically, is the apparent reason so many women lack the confidence to let their hair go gray: they have no idea what color that will be. Then they discuss it with the hairdresser, who has an obvious interest in continuing to color. She says, “not yet (insert excuse)”. Not to say there aren’t reasons.

One critical compositional concept to keep in mind whenever you change your hair color value:

Repeating the color value at the other end of your composition, in this case the shoes, allows the eye to continue to move around the composition without getting stuck and make it back to your face, the focus of your look.

Aug 212014

Lol. So the schedule I am currently trying out is: fresh post on Tuesday, Throw-Back Thursday, and a little something for the weekend. Since earlier in the week I was blogging about my color adventures, I thought this would be a good topic for a re-run. In this old post, I was completely wrong about the reason (find the one word I struck), yet the technique I found that works for me is precisely right!

This technique is adapted from the classic Always In Style, by Doris Pooser. In it, the CMB system is expanded to the 12 popularly in use now.

(I actually own the 1985 Color Me Beautiful version and haven’t read the revised, which looks like it contains a couple of intriguing additions: wardrobe planning and hairstyles. Notably, Doris Pooser worked extensively with color analysis in Japan and includes seasonal color identification charts for those of African and Asian descent.)

As illustrated in my previous post How a Blonde Can Wear All Black, one can create a harmonious and pleasing appearance even when wearing an unflattering color. To do so effectively, the color must be worn … in combination with a color … that will emphasize your most dominant color characteristic . (Doris Pooser)

In my studied opinion, this still represents a compromise. What could be more artistically pleasing than a wardrobe based on your own personal coloring ? But at times we have no choice.  What circumstances compel you to wear less flattering colors?  How do you make it work?

In my own idiom, soft bright is the dominant color characteristic.  Combining an intense hue with its pastel counterpart works for me.

Aug 192014

Quote from 12

“Heat of color can’t be judged well by eye because it’s totally relative. Saturation is hopeless to judge in a human. That leaves darkness level, so it’s over-emphasized.

Isn’t that the truth? And not just the DIYers. I believe I have mentioned a time or twenty-five thousand that I had a “professional” color analysis many years ago from which I am still recovering . Of course, back then it was much simplified. Over simplified. If one had dark hair, the choices were autumn and winter.

Since reading Zyla’s book , I have known I was a spring. (Actually, I thought I was a spring when I first read Color Me Beautiful – because of the shiny gold.) But, I admit I am having trouble assimilating the truth.

This last weekend, I spent some quality time with my own color analysis selectors and palettes. I had to conclude: Bright Tinted. Basically, spring with a hint of winter. Straight up warm, bright colors, tinted with a tiny bit of white.

Then I went shopping at Kohl’s (40-60% off Sportswear for misses, petites and women. Select styles. 8/20-8/27). I should take my own advice more often! I got four pieces for just over $25! The colors? Coral pink, bright cyan blue, hot pink, and a multi-bright abstract print. Seeing myself in the mirror in the dressing room really drove home the reality of my colors.

Carla recommends we take photographs in the dressing room. Here are a few I took:



And for comparison, a photo of a cute dress I got at Value Village, NWT, for $1. These softer colors are okay, other people are very complimentary when I wear them, but it just isn’t as interesting. And I feel I should be interesting 😉