Nov 252013

The artistic principle underlying most color systems is using similar to enhance similar.  For example, wearing a top or earrings in your eye color is generally flattering because it brings out the color in your eyes.  Until just now, though, I had never considered applying that principle to my nail polish.  Especially not my toenail polish.

My daughter just explained to me how, when she was a teenager, she realized that blues and greens made her feet look knobby (which makes sense: they would intensify shadows).  She started painting her toenails pale pink and liked her feet better.

This discussion took place in the context of choosing new nail polish. My favorite (Sally Hansen Insta-dri) is on sale right now down the street, but it is also a good deal on Amazon (Shop Amazon Gold Box – New Deals. Everyday).
Addendum: I have noticed, since writing this, that pale pink may NOT be the best color for my fingernails. My hands can be red and dry and I really struggle with hangnails. Slate gray is a current favorite.

The great thing about a nude color is the chips don’t show, but I can get nearly a week out of a manicure topped with an extra coat of clear and Out The Door.

Oct 302013

“Many pitfalls of frumpiness can be avoided by not mixing shapes within an outfit.”

A few years ago, I made the above remark without a satisfactory explanation. Yesterday, I was feeling frumpy. Now I have lost the previous article. Oh well!

In the previous article, we established satisfactorily the link between unflattering fit and frumpiness. Unflattering fit and mixing shapes within an outfit are closely related. Both create silhouette problems.

The key to a flattering silhouette is maintaining a recognizable shape. Different theorists have developed different silhouette profiles; I like the system taught in The Triumph of Individual Style. Within this system, there are six different silhouettes which could be realized by the head-to-toe shape(s) created by clothes on the body: rectangle, hourglass, A-line triangle, inverted triangle, figure 8, and oval. Mixing within an outfit results in an outline deviating from these shapes. A classic example is the pear:  that is, usually, a rectangle top paired with an oval bottom.

But I don’t think that is my problem.

The word frumpy implies:

  1. unflattering fit,
  2. conservative or matronly fabric too stiff or too drapey,
  3. outdated (as opposed to classic) less current than the critic would prefer ;),
  4. inappropriate to the setting.

In this case, I am my own worst critic. And, before putting money and energy into Fall/Winter 2013/14, I will be revisiting the Three Fashion Cycles.   Because I think my offense is against principle number 3.

May 012013

Originally posted in February 2006.  Wow!  That was a LONG time ago.

Zappos, Great Items
In applying artistic principles to one’s visual appearance, it is beneficial to understand the properties of color. They are:

  • Hue: the dimension of color that defines its place on the color wheel. In other words, what we perceive as different “colors” (red, violet, blue, and so on).
  • Value: the lightness or darkness of a color.
  • Saturation (aka “chroma”): how intense or muted the color appears.

The Inter-Society Color Council at the National Bureau of Standards provides a system for standardization of color designations based on Munsell color notation. Most of us don’t need to be that specific.

As a practical first step to applying these principles, determine your dominant color characteristic. Ask yourself, what is most noticeable about my coloring? A very fair-skinned blonde might be noticed first for the lightness of her personal coloring, thereby making value her most obvious color characteristic. The warm (orange) coloring of a red-head may dominate, while someone else may be most obviously muted or intense.

More later on using color to create harmony and contrast. Questions?

Dec 202010

Fool-proof sign your outfit does not work:

On first sight, your courteous family member, friend, or acquaintance cannot keep their eyes from straying to an area other than your face.  Then they don’t say anything.  I generally discover the draw to be a point of greater contrast than that present in my natural coloring.

Never rely on compliments to establish whether a piece or an ensemble is flattering.  The reason?  For some odd reason, when people notice something that really grabs their attention way they tend to pop off with a compliment, whether they really like it or not.  In other words, kind words about your appearance could mean anything from, “I wish I looked that great!” to “What was she thinking?!?”

lol.  Merry Christmas!

Dec 102010

Are you a homophiliac?

Homophily theory predicts that people are more likely to interact with individuals similar to themselves in respect to a variety of qualities and characteristics (McPherson, Smith-Lovin, & Cook, 2001; Monge & Contractor, 2003). In particular, extensive research has been done to investigate how homophily in age, gender, race, education, occupation, and values, for instance, influences the formation of network ties in communities, voluntary organizations, private businesses, etc. (see McPherson, et al., 2001 for a comprehensive review). Overall, the theory has received widespread support in diverse contexts.

Yuan, Y. C., and Gay, G. (2006). Homophily of network ties and bonding and bridging social capital in computer-mediated distributed teams. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(4), article 9. 

In other words, people really do like similar others more.

By whom do you wish to be liked?  And what do they wear?

Jul 302010

dressing-the-man.jpgHere’s a tip borrowed from the guys:  If you are going to buy a blazer this fall, or a sweater or a vest, your best color option is — drumroll please — your haircolor. Picture it. Your hair and your jacket working together to form a frame to flatter your face, making it the focal point of your outfit.

(Since I am not likely to find a silver suit, I have bought two brown tweed suits – one with trousers, one with a skirt -to wear this fall.)

Sep 142009

I’ve been asked a number of times for more detail on building a color strategy based on one’s own personal coloring.  Currently my best thoughts are these.

Step 1:  choose a frame neutral or two

If you were a man and building a simple, formal business wardrobe from scratch, I’d first advise you to buy a suit in a color which blends with your hair color (Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion), forming a sort of visual frame for your face.  Depending on your lifestyle, the season, and templates you like to use, you may use this color for jackets and cardigans or sweaters and jewelry.

  • if you have dark hair, look good in black, and need a business wardrobe – by all means, choose black!
  • for me, it’s not quite that simple.  The main thing is to choose a flattering color in the right value (light vs dark).
  • It’s not necessary to choose a neutral.  One young lady I know, with auburn hair and green eyes, uses purple as a wardrobe staple.

Step 2:  identify the color range you can choose more freely from

  • For many this will be the eye color.
  • Alternatively, hemoglobin color is an especially good option for those with brown eyes.  This is what I do, using a range from peach to coral pink on the light end to coral as my bright to a burgundy as dark as my eyes.
  • With gray eyes and hair, and lips so cool in tone as to be almost purple, I have another friend who could choose a range from lavendar to deeper purple.

Step 3:  choose your accent color or neutral

  • This could be black or white
  • It could be your eye color, if you haven’t already used it.
  • Do you have something specific to your idiom that you want to use as an accent, such as a collection of turquoise jewelry?

Beyond these basics, everything is chosen for its ability to blend with your basic skeleton of colors.  For additional variety, you could use a different color scheme for each season. 

Aug 242009

idiom: A style of artistic expression characteristic of a given individual …

So much more individual than a style type designation, your personal idiom expresses the inner you to the outer world. Daily demands, personal coloring and silhouette, your lifestyle, even your budget, all combine with your fashion personality and many other variables to form a style of artistic expression all your own.  (One of those variables is how you choose to interact with movements within the realm of fashion and trend.)

Congruence is the name of the game. If you express yourself consistently within your own idiom, people will naturally be drawn to your personality, as it will be showing, and you will be easier to be around. 

Recently my sister decided to include a print in each outfit.  One daughter is going heavily after gray this fall (heavily for this thrifty chica is a couple of t-shirts, buy one get one for $1, a scarf, and a pair of tights).  Mom has lost weight and is deleting everything that doesn’t fit.  I’m still thinking.

Looking toward fall, what will characterize the style of your artistic expression? 

Aug 142009

The short answer is: it’s Biblical.

Often, as young people move towards finding their own personal style idiom, they either experiment or rebel. While rebellion can often be avoided (IMO most rebellion can be avoided by not forcing kids to wear polo shirts), I consider experimenting to be rather a normal part of this stage of life.

And experimenting can get into some androgynous looks: men wearing makeup, women with short hair, and so on. The dangers in these things are, as I see them:

  1. people really not being able to tell if you are a boy or a girl.
  2. portraying the wrong idea regarding your *interests*.

So, while I encourage experimenting to develop your own style, it seems best to take care to maintain your God-given gender identity.  In other words, make sure that it is obvious you are female.

Some ideas that might help:

  1. Carry a purse.  (This works for all kinds of things – like being able to distinguish between the workers and the shoppers in a store.)
  2. If your hair is short, wear girly earrings.  Or a scarf.
  3. Buy girl fit shirts, rather than wearing men’s.

More suggestions?