Dress to Impress – Find Out How? – 3. Instalment – The Importance of Colour

Another Sunday and another step towards looking your best -today we are finding out how colours can influence your look.

The Importance of Colour

Colours have a great influence on your femininity. They send out all kinds of messages. Think of black. It is known to look sexy when worn as lingerie; however, as the colour of a judge’s robe it imposes authority . White is known to stand for purity, but a white bikini on a tanned body looks very appealing. It is impossible to say that one colour is more becoming than another. What makes the difference is the person who is wearing it, and how the colour contrasts with her skin.

The contrast a colour creates is very important because contrasts bring out vitality, and vitality is associated, even if unconsciously, with attractiveness. For example, a blond dressed in black or a brunette in beige will look more vibrant than the reverse. A blond dressed all in beige or white will project a monochromatic look and appear a bit lifeless. Only strong make-up can improve the situation. (I can speak from experience here, being a blond myself.) If you are blond and wish to look alive, make sure that you wear your beige ,suit with a dark-coloured blouse or sweater, such as black, brown, rust, or burgundy. A white or pastel shade will look well on a brunette with olive skin.

Colours affect how we look and how others see us, more so than style. (We say, for instance, that a dark colour is authoritative—without even mentioning the style of a garment.) Colour is the first thing in our wardrobe to which we should give our attention. No style or design can make up for a lack of colour co-ordination, or for a shade that does not complement a person’s complexion, personality, or lifestyle.

LOOKING AT WHAT YOU HAVE

Many fashion designers never follow any guidelines; ignoring all the rules, they trust their instincts. I am asking you to do just that. Look at yourself and the colours you wear and decide what you like and what you feel good in. If you answer that you really don’t know, now is the time to find out. I know from working with women that there is hardly a woman alive who doesn’t react when something looks well on her, provided she makes a real effort to notice. Therefore, the first thing I am asking you to do is trust your own judgment. When you are in doubt, the colour is not for you. If it were, you would have immediately responded to it in a positive way.

What you need to do now is work with your present wardrobe. Try on your clothes and look at yourself. Do you like what you see? Maybe you think: I never should have bought the burgundy blouse for the charcoal-grey suit—it’s drab. Well, why not try the white blouse instead? See how much livelier that looks? The message here is that two muted colours don’t enhance your appearance because your face needs more light.

NOTE – Never (if you wear make-up) try on clothes without make-up; the results will not be dependable

Trying on all your clothes will help you learn more. You may find, for example, that navy isn’t really a great colour on you; you liked yourself better in burgundy or grey. This exercise will prove that you do indeed know what colour is just right for you.

CHECKING OUT THE UNFAMILIAR

Since your wardrobe, like most wardrobes, doesn’t contain all colours, now is the time to experiment with some shades you’ve never worn before. Most shops let you try on clothes before making a purchase. If, for example, lavender or charcoal grey are among those never-before-worn colours, find out now how they look on you. Remember not to listen to the salesperson—decide for yourself. Also, don’t think that another style might make a difference. If the shade isn’t becoming, another style won’t make it more attractive. (To illustrate this point, think of the times you’ve tried on something and thought: ‘If this were in a different colour I’d like it,’ or ‘The colour is nice but the style isn’t for me.’) You must consider the colour before the style. Never prejudge: try it on and look. If a blouse you want to buy comes in six colours, it’s a good idea to try on several to see the most flattering.

Also don’t forget that colours come in many different shades. While brown might not be appropriate for you, tan might be. Often we are too general in our assessment of colours. We don’t consider the many different tones that exist. Beige is a good example: there are lots of different beige. If a very light tone makes you look lifeless a camel tone might look smashing.By the way, the richer and more unusual shades can often be found only in more expensive garments. The higher price might be worth it if the shade in question suits you especially well

 NOTE – When shopping and trying to decide whether a certain colour is good for you, try to look at it in daylight. Artificial light changes colours. Go to the door of the boutique or to a window in a department store. If this isn’t possible, check it at home. If you find it to be unsuitable, take the trouble to return it. Don’t compromise when it comes to your looks. The contrary applies when buying an evening dress or a garment to be worn mainly in artificial light: try it on in that light. Many colours that look well in daylight appear drab or ugly in the evening.

 Once you have done your research, you will see that there are many colours that suit you. However, for practical purposes—budget, lifestyle, and easier co-ordination of your wardrobe—you will have to eliminate some.

Let’s start with your budget. Your funds are probably limited, which means that you have to plan your wardrobe to get the most for your money—many different looks with relatively few pieces. These pieces have to match any way you put them together. You cannot have both a navy-blue and black suit because they and their accessories can’t be interchanged. The best solution is to pick two colours that suit you well and build your wardrobe around them.

Of course, if these two colours are red and royal blue, they might not fit your lifestyle, which is your next consideration. Red and royal blue would not be suitable as basic colours. They are noticed and remembered too easily by others and they are inappropriate in many situations. So you should concentrate on the neutral tones that suit you: black, white, grey, brown, beige, navy, and so on. From these pick two for the basic items in your wardrobe, such as coats, suits, dresses, trousers, and skirts. Don’t worry about being too monotone in your look, for there are endless variations and shades in these colours. Another advantage of basic colours is that you will never look out of place, either at work or in a more casual setting. Furthermore, you will never be overpowered by these shades. I’m referring not only to your complexion but also to your personality. It takes a certain bravado and energy to carry off flamboyant colours. Unless you have plenty of both, you will feel and look uncomfortable in, such as, a bright pink. You can see how true this is when you think of days when you don’t feel well; don’t you automatically choose a darker outfit? This comes from your unconscious desire to fade into the background.

NOTE –When you’re tired, it’s better not to wear black at all. Instead, put a lighter shade next to your face.

Now look at the bright colours that you found becoming. Just because they don’t fit your lifestyle as basics doesn’t mean that you have to live without them. You can wear them in small quantities: in a scarf, belt, blouse, bag, and, if you are daring, as the colour of a pair of shoes. Did you ever own a pair of red shoes? They go with more outfits than you realise. They brighten up a grey dress, a navy suit, or a black skirt. Red also looks very fashionable with beige; a red blouse can work wonders with a beige suit.

Another reason that can help you decide on a colour is the type of fabric. A heavy fabric projects a colour more strongly than a thinner, finer material. There seems to be more of it. Take yellow, for example. In a wool fabric, it will be too bright for most of us. But the same colour in chiffon or silk is very soft and feminine.

Sometimes it happens that a colour unflattering to you is needed to complete an outfit. Let’s say you have a tweed jacket with a bit of green in it. A green blouse or sweater would certainly complete the outfit, but since green is not a good colour for you, choose a green skirt instead—it is far enough from your face not to be unbecoming. In other words, keep an unflattering colour away from your face. This type of compromise is sometimes necessary to extend your wardrobe.

NOTE  – Don’t worry too much about the latest fashion colour. It is never the only colour to be worn, even if it is the dominant one of the season. If it is suitable for your looks and your lifestyle, by all means wear it. If not, don’t feel too bad. Remember that looking terrific is more important than looking fashionable.

I think for today we will leave at this – there is much more to say about colour, but I don’t want to overwhelm you – this is quite a bit to digest –

Until next Sunday when we will talk about Black and what colours co-ordinate well.

And never forget – A Smile Changes Everything!

Brigitte

 

 

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