The Color Code, Part I

Remember two weeks ago when we all took a look inside our closets? (Yes, I'm going to assume you did. If not, shame on you.) We talked about how they can tell very telling tales (says that fives times fast) about ourselves and our style. Well, today, let's open those doors again and pay special attention to the colors we find...and the ones we don't.

For instance, I'm looking into my closet right now, and I'm pretty proud of what I see: blues, purples, yellows, reds, greens, oranges, black...and I'm finally gaining some brown. What I don't see is white, save two things: I have one white dress I bought to wear to the beach on my wedding day, and one white button-up shirt I bought for the honeymoon. And neither of those have seen use since then.

Why? Because I crave color in my clothing. My husband pokes fun at me all the time when I'm deciding on what to wear because I try to see how many colors I can put together. Some days I'll walk into the living after getting dressed and he says, "Ohhh...look at THAT outfit!" in the way you congratulate a five-year-old who insisted on dressing herself for school. (I take it all in fun though because I know it's one of the things he loves most about me.)

I've learned by trial and error (and photos that make me look pale and sickly) what colors complement my natural makeup and what ones just wash me out. And when you wear the ones that make your eyes pop and your skin glow, it really does make a difference in your confidence.

That said, I thought it would be fun to do a two-part series on how to determine 1) what your natural tones are, and 2) the colors complement them and how to mix and match them to create confident clothing palettes. Once you have a good grasp on all of that, I think you'll find that bold colors and bright patterns aren't as scary as they seem. And yes, you can wear them. Maybe you'll even take that extra step and hit up your favorite second-hand shop to make a small investment in a bright future. Sound like fun? Then let's get started.

The Trifecta of Tone

There are three things that determine what colors look best on you: your skin tone, the color of your eyes, and the color of your hair (be it real or chemically induced). The last two are a no-brainer; you can look in a mirror and know what color your hair and eyes are. But you may not be as aware of your skin tone. A lot of magazines and blogs talk about it in terms of seasons; you're either a winter, spring, autumn or summer girl. I'll spare you the analogies and try and break it down to what's most common.

  • Group 1: For those of you out there with pale, dark or olive skin and hair that's black, dark or white blonde, usually your undertones are blue or a rosy pink.
  • Group 2: Those with creamy/peachy skin and hair that's auburn, golden or strawberry blonde usually have gold-yellow undertones in their skin, freckles and a lighter eye color.
  • Group 3: Those with skin shaded in peach, beige and golden brown and hair that's red, red-brown, dark blonde, rich brown or brown-black tend to have golden undertones in their skin and darker eye colors. 
  • Group 4: Those with pale or pink-toned skin, blonde or light- to medium-brown hair usually have skin undertones of pale blue or pale pink.

Which group do you find yourself in? If you still can't tell, I read in an article that you can use your veins as guides. It said if they appear more green, warmer colors go better with your skin tone; if they appear more blue, cooler colors are they way to go. (Hey, it's worth a shot, right?)

Now that you've taken a closer look at your epidermis (Remember that joke from school? Well, it really IS showing...) I'm going to leave you on the edge of your seat until next week, where we'll talk about ideal skin tone and color combinations, and reintroduce ourselves to the glory of the color wheel (can you say primary, secondary and tertiary?).

In the meantime, take what you've learned today and start experimenting with what is in your closet right now. Hold up a shirt and see if it heightens or dulls the color of your eyes, skin and hair, then take notes and bring them to class next Wednesday!

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