Closet 101 Style

Color Me Beautiful

I remember the first time I ever heard of the book Color Me Beautiful.

The whole thing came originally via a snippet from one of my favorite books of all time, Bridget Jones Diary, where Bridget’s mother keeps nagging her to “get her colors done.” I had no idea what that meant, so went to go look it up, and eventually I came across Carole Jackson’s book. Funnily enough, I know that I read it front to back at the time – but when I rediscovered this book in my wardrobe, I couldn’t remember a thing. What season was I again? Color personality, wha…?

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I tried to give the book another go, since the idea of “coloring myself beautiful” was too tempting to resist. I think we all can remember wearing something and being told “that looks great on you.” And more recently, while trying on a lace trimmed cream Dior dress, I was informed by my blunt friend (the best kind to take with you shopping), “you look blotchy and ill.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just wear those colors all the time, that made us look “so great…” and avoid those that make us look terrible? When I re-discovered the book, it had been more than a decade since I first read it, and I still had no clue as to what colors looked better on me. And unfortunately, after giving Color Me Beautiful another try and scouring internet articles and YouTube videos, I still don’t really know. I held up different metals to my face to see which made me “glow”. I looked at what color my veins were underneath my skin, to see if I was “cool” or “warm”. I tried to figure out what was really my color – gray or taupe or graphite? And did I really want to find out what my colors were? I already had quite a lot invested in my closet….in an existing set of colors.

If I sound doubtful of color theory, that would be wrong. I’ve seen on other people how colors can light up their face – and my ongoing US Magazine subscription has provided ample opportunity to see how color theory in action on celebrities. Lupita on the left looks wonderful in strong green – while Kate looks beautiful in a sunny pastel yellow.

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It seems like the best way then, for me at least, to find out my “colors” may be to just look at old photos. But currently I lack high resolution, full body length photos of myself in gowns in various colors of the rainbow. That will be my very slow, plodding battle plan…and I hope I can report back!

Okay – now I’d really love to hear how all of you out there manage to find your best “colors”. Do you have certain hues that just look better on you, and do you avoid others? How did you find them?

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  • laura
    June 9, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Certain greens make me look absolutely horrid – so I tend to stay away from kelly green, otherwise I tend to take on a sickish color. Orange is not a great color, and yellow only if its an accent color. 😉 Most everything else i’m good with though!

    • Katherine
      June 9, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      It sounds like you definitely know your colors, which is great!

  • Petti
    June 9, 2014 at 10:57 am

    I try not to wear white now just because white makes me look even bigger…but otherwise I’m ok with most colour.

    • Katherine
      June 9, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      I have the same experience at times and especially if it’s a high neck/turtle neck item.

  • diane
    June 9, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I tend to be a “uniform” dresser. I am what color analysts would call a “winter”. Within that category, however, some colors do not work for me. I am pale skinned and gray haired. I do not wear black, white, or any shade of brown or green next to my face. Otherwise, I look ready for embalming. I use gray, white, denim, and khaki for pants and skirts. I use bright blues, reds, purples, etc for tops. If I wear charcoal gray in winter, I use a bright colored scarf to give my face some color. I have a close friend who was very helpful in steering me into the right colors as my hair grayed. When I wore what she suggested, I got compliments. Plus, she wasn’t afraid to point at something and say, “Salvation Army bag!” It’s worked. And it makes shopping simple.

    A style book that I found interesting was “Style Statement: Live By Your Own Design” by Carrie McCarthy. (I think it may still be available on Amazon.) I actually did a phone consultation with one of the authors (she was in Canada & I am in California) and she was spot on with her style analysis at the time. I don’t think the business is currently in existence but I still have a copy of the book. I think I kept it because, although it’s a paperback, it is printed on nice paper and has great photos. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m going to pull it out and take another look at it.

    • Katherine
      June 9, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      I need to drag my helpful friend over to my closet for some more help too. Thank you for the book recommendation – I will look it up on amazon later. A phone consultation (or over webcam!) would be so helpful in my opinion!

      • diane
        June 10, 2014 at 6:34 am

        Katherine,
        I’ve been thinking about this topic off and on since I read your post yesterday. It occurs to me that not only did I need to listen to outside opinions about my “best colors”, I also had to overcome a number of biases that I acquired growing up. I know that silver is better for me than gold but it took a long time for me to accept it. I was raised to believe that “real” jewelry is gold. Granted, I am probably a lot older than most of your readers, but from 7th grade until I went to college (and temporarily turned into a bit of a boho), I was also trained that my shoes and bag should always match….and if it was financially feasible, and a winter coat was required, that should also match. Seems crazy now. I do think that if we hold on to some of those traditions too long, they become outdated and then they date us. I should probably be posting this on a site with an older demographic…..your generation seems to have this figured out a lot better than we did.

        • Tuliphead
          July 6, 2014 at 12:56 am

          Judging by appearances I’m not that much older than Katherine but I was taught the same things by my fiscally conservative mother. It made sense for your accessories to match during a time when woman typically purchased an entire outfit and clothing was much more expensive than it it now. To my eye, despite aging or dating us, it still looks more expensive. Have you ever looked at a photo of Jackie Kennedy and thought she’d look so much cooler if her shoes and handbag didn’t match?

  • swisshera
    June 9, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    you are right, sometimes even a color looks good on hanger, it looks so different even you try it on with the current complexion especially if we get tanned so easily. I had learned my lesson for not wearing anything brown and tan

    • Katherine
      June 9, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      Brown is bad for me as well!

  • Pret a Porter P
    June 9, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    sometimes you can just go by what other people say, and you can kind of figure it out on your own by looking in the mirror. I look better in “cool” toned colors: white, silver, cream, and light grey…but I know a warm color like beige washes me out. I know I look better in white, but it’s just a lot easier to wear black. And then I think jewel tones look good on pretty much everybody. Gold doesn’t do anything directly on my skin, but works on me if I wear it with silver (or better yet if it’s rose gold), or with black clothing.

    • Katherine
      June 9, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      Oh I forgot about ROSE! I love rose gold too and have a few pieces in it. It’s a great “in between” in my opinion, very flattering.

  • Trang
    June 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Keep meaning to respond and life keeps getting in the way. Since you are a big Hermes fan, have you ever just wandered up to their silk section and asked a random salesperson for their advice? Most of them are very good at matching colors (it is their job after all) to skin tone and they go through enough customers and scarf colors that they have a great number of data points for comparison. It really wasn’t until I started wearing scarves that I learned about flattering colors for my skin. Keep us updated on what you find out. I have a few hunches about your colors and would love to hear your thoughts!

    • Katherine
      June 10, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      Trang that is such a good idea! I have never thought of that, probably because I largely buy shawls (And only a few!). But those SAs have seen it all and have so many colors at their disposal too.

      I’d love to hear your hunch, you strike me as somebody with very good color experience!

      • Trang
        June 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm

        Thanks Kat. This is very flattering. My color experience has been through trial and error and reflecting upon the clothes that I pull out of my closet the most. Those always are because the color makes me glow. It is often hard to analyze skin color over pictures and computer screens, but I will take a stab and say that I’d love to see you in some jewel tones – Reds, purples, and especially teals! Even though you state a strong preference for neutrals, I think strong colors could suit you really well. Just some thoughts.

        • Katherine
          June 24, 2014 at 3:27 pm

          Hi Trang, thanks so much! I actually love reds and purples too..and corals but you are right, I rarely buy them. I just purchased a very bright pink cardigan lol so we’ll see how that works out!

  • lpm
    June 11, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    I chuckled at this post because just last week I was also trying to figure out my color palette. I read Jackson’s book in high school, and I had a pretty good idea in which season I belonged. But I recently learned that there are sub-seasons,which makes sense because I noticed there were colors in my season that were not as flattering. I ordered this book in order to learn more: http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/1478300604/ref=oh_details_o00_s01_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    • Katherine
      June 14, 2014 at 7:46 pm

      I had no idea there were subseasons until you pointed it out and it does make sense. Thanks for the recommendation!