When Good Clothes are Hard to Find
The first issue of Signature/STYLE, which featured lightweight dresses, was fairly easy to put together using our joint skill sets. Since we knew already where to find the kinds of styles we were looking for, it came together with only a few tough parts, which were eventually resolved with a little extra elbow grease.
For the present issues (Coats and Jackets), it became obvious fairly quickly that we were going to need to search vastly more territory to come up with fabulous options for all of you. While this topic may have proven more challenging than most, compromises around shopping will always require from us some informed navigation. Like you, we know first hand that the better you understand your own colouring and style, the more of a test successful shopping becomes.
Perfectly coloured items with ideal styling are rare indeed. The same indecision and negotiation factor in when we shop for ourselves. Though a colour or image analyst might place an item in one category for theoretical reasons, women building real life wardrobes will find more great items by being more lenient about certain margins, though remaining more rigid about others.
So let us talk about moving towards a very excellent and flattering wardrobe by making smart compromises in the right direction. We know that this flex ability is quite real. When we harmonize much of the clothing that we own or judge in stores, it fits into at least two Seasons almost equally well. The only fabrics that are consistently absolute to one single Season are the 12 Blueprints Test Drapes. Even the Luxury Drapes flow more freely to help clients understand their colour ranges.
Very importantly when you choose garments, match the entire fanned out palette rather than the single swatch. I only look at the same colour strip briefly to get my bearings, recognizing that each Season has thousands more versions of most hues in the book. If you shop online, hold the open palette to the screen, or keep an image of the palette open behind the shopping window. The colour collection represents a variety of the colours in you, your eyes, skin tones, and the circulation under the skin. The garment will be seen next to all of these.
Often, the discordances become more obvious when you consider the garment against these colours than those of the swatches that are quite close. To choose a green, try to make outfits with all the colours except green. Nobody can match colour by eye. Does the green work with several blues, the lipstick colours, the neutrals? Whether the outfits are esthetically appealing is less important since the matter of taste will mean differences of opinion. Look instead for equal relationships, rather than one being lost or dominated. Be very watchful of distortions. If the green is causing the lipsticks to look like mud or food, if the neutrals are looking yellow, this is what the effect will be for your lips, cheeks, and skin.
Imagine the entire palette and the feelings it evokes with the item. If you look at a blue blouse, picture the blue with Summer's lavenders and soft fuchsias, Winter black and white, Spring buttercup, and Autumn paprika and clove. You should be able to feel a rational and comfortable connection, a feeling that they share something or are logical extensions of one another. Just getting an item placed in the right parent Season group will look so much better than many other choices you might have purchased. They have enough in common to be perfectly workable in a wardrobe.
Most Seasons wear their core colours quite easily. For Summer, the mauve and pink blues are very adaptable. Most any blue of this type is easy. Mauve and pink grey tones in every colour will be what pull the whole look together as an extension of the native colours. Springs carry buttery yellows easily. Even traditional cool colours of blue, green, and purple will have a feeling of yellow streaming out of the colour, belonging in that landscape, or being visible in the folds and movement of the fabric. Autumn is near effortless in a variety of brick, terra cotta, and rust. Picture these lipsticks with any item you think of buying. If they work together, there will be enough of these reds in the item to be very attractive. Red is added to Spring yellow pigment to make Autumn gold, meaning that even if you can't see the red, it is there if a colour is warm enough to belong to Autumn. Winters can exchange red-violets without needing much adjusting of other things. Confirming a Winter colour just means that it can balance pure black and white.
Certain colours seem able to adjust to the wearer. Teal and burgundy are accommodating to all five Autumn Seasons, the Summer versions being a touch dusted and the Winter more intense. Turquoise and coral are very elastic on the Spring side, where the Summer-influenced woman wears colours that feel gentle and the Winters, strong. Medium periwinkle blues seem as if they would fit into all 12 Seasons, as could a neutral champagne beige.
Black is truly too easy to find, and in the most styles. For all 5 Winter types, including the True Winter who wants more individuality and interest, it can be adapted in necklines and accessories. If black or near-black are in your palette, your jewelry will work. Add the livelier colours, creative accessories, linings, buttons, shine or sheer textures, even construction details like pleats and tucks, to take the viewer's attention away from the black.
Consider what the colouring group cares about most. Cool colouring is happy to work with the traditional cool colours of purple, blue, and green. As long as the colour contains no heat, a range of saturations and darkness levels is accepted.
Golden yellows and red browns work the same way for the warm True Spring and True Autumn. They are far warmer than they are extreme in value or colour concentration, so warm colourings will gladly tolerate them. This is true of many neutrals too. Autumn gray joins into great outfits with many Spring colours, albeit not all of them, just by being very warm.
When we look at you, we see all of you, all your features and colours, together at once with our attention divided equally. Your native reds are not stronger or unbalanced relative to your greens or yellows. The same is true of your fanned out palette, that every colour plays an equal role, including neutrals, lights, and darks. When you fan your palette on garments, you may find that the cool pinks are suddenly too strong or the yellows too bright, but overall, there are no distortions or disagreeable combinations. Don't pass up this kind of purchase if the style lines are correct. Keep in your plan to wear the warmer lipsticks with it and nothing containing yellow.
Red is a colour to try to get right. It is very reactive with skin, which is why we rely so heavily on it to determine the heat level of the undertone in testing scenarios. Red is the colour of our blood, a hue to which human beings are highly sensitive, to the point of being able to see it through the semi-translucent surface skin. If seen right next to the face, any discrepancy between cheek or lip colours, both natural and cosmetic, becomes more obvious. Light Spring's natural complexion will look pale and her cosmetics weak if she wears Bright Spring red. If lips and cheeks seem faded or weak, it speaks to the state of our health and strength. The premise of colour and style analysis is that adding more of what you already are is the most (the only) convincing beauty. How much you add is up to you. With red, it really is best to be truthful to your correct red or avoid the colour near the face.
Certain colours resonate unpredictably with certain individuals. For many True Summers and True Winters, they are truly noble in many greens. Sometimes, for a Bright Winter, yellow is the hue where most every choice seems to be lovely. Be certain to ask your colour analyst to identify these colours for you. You have more room to move when your native colouring cooperates.
Since it would take volumes to discuss realistic shopping for all types of garments, I will use coats as the primary example from which you will hopefully be able to extrapolate. The vast majority of coats out there, or at least half, tend to be one of a few styles which repeats over and over again. These might include items like pea coats, trench coats, anoraks, standard puffer coats, etc. For some types these are perfectly well suited, if a bit uninteresting at times, while for others it becomes very hard to see anything particularly flattering about them.
In general, if we are speaking about coats which will mostly be made of wool, they will tend to move more towards tailoring, and more towards straight silhouettes, the easiest looks to achieve in this type of fabrication. This means that in general, archetypes which are more Yang and the base archetypes who wear stiffer garments will have an easier time, while Yin archetypes and base archetypes who wear softer, flowy-er garments will find less. Doubtless if we were talking about evening gowns, or something to wear to an amusement park, we'd see that the archetypes that find the most options would shift. Each garment type will have it's own tendencies this way, which is why it isn't particularly harder to be one archetype than another.
On this note, it will therefore be necessary for women of all archetypes to know both what to look for and also what never to do. Sometimes what we avoid in dressing can be as powerful as what we embrace. It will be of use, I think, to look over these notes for each archetype. When trying to place a color in a particular season, it is useful to try to figure out next to which palette the color is the least distorted. It could also be said that the archetypes are defined by what does not distort either the woman or the garment. Does the garment make the woman's shoulders look big, heavy and masculine? Does the woman make the dress look noisy and hectic? It is the nature of the human eye both to see things by comparison and to feel at ease when it sees like with like.
Both Dramatic types adapt things that are large scale, bold, and striking very well. A little harder or softer, seems not to be quite so important for her as having and overall feeling of being exceptional, avant-garde, lavish, or over-the-top as well as large in overall scale. For one woman this might mean austere minimalism, for another a massive hood and sweeping floor lengths, but the main point is to create an appearance which has grandeur and makes a statement. Steering in this direction will inherently avoid any chance of being cutesy or frou-frou, the qualities most in opposition to the Dramatic types' inherent brand of splendor. A very traditional look, another pitfall of dowdiness for her, should also be avoided by heading in this general direction.
The hallmark of the Natural types is a feeling of effortless ease and relaxation. These women are grounded and comfortable to be around, and have a friendly approachability which is among their greatest assets. For this reason, adding excessive stiffness or anything overly contrived creates a palpable tension for both the woman herself and those around her. Like the Dramatic types, she adds apparent years in proportion to how traditional her clothing feels, and in such attire often one has the sensation of watching someone smile and chat and run the meeting while wearing a straightjacket. Aligning herself with nature in some way, via texture, outdoorsy or utility effects, or anything that feels handmade automatically steers her away from that which is most diametrically opposed to her.
Classic women have the seemingly magical quality of being able to make relatively conservative, simple pieces elegant and exciting by their mere association with her. A little bit goes a very long way on these women, however conversely they are very easily overwhelmed. A bit of eccentricity becomes downright bizarre, an inexpensive looking fabric becomes unforgivably cheap. One bow of moderate size communicates a world of femininity on the Yin Classic, while a sharpened lapel is more than enough to communicate the edgy sophistication of Yang Classic. By seeking timeless designs that will always be worn, available, and in good taste regardless of the current trend, she avoids that which would be sloppy, cartoonish, or strange on her.
The Gamine types are singular in their ability to balance an extremely high level of design energy and activity. A major part of what enables them to do this without looking like a parade float is that both the people and their garments are smaller in scale. What makes sense in miniature would assault the senses in a larger proportion. Adult energy contained in a small person has a radiant, upward and outward feeling, which makes Gamine women quite energizing to be around. Consequentially, she does well to avoid anything that feels heavy, languid, or overly serious, lest it suffocate her sparkle as a candle snuffer does a flame (as an aside, this is precisely how long hair behaves on this woman). Choosing pieces with a youthful spirit will lead the Gamine away from that which would eclipse her.
The Romantic types are the epitome of lush and fertile feminine appeal. Most often, this impression is driven by two main features: the proportions of her body, and particularly the ratio of the waist to the hip and bustlines, and her overall extreme softness. The Romantic woman inspires a dreamy sigh upon entering the room, somewhat akin to what might be uttered while burrowing one's face in a soft fur blanket. In order to maintain her natural gifts, it is therefore necessary for Romantic women to prioritize and overall feeling of softness and extreme femininity above all else. Depending on her proportions, a visible waistline may be necessary as well. Garments that recall a time in history when this type of dressing was the norm for women will move her away from that which is too hard or too aggressively modern to flatter her.
In an analysis situation, it is important to be very precise. This is because the analysis is what determines where we are placing the bullseye. In the practical world of shopping, you are inevitably going to play a casual game of darts with your bullseye, which will involve purchasing a lot of things that are plenty close enough to score points. Which is well and good and as it should be, provided you know what you were aiming for to begin with. Prioritize those things which are most important to create your most flattering and exciting appearance and don't let perfect be the enemy of good. In the real world, pretty great is actually pretty amazing.