Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Color Me!

Back in the 1980s, Carol Jackson published Color Me Beautiful. You may have heard of it; at the time it was a huge sensation. It was a book about which colors might look best on you. She divided people into four basic, poetically named "seasons" of spring, summer, fall, and winter. Like almost everyone else I knew, a group of friends and I went to have our seasons analyzed. It was pretty cool--you were draped in the colors that represented the different seasons, and then diagnosed as to which one looked the best. You then received one of four little booklets of fabrics that were your seasonal colors.

My mother had been diagnosed as an autumn, and since I look a lot like her, I was sure that I was an autumn too. But the person who worked on me insisted that I was a summer. I insisted again that I was an autumn. She insisted again that I was a summer, placing the summer drapes over me once more to prove it. She was definitive. By then, I was confused and figured that she must be right.

I received my little booklet of fabric swatches, and for the next 30 years enthusiastically bought cool colors.

But things were never quite right. I could not wear the pale pink colors that were supposed to be classic summer. In fact, any pale color on me just didn't look right. I then wondered if maybe I was a borderline winter. Eventually, the booklet was lost, and I deteriorated into wearing only black, pink, and blue. This lasted for years.

I never really quite liked the way I looked in any picture. I often preferred back views of my knitting:

This past fall, I wanted some change in my life. I was bored with wearing only pink and blue and black, and I decided to see if they still made color swatches. I found the Color Me Beautiful website, and sent away for a Summer color card, thinking that maybe I could find some new colors to play with. It arrived, and I found some new colors that seemed interesting.
And then I started wondering--could I become a color consultant? I thought it would fit in nicely in our shop. (People are always asking, "Which of these yarns looks better on me?") And it turned out that no one else in PA was doing color consulting.

They were delighted to have me on board. I started my training with a wonderful woman named Jill, and the first thing she did was analyze my colors. She put my picture up on her computer, and started putting drapes under it. The system is much more complex now than it was in the 1980s, with an exact analysis of your skin, hair, and eye colors along with the seasonal drapes, but as I saw her putting the drapes under my photo, a realization began to hit me long before I got her official diagnosis. I've worked every day with color for the past 10 years and could see what she was doing. I had been blind to myself before, but I could see without a doubt as she worked that I was an autumn. The official diagnosis confirmed it.

I went to bed that night, both delighted and shocked. Part of my identity had been tied to the colors I wore, and they were all gone. I felt as if my entire wardrobe and all my jewelry had been burned in a massive fire.

I loved it.

Before I got my final color palette, I got my hair recolored into a warm shade. Jill redid my colors with my new hair (the system takes into account whatever hair color you choose), and I got my new palette. It looks like this:

Teal blue, not blue. Rust, bronze, and the previously dreaded olive green. Not a pink in sight. But interestingly enough, not brown or bright orange either--which are typical autumn colors. That's what's so cool about this system: It gives you the 40 closest colors that harmonize with you. There are 300 million possible combinations. After the computer diagnosis, each of those colors is pulled by hand from thousands of possibilities.

Here's a nice little iPhone photo of how I look in my new colors:

Lest you think that color doesn't make a difference in how you look, I give you this previously unpublished front (wince) view, from just a few months before, when I had freshly dyed my hair in a beautiful cool color:

Notice that when your colors harmonize with you, your skin can go from looking unhealthy to looking healthy!

I admit that after a few months, I still sometimes feel as if I'm wearing someone else's clothes and makeup (although this whole thing does explain why an olive-green eyeshadow from college was such a favorite at the time). But I love it.

I can be stubborn (and even, I admit, rigid), which is why I clung to the pink for so long--but I also have always embraced change. I have never had more fun knitting, and I'm even looking forward to sewing a few new shirts as well--something I haven't done for years. There was a perfect creamsicle-orange fabric just waiting for me at the shop.

I still love pink and clear blue--just not on me so much. I have kept my Hello Kitty sweatshirt. Certain things are still sacred.

It's been fun to start to wear my childhood favorite color: RED.

There is probably no one out there who is wearing so many clothes that are so wrong as I was, but you'll find that if you have your colors diagnosed, you'll enjoy the new coherence in your wardrobe. And I bet it'll explain a lot of little color incidents for you, just as it did for me.Or that feeling of a closet full of clothes, with nothing to wear.

I never would have believed this, but I have fewer clothes, and more to wear. 

If you're interested, call the shop. I have appointments on the schedule starting in March. (And by the way, if you wish, I'm doing free consultations during our retreat, since all our classes are included. You would just need to buy the palette.) Or get together with a group of up to 5 friends and make an appointment with me. (They don't need to sew or knit, and you can be sneaky and tempt them this way to join all of us.)

Let's all refresh ourselves!