Posted by Jill Chivers in My Story

Greetings. This is blog #23 and today we’re talking about colour. Or color, depending on where you live in the world. By the way, has anyone noticed how lacking in punctuation skills I am? I do apologise to those readers who actually know about punctuation and find my lackadaisical (or is it more oblivious?) approach to it galling or annoying.

I’ve been Done. So, colour! Many women have heard of the colour system. These colour systems have been around for centuries, but it was in the early 1980s that they became popular, and women everywhere were “having their colours done”. This entailed going to see a “colour consultant” (and not one who worked out of a paint store) who would analyse and then categorise you into one of four categories: Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring.

Once your colour season was determined, you were given a colour swatch and instructed to purchase only clothing in colours that matched your colour swatch. So, if you were designated an Autumn, say, then your colour swatch would have Autumn colours on it, and you were to henceforth and forthwith to only purchase Autumn coloured clothing. And any non-Autumn clothing in your wardrobe was to be sternly appraised and hopefully dispatched from your wardrobe, never to be worn on your tawny body ever again.

And we’re doing this because…??? The whole idea behind colour systems and consultancies is that we each have a set of individual characteristics based on our personal colouring — our eyes are a certain colour, our skin has a certain tone to it, our hair has certain colour qualities to it (which, if you are a rock star or follow in their footsteps, may change with some frequency).

All these things — the colour of eyes, skin, hair — combine to form our personal colouring. The idea of colour analysis is to put clothing on our bodies that harmonises with our individual colouring . Keyword: harmonises. So, if you have Autumn colouring, say, and you wear Spring colours – well, you’ll look bad. Or not as good as you could. Or so unwell people will wonder if you have contracted a serious and chronic illness.

Don’t fence me in! I know a number of women who don’t believe in the colour system. When pressed (something I do only on unusual occasions, ahem!), their objection to “being done” (from a colour perspective, I mean) is they don’t want to be boxed in. They don’t want to be told their colours are a-b-c, which means that colours x-y-z are off limits to them. They are possibly like some men who baulk at the idea of marriage — it’s not that they don’t love the one woman in the white dress walking down the church aisle, it’s just that they fear from being deprived of all the others. In the bar. In the gym. Well, you get the idea.

Who me? I’ve not had this experience, myself. Knowing my colour direction is Warm Light (more on that in a sec – just hold up and we’ll get to it soon) has been positively liberating. It makes shopping so easy peasy lemon squeasy — I know the stuff to avoid, and the stuff to gravitate to immediately. A rack of fuchsia clothing I know is something to stay away from; a rack or orange, turquoise and sun yellow gear is something I gravitate to. That’s when I was going shopping, of course. Not an experience the last 3 months has afforded me. Naturally.

Am I really a season? The four-category system of colour has been superseded by more sophisticated systems. And thank goodness for it. I mean, does it seem plausible that every person in the world could fit into one of only four categories? Nope, not to me either. Although some people I’ve noticed around and about the place could quite reasonably be categorised as a Tsunami or at least Exceptionally Windy.

Colour systems are as old as dirt.  Seriously, way back when Socrates was still wearing short togas, colour systems were being used.  When applied to human beings, colour systems use three dimensions:

  • Depth. Is your colouring what’s called “deep” which roughly translates to dark — tanned or dark skin, dark eyes, dark hair. Or is your colouring more toward the light side – fair skin, pale eyes, light hair. Then of course, there’s the people who are a mix of the two – for example, they might have dark hair and light skin (think: Snow White, or Marilyn Manson). 
  • Temperature. Ok, are we on a cooking show now? No, this has to do with Warm and Cool…. this is where having some actual skill in colour systems comes in handy, as some of us wouldn’t know warm hair colour vs. cool if we were hit over the head with a L’Oreal box. But if we cast our collective memories back to when the Royal Family was not either divorced, dead or disgraceful, we would remember Fergie (warm — red hair, warm brown eyes, tawny skin) and Princess Di (cool – silvery blond hair, cool blue eyes, pink toned skin).
  • Clarity. Sounds like a character from the TV series Deadwood I know (“Ma naime’s Clarity. Clarity Charity Calamity Hickok. Nace to meet yer“). What this actually means is how clear/bright your colouring is, or how muted/soft/blended it is. So, if your hair, skin and eyes are all roughly “in the middle” — brown, brown and brown, say… then you might have muted or ‘soft’ colouring. If your hair, skin and eyes are all really different colourings — say jet black hair, violet blue eyes and pale skin (haven’t I just described Elizabeth Taylor in her gorgeous Cat On a Hot Tin Roof glory?), then your colouring may be described as clear or bright.

Ok, that’s Colouring 101. Entire books have been written about this topic, not to mention endless articles in magazines and the Internet about it. “Doing” yourself — trying to analyse your own colouring — has a 6.7 degree of difficulty, so I would strongly recommend that if you’re interested in knowing about your own colouring to any degree of detail or accuracy — go see a professional.

Whatever you pay for the consultation will come back to you in spades. Think of all those mistakes you wont be making at the shops.  Right?

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