|the new pretty?|
why should it be so much easier to see what works on other people than it is on oneself?
i suppose i should say that's a rhetorical question, because if it isn't meant rhetorically, then it's kind of a dumb question. it's easier because you can be more objective about other people and because the truth is that unless you work in a mirror factory, you're not used to seeing yourself at all times. in fact, most of us start to get a little creeped out if we're confronted with a mirror when we're trying to work, or read, or put on tights. [no woman in the world wants to remember what she looks like putting on tights, believe me.]
when i did a draping for dom, i was surprised at how easily i could zone in on his best colours and, in fact, feel comfortable naming one season as his best. several months after starting this process, i'm not a whole lot closer to a final decision. it's not that dom is necessarily easier to peg, but that dom isn't me. critically looking at how we appear means questioning the decisions we've made about how we present ourselves and those decisions can represent a pretty significant root system underneath the surface. choices about how we dress are linked in adolescence to what we identify with, at a time when we are first starting to establish our independent identity. for many [not me, obviously] the clothing or makeup we wear becomes functional, but i think it's comparatively rare that there is no thought process behind it. it's just that we've internalised the thought process so thoroughly that we don't even notice it happening anymore. questioning what really works on you can complicate things, since it can make the process of selection slower than it has been in a long time, but it can also mean admitting that you've been wrong all that time.
i had this called to mind the other day when i wore something in a colour that made me a little uncomfortable.
really, the story starts a couple of days earlier when i saw said garment, a semi-sheer rust-coloured tunic dress, in a store. i love gauzy, layering garments and i thought this one would be striking over a number of things, depending on the exact season. but i really hesitated on the colour.
when i was a wee thing, my family redecorated their living room. one of my earliest memories is having the sofa and armchair carted away to be recovered. i can't really remember what they looked like before, but when they came back they were an earthy red-brown and a mustard yellow made from a fabric that sought out hangnails and tore them viciously when you let your guard down. thus began a lifelong hatred of warm, rusty earth tones.
so it really is testimony how much i liked the look of this piece [and how significantly it was marked down] that i swallowed my bile and brought it home.
when i saw it on, i wasn't convinced. it was definitely more on the red side of rust than brown, but even paired with some warm-toned makeup and black garments underneath, it still didn't seem like me. [plus i was afraid it was going to start searching me for hangnails.]
however, when i stopped on my way to work to get myself a very large coffee, the girl behind the counter immediately commented that the colour looked great on me and that i wore it really well.
huh? no! this is my anathema colour! this is supposed to be a sale mistake! something i can justify because it was a good buy and pull out a couple of times before it becomes permanently consigned to being "writing wear". it's like active wear, if you're main activity is sitting in front of your computer, drinking wine and trying to think of something smart to say.
i grabbed a couple of shots of myself at the office at lunch time, wanting to know if i could see what she saw. i'm not a supermodel. people don't just spontaneously tell me that i wear things really well. [and yes, i could have looked in a bathroom mirror at work, but all the bathrooms have nice, cosy deep coloured walls save one, which is painted a shade of sage green that always makes me look seasick.]
ok, these are phone shots, which tends to mean that the colours look a little more saturated than they should, plus, as you can see, the walls around me contribute some colour. i'm sitting in front of a large window, so while there is some fluorescent action happening, i'm mostly lit by the midday sun.
all this to say that these aren't the most reliable photos i've ever taken, but even so, there is pretty clearly something interesting going on with my eyes. i've taken selfies at work before and my eyes did not look that bright and blue.
"of course," i hear you say [at least i'm going to pretend that the voice i hear is you, reader], "orange is opposite blue on the colour wheel, so they intensify blue tones!"
and that's true. but not all oranges make the effect that noticeable. remember the true autumn look i did? that's even more orange, both in terms of the eye shadows and the top i'm wearing, but you don't get that same "electric" colour. indeed, this new shade of burnt orange-red seems to connect to something in my colouring, like finding that point on tempered glass that makes it shatter into pieces the size of your baby toenail.
and i find that it's not just the eye that's working in my favour here. yes, the warm-toned makeup is taking the cooler edge off my colouring, but i also saw none of that "greasy" effect that purely warm shades generally have on me. [again, the true autumn look is a great example of this.]
so how does this fit into what i've discovered about my own colouring thus far? well, i've pegged myself as a neutral season, because there's clearly a mix of cool and warm shades in me. up until this happened, i thought that the cool dominated, but it's really hard to reconcile this shade with a cool palette.
does that mean that i'm back at square one, wondering if i might be a purely warm autumn or even spring?
well, no. i'd targeted the two dark seasons and the two bright seasons as remaining possibilities. honestly, though, i'd pushed dark autumn to the fringes, because a season marked by darkness and warmth is unlikely to be a good fit for someone fair-skinned and blue-eyed like me. yes, anything can happen, but the odds are really against it.
the thing is, that shade of rust is a natural fit for an autumn palette. so is it a dark autumn type shade that i can pull off [implying that i'm a dark winter]?
or is there anyway that i can reconcile the shade with a bright palette? after all, bright winter was the season that seemed to be "leading" for me and bright spring was probably second best.
well... it's really difficult to see this as a shade from a bright palette. it's so deep and muted. i found this piece on the blog truth is beauty, which identifies a bright spring shade of pumpkin orange, i just don't know if that's what we're looking at here. i don't feel like it is. i feel like i want it to be so that it will make my life easier.
of course, it's possible that all that happened was that someone noticed that the top i was wearing made my eyes brighter and i'm thinking about this way too much. it could be that this colour doesn't work on me that well and that it's merely acceptable, made more promising because of the accord with my eyes.
this is where the dangers of subjectivity become... dangerous. if someone tells me that i look good in something, i kind of take their word for it, because they're more objective about it than i am.
so the morale of the story is, when you buy a piece of clothing that calls to you even though it seems out of your seasonal comfort zone, you should remember that if it works out, it might end up complicating your thought processes.
[for those of you who might be wondering, not that you can see too much in the photos, the makeup i'm wearing in the photos about is made up of the following: eyes :: rbr bashful flamingo, urban decay sin and hustle. mac sable, dazzlelight, satin taupe and spiced chocolate [it really didn't seem that complicated when i was doing it...], illamasqua wisdom eye liner, givenchy noir couture mascara in satin brown; cheeks :: nars torrid and guerlain terra inca radiant powder; lips :: nars golshan]