Skip to main content

my sci/art project

teach me your magic!
some of you may remember that last year, i embarked on a study of seasonal colour analysis. not having a whole lot else to work with, i used myself as my model. then i used dom. i found it easier to look at dom's colours objectively, because i'm actually capable of being somewhat objective about the way he looks. doing this for yourself is hard, which is why you're not supposed to. someone who's gone through training and knows what to look for is supposed to do it. this whole exercise feels like i just optimistically started trying to fix a small leak and now i realise i've torn out all the plumbing. i can't just leave it like that.

at different times, i've thought i might be at least half of the available twelve sci/art seasons and, truth be told, i'm probably more confused than i was going in, but i think i'm confused in the right direction. what the hell does that mean? it means that rather than making assumptions about what colours i can and can't wear, i've actually looked at how different colours appear against my skin. and what i've discovered is that it makes a massive difference. wearing the 'right' colours makes me look more awake, makes my skin look more even, makes my eyes look brighter. more terrifying, i found that the colours i'd been choosing for myself were largely... wrong.

my attempts thus far have focused on trying to take seasonal colour palettes and use them on my face, or on my body to see how they looked. today, thanks to a rush of energy and freezing temperatures outside, i decided to approach things another way. i gathered up as many differently colour garments, pillowcases, towels, anything as i could find and took photos of me draped in all of them. not at once. one at a time. because i figure that if i can't figure out which palette works best for me, maybe i can figure out which individual colours do and i can see what the resulting palette looks like.

it's probably a good thing that you may not have met me when i get going on a project. i understand that i can be a little bit scary.

but one hour of searching, three hundred and seven photos, an hour and a half of selecting one photos per garment, an hour of choosing favourites, half and hour of dom choosing favourites and two hours of cleaning up have yielded... a bunch of photos and a blog post.

A MUCH LONGER BLOG POST...



here's a quick look at all the faces with all the colours. dom and i both looked at them and put them in order from best to worst, then ordered the groups from best to worst. but to keep things even, i've mixed up the order here. the idea is to find colours that make the skin look brighter, more even and younger. things like wrinkles, eye bags and sun spots [or freckles] should be minimized. shades that cause a yellow cast on the skin or eyes, that seem to add weight or that drain the lips of colour are ones that you want to avoid.

reds
oranges
yellows
greens
blues
purples
pinks
browns
greys and blacks
whites and beiges
if you'd like to take a closer look, each of those photos does get bigger if you click on them. i decided to spare you going through each one with my observations, because the point of me telling and showing you all this is that i feel like this is probably the approach i should have taken from the beginning, taking the widest sample possible lets you really see how your skin reacts overall to slight shifts in colour. indeed, some of the greys seem very close and, in fact, the differences are more evident in the skin than in the fabric when you see them in the photo.

even if you don't have all of these colours available to you in clothing, chances are you have a lot of them around in other formats- bedding, drapes, blankets, decorative pillows, other people's clothes... see how many you can find and test yourself this way. [chances are that you also have a lot more variety of colours available to you if you don't limit yourself to just your own clothing.] then evaluate what works or, even better, ask someone else to evaluate it and then look at it yourself.

dom and i didn't agree on everything, but there were some interesting correlations. [i left the room while he did his evaluation.]:


  • both of us found that the warmer shades- red, orange and yellow- worked better than cooler ones. [although ironically, both dom and i thought the cooler reds were slightly better than the warmer ones.]
  • both of us agreed that pure white was the worst in its group and one of the worst overall. of the near-whites, both of us liked options that were a little greyer/ dirtier rather than creamy.
  • i snuck in two blacks, a matte and a shiny to see if there was a difference and there was. the matte black turned out fairly well. the shiny black is terrible.
  • neither of us thought the pastels were good in any group, with a couple of exceptions. [the exceptions weren't the same, though!]
  • darker colours were on the whole better, especially according to dom. 
  • very saturated colours were more often than not better than either dark or light options. again, this was more true of dom's choices than mine. 
  • neither of us thought the blues on the whole were very good, which shocked me, since blue has always been a shade that i thought i wore best. [interestingly, if you look at my wardrobe choices, other than black, there is a heretofore unnoticed preference for shades of green.]

taking that information, i can work out a few things about the palette that suits me best:


  • i'm warmer-toned than i imagined, so the palette hue should probably lean slightly warm rather than cool 
  • black is better than white 
  • the tone should be darker rather than lighter
  • saturation should be medium high 


so do we have a match? well, not exactly, but i think i've narrowed it down to two choices: dark winter and bright spring.

the fact that both darkness and high saturation seem to work in my favour would indicate that my own season falls within the winter spectrum.

the fact that warm shades work well would indicate that bright spring is more likely and bright seasons are the high point of saturation. my picks lean generally in this direction.

however, dom rated the darkest shades higher than the most saturated ones and, in particular, he rated the brown group fairly highly, particularly the ones that were darker and dustier, less yellow. those are dark winter browns.

another thing that's interesting to me is how different the effect of different shades with and without makeup. i'm wearing very little makeup here, so that it gives a better idea of how my skin reacts to the colours without anything added. but i will assure you that if you sudden find yourself with a lot of garments that don't' suit you perfectly, you can work around it a bit. makeup gives you leeway.

i'm not sure where to go from here on this. i don't know if i can go any further with this. as i keep saying, i'm not an expert and have no training at all, beyond having read whatever i could get my eyes on. i may have reached an extremely colourful dead end.

so how about it? anyone else been involved in an obsessive search to find what tones, hues and saturation levels work best for them? just me?

if you'd like to see my other posts in this series, just click on the "sci-art" tag below.

Comments

This is really fascinating, though I doubt I'd ever have the patience to do it for myself! My favorite colors on you are the fourth red, the third orange, the ninth (i.e. mustard) yellow, the darkest greens and blues, and the first and sixth (i.e. darker, more plummy) purples. I disagree that warmer shades look better on you overall; to me, you're more cool than warm, more winter than spring. But you're obviously a better authority on your own skintone than I am; these are just my scattered thoughts.
Kate MacDonald said…
Thank you! If you do have the patience to try this, it is a really interesting exercise.
Honestly, I think that other people are better judges, because it's so difficult to be objective about one's own appearance.

as long as you're here, why not read more?

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …

making faces :: i could maybe not buy this one thing

i've been into makeup on some level for a long time- much longer than i've been writing about it, for certain. even as a young woman, i loved the feeling of i got from applying a deep-hued lipstick and some mascara. it took years for me to figure out eyeshadow, and even longer for me to appreciate blush. but at this point, i think we can agree that i'm pretty much into the whole gamut. [except liquid and super-matte lipsticks, and most very sparkly eyeshadows. but that's because they're painful for me to wear.]

the thing about spending a long time collecting and holding onto just about everything is that you accumulate quite a stash. lately, i'm trying to force myself to think about what i already have before laying down money for something new. most recently, i found myself drawn to the modern renaissance palette from anastasia. me and a lot of people. by the time i started thinking about it, it was already sold out in my local sephora and online. i signed up…

...and my cup size is none of your damn business

this story, about a man who got a female coworker to trade email accounts with him for two weeks to see if he could see a difference in customer reactions, has been making the rounds on social media and beyond in the last week or so. earlier today, i posted it on my personal facebook page about it, and realised that i had a lot more that i wanted to share than made sense for a facebook post. so i've come here to rant.

a couple of things to start:

1. i've had some really good job experiences in my life. i'm both lucky and unlucky that the best of them came early on, but even in more recent years, i worked at a couple of places that treated workers, all workers, with respect. that respect can be expressed in different ways, but believe me, you know it when it's there. so i want to make it clear that #notallworkplaces fit the pattern i'm about to describe.

2. i am really, really, really grateful to martin r. schneider, who thought up and did this experiment, not just …