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colour analysis is more than red, white and blue

best faces forward?
a few years back, i took an interest in the sci/ art system of personal colour analysis, an extension of the old "find your season" colour typing that took into account not just the temperature of colours that are suited to certain people, but also the level of saturation [how far the colour lies from grey] and tone [how light or dark it is]. i like this three-dimensional system because i find that it neatly encapsulates the ways in which we perceive colour. i also like the fact that it's based on how the skin reacts to different colours, rather than hair and eye colour, or just guessing based on skin tone. one of the first things that i learned looking into this world was that it is very, very possible to be surprised by what looks good on me. [yellow? rust? not things i would have expected.]

in these past years, i've experimented with colour-analysing my husband and my cats. i've dressed myself up and made myself up as every season and i've picked lipsticks i found appropriate to each season. some of those posts frustrate me now, because, as i've learned more, i can see where i was off the mark in my early attempts. but i don't have the energy to sit and wrap myself in all different colours again, so i'll just have to let those be.

although i'm no expert [as in, i haven't received training], my first hand experiences have been a lot of fun and the posts about them continue to attract a lot of views. so this week, i've linked one of the earliest posts on the subject as the "featured post. typical of me, i dove into the analysis without ever doing a proper introduction to the subject. that post has all the permutations in one place, but the most comprehensive description of colour analysis was given here. you can rummage through the history of posts by clicking the sci-art tag from the link cloud on the right, or just by clicking here.

i have this subject in mind for a wholly inappropriate reason, which is that i'm curious to see the effects of colour when the two candidates for president of the united states line up on stage monday. don't kid yourself: you notice it whether you want to or not, because something strikes you as relaxing or invigorating, or because something strikes you as uncomfortable. i've found that, since i started down this road, i can't stop noticing those subtle differences on both men and women, especially when watching news broadcasts, where there's often nothing to look at except long people on screen. i can't always guess what their perfect match would be, but i definitely notice when they get things very wrong or very right. those who wear colours that harmonise well with their own tones seem instantly more authoritative and more interesting. those who don't achieve that always seem to look either tired or sloppy to me. it's not going to convince me to believe things i wouldn't normally be inclined to believe, but it does have a slight effect on how i think about the person.

for the most part, i've found that whoever is styling hillary clinton for this campaign is doing a pretty good job. some of her "people" [i'm guessing she doesn't do this herself, but i can't be sure] have a bad tendency to put her either in black, because that's what's supposed to pass as serious and presidential, or in very bold shades, which should convey strength and authority. neither works on her very well at all. both tend to overwhelm her, make her look small and diminished. at the same time, when you put her in neutrals, she looks washed out.

i'm personally of the opinion that secretary clinton's colouring falls into the category of "light summer", meaning she benefits most from shades that are cooler, with a bit of warmth, somewhat saturated, but most of all, light rather than dark.

observe:

where are you, hillary?
that huge black block right under her face is just suffocating her. she looks ill and there isn't a bit of colour in her face, save the lipstick and eye liner.


that's a bit better, but she still looks a bit washed out. that ivory is a neutral shade, and it's light enough to work, but it feels hard. that's a good near-white for a bright season. hers would be a little softer.


definitely getting there. that jacket is a bit too saturated, but not by a lot. because of the presence of spring, which can take brighter colours, a light summer palette can look pretty lively. i do think the lipstick is too warm. i'd love to see the colour from the previous shot used here.


that grey probably wouldn't read as very dark on others, but it's plenty dark for her. the coral lipstick adds a nice hint of colour to a conservative ensemble. way better than black on her.


probably a little too energetic for a presidential debate, but i had to include this because i think that light summer people are the only ones on earth who can wear this colour and not look like they fell in a vat of cheap birthday cake frosting. the walls of my office were this colour when i moved in and i spent every moment hating whoever had chosen the paint. but everything clicks here.


this is a really nice neutral combination for a light summer. that blue-grey shade tends to work on all summer [cool, muted and light], but the jewelry keeps things from becoming too sombre.

now... the other candidate...

i'll say up front that i think that men get the short shrift in general with this sort of thing. they have an incredibly narrow range of acceptable colours available to them and only one available arrangement- the suit and tie. it's extremely restricting, which is why, even when people [me] try to talk about how men look at big moments, it's usually pretty boring. they look more or less the same and it's the luck of the draw whether a dark suit and stark white shirt looks good on them. cnn host anderson cooper, with his stereotypically bright winter colouring, looks like he was born for suits:


but does the same look work for donald j. trump? no, it really doesn't.


much like secretary clinton, he seems encumbered by black. everything about what he's wearing here is in a shouting match with him, and it's winning. that should tell you something about how wrong it all is.


we've got some of the same problems here, but i find this one just slightly better. yes, it's clearly a professionally taken photo where the previous one is not, but you would not believe how difficult it is to get off-the-cuff photos of donald trump where he isn't pulling a weird, distracting face. i still feel like all i'm seeing at first glance is the tie and the bright white shirt, but the navy seems a bit more forgiving on him than the black.


this one seems even better. that softer blue is taking down the orange in the skin and the brassy tones in the hair are less evident. he looks more human.

but all this is avoiding the main point that needs to be addressed: what the hell does donald trump actually look like?

he's often mocked for his eerie orange skin and strange cornsilk hair because they look fake and garish. if you look at the pictures of hillary clinton above, there's no doubt that she's wearing makeup and that her blonde hair is dyed, but they blend so easily with her natural colouring that it's nowhere near as noticeable. whatever donald trump actually looks like, it isn't what we're seeing now.

so to get some idea of what lurks behind his cheetos crust, i pulled a few photos from his younger days.


not the same colouring at all. first of all, that tie is way better suited to him than anything in the above photos. and while the suit is dark, it looks more like a deep, cool grey and it's not nearly as harsh. but what strikes me is how cool-toned he looks. the colour in his face is very pink, not red. also, his colouring seems quite muted.


i'm cheating a little, because that photo is old and a bit overexposed, but i stand by my evaluation: trump looks much more comfortable in colours that are cool, muted and somewhat lighter. that's the equation for the "true summer", although i couldn't find enough photos to be really conclusive.

the thing is, if that's his natural colouring, everything that trump is doing to himself, from the orangey fake tan to the too-bold power suits is precisely the opposite of what would work. i'm sure he thinks that blues and greys are much too wimpy and beta-male for him, but, even if you factor in his aging, i fully believe he'd be more presidential in that palette than the one he's chosen. all the decisions that he's made, and that are being made for him by his stylists [oh yes, men have them too] are dooming him to look like a clown.

now, as i've said before, all of the careful image tweaking in the world isn't going to help if what's coming out of your mouth makes you sound like a clown, but, hey, give yourself a fighting chance.

i will, of course, be watching on monday [you've been warned, twitter followers] and paying attention to the words. but if you do the same, when you see the two aspirant world leaders walk out onto the stage, ask yourself if you aren't just a little affected by how they're presenting themselves: how at ease do they look? how natural a fit do they seem to be to the job they're interviewing for? yes, it's mostly in the words and the ideas, but image matters and every advantage you can get is important. 

Comments

I always love your sci-art posts, and this is one of the best! But it leaves one question unanswered: why DOES Trump wear that awful fake tan?
...also I hope you've seen this: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/09/19/a-trumpian-candidate-on-trumps-corset
Kate MacDonald said…
Oh my, thank you for posting that link. The people need answers on this. Although, I'll take someone's word for it- I DO NOT NEED PHOTOS.

I can't imagine that a man as vain as Trump apparently is could look at that orange skin and not think it looks terrible. Then again, if I put on my amateur colour analyst hat once again, I'd say that, with his natural colouring, his choice of very stark business suits with bright ties would likely make him looked washed out, which then activates his obvious insecurity complex (because strong men should all be able to wear those suits well), so he tries to compensate with orange soda. It's a vicious colour circle.

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

losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

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 …

don't speak

you might think that it sounds dramatic, but linguistic genocide is something that happens. people in power will go to great lengths to eradicate certain languages, not just for the sheer joy of making the world a lesser place, but as a way of beating down the culture that's associated with it. language has a unique reciprocal bond with culture, and every group that has attempted to break down another has recognised that forbidding a cultural group from communicating in their own language is an extremely effective way to tear apart their culture.

there are lots [and lots and lots and lots] of examples of this sort of thing, some successful, some not, but far too many to cover in one blog post. however, i thought it was worth looking at some languages that have been the subjects of active repression, and what the political consequences of that have been.

devastation :: the native north american languages :: it should come as no surprise that the largest genocide in history [by a ma…