Wardrobe musings: colour analysis and investigating contrast

Wardrobe musings: colour analysis and investigating contrast

Over the last few weeks or so I’ve been in a bit of a funk about ease of outfit planning, clothes colours and more recently about contrast. Some of this is due to my having finally grown out all of my colour highlights and I’m now completely au naturel. I’d forgotten just how dark my natural hair colour is…apparently I’m following my mum who didn’t really go grey until she was into her 70’s. I do have the occasional silver hair amongst the dark brown, but that’s about it, so all of this is to say that between my pale skin, brown eyes and my overall darker hair it’s making me think more about how certain colours look on me and the contrast between my hair and skin tone.

Wardrobe musings: colour analysis and investigating contrast
Me with darker hair.

So the next thing that’s been bugging me is ease of combining clothes to make outfits. I’m often to be found standing in front of my wardrobe like a rabbit stuck transfixed in front of headlights, feeling confused at the seemingly random (to me at least) colour selection that confronts me. Then I end up defaulting to an old unflattering RTW sweater and some jeans…nothing really wrong with that of course, but what a waste of a wardrobe that’s crying out to be worn. It’s prompted me to want to shake things up a little and make some changes.

I feel at this point that a bit of backstory is needed to explain my state of mind. Some of you may be aware of the rather stressful time that mum and I have had with my dad….A little over a year ago my dad was taken into hospital with various mobility and cognitive issues and it was discovered that he’d suffered a brain aneurysm…after surviving a brain op at age 90 he was in hospital for many months and eventually had to go into a nursing home. I’ve supported mum through it all and now finally things are much more settled.

Having gone through this long drawn out stressful time and now still having to be supportive and giving a lot of time to my mum has had me craving more ease and less time-consuming stress in other areas of my life…the way I get dressed is one of those areas. I’m wanting more cohesiveness and a pared-down colour palette that doesn’t get me standing in front of my wardrobe scratching my head trying to think up combos.

At the same time as I was coming to this decision to work on my style, the Fall 10×10 Challenge had started on Instagram. The idea of the 10×10 challenge was originally started by a couple of fashion bloggers and I recently started to follow them both on the Style Bee blog (Lee Vosburgh) and(Caroline)  Unfancy    respectively… and I subsequently began to follow the Fall 10×10 hashtag on IG too. I noticed that many participants had chosen a small colour palette for their 10 items and I was struck by how easy it must be to make outfits, so I felt quite inspired.

I also decided to revisit the colour swatches that I’d been given when I’d had my colours done several years back when I was analysed as a Soft Autumn. I also started to read a lot of articles on the ‘Inside Out Style’ blog Written by Imogen Lamport…. There’s so much fabulous information on there and what I found really interesting were articles about dressing to your personal contrast levels…specifically, colour or value contrast. Imogen doesn’t just apply the idea of seasonal colours, she also includes personal contrast levels and individual personality when she advises on style. I was really intrigued by the idea of contrast levels and it seemed to make sense to me since mine seemed to have changed along with my hair colour.

There’s a page dedicated to evaluating your contrast levels using the Munsell greyscale (try it out!).

Wardrobe musings: colour analysis and investigating contrast

I went through the steps and I came out as having high value (light/dark) contrast and neutral colour contrast levels. Basically, with this outcome the suggestion is that my colouring suits outfits that always include some neutrals, don’t combine too many colours and that have some contrast in them. Personally, I feel better when an outfit has a lighter shade in it somewhere because it lifts my pale skin. Too much dark colour just feels heavy to me. This is an example of an outfit from Imogen’s blog:

Wardrobe musings: colour analysis and investigating contrast. Contrast outfit from Insideout Style blog

Now that I understand my contrast I also understand prints better. A good example of this is a top I blogged about last week. I wasn’t keen on how I looked in the fabric I’d used and now I know why…it’s because the contrast isn’t obvious due to the small scale of the design. The colours just blend into one muddy shade that doesn’t do me any favours. Compare it with one of my favourite sweaters which I love wearing that has a larger scale pattern and better contrast levels:

Wardrobe musings: colour analysis and investigating contrast

I don’t wear an awful lot of prints, but if I buy any more then I obviously need to look for a medium to larger scale print with well-defined colours and contrast levels…

So, moving on from all of these mini style revelations and musings and to start with, I think that I’ll try to add several new pieces to my wardrobe in Ivory, which is one of my best neutrals.  I’ll also be culling a few things which I can’t refashion or that are in colours that I don’t wear that much. I’m going to repeat colours more often in future makes, so for instance, when I buy some fabric, I’ll make sure to get enough so that I can make more than one thing with it, like trousers and a skirt. Ultimately, I hope it will help me to combine pieces into outfits much more easily. I suspect it’s going to take some time before I really feel the benefit as I do all of this too, but at least I have a clearer idea now of what I want.

And never fear…I’m not going totally neutral and all minimalist on you…I just don’t think I have it in me, as much as I admire the lovely neutral palettes. I also think that I’ll try to add texture and interest to any neutral looks that I do end up creating, because that’s what I love.

This ended up a longer post than usual. If you made it to the end…thank you! Oh, and I’d love to hear any thoughts you may have on this topic. I find all things style and colour so interesting. 

Catch you soon!

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Wardrobe musings: colour analysis and investigating contrast

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  1. November 7, 2018 / 5:32 am

    Periodically I go through the same problem – not being happy with what’s hanging in my closet. Over the years I have read so many books and tried so many “systems” for getting it all “right”. I wish you luck in getting it all sorted out for yourself. If you’re game at looking at another “system”, look for “Dressing Your Truth” by Carol Tuttle on-line. It’s kind of fun to take the quiz. Not only does she get you sorted for colours, but also the styles that should suit your “type”. I look forward to seeing how your wardrobe progresses!

    • diane
      November 7, 2018 / 11:49 am

      Thanks, Irene. It’s all part of change and growth, isn’t it? And I’m definitely game for more information and different systems. I’ve heard of Dressing Your Truth…off to have a look. Thanks!

  2. Jen
    November 7, 2018 / 8:25 am

    I think the darker hair is part of the trigger for your musings. As well as ‘redefining’ what feels good and right given your beloved family’s dynamics have shifted with your Dad’s illness. All good and natural reasons to explore what feels good for you now. This is a really interesting article Dianne – thank you.

    • diane
      November 7, 2018 / 11:51 am

      Cheers, Jen. Yes, I guess it has been a trigger and a change of dynamics that’s caused a shift of thinking. It all affects our psyche, doesn’t it?

  3. November 7, 2018 / 11:35 am

    This is an interesting post and you always encourage me to think a little more about colors, textures and design. Aging seems to trigger ever evolving change and which colors work at which moment seems to always be an issue to consider, adapt and update. It certainly has been for me. Glad things are settling down for you and your family. 🙂

    • diane
      November 7, 2018 / 11:55 am

      Thanks for the kind words Lisa. I think that it keeps us fresh to question and update various aspects of our lives and well being from time to time. I’m glad you found my post interesting 🙂

  4. Christine Trory
    November 7, 2018 / 5:12 pm

    This is a very interesting post and I think we all have these moments in our lives when circumstances change whether they be external or internal to make us think about our closet. Although this may seem superficial to some I think it’s important as it affects the way we feel about ourselves and in consequence affects how others see us and relate to us. As I have aged, greying hair, retirement, it has made me have a major rethink and Imogen’s site as you say has a wealth of information. Good luck with your journey and I look forward to reading more.

    • diane
      November 7, 2018 / 8:37 pm

      Thanks, Christine. I absolutely agree…how we feel about ourselves, or how we think others see us can have far-reaching consequences. Confidence can really be affected.

  5. November 10, 2018 / 11:53 pm

    Hi Diane – Thoughtful post and much of it resonates with me as major shifts in my life have always resulted in simplification at some level. My last stressful bout resulted in a complete repaint of my downstairs in stress-free neutral colors, so I totally get your desire to have your wardrobe choices to be simple and easy. Ivory is such a lovely choice for you…can’t wait to see what you make next!

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