Almost a decade ago, just before the beginning of the new school year (I teach, as many of you know), I went to the mall with my credit card and spent several hundred dollars on new clothes.
This was a carefully considered decision. It had been years since I'd bought myself actual new clothes. And I had calculated that I would be able to pay off the balance plus interest over the next 12 months.
In the years prior to that shopping trip, I had bought and thrown away a lot of thrift-store clothes. I felt unable to make myself look beautiful, and I knew I was wasting money. I thought if I spent some serious money on really nice clothes, I'd feel and look different.
I'm a grown-up and a professional, I told myself. It's not unreasonable for me to make a financial investment in my wardrobe.
I was right about that last idea, I think; it makes sense to spend money on clothes you know you'll be wearing for years.
Yet I don't own any of those clothes anymore.
The reason for that, as you may have guessed, is that I had a style analysis not long after that shopping trip, and discovered that most of the expensive shopping-trip clothes were wrong for me.
I had chosen mostly Classic and/or Dramatic pieces -- very stiff, structured, sharp-edged items. I think on some level I believed that the dignity of the clothes would automatically elevate the impression I made.
Yet my style analysis revealed that Ethereal and Natural garments, which are completely unstructured, were actually more dignified for me. They made my somewhat otherworldly and somewhat rough-hewn features read as noble and magical. In Dramatic and Classic lines, by contrast, my face looked a bit coarse and a bit weird... like, out of place. (You don't put Mother Earth in a suit, right?)
I was able to return, resell, repurpose, or gift most of the brand-new clothes, thank goodness.
My style analysis cost $350. That's a fraction of what I spent on the wardrobe that was all wrong for me. And that's more than I've spent on any shopping trip for myself in the years since then.
In fact, I rarely shop for clothes these days. Many of the items in my current wardrobe are several years old; when I find an Ethereal Natural garment, I keep it until it wears out, because it works for me every time I put it on.
For example, I'm on my third pair of these sandals:
They last about two years. (Thin soles!) I wear them all summer. When they wear out, I order another pair.
I've had this skirt, in off-white, for about six years. (I used scissors to cut off the highest ruffles, the ones at the hip -- I needed a narrower silhouette.)
Most of the clothes currently in my wardrobe are thrift store finds. Knowing my style ID means I zoom in on the items that will work for me, and ignore everything else, so shopping is a fast and easy process. It also means that I look better, now, in a shirt I paid seven dollars for, than I looked in anything I bought before I knew my style ID.
I spend so little time and money on clothes now. And I feel really confident when I leave the house, every day.
My hair is a similar story. I've had the same basic hair for years now. I spend zero time agonizing about what hair style looks best on me, or worrying about whether I should change my style, because I know that what looks good in my clothing also looks good around my face: layers, sinuous lines, rough edges, and a lot of length. Basic Ethereal Natural.
Some people really enjoy changing their look every season. And some people really enjoy spending hours trying on clothes. For those people, a style analysis would be a waste of money.
But if you're like me, you don't have the time or patience for all of that. You want to know, once and for all, and have it settled, so you can get on with the more important parts of your life. (I work crazy hours, and I have two jobs and two kids, for goodness' sake. I'm guessing you're as busy as I am.)
And this is my point: if you love feeling beautiful, but you hate wasting time and money, a style analysis is a good investment for you.
Your virtual style analysis comes with a report that describes the process by which I arrived at your result. It also includes specific percentage recommendations for lines lengths, shape sizes, construction/draping, and your masculine-feminine balance. You'll receive your Visual Style Guide and your What Not to Wear as well.
At $279, it's kind of a lot of money. I get that. But it's an investment in your future and your peace of mind. And I expect you'll recoup that investment, as I have recouped mine.
I'm a little sad that's summer is ending (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). In the summer, I work a little less, and I spend a lot of time with my precious kids.
I did get the opportunity, finally, to convert most of my seasonal makeup lists to downloadable documents. And I want to celebrate that by offering you a discount, for the next 48 hours, on those makeup lists.
Scroll to the end of the post for the promo code!
I want to take this opportunity to review important information about seasonal palettes and makeup lists.
Why Wear Makeup that's Matched to Your Seasonal Palette?
In addition to simplifying your clothes shopping and increasing your confidence, your seasonal palette makes it much easier for you to shop for makeup.
The range of colors in your seasonal palette is the entire extent of makeup colors that can look good on your face. There aren't colors outside of that range that will flatter your skin. You don't need to go outside of your palette to find lipstick, blush, eye shadow, eyeliner, bronzer, or mascara.
That really narrows things down!
When I was a teenager, I might have found this picture delightful. Now it just stresses me out.
I work way too much, and I have two kids. No way do I have the time to figure out which of these lip colors will make me look more beautiful.
Fortunately, since I discovered my color season a decade ago, I haven't had to spend that time.
I sincerely can't recall the last time I spent an hour in a department store or a drugstore, trying on color after color. It's been ages.
In fact, I've had the same daily lippie for years now. I order it in bulk from eBay. It's Cover Girl Wine to Five, if you're interested. It is, of course, a perfect match for one of my deeper pinks in my Soft Autumn palette.
In this picture of the Soft Autumn seasonal color cards, you can see the spectrum of my Soft Autumn reds and pinks. If a red or a pink doesn't fall in that range, it's not a lippie for me. Easy peasy.
Now, when I see a display of lippies in a store, I can walk right by it, or stop and peruse -- but only if I feel like it. It's fun, not a chore. And I can zoom in immediately on the color that will work for me.
See this display? Even without swatching, I can rule out eight of these 12 colors immediately. They're clearly not in the Soft Autumn palette, and as a result they'll never, ever look right on my face.
Your seasonal palette contains the rainbow of colors that best flatter your skin. Match your makeup to these colors, and your makeup will flatter your skin. Bing-bang-boom.
Here's the eyelid crease contour that I've been using for years. I also order it in bulk. It matches a brown in my Soft Autumn palette.
Here's the pencil I use for eyebrow filler. Again, I order it in bulk. Again, it's a match to my Soft Autumn palette.
n.b.: Your individual perfect colors are most likely an even smaller range within your seasonal palette. The factors that determine your particular subset of colors are
1. your individual skin tone
2. your Style Identity
With regard to how your individual skin tone affects your perfect subset of colors within your seasonal palette, see this blog post.
With regard to how your Style Identity affects your use of makeup, all I can say is, hold tight! I am still working on those 63 makeup guides, and I have been making a lot of progress. You are all so patient, and I appreciate it.
(While you wait, aim for the basic principle of using the same adjectives for your face that you use for your style type. So, for example, as an Ethereal Natural, my best use of makeup is relaxed and delicate.)
Returning for a moment to the twelve lippies I showed above: of those twelve, these four colors might work.
They're the only colors I'll swatch. The rest of the colors are clearly not in the Soft Autumn palette.
What does swatching entail? Basically, it means smearing the product on a piece of white paper, and comparing that smear to your color palette.
Swatching on your own skin is not accurate!
Please don't rely on skin swatching as a method for matching a color to your palette.
I explained in another post why this method is unreliable; I'll quote myself here:
- - - -
When you apply a red or pink to your skin, the result that the viewer sees is a color that combines that red or pink with your skin color.
That's the effect you're going for.
The effect is a less saturated version of the pure swatch red or pink because it's blended with your skin color, and it looks perfect on your skin.
If you "swatch" makeup on your skin, you're not learning what color it really is; you're learning what color it looks like mixed with your skin color.
That's not the information you need in order to know whether a pink or red matches your actual palette colors. You need to match those reds and pinks.
- - - - -
I hope this makes sense.
Basically, on your skin, your reds and pinks should not match your color swatches. Honestly, if they do, that might be a problem; it means the product is sitting on top of your skin instead of blending with it.
Look at this example, from LollyJane, of the same lip color applied to nine different sets of lips.
If these nine women were trying to determine whether LipSense's Bella matched their seasonal palette, how could they possibly determine that by swatching it on their own skin? See how different it looks on each of them!
The color on your face is the product color PLUS your skin color.
That's not what you want to match.
Match the color swatch!
Why Buy the Makeup List?
So, yes, buy your seasonal color palette, and swatch makeup (on white paper!) by comparing it to that palette.
But if you don't want to spend the time doing that yourself, just buy my list!
Each list contains over 400 products -- some as many as 800 -- that have already been swatched to that season's palette. So you don't have to do it.
I have been keeping these lists for years. It started just as a hobby, because I am a data nut. Eventually, I realized that people might want to pay for someone else to do this work, and voila! the makeup lists were born.
Quick answers to F.A.Q.S:
- All products on the lists are matched to Sci/Art - accurate swatchbooks. That includes both original Sci/Art swatchbooks, and those swatchbooks from companies who adopted original Sci/Art palettes in their own swatchbooks. Other swatchbooks aren't color-accurate, and I don't use them to match cosmetics.
- The lists include both drugstore brands and high-end brands.
- The lists are generally updated twice a year.
- The lists include discontinued products that are still available online.
The discount code is BEAUTIFUL. It's good for 20% off all 12 seasonal makeup lists, and it will work until Wednesday, August 29th.
Enjoy, my friends!
Each of the 12 seasonal color palettes, taken as a whole, is unique.
But if you compare color-by-color, some individual colors in neighbor palettes can look so similar to each other as to be almost indistinguishable.
Light Spring and Light Summer, for example, have several pinks, yellows, blues and purples that look an awful lot alike.
Light Summer and Light Spring palettes. Yikes! Which is which?
If you have narrowed yourself down to these two seasons, knowing a few colors that are inarguably unique to each palette can help you make a final decision.
Here are 6 colors, 3 from each season, that don't resemble anything in the sister season's palette.
1. Light Summer has a greyed wine neutral that looks something like this:
Nothing in Light Spring even remotely resembles this. If you're flattered by this color, rule out Light Spring.
2. Light Summer also has blueish greys, such as this one:
On a Light Summer, this color may harmonize with subtle tones in the eyes or hair. On a Light Spring, this color may create an unhealthy pallor in the face or emphasize undereye circles.
Light Spring's greys are more yellowed. (For a quick side-by-side comparison of warm and cool greys, check out this great Wikipedia image.)
3. Many of Light Summer and Light Spring's pinks and reds may seem to overlap. So we look at the extremes. Light Summer's raspberries get this blued:
Light Spring won't go that cool.
4. If we go to the extreme of warmth within Light Spring's pinks and peaches, we'll find light oranges:
A color like this may pick up delicate tones in a Light Spring's cheeks, but seem to turn a Light Summer's skin uniformly orangey or muddy.
5. Light Spring has a cheerful greenish gold that's not the least bit Summery. It looks like this:
This is a color many Light Springs have in their hair or eyes. There's nothing close to it in the Light Summer palette.
6. Light Summer's greens are neutral to blue-green. Some Light Summer blue-greens can be hard to tell apart from Light Spring aquas. But only Light Spring green goes the other temperature direction, into yellow-green:
Clear yellow-green is an especially fussy color. Not many people are fantastic in it. If you are, and you know you're Light Something, now you know you're Light Spring.
I hope comparing these six colors helps you Lights find yourselves. Let me know how it works. :-)
If you're having trouble diagnosing yourself, consider investing in color cards to drape yourself at home.
Originally published February 2013.
If you're like me, you're not satisfied to simply know what's true; you want to understand why it's true.
So maybe you've heard it before: it's the effect of color on your skin that ultimately matters. Your eyes and hair are along for the ride.
Colors that seem to "go with" your hair aren't doing you any good if that hair is framing dirty-looking or shadowed skin. Colors that seem to make your eyes pop aren't helping if those eyes are popping out of a washed-out face.
But why is skin appearance the most important?
Because when we look at other people, we use skin appearance - not hair or eye appearance - as our primary way of evaluating health.
And health = beauty.
The human animal seeks to maintain life and avoid death. To the human animal, health reads as beautiful because health is life.
When you look at other people, you instantly and unconsciously evaluate their health, and you do it in large part using the appearance of their skin. If the skin looks right, the rest seems right too.
Healthy looking skin = life = beauty.
Baby skin is the ideal of skin beauty because babies are new life.
And when we judge the health of another's skin, the most salient feature to that judgment is its color.
Think about all the ways we use the language of color to describe the appearance of ill health in the skin.
We speak of
the yellow of jaundiced skin;
the green of nauseated skin;
the blue of frozen or oxygen-deprived skin;
the purple of bruised skin;
the red of burned or abraded skin;
the white of bloodless skin;
the grey of dead skin.
The fact that there are so many ways that skin can look wrongly colored shows that skin color is crucial to our estimations of others' health -- and, therefore, of their beauty.
But color is not objective.
Color is context.
For example, is "salmon" pink or orange?
Here, I'd call it pink.
Here, it looks closer to orange.
The color of your skin is subjective too.
Depending on what colors you place next to your own face, you can easily make the natural healthy color of your skin look too cool, too warm, too dark, too light, or too vivid - or disappear altogether.
This looks unlovely because it looks unhealthy.
When you know your the natural palette of your body, and put the colors of that palette next to your skin, your skin 's healthy color emerges. You look beautiful because you look healthy.
First published February 2013.
I realized a couple of years ago that I had arrived at the point in life one's life when one starts buying stuff a year in advance.
It was January, and I was in a drugstore buying wrapping paper because it was, like, 70% off. It just made sense! I knew I'd be using it again in no time.
I'm over 40 now, and I suppose this is about the age when a person starts to feel like 12 months pass "in no time."
I feel the same way now about bathing suits. Buying one at the end of summer just makes sense to me now, because I'll be wearing it again before I know it, and the prices are amazing.
I recently bought three new swimsuits. Three! They were 60% off at the department store in my area, so I didn't feel so guilty buying more than one. And another thing about being my age is the idea of owning more than one bathing suit starts to feel practical instead of extravagant. (I think? Maybe I'm totally alone in that. Let me know in the comments.)
It's funny; style principles that are perfectly logical to me in the abstract still surprise and delight me when I see them applied to myself. I know, logically, that low, gently rounded necklines and asymmetrical necklines are good for my style type, Ethereal Natural, but it still felt delightful to see how lovely those necklines are on me.
Same for delicate straps, tie accents, crisscross details, hipster bottoms, solid-color suits, and a shimmery finish: I would recommend all of that to a real-life Ethereal Natural, but there's still a sense of wonder in the realization, , after trying on 12 suits, that those are the features of my best suits. :-)))
Like most of you, I find it very difficult to be objective about myself! (I am so grateful for my brutally honest sister, who sees what I often can't see.)
I want to emphasize that these features of my most flattering suits derive completely from my Style ID, which in turn derives almost completely from my face. My body shape has nothing to do with it.
For example, I have a teeny bust (like, pre-adolescent teeny), yet ruffles on my bustline are awful for me, and many tops that flatten my bust are actually amazing for me.
Swimsuit recommendations that tell flat-chested women like me to put ruffles on their bustline are proceeding on the assumption that every woman looks better when she appears to have a fuller bust. But that's just not true.
When you think about it, you might come to the conclusion, as I have, that such recommendations only make sense if we reduce women to what's below the neck. But in fact, all of us -- including men! -- are mostly looking at women's faces, not at their bodies.
A woman's humanity is expressed in her face. The idea that a woman's beauty comes primarily from somewhere other than her face is a false idea that we mostly accept, I believe, because of sexism. Patriarchy encourages us women to obsess about everything below the neck, and, until we become conscious, we unfortunately just go along with that idea.
Anyway, getting back to my original point: it's a good time of year to buy a swimsuit or three for next year, because prices are crazy low right now. :-)))
If you're not convinced that your best suit matches your face, not your body, I encourage you to simply test the idea. Swimwear Guides are 12.99. That's about three Starbucks coffees, right? Spend the money, just as an experiment. Try digitally superimposing your face on the pictures of suits that you find in the guide. I think you'll be amazed by how right those suits are for you. Then go pick out some suits to try on, based on the guide's recommendations.
(And if you don't yet know your Style ID, of course try the Style Identity Calculator.)
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An interesting P.S.: I'm actually finding that using a Swimwear Guide is a useful way to determine someone's Style ID quickly. Maybe it's because swimwear is basically a condensed or distilled manifestation of style elements? When I'm doing a virtual analysis and I get stuck, trying out different swimsuits often gets me unstuck.
Do you struggle to find a suit that works? Have you tried the Swimwear Guide for your type? Were there any surprises? Please share in the comments.