If you're like me, you find it tough to match neutrals.
Matching neutral fabrics to your neutral color swatches can take a lot longer than matching reds, blues or greens.
Here's the explanation, I believe: We think in language. But we lack an extensive vocabulary to talk about neutrals, so it's literally harder for us to think about what we're seeing when we look at a neutral. (Here's a cool Wikipedia page with more info about thinking about color.)
For example, if you want to match a blue, you can tell yourself to look for a cadet blue or a Chinese blue or a sky blue. Each of those terms is perhaps attached in your mind to a specific kind of blue.
But if you want to match a white, it's harder to articulate to yourself the kind of white you're looking for. We just don't have a ton of words to describe shades of white.
What do we call white with green, or white with yellow, or white with pink?
I mean, I have answers to some of those questions, but only because I've been thinking about color for a while now. The average person doesn't learn all of that vocabulary as part of normal life.
So when you're looking for a matching white, you may not be able to talk to yourself about the kind of white you're looking for. And if you don't have language for a color, it's almost impossible to think about it.
To get around this, I recommend asking yourself a couple of questions:
1. What basic hue seems to tint this neutral?
2.a. (for whites) Does it look more dirty and sooty, or more pure and clean?
2.b. (for other neutrals) Is it more light or more dark?
(If it's not obvious, these questions are a way of getting at the hue, value, and saturation of a neutral.)
If you ask and answer these questions about a particular white, you might call it "a dirty white with a bit of blue in it."
Similarly, a grey can be light or dark, yellowish or blueish; a brown can have pink or yellow in it; etc.
If you can identify a few adjectives to attach to your neutral -- in other words, if you can say, "a sooty, pinkish white" or "a light brown with some purple in it" -- you're much closer to being able to match that neutral. Say the words to yourself in your head. Having actual language for the color really helps!
If you don't own your seasonal palette, color cards are an affordable way to get your hands on it!
I think a great way to distinguish a True Summer palette from a Light Summer palette is by using the yellows.
True Summer gets almost no yellows; the yellows it does get are pale and dusty but also totally cool -- like lemon chalk.
True Summer yellows are elusive in fabrics, so a typical True Summer almost never finds a yellow that looks good on her and thinks it's one of her worst colors.
Light Summer, though, can handle a range of cheerful, buttery yellows. On a Light Summer, yellow often picks up yellow in the hair or in the eye.
This difference is part of the reason why Light Summers are often convincing blondes but True Summers seldom are. Blonde hair is essentially a big swatch of yellow hovering around one's face, you know?
If you're not sure of your season, try at-home draping.
Ingenue beauty is a beauty that's feminine, but not sexy. It's childlike and innocent and sweet.
Because "ingenue" isn't a word that's widely used in common parlance, I've searched for other words that seemed to have meanings closest to "ingenue" as I define it in my style system. One word that worked well is "vernal" -- i.e., "springlike."
There's a lot of overlap between the Ingenue style identity and spring, both as a season of the year and as a color palette.
Light Spring in particular (a.k.a. Early Spring, significantly) is known for colors that also are iconic to Ingenue: very lights yellows, pinks, oranges, purples, and blues. Candy colors, you could call them.
Ingenue is sweetness personified. Ingenue style details, in fact, overlap a great deal with a confectioner' or baker's aesthetic: one sees a profusion of detail, small circles, curlicues, flowers, hearts, and scallops. These style elements signal "sweetness" to us.
Ingenue lines are fine and thin, never thick or coarse. Ingenue fabrics are light, not heavy.
Ingenue beauty is (feminine) childlike beauty. The small, round circles one sees in Ingenue style reflect a child's round eyes. An Ingenue finish in makeup is often a dewy finish -- that echoes the dewy eyes of a child, and also dew on flower petals in the morning. (Morning is to a day as spring is to a year and childhood is to a life, of course.)
Ingenue style has a quality of innocence or naivete. Can we reclaim that so that it's a positive concept and not a negative one? After all, innocence includes sincerity, which is certainly virtuous.
Ingenue patterns are simple, not difficult to comprehend (as Ethereal patterns might be.) Ingenue motifs are earnest, not witty or sarcastic (as Gamine motifs might be.) Ingenue innocence ought to be celebrated, not denigrated.
"Pure" yields a lot of associated words that are useful for Ingenues. An Ingenue look is certainly clean; dirt on the knees of one's pants could look apropos on a Natural, but not an an Ingenue. (Is that why I, as a Natural blend, feel particularly pretty when I've been working in the yard? Hmm.)
And discussing the word "pure" brings us to this idea of the Ingenue as "virginal." Whoa! Let's get into that.
Despite the fact that "virgin" is a fraught concept, I do think it's important to emphasize that Ingenue's feminine beauty is "virginal," not sexy.
I don't want to reinforce the outdated idea that women should be defined by their virginity or lack thereof.
But perhaps we can agree that there's a kind of feminine beauty that includes an erotic quality, and a kind that does not...? The first one is Romantic; the second one is Ingenue.
If you can see that a style element is traditionally feminine, but you're not sure whether it's Ingenue or Romantic, this difference ^ can help you decide.