Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Tag: color properties

Got Wardrobe Orphans?

Got Wardrobe Orphans?

What’s a Wardrobe Orphan?

Wardrobe Orphans (WO’s) are those items we love in the store, we buy, and bring home, but never wear. Often they hang in our closets with tags still on. We might smile to see it hanging in the closet, or it may make us feel guilty; an orphan never makes it onto our body and out of the house. Maybe the orphan doesn’t go with anything, or maybe it just feels funny on. Let’s talk about some of the reasons we have WO’s, and some ways to avoid them.


The Personality Orphan can sometimes be attributed to shopping with a friend who may have a very different style personality than you. Maybe you are predominantly Classic and Feminine, and your friend is a Relaxed Creative. The shirt she loved, and you bought, fits her personality but doesn’t work for you because it doesn’t fit yours! You may love a pattern, color or style, and the friend who wears them well, but that pattern/color/style never feels right on you, because it isn’t your style personality.

Another common shopping fail occurs when we shop with someone who has a fixed idea of what (they think) you should wear. Beware shopping with relations… (Moms and teens battle this one all the time!) The best way to avoid these Personality Orphans is to know thyself! Work on honing your Style Recipe. Keep your Style Recipe on a card in your wallet. (Not an outfit recipe, that’s a horse of a different color! A bit of Style Recipe information can be found here.) Before you pull out your wallet to pay, look at the card and check if the garment you are holding fits your style words. If it doesn’t, analyze what it is you love about it, and apply that to an item that does fit your Recipe.

It is good to step out of our comfort zone and try new things, but baby-step it. Try just one new part of the pattern/style/color rather than all at once. Maybe you want to try the cold-shoulder trend. So, buy that top in a color you know you look great in. That gives it the familiarity you may need to take the leap and wear it out of the house!


Color Orphans are items that don’t go with what you already own, or with your personal coloring. There are two main ways to avoid color clash orphans.

(1) You can limit the color palette in your wardrobe to 2-3 neutrals, and 2-3 accent colors. If the item is not one of your neutrals or accents, you can feel free to leave it behind, or even better, ask the store clerk if it comes in one of your wardrobe colors. This method requires a great deal of self-discipline, and is not for everyone, especially those who crave variety.

(2) Another method for avoiding the dreaded clash is to have a Personal Color Analysis. There are lots of systems out there; most have come a long way from the old 4 Seasons of the 1980’s.  My favorite is the (very nuanced) Absolute Color System, and it is the one I use with my clients. (Here you can see the 9 warm palettes!) Knowing your personal palette gives you hundreds of colors to choose from, and because they share the same color properties, they mix and match without the dreaded “clash”

Personal Pet Peeve: Color systems that come with personality labels, or tell you to dye your hair to fit your type. Beware!

If people ask “Are you feeling alright?” when you wear something, that’s a cue that it is not a good color for your personal coloring! Using your personal color palette to select the colors that best flatter you helps you avoid the “Are you okay?” from those you meet during your day.

Body Shape

A Body Shape Orphan is an item you bought that just doesn’t work for your body shape Frequently BSO’s will make you feel frumpy, or overexposed/tarty; they may make you physically uncomfortable. The waistband is too snug, the shape is boxy and you need shaping, the cut is too low, or too tight. The boots squeeze your calves; those shoes give you a blister every time you wear them. Some Body Shape Orphans can be rescued with a trip to the tailor, cobbler, or a cami to cover the extra cleavage, but often it is best to say goodbye to them. . When you try on everyday clothes, make sure they will work for your everyday activities! Sit, walk, and stretch. Make sure the clothes can do what you want them to!

Knowing your body shape can help you avoid these orphans by makeing you aware of what cuts, styles, and proportions look best on you, and helps you avoid the boxy, oversized, frump zone. Clothes do not have to be baggy to be comfortable, they just need to fit your shape. I cannot say this enough: If you are not employed as a fit model, don’t expect clothes to fit off the rack! Alterations should be a regular part of life for us mere mortals.

The best way to avoid orphans is to be a conscious shopper. Look carefully before you buy. If you cannot make at least 3 outfits with the new piece and what you already own, save your money. Once home, if you need to buy an entirely new outfit to make an orphan work, it is probably best to return it or set it free. It will be perfect for someone else, so donate it, consign it, or have a clothing swap with friends. Make it a Wardrobe Orphan Home Finding Party! Your wardrobe orphan may just be someone else’s outfit completer!

What orphan is hiding in your closet? Please let me know in the comments below!



Color Primer

Color Primer

Have you ever been talking with someone about a subject of mutual interest, and all of a sudden you discover that their knowledge, and vocabulary are completely different from yours? This happens frequently when I talk with others about color. To keep us on the same proverbial page, and make future conversations about color easier, I wanted to share some basics about color.

When I think about color, I see the intersection of science and art. Color is simply reflected light. White light can be split into its color components by a prism, or by drops of water, like in a rainbow! When an object is green, all the other wavelengths of light are absorbed, and the green is reflected, our eye catches it, and we see green. (If we have all the right cones in our eyes, that is.) White is the combination of all wavelengths of visible light, and black the absence. Black absorbs all the light. That’s why a black car gets hotter than a white car in the sun.

The name of any particular color is what we refer to as its Hue. These are the primary colors on the outside of the color wheel: Red, Yellow, Blue, and all the combinations in between them, also known as the secondary and tertiary colors. The secondary colors are Orange, Green, and Violet. The tertiary colors are Blue-Violet, Red-Violet, Red-Orange, Yellow-Orange, Yellow-Green, and Blue-Green. I think you can still find all of these in the 64 Crayola crayon box. (Now I’ll have to buy a new box and check!)

When I talk to clients about color in a wardrobe, we often run into trouble because when I use the word color, I am talking about the colors of the rainbow, or the color wheel. If I am talking about neutrals, I try to refer to them as such. Neutrals are the “colors” not on the the color wheel: white, black, grey, brown, tan, taupe, and other combinations that read as neutral.


Value is the first property of color we usually notice after hue. Is the color light or deep? The achromatic value scale runs from 1 (black) to 10 (white) with shades of gray in between. Imagine a color photo edited to black and white; this can give you a better idea of the value of a color. This property is first in mind when selecting clothing, and makeup for a client. Is her (or his) overall coloring more light, or more deep? In general, hair is the main marker for whether a person’s coloring is dark, medium, or light.


Intensity is the second of the three color properties. This property, like value, is usually fairly easy to distinguish. Is the color bright or saturated (high intensity) or softer, more muted, smoky, or toasted (lower intensity)? Pure hues from the outer edge of the color wheel are high intensity.


Undertone is the third property of color. Is the color warm (yellow based) or cool (blue based)? This one gets tricky, because we often associate colors with temperature, and temperature has nothing to do with undertone! There are warm and cool greens, reds, and purples. As a matter of fact the only color that doesn’t have warms and cools is orange; it is always warm!

Color Combining

Combining colors is easier when you take the properties into account. High intensity colors will often look best (“match”) other high intensity colors. More smoky colors blend together well, and colors with the same undertone will combine more harmoniously than colors with dramatically different undertones. If you find something in your closet that doesn’t play well with others, it may be that its properties are out of sync with the pieces you are trying to match it to!

I love warm-undertoned colors, but they do not love me! Are there particular properties of color that draw you? Let me know in the comments below!