Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Contrasting views

It all seemed very straightforward: I knew my body shape (rectangular or H), my face shape (oblong), my features (a combination of round and angular) and I was waiting for my colour swatch to arrive so my colours could be sorted. I understood what shapes suit my rectangular body, how to create a column of colour to make me look taller (always a bonus!) and what necklines flatter me. Once I had my colour swatch, I would be ready to shop.  Imogen's 7 Steps to Style course had taught me so much and soon I would be as stylish as all the other bloggers out there!

I was feeling very confident - perhaps a little over confident? - until the words "value contrast" and "colour contrast" came into the equation.  What did this mean?  As Imogen had promised to write a blog post on the subject and was looking for volunteers, I sent her a photo as soon as I read the request.  Here it is:

I was delighted when I saw that I had been included as I knew this would help me progress even more. Imogen said that I am high value contrast but low colour contrast. I have dark hair and eyes, however my skin is fair making the value contrast high. On the other hand there is no obvious colour in my face as my hair, eyes and skin are all neutral, which is why my colour contrast is low.

If you click on this link you can look at the other volunteers, who have different levels of value contrast and colour contrast, plus outfits that Imogen has suggested would suit us all. I think Imogen explains the concept very well and I agree with how she defines my contrast levels.  Now comes the tricky bit! When I'm putting together an outfit and I know that the colours and designs all suit me, I also need to take value and colour contrasts into consideration. In my case I will look my best if I wear either a monochromatic colour scheme or dress head to toe in neutrals, both in a high value contrast. I will also look my best if I wear more dark colours than light ones, just using small amounts of light colours to add the contrast.

This is the outfit that Imogen suggested for me:

I love that outfit, however I won't be making any purchases until I receive my colour swatch and have confirmed that the colours suit me. In the meantime, I am using my current wardrobe to try and work out suitable combinations. I may treat myself to some new additions once I have identified which colours work best for me, but the looks below will have to do for now!

This was yesterday's outfit. The trousers are a bit too loose though the colour seemed right.  Once I have the swatch, if the trousers look good with it, I'll be taking them to be tailored so they fit better. When I went out I wore a much lighter blue scarf, which provided a better contrast than the necklace I'm wearing in the above photo.

Today's outfit seemed to meet the criteria a lot better. The colour of my top blended well with the colour card and I think the white stripes help with the value contrast, so this is a definite keeper. I posted this photo on the "7 Steps to Style" facebook page and it met with general approval, so I'm confident that I'm going in the right direction.

It is often said that the most stylish women make it all look effortless, but trust me behind the scenes there's a lot of hard work involved.  Having said that, it's also great fun. For all you over 60 women out there, I hope that you will start creating new and more flattering outfits with your own clothes. With Christmas coming up, what better time to add some style and colour to your wardrobe?


  1. Nailed it! I think the lighter scarf you mentioned probably looked great and made you looked effortlessly chic, but so does that necklace (and I want that necklace!!!) Each outfit you show here achieves the look you want, of being pulled together without looking like you tried too hard. I am so impressed. Guess it's time for me to get my act together.

    I also learned from Imogen in that series. She has previously taught me that I need medium contrast, but now I know why I get more compliments when I use color than neutrals (medium green/hazel eyes but mostly the reddish flush on my skin, which otherwise is quite cool.

    1. Robin, it's definitely time to get your act together. If I can do it, so can you!

      I think that once we can understand all aspects of looking more stylish, then we can build up our wardrobes accordingly and then we won't have to think about it so much. We will have all the clothes and accessories we need to look our best. So your task for the day is looking at how you can use your colours to get compliments every day!

  2. Sue

    It's how to find the right color/fit/style all in one that is my issue. In theory I pull it all off very well. In practice, well...

    Thanksgiving here and I am thankful I can worry about this kind of thing and not about surviving day to day. But my whole family is here this weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving and my mom's 84th birthday, so I will make an effort to look as pulled together as possible for the next few days!

  3. I have bought quite a few clothes from Kettlewell as they divide their clothes into seasons, plus now I know my size with them I can order pretty confidently. If you know your tonal directions but not your season, they have a table to help you decide:

  4. Robin, I forgot to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving and your mom a very Happy Birthday! I'm sure you'll look very pulled together - at least for the weekend!

    By the way, there's another excellent post on Imogen's blog:

  5. The original post by Imogen has at least 66 comments--she really struck a chord with that post and this series.

    Thanks for the like to Kettlewell. What a great site!

    The whole concept of color is fascinating to me. I have hazel eyes--green with taupe. The green is medium/dark and the taupe/golden part is light so it's contrasty but not high contrast. (And the light part might be getting lighter as I age--I never noticed it much before). But when I wear a Wedgewood blue color in particular, I get a LOT of compliments on my blue eyes!

  6. We're off to England for a week to see the family. I packed a lot of blue to go with my blue lips! My contrast will be my ruddy skin, made redder by the cold! His family likes to get out and walk no matter what the weather!

    Happy holidays, Sue!

    1. Robin, you definitely made me chuckle with this comment. When are you going to England - will it be over Christmas? You can order from Kettlewell before you go to England and, if you don't like the fit or the colours of any item, return it for free. Hope that you have a fabulous time in your blue and red!

  7. Hi Sue

    We're in Manchester now. Had two above-normal days as far as temps and two VERY cold rainy days. Got in a bit of depressing shopping as the options tended to be heavy material and not much for us short, er, normal people.

    No time to get to the post office for a return as we have 5 small children around and lots going on. It was an early Christmas as all the relatives have to visit their in-laws over the actual day. But I think I need short boots--they are mandatory in Manchester.

    1. Hi Robin

      Good to hear from you! Have you looked in good old Marks & Spencer, as they do petite/normal sizes? Unfortunately when I was in London the petite sizes were mixed with the normal sizes, so I had to look for something I liked then search through the racks to see if they had it in short sizes. The large department stores were better as they had complete petite sections. Wallis and Next do petite ranges too and you can usually spot them when you go into any of their shops. How about wellies? I actually bought a pair (well my OH paid for them as part of my Christmas present) the other day as when it rains here we have what appear to be rivers flowing down the slopes - too much for Spanish drains to cope with! It was good timing as the following day I needed to wear them! Since then it's been dry - not that I'm complaining. Enjoy the rest of your stay!

  8. Hi Sue.
    Back home for a day and then on the road again, driving. I stole a few minutes to look around Debenhams and found mostly thick jumpers and things that aren't really suitable for a variety of climates. M&S was a total loss for me--nothing at all. Need to go back in spring and see what's on offer then. I found some cute things at House of Fraser online but never made it to an actual shop to see what they had and how it fit.

    My husband's very adorable 7-year-old grand niece was feeling my sleeve last night. Then she said, no, I'm not just feeling it, I'm looking at the pattern. There is dark blue and light blue and dark purple. But it all borders black. Do you like wearing black? Seven years old! I said no, but it's hard to find softer colors and she nodded and said I like bright colors! Do you like bright colors? You can wear them like I do (orange and pink! I said, that works for you since you are so young). Amazing kid.