Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why scooping up weird shit at sales might not be such a terrible thing.

I talked to blackbird yesterday and heard about her accident, and it made me want to blog again.

Yes, I realize that sounds bad. "Internet, if you want me to blog, you have to almost get hit by a car and break your wrist in multiple places."

But really, when you're trying to catch up with your friend, and she's telling you about the trauma unit and her orthopedic surgeon, and you counter with the changes you've been making in your wardrobe because you realized--at the age of 57, mind you--that you looked better in brown than black, you have no recourse except to turn to the internet. Because even in the throes of my angst, even I realize that the all-consuming question: "Am I a Winter or an Autumn?" is a little lacking in drama.

But enough of the obligatory sorry-I-haven't-blogged-in-so-long and in-case-you-haven't-noticed-this-blog-is-deeply-shallow. Let's get on with it, shall we?

I found out by accident that I've been wearing the wrong colors for years. Do you remember Color Me Beautiful? Well, when that book came out, I thought in pretty much binary terms. The system is based on hair color, eye color, level of contrast between your hair and skin, and undertones. You had blue eyes or brown; brown hair or blonde. Or you were a redhead, which I wasn't. Since I didn't have blue eyes or blond hair, I had to be a winter.

Over the past three or four years I've managed to accumulate items of clothing that aren't my colors (classic Color Me Beautiful winter shades like black, black, navy, red, pale pink, pale blue, and black.) I may have gotten them because they were on sale or were the only dress that fitted or one of those half-assing-it shopping scenarios that make people end up on What Not to Wear.

However, some of these sale purchases netted me more compliments than the stuff I liked and paid full retail for. I'll illustrate my point with a series of selfies taken over the past year and a half.

Here I am trying to tell whether the coral shades in my clearance faux-Liberty Gap shirt are flattering:

If I remember correctly, I was trying to wear warm-toned makeup to complement the shirt.

Then back to black:

Black leather jacket only mildly marked down at Brooks Brothers; faux Alexander McQueen scarf courtesy of China via Susie Sunshine.

For the record, I took this picture in the bathroom at my hair salon, so the lighting is terrible. I look even more sallow than I actually am, but the black is doing my complexion no favors. I think.

Gray dress by Lafayette 148 (old) necklace J. Crew (old)

In this picture, I'm wearing a charcoal gray dress with a J. Crew necklace in tones of bronze and pale lilac. I've got on a full face of spackle (except I guess I wasn't filling my brows every day at this point.) I think this is on my front porch, so it's filtered daylight, which explains why I look about 27 years old.

Suit from a sale Neiman Marcus catalog (old)

OK, this is Easter Sunday on the way to brunch. It was a very sunny day (it may be the last time the sun shone in Chicago this year.) I'm wearing a very pale coral silk suit and a full face of spackle.

This is the most recent picture--I'm wearing a darker coral sheath, full face of spackle,  hair up and glasses off. Indoors at lunch time, no flash.

Coral Ponte knit with raffia center panel by Worth New York

So. I've pretty much decided that I am not a winter. Black is not my color. Neither is hot pink, or bright blue. Even pale pink is a little trying. As a result, I'm wearing colors that I haven't gone near since the 1980s, when black/cobalt/fuschia triumphed over the earth tones that had ruled the 1970s. Colors that until recently I wouldn't have touched with a ten foot pole. Colors that I had formerly categorized as redhead colors. Autumn colors. But not the full on pumpkin shades that real redheads wear. I've been buying things like these, in colors like primrose yellow

GAP fitted boyfriend shirt, on sale for $27.99

 or coral

Worth New York pencil skirt in white with coral branches, from a post at Pam Lutrell's blog, Over 50 Feeling 40

or teal

Salvatore Ferragamo "Varina" flats

I'm still wearing Lilly

but I'm keeping the hot pink away from my face. It's OK in shoes.

Ferragamo Vara pumps in Agata Rosa Arancio on sale at Zappos for $329.99

but not makeup. Instead, I'm wearing soft corals, pinky corals, beiges, and browns.
Chantecaille Coral Reefs palette


  1. I think I do. It's taken me a while to adjust. Maybe up to a decade! Some of these shades--olive green, celadon, and brown--had already sneaked into my wardrobe. But I drew the line at yellow, coral, or orange.

    Actually, I'm still skeered of orange!

    One other problem is that brown reads as less dressy than black, so it's hard to find in heels, bags, evening clothes, and good overcoats.

  2. I'm an autumn (I've kept my custom color card to prove it) but lately I have been wearing more black. I think I am turning into my mother. I can wear orange but it is such an in your face color. Pink is softer.

    It's about time you started blogging again. I have a shelf full of those GAP scoop neck tees you recommended a long while ago and they still hold their shape.

  3. And you're back. Thanks Bb!
    Interesting all this colour insight. I've always worn every colour there is, except for navy blue.
    I hate navy blue.
    You make me wonder if I am crazy to wear colours without "thinking".

  4. Hi "Reader" and Paola--it's good to be back.

    Weird thing about color--the entire first floor of my house is decorated in Autumn colors--pale olive walls, rugs in shades of brown, some gold, and the only pink is a coral-pink that looks like faded Nantucket reds. This has all been in place since 2009, so you'd think I'd have wised up and realized what was going on. I mean, clearly I was decorating the living and dining rooms so that I'd look good in them!

  5. Oh, and orange ... you really have to have it going on to wear orange. I hated it for YEARS and even held it against Hermès that their boxes are that hideous pumpkin color. Now I actually have a little stack of the dreaded orange boxes on a shelf in my bedroom, all different shapes, from Twilly to Plissé to scarf rings to bracelets.

    Maybe people don't change, but tastes do!

  6. i bought this pretty silk tank in orange last year as my nod to color trending. Wore it once. Never again. OTOH, I have a wrap tank in slightly paler orange with a white coral design and I never fail to get a ton of compliments. I am addicted to navy, pink, and all shades of blue.

  7. Poppy! I think you look like a Sci-Art (that's a system) Dark Autumn. There is a whole fb community dedicated to this color business. You are right, softer is better. xo


Gentle Readers:

For the time being, I've turned off comment moderation. Please don't spam; it's not nice.

xxx, Poppy.