Saturday, March 9, 2013

What Color Is Your Parachute?

RHYS: The one form of spring cleaning I do every year is to go through my clothes closet and get rid of any item I haven't worn for at least a year. (At least, this is the theory. I practice I find myself muttering 'I might wear that again if kilts/long skirts/peasant blouses come back into fashion)

But the interesting thing to me about this exercise is that I clearly favored a certain color at a certain time. Picasso had his blue period. So did I. And a light green, and a teal, and beige, and even brown (that was a mistake. i don't look good in brown.) There was even a mauve period. What was I thinking? Nobody looks good in mauve except little old ladies with blue hair.

So now I'm fascinated: what made me go that color at that period in my life? Was it the 'in' color that year and I was subliminally influenced by the fashion industry? Did it match the way I was feeling? Was I particularly cheerful the year I went for buttery yellow?Was I trying to be efficient when I wore navy?  I won't even try to analyze how I was feeling when I went for mauve.

Some people have 'their' color and stick to it. Have I ever seen Hank not wearing black? My daughter Anne, with true black Irish coloring of dark hair and fabulous blue eyes only wears black/light blue/red and white. A true winter person.  If I had to come up with 'my' color I suppose it would be turquoise or teal. But that doesn't stop me from beige which is probably quite wrong for my hair and coloring.

So I'm interested, Reds. Do you feel energized or angry when you wear red? Do you choose light blue to make you serene? Do you have your own particular colors and if so, how were they chosen. Did you ever have your colors done? (I'm spring).

Also are some colors more appealing than others? I'm going to look at my book covers and see which of them sold better than others (The lilac Molly book didn't do that well. Aha. Memo to self. No more lilac.)

Do you have a favorite color right now?

HALLIE EPHRON: I LOVE red. Also black. Or red and black. Or black and red. They're good with my coloring.

Pastels? Feh. They wash me out and make me feel girlie which I do not like. I try to do strong colors -- bright ones like turquoise and jade green and violet -- but I confess, I invariably fade to black... and red.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I used to wear autumnal colors that flattered my red hair:  brown, rust, moss green. Now that I've gone silver, I've had to change it up a bit. I'll still wear my favorite brown turtleneck, but I'll add on a turquoise necklace or red scarf to brighten it up. One color I can wear now that never used to look good on me? Pink! My summer wardrobe has become heavily pink and green in the past few years.

Living in a cold climate, I really notice how colors in my environment make me feel. As soon as the temperature drops in the fall, the living room chairs and ottoman get covered with plaid wool in shades of burgundy, burnt orange and hunter green. It makes the room warmer without having to turn up the thermostat!

DEBORAH CROMBIE:  Looking at the photos I posted recently of my book signings twenty years ago and fifteen years ago, I was wearing deep purple in the first, and a sort of teal-blue-green in the second. Hmm. Still wear those colors. I had my colors done years and years ago, and I am supposedly a "summer," so I was cheating towards "winter" on the purple.  I used to stick by that palette pretty religiously, however, but I seem to be getting more adventurous. I've developed a thing for lime green the last couple of years, and I've noticed I have several things in burnt orange, both of which would have been absolutely taboo. But my hair is, um, lighter these days, and that does make a difference.

I still can't wear olive or yellow or clear orange, or most grays and browns. Not unless I want to look like one of the corpses in my books.

Oh, I deliberately made Gemma a "spring/autumn" so she could wear all the colors that didn't look good on me.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, Debs, the idea that you had signings twenty years ago. Swoon.

And yes, black it is. (Thanks, Rhys.) The only color that looks reliably good on me. Okay, red. Chocolate brown. Winter white. And that, my friends, is it. Except for the occasional navy blue.

Why is this, I ask? Anyone know the color thing?

DEBS: It was supposed to be some formula of skin tone, eye color, and hair color. Summer and winter were "cool" skin tones; autumn and spring, "warm." Is it still the thing to have your "colors" done, I wonder? And don't most of us have a pretty good idea what works for us and what doesn't?  Maybe the real thing is to ask what colors make us happy, and why? I painted my kitchen a soft apple green when we remodeled.  That was six years ago and it still makes me smile every day.

Hank, I have to say, your packing must be really, really easy:-)

LUCY BURDETTE: I had my "colors" done about twenty years ago too. And who knows what my hair color was back then?? But they gave me a little wheel of swatches with all my flattering colors on it, and several of them designated as especially good for making eyes stand out (green), hair, skin, and also, what color of jewelry to wear (gold and bronze better than silver). The problem is I forget to take it when I go shopping...And so I buy black and white:). I think I'm an Autumn like Gemma, Debs, so I do better with greens, browns, and peach. But in any case, you can pretty much tell when you look in the mirror--ghoulish? Don't buy it no matter how cute!

RHYS: One thing I've learned the hard way--I do not look good in patterns. No flowers, swirls, blobs for me. I'm Ms. Ralph Lauren. If I stick with him, I'm okay (except last year when he included an awful pink and green dress). But this makes me wonder whether we make our characters look like us or deliberately different from us. I always wanted red hair and Molly has the flame colored locks I craved. 

So let's hear from you? Have you always favored the same colors? Do you experiment?


  1. Oh, the color thing. I’ve never had my colors done, never tried to match my hair/eyes/skin tone with any particular color(s) . . . . And why is that, you may ask? It’s simple: because I’d still go out and buy everything in the same colors I always choose. I think I wore white once . . . yep, wedding dress . . . and I admit to owning a few conservatively colored/patterned blouses and such, but my wardrobe consists of things that are black . . . grey . . . chocolate brown . . . navy blue. No bright colors . . . no [gasp] red . . . no wild patterns, no edgy styles. This has always been my “comfort zone,” and after years of quiet, conservative, and [to the rest of the world] probably quite dull, I don’t imagine there’s much chance of a change on the horizon. Still, it’s me, and so I am content [and happily wearing grey at the moment] . . . .

  2. Grey, blue, and brown make up my whole closet. There is the occasional attempt at color - the "what was I thinking?!" pink sweater and the floral print dress with the tags still on it - but it's mostly grey, blue, and brown.

    Hmmm... Maybe it's my wallflower wardrobe? I'm still trying to be comfortable in my own skin...let alone clothes! (I'm a work in progress!)

  3. Just the other day, as I was doing laundry, I realized almost everything in the "dark" load was mine, and was black. Or red. Or brown. Or purple. It's a default staple for us winter gals, Hank and Hallie! At one time my mother used to complain that all I ever wore was black, so I started deliberately choosing more color. To wear with black, of course.

    Winter people: you can almost always wear clear, jewel-toned, deeply saturated colors: reds, blues, purples, greens. No muddy tones for you.

    The only problem with a black wardrobe is summer. Hot climates in general, especially someplace like Miami, is not where you take your black clothing. For one thing, you stick out like the proverbial sore thumb because no one else wears it.

    For the last couple of years I've been drawn to new colors for me: lime green, which I'd always steered clear of as if it was battery acid; true, deep rich violet; and peacock blue--which turns out my absolutely most flattering color ever. Who knew? It might have something to do with my lighter hair, too, Debs!

  4. I'm addicted to white shirts. I LOVE white shirts and bright scarves and bold jewelry.

    When I was working I bought a lot of black and I feel good in black.

    But I love those bright splashes of color you get with scarves and shawls.

    oh yes, red. I do love red.

  5. White shirts, yes, I love them..but to hard to find a good one. Where you dont have to fuss with the collar.

    So does this mean I'm a winter?

    And yes, indeed, it does narrow down the packing dilemmas! Though it s more difficult to have a go-to outfit when you realize there will be photos on Facebook or whatever.. But you know, does anyone really care? I wore the same thing to work last eek two days in a row, because I just loved what I was wearing, and I thought--will anyone notice? NO one did.. not that they mentioned , anyway.

  6. I meant to send a pic of the sweater and scarf I bought in California. Sweater is a coral-y rose pink, the scarf a multitude of blues, greens, pinks, and purple. I intend to make Londoners think it's spring the next couple of weeks. Debs, the walking Easter egg.

    I do wear black and gray as neutrals, but made a decision years ago not to wear navy, and very seldom wear brown. Simplifies the wardrobe. And I don't wear gold jewelry. Simplifies the budget:-)

  7. I have a man friend, a poet, who had his colors done. Granted, it was by one of his students. But his wife and I never let him forget it! He is a "winter, " by the way. You all would love his poetry. David Lee Garrison. His work has been read on NPR by Garrison Keillor. Molly campbell

  8. Hank, check out this page and see what you think:

    Hallie is for sure a true winter. Pastels don't look good on winters, generally, unless they have a good tan. :-)

    I went to a lecture on contrast once. The speaker said there are three different types of people: high contrast: those who have high contrast between their features and their coloring, like Hallie, for instance; low, or no contrast: someone with very pale hair, pale eyes, and pale skin (or conversely, all dark); and medium contrast: medium-colored hair, and anything else. The upshot was that, no matter what color you wear, the scheme should be in keeping with your particular level of contrast. It was very interesting.

  9. Karen - that's interesting! does this further reinforce the fact that I never exactly do what I'm supposed to do? sigh.

    Debs has the most amazing scarves and I covet each and every one. With her scarves and Hank's shoes I'd be a happy girl.

  10. I wear a lot of black, just like my "sister" Hank. If my repaired foot would fit into her shoes I'd be wearing them, too. but alas it doesn't.

  11. My one fear is that I'll wear the same jacket to the same event two years in a row. Fans sometimes bring me pictures they've taken of us together the year before and sometimes it's "Oh no. Not the same teal jacket!"
    And I never used to be a scarf person but now I love them. The square scarves used to fall off but the long ones can be tied and liven up any outfit.

  12. Blue, and whatever goes with it, is my color. My mother used to buy me red clothes, anything to get me to mix it up. I had an incredible number of accidents while wearing those red clothes.

    Although... I have an incredible love of my red duffle coat. Could be I associate it with football games at Marblehead High... don't know. But I adore that coat, even more than the navy blue, probably because it's Swampscott's color.

  13. Reine, you had accidents in red clothes? Do tell!

    Karen, you should run a seminar for us on our contrasts. Then we could all go shopping together.

    Paula and Joan, I think you might have liked a Jungle Red jungle patterned scarf--actually, we thought it looked good on everyone!

  14. Roberta, I think Hank should run seminars on how to look elegant every minute!

    But let's do go shopping together. Wherever Hallie found those Jungle Red scarves, to start.

  15. A Jungle Red jungle patterned scarf I could most definitely love . . . a "big" red something [sweater, jacket, dress] not so much . . . .