Looking Sensational: Fashion Colors

At one point in my career, I worked in the menswear sector of the fashion industry. While I love menswear and aspired to work with the finest fabrics and detailed tailoring that isn’t where the opportunities opened up. Instead, I worked for several years in men’s sportswear and later with team sports apparel. I ran the division that created everything from the jerseys and gear worn by NFL teams to the uniforms of the Harlem Globetrotters and several University teams across many sports. At that time, my biggest fashion colors claim to fame was being part of the team who changed the color of the San Francisco 49ers logo and uniforms from red and khaki to burgundy and gold.

It was an amazing experience but I never felt as if I was a professional fashionista. Today, I enjoy sketching figures wearing the latest fashion colors but I don't follow the industry nearly as closely. So if you are looking for the latest fashion or beauty style trends, I'm probably not the best resource. However, if you are interested in knowing more about the color trends or the best colors to wear based on your coloring, stick around. I am quite good when it comes to knowing which are the best colors for you as well as knowing which colors to wear for different situations.

Feature Image Credit (from left to right): Valerie ElashMathias HuysmansDaria VolkovaDionne Joi

Learning From the Father of Personal Color Consulting

Long before there was Color Me Beautiful, More Alive With Color or personal wardrobe and color consultants, Johannes Itten, a Swiss artist, recognized a connection between the colors people are naturally attracted to and the colors that flattered their personal coloring.

During the time he was teaching art, design, and color theory at the Bauhaus, Itten discovered that he could predict a student's paint color preferences based on their physical appearance. He shares a story in his book, The Elements of Color, about how this discovery came about.  When he was teaching a course on color combinations, during a particular assignment students resisted getting started complaining that they didn't like the colors they were given to use. Itten decided to strayed from the curriculum allowing his students to complete the exercise using their choice of colors.

When each student revealed their completed exercises, Itten noted that each had a unique concept of harmony and color relationships. He also noticed that each had used colors that harmonized with their coloring. 

In his book, The Art of Color, there are examples that illustrate what he witnessed over the years as he worked with more and more student artists. The images of the students alongside their paintings show the correlation. Itten called this phenomenon "subjective color." He was the first to discover that people are drawn to colors that complement their complexion, hair, and eye colors.

In my studies of subjective color, I have found that not only the choice and juxtaposition of hues but also the size and orientation of areas may be highly characteristic. Some individuals orient all areas vertically; others stress the horizontal or diagonal. Orientation is a clue to (their) mode of thought and feeling.

Johannes Itten

I know it is true for me and I have seen the same thing with my students over and over again. Now that you are aware of this, I think you will notice this about many of the colors you choose.

As the first person to make a connection between color preferences and an individual's timbre (his word for coloring), Itten is considered by most to be the father of personal colors and the industry that eventually sprang up to help people identify their personal colors.

But don't run off thinking that all you need to do is choose colors you like. Whether dressing or designing, Itten pointed out that it isn't quite that simple. You can begin with colors selected subjectively but don't end there. Throughout his writing, Itten emphasizes the importance of developing a color aesthetics or as I call it, a color-sensibility, through an understanding of the core principles and practice of color theory and application in order to make the best color choices in every situation.

Your Personal Fashion Colors

From the moment you are born, your natural coloring is part of what makes you beautiful and unique. You can enhance your natural coloring by applying makeup, add depth to your hair color with dyes or highlights, and even change your eye color by wearing colored contact lens. Whether your look is natural or you've changed it to suit your style, when thinking of your best fashion colors, your personal coloring is the place to begin.

The Colors You Wear

Most of the time you know what to wear but there are times when you question your judgement and could use a bit of guidance. Here are answers to some of the questions I have been asked most often about the colors you wear.

Fashion Colors: Accessories to Maximize Your Style
Fashion Colors: How to Wear Nude Colors Wisely
Best Business Fashion Colors for Men

Discover the Secrets of Birthstone Colors

Natural stone jewelry is one of my pleasures and has become a signature of my style. So while I take a minimalistic approach to my wardrobe I'm rarely seen without a statement-making necklace. Until recently, the only stones I knew much about were the ones I own. Then I started researching birthstone colors and found a whole world of color, meaning and symbolism waiting for me to explore.

Surrounded by myths and legends, birthstones are said to have many different powers as well as special meaning. Birthstones appeal to audiences of all ages around the world. So, whether or not you believe the stories about these stones I think you'll find it fun to learn about the color of the gem selected to represent the month you were born.

The basic human need to own and wear materials we deem "sacred" or special is what drives us to collect rocks and minerals. Perhaps this explains the lure of birthstones; how powerful it is to have our month of birth represented by a beautiful natural gemstone.

Burke Museum. Seattle, Washington, USA

Start with the stone that represents your special month and then discover the story of each birthstone color.

Feature Image Credit: Kate Smith

Read Time: 6 min
  • Lori says:

    Kate, I absolutely LOVE the fashion figure drawings and colors in the banner.

    • Kate Smith says:

      Thanks so much, Lori. What a nice compliment and from such a stylish woman! I was quite pleased with how the figures and fashions turned out and it made my day to know you like them, too.

  • >