There was a time in my life where all I would wear was black. I call that time my moody years and looking back, it was true. I was an insecure teenager, trying to find my place in the world, insecure about my body, and wearing all black allowed me to hide. Flash forward a good amount of years and here I am, walking down the street in a yellow maxi skirt with a sky blue tank top. That self-conscious teenager would have never dared!
A lot of things have changed since then and I have found the joy of color, especially in clothing. I have learned how to mix in match in ways I would have never tried before and I have discovered my “power” colors. And when you are done reading this, I hope you will take the leap with me and discover yours too.
A Mini History of Color in Fashion
You can thank the Aztecs for that! They made red by crushing bugs called cochineals. Deep red is a bold color that often represents power, danger, and luck. Pale red is what we now call pink, typically seen as a girl color but originally pink was used for men until the 1950s.
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The ancient Egyptians would use a yellow-orange mineral called realgar to paint on tomb walls, which was highly toxic and used by the Chinese to repel snakes. In Asian culture, orange signifies transformation in Confucianism, as well as fertility and abundance in Greek mythology.
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The color yellow is usually seen as a cheerful, happy color, but that wasn’t always the case. Chinese emperors used the saffron plant to dye their fabrics yellow. Because the dye would only work on fine silk, the color was left for royalty who could afford such fabrics. Yellow was a popular color in the 1960s but fell slightly out of favor until Beyonce’s Lemonade album came out.
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Brides in Europe would wear green during the Middle Ages as it symbolized fertility.
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Or historically known as Indigo. Indigo means “from India” but it was also found in China, Central America and Africa. The process to make indigo dye was so difficult and so in demand that only the rich could afford such a luxury.
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The color of royalty, purple was made by sea snails! Tyrian purple was the first shade of purple and was rare and so incredibly expensive to produce that only the very rich could afford it.
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To incorporate color into your own wardrobe doesn’t have to be daunting! I promise you, it will get easier with some practice and an understanding of your color palette.
How to Find Your Color Palette
The first thing I recommend is to know what your undertone is. There are three types of undertones: cool, warm, and neutral.
To find yours, take a look at your veins around your neck and face preferably. If your veins appear bluish then you have a cool undertone, if they appear greenish then you have a warm undertone. Neutral is a mix of the two.
If that doesn’t help here is another way to check… throw on a stark white tee and check yourself out in a well, naturally lit area. If your skin looks pinkish then you have a cool undertone, if it looks more yellowish then you have a warm undertone, and if you can wear both stark white or creamy hues without looking washed out then you have a natural undertone.
Here are some color suggestions that look best for each undertone:
Bright blues, emerald, deep purple, lavender, pale yellow
Red, coral, orange, gold, yellow, taupe
Lucky you, you can wear pretty much anything.
These are just some guides to help you find your palette. But honestly, I have found that anyone can wear any color just as long as it is the right shade for you. For example, I have a warm undertone, I look great in vibrant colors and not so great in pastels. Don’t be afraid to try for yourself!
Thanks to many Portland resale shops, my closest is now full of color and patterns. I find joy in my closet, it lifts my mood, and I have gotten more creative as time goes on. It is true that sometimes when I look around the room, I am the most brightly colored person there and it doesn’t make me curl up in embarrassment, rather it makes me happy.
I am going to end with a quote from the wonderful Iris Apfel,
“Style, I think, is in your DNA. It implies originality and courage. And the worst that can happen when you take a risk is that you fail. And you don’t die from that.”
So with that my friends, go out there and be bold! Be brave and try new things because you might surprise yourself.
Till next week,