How do you wear dark, subtle colours without looking drab? Are there any rules I can follow?

(67 Posts)
IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 11:30:31

Due to my colouring (cool-toned, pale skin, dark hair and eyes) I look best in dark, wintery colours - greys, navy, black, deep dark purple. But it can look quite drab I think - I tried to find a scarf to lift the overall look, but most of them are really bright and make me look ill, or are too patterned and don't suit me either. It doesn't help that I'm rather skinny and small and big accessories, even scarves, can overwhelm me. Where am I going wrong?

Itsafineline Wed 09-Jan-13 11:39:06

Have you tried ice colours instead of jewel colours to balance out your dark neutrals? Also, as you are teeny, you could maybe look for colour on necklaces, earrings or brooches to lift your neutrals. Bright belts - which are often really difficult to find in small sizes, try French Connection, could work for you.
The advice from House of Colour for winters (which you seem to be) is to do two neutrals and an ice, or two neutrals and a jewel. Or one colour worn through neutral, jewel & ice. Can you go to a good shop in your favourite neutral dress and have a play around?

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 11:49:21

Ooh, great advice Itsafineline, thanks! Yes icy colours do suit me but they seem rather hard to find in shops. Although I haven't tried THAT hard, I think I gravitate towards familiar colours and shops and need to expand.

I know this sounds odd but I don't like jewellery that much. Necklaces always look weird on me for some reason, whatever style they are (long skinny neck and small face maybe?) I don't wear earrings and dislike brooches. Sorry that sounds v negative doesn't it.

I have a few belts but not bright ones so that's something to try. And I will definitely bear in mind two neutrals + an ice or a jewel. The other day I was wearing a pale grey dress with a navy coat and a burgundy scarf and thought I'd been all clever combining three colours, but it still looked drab somehow! I need more jewels and ices smile

Itsafineline Wed 09-Jan-13 11:57:12

You might need to force yourself a bit with the jewellery - it might be because you haven't tried the 'right' things yet. If you prefer scarves then necklaces are wasted i am really fussy about necklaces - they have to match the neckline of my dress/top and that's not always easy. I mean round neck top, round necklace, like pearls, but not pearls iyswim?
Are your ears pierced?
I find Mint Velvet often has a few ice colours, and good old Boden pop the odd one in. Kettlewell colours, which is a site that offers stuff for colour analysed people has them, but their sizing is generous, so a small would probs be too big for you. Scarves would fit though!

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 12:05:46

No my ears aren't pierced. I've just been thinking about it and I think my problem with earrings and necklaces is that they tend to be elongating, which I really don't need. I have a narrow face, and even scarves look wrong if I wear them with the ends loose - they look better bunched up messily around my neck. Ditto long hair - I look a lot better with bob length hair than long hair, which is unusual I know.

Yes, Boden and Kettlewell don't go small enough for me. Haven't tried Mint Velvet thought I've always liked their colours when I've walked past them in department store.

But I will try more with the jewellery as there's so much lovely stuff out there (I adore Alex Monroe).

I am a HoC winter and have similar issues to you. Today I am wearing a navy dress and shoes, a black cardigan and tights and a black/cobalt/green leopard print scarf to lift it. It is a v fine knit scarf do not too bulky (I am petite framed, though not terribly skinny, also).

I often use a silver-grey or white to brighten my dark neutrals. I don't really get on with ice pastels though, even though they should suit me, I don't feel they do.

LifeofPo Wed 09-Jan-13 12:12:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Itsafineline Wed 09-Jan-13 12:13:29

You sound as though you might be a gamine - tiny, short hair, don't like fussy details. I have a long face too, and balance it with width and wear circular earrings, always studs, sometimes halfpence size, sometimes 10p sized. Pearls can be the ultimate ice colour, but they are also very classic. I feel about 100 if I wear them. Silver is supposed to be the metal colour for winters.

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 12:15:23

Ooh I like the sound of your scarf to share where it's from? In fact do you mind if I stalk you around S&B for ideas?

Borgen is on my list of things to watch LifeofPo...I didn't know it would have fashion inspiration in it though!

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 12:17:33

Itsafineline yes I do look awful in gold. I think you might be right about me being a gamine - I am happiest in summer when I can wear shorts and a stripy tee and nothing else, or cropped black trousers, ballet flats and a simple top for work. It's when it gets to winter and I have to contend with big coats and jumpers and layers that I am less happy with my style.

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 12:19:28

Just snuck a look at your picture Amber - you are gorgeous smile I have same eyes and hair colour as you but am much more pale (look dead without blusher!)

Ephiny Wed 09-Jan-13 12:20:13

Winter colours don't necessarily have to be dark - you should be able to wear bold colours like royal blue and proper scarlet red. Try them, you might be surprised.

I always used to think I couldn't wear green -- actually I can if it's emerald green or a light bright colour, just not any kind of yellowy green.

Scarf - it is brighter than it appears here!

I wear a lot of cobalt, good for lifting navys and greys. I also use silk scarves (I have a couple of McQueen skull scarves, which aren't to everyone's taste I know, in bright red and cobalt which are good to lift an all black outfit)

Ephiny Wed 09-Jan-13 12:22:33

And I agree about silver and white jewellery/accessories to brighten up a dark outfit.

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 12:24:00

OK Ephiny, I'm a bit scared of red but I will try it. I love emerald green but don't see it in the shops that often - if it's too much of a bright grass green I look too pale, so it needs to be light emerald iyswim.

Re royal blue I was in Topshop the other day and the whole floor seemed to be full of gorgeous royal blues - will have to go and try some!

I think bright shoes are good - a lovely dark red or emerald green would look nice with lots of more subdued colours. As it's a long way from your face I think you can get away with more down there!

Itsafineline Wed 09-Jan-13 12:24:17

Cropped black pants and ballet flats - the gamine uniform as modelled so very beautifully by the queen of gamines, Audrey Hepburn. Can I suggest keeping your hemlines short? That bit of advice changed my style totally. I was going too classic - knee length skirts and dresses, and I felt so old and invisible. Now, when I try something on and i think it doesn't suit, I just hitch it up to 3" above my knees and it is transformed. I still occasionally wear longer stuff, for weddings and so on, but I try to gam it up with a cheeky accessory. I'm just about to get the sewing machine out to hem a sale dress purchase!

Disclaimer: I was tanned in both of those pics (was on holiday in Egypt in the non wedding one). I'm really very yellowy-white in real life. But thank you for the compliment (I forgot I even had photos on there!)

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 12:31:09

Ah okay Amber, I only saw the wedding pic and did wonder whether it was a 'wedding' tan! I'm not yellow white or even pink white - I'm white white. I've been know to burn in under 5 minutes! Zero pigment, possibly part-vampire or part-albino...

Itsafineline I didn't know short hemlines were a gamine thing - that makes me feel better, I thought I was just a bit tarty preferring short dresses to longer ones! Will bear it in mind and not be afraid to get the sewing machine out.

daimbardiva Wed 09-Jan-13 12:31:32

I read yesterday (in the Boden catalogue, comment from someone from Grazia..not sure if that's good or bad!) that you can get away with any colour so long as it's not next to your face, so if you're worried that brights drain you, go for belts, shoes etc.

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 12:32:09

Oh and the scarf is lovely Amber and I will look out for similar - even in the sale it's a bit above my budget.

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 12:37:50
IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 12:41:35

Just googled pale with dark hair to find a picture of my colouring, and this one is closest, if it helps.

Ephiny Wed 09-Jan-13 12:45:29

I used to be scared of red (and bright colours generally) too, but it actually suits me pretty well if it's the right red (i.e. a cool, bright one, nothing orangey).

Disclaimer - I haven't had my colours 'done' properly, so am a self-diagnosed Winter. But I'm pretty sure that's what I am!

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 12:50:26

When you wear red Ephiny do you tend to wear a bit more make up too, like a brighter lipstick?

QueenCadbury Wed 09-Jan-13 13:11:02

What about a coloured bag? Otherwise as others have said belt or shoes. Or bangle/cuff if you don't like necklaces or earrings.

theghostinthewashingmachine Wed 09-Jan-13 13:15:32

try stud earrings? either pearls or maybe that kind of roughed up silver (there must be a technical term for that) - because they're near to your face they can really brighten a look and pull it together.

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 13:22:56

Theghost you are really tempting me to go and get my ears pierced now. MN is far too influential!! Like the idea of pearl or silvery studs. I never got them pierced because at the height of my wanting-pierced-ears stage as a child I wasn't allowed to get them done, and I never bothered in the end.

Ephiny Wed 09-Jan-13 13:23:52

No idea about make up, sorry, I never wear any!

Itsafineline Wed 09-Jan-13 13:32:09

Of course, its always possible that if bright stuff really overwhelms you that you aren't a winter, but a summer......
Sorry - don't want to throw cat amongst pigeons.
The most important thing about winters is the contrast - it is a high contrast season. So with your dark hair and very very pale skin, that makes sense to me. You should be looking for the same level of contrast in your clothing look, as in your face/eyes/hair.
The middle scarf looks the best, Fox, the pink one looks a bit summery on my screen, and I'm worried about the print size of the green one. Too big for a gam.

theghostinthewashingmachine Wed 09-Jan-13 13:55:07

I think you should, in that case! I have similar problems to you but with summer colours rather than winter and it's amazing how easily simple earrings transform a boring/neutral outfit to something subtle and (apparently) thought out.

QueefLatina Wed 09-Jan-13 14:00:23

I'm a winter and i can look a lot like the girl of 'the ring' if i'm not careful!

white clothes are great for me. I have a white blazer and coat and they really perk up my skin tone.

Also dolly pink coloured blusher and pinky lipgloss.

I wear grey pearl earring as white makes me feel a bit classic.

MadAboutHotChoc Wed 09-Jan-13 14:04:47

Another winter here - if you have dark eyes that you are likely to be a deep winter:

Here is an useful link about the clothing/personal style you need to be looking out for:

MadAboutHotChoc Wed 09-Jan-13 14:05:01

Another winter here - if you have dark eyes that you are likely to be a deep winter:

Here is an useful link about the clothing/personal style you need to be looking out for:

MadAboutHotChoc Wed 09-Jan-13 14:06:59
DonaAna Wed 09-Jan-13 14:17:56

Italians seem to master this look. They wear dark monochrome a lot - when they do, they make their face, eyes and lips the focal point (subtly defined neutral eye makeup that accentuates the eye color, rosy/ terracotta blusher, berry-stained lips, perhaps an interesting earring).

The rest of the outfit is simple, dark and minimalistic (go for clean lines), but they have some color near the face. One of those circular scarves in a softer or brighter blue would work (and it would break the long vertical lines) - I have seen several of those looking great on the street. Or the brighter accent is somewhere else - perhaps a contrasting bag (I saw a stunning off-white calf leather bag with tan straps today - the rest of the outfit was gray/indigo). Footwear can work too, but it's trickier.

Don't go overboard with the accents. Limit yourself to one in the beginning. Too much and you'll get this. wink

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 14:28:58

Thanks for those links MadAbout. I'm not exactly like any of those dark winter or cool winter people - I have more contrast than the cool winters as my eyes are very dark, but not a warm chocolate colour, more a cool dark sludge colour! And I am not olive skinned like the deep winters, which is probably why too-bright colours drain me. I need to look for jewel tones instead of bright I think.

Thank you this is so helpful, I thought it might be too boring a thread to get any replies!

Queef I often wake up looking like the girl from The Ring! Agree dolly pink blusher is a lifesaver. I've recently discovered Mac Frankly Scarlet blusher - blended well gives you proper Snow White cheeks.

DonaAna I'm going to look for a royal blue circular scarf I reckon smile

MadAboutHotChoc Wed 09-Jan-13 14:47:52

Maybe you're a deep Autumn then - they are high contrast, tend to have sludgy coloured eyes and can have pale skins...

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 14:53:46

I'm definitely very cool toned MadAbout, so probably not an Autumn - taupe, salmon, beige and camel look unbelievably hideous on me. Maybe my problem is having mixture of English and Polish/Czech/Hungarian blood - my genes are confused!

You sound Wintry to me. The seasons are good but they're not one size fits all. In my palette I have stone, ice lemon and ice green. Theoretically I should be able to get away with them, but I avoid like the plague. Ice pink not so bad, ice blue at a push (for socks or something...). I'm what HoC calls a sultry winter so the deeper hues suit me best. You can be really pale and be a sultry winter I think, it is the closest winter to autumn of that makes sense.

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 15:11:59

Yes I'm pretty convinced I'm a Winter of some kind Amber. Pale icy lavender seems to work really well on me, and ice pink pretty well, though more in a cardigan than a whole jumper. Pale blues look a little bit drab somehow.

Yes lavender good on me too. Have you tried a burgundy lip colour? I find it the most flattering on me, quite dramatic as it is such a contrast, but I wear a burgundy gloss in the day, full on lipstick at night. Can seem startling at first but I got used to it quickly.

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 15:16:18

No I haven't Amber, I love the idea of a burgundy gloss. Any recommendations? (Sorry I feel like I'm squeezing you for information!)

Have you actually had your colours done, petfox? Some pale cool people are actually Summer, which might explain why you feel the more intense colours are draining you.

I'm a gamine too - it is a challenge to be warm without bulk! I wear wool tights and quite a few hats. And stay away from wrap coats and very big scarves, though sometimes needs must.

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 15:22:33

Travelin I've had them done quickly and informally by a HoC consultant that I know! What kind of coats do you wear as a gamine? My favourite is a black cropped leather jacket, that's the one that seems to go best with all my outfits and not drown me, but obv it's not warm enough for winter. My winter coat is a nice navy peacoat, but it's still a little bit flarey and fussy and not quite me.

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 15:23:42

Sorry forgot to say, you could possibly be right about me being a Summer, I don't know. Maybe I will get them done probably and throroughly this year.

This is the gloss I wear (in chaotic currant), or I wear HoC lipstick no 512.

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 15:41:47

Thanks Amber Chaotic Currant looks gorgeous and has gone straight on my shopping list grin It's dark, but I dressed up as a witch at Halloween and wore a heavy layer of Revlon Black Cherry lipstick - and strangely looked more attractive instead of more witchy! I haven't made it a staple though, I'm too lazy for proper lipstick everyday.

DonaAna Wed 09-Jan-13 15:46:37

Being a Summer would explain the drabness.
Summers are inherently drab.
We don't get to wear black and white, we get charcoal and oatmeal (sigh)
<Fellow Summer sufferer here>

If that's true, you need to give up the high intensity high contrast cool colors and go for softer shades and low contrast (ie, smoky blue instead of royal blue).
They can look incredibly flattering.

I'd love to be a Winter, but I've learned to like Summer colors.
Blusher and lipstick are super important for Summers (if I stand against a beige wall, you won't notice me otherwise).

If you are a Winter, you are high-contrast, and need to create contrast in your looks. Head to toe black with black accessories will actually be low-contrast, unless you have Snow White's skin tone and blood red lips.

I tend to go for wool, single breasted knee length or just above - fitted at the waist. Basically a bit like a school coat. Need to make sure the lapels are not too big or drapy. I'm a classic gamine, so the traditional styles and quality fabrics are good for me. I also wear brooches on coats for a bit of quirky detail, and I wear vintage silk scarves knotted at the neck, which are also warm.

I found getting my clothing personality done was really enlightening - it explained why cardigans make me feel like worlds biggest frump, and why big prints look wrong on me, even though I'm not at all petite.

(I'm an HoC consultant by the way, and your friend could really get in trouble for doing a 'quick and informal'!) grin

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 15:53:13

Do you mean Summers have inherently drab features (I'm sure that's not true btw!), or the colours that suit them are inherently drab? I've definitely got high contrast in my features, with dark brown hair, dark eyes and pale skin. I think the problem is that I'm attracted to drab colours and wear too many dark ones with nothing to lift them. I've just given a smoky blue scarf to my mum, who I suspect is a summer (silver hair, light blue eyes, pale pink skin - not drab at all!) and she looks great in it, whereas it did nothing for me at all.

Ditto re lipstick, but a bit of gloss does me no harm. From what you've said about the contrast being good I'd say winter. I think a key thing about being a Winter is being able to pull off make up shades that would make someone else look ready for the slab. I think that's why I look back fondly on my goth years - as a look it really worked for me.

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 15:56:51

That's so funny Travelin, I HATE cardigans (except for cropped ballet wrap style ones). They make me look really frumpy - I thought I was mad for thinking that, so glad to hear you feel the same!

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 16:00:31

Travelin I love your hair. Are you a Summer then?

Thank you! Hair is too long at the moment, my fringe is driving me mad.

I'm a deep brown Summer, so right on the edge of Autumn. Look best in the dark pinkish browns, sea green, smoked grape colours.
And wrongly diagnosed by all online tests (and one other well known Colour Analysis company) as an Autumn.

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 16:07:30

Yes I haven't found any online tests to be remotely helpful!

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 16:12:04

My HoC friend (after I forced information out of her by dastardly means, and got two of my friends to go and have their colours done with her) did say that Winters are the easiest and quickest to diagnose, so I assume she and the rest of you are right about me being a Winter. I just need to step out of my comfort zone with colours and this thread has been v v helpful - thank you smile

Itsafineline Wed 09-Jan-13 16:12:48

this is fabulous gamine coat. It is a very true red irl.

That is lovely. 70% acrylic is a no-go for me though - I like to be warm!

Itsafineline Wed 09-Jan-13 16:16:08

Fox I know two winters, both of whom are very 'non-typical'. They took a while - one of them wouldn't believe it - determined she was a summer. She's loving being a winter now. She came out as a spring when she did her own on-line quiz. Think it just goes to show that you can't beat a full draping. (no, I'm not a consultant, just an evangelical bystander)

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 16:16:38

Good grief you are all mindreaders! I was thinking yesterday that I'd love a red coat Itsafineline - even thought about starting a thread for recommendations!

Itsafineline Wed 09-Jan-13 16:16:41

The coat has a quilted lining - it is toasty, apart from the knees!

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 16:22:00

Tempting Itsafineline I will have to think about it smile It is lovely.

SirEdmundFrillary Wed 09-Jan-13 16:23:18

I have a big red face, due to my being angry. Luckily, this is offset by my naturally thin frame which is got by eating porridge.

IwantaPetFox Wed 09-Jan-13 16:25:51

Um...what? confused grin

You sound like a paintbox Spring, Edmund.

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