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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).

AmberNectarine Wed 09-Jan-13 12:10:33

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.

AmberNectarine Wed 09-Jan-13 12:21:45

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!

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 09-Jan-13 12:24:01

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!

AmberNectarine Wed 09-Jan-13 12:24:41

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

Do any of these sound like they would work for me?: green splatter

blue infinity

bit scared of the pink in this one but like the purple and skulls

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?

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