Friday, November 4, 2016

" And this way our white-haired lady is able to eclipse all the young things in her striking beauty"

Hallo, my darlings. I'm baaaaaack!

I stalled on the Great Weight Loss, and that put me off of many things. Including sewing and blogging. But the long dry spell is over, and I'm back to it.

How I figured out What Colors I Should Try

Here are some long excerpts from Chapter 11 "Enhancing Personal Coloring" of The Arts of Costume and Personal Appearance 2nd ed. 1955, 3rd printing 1959, University of Nebraska. (original edition mid 1940s, so pretty darn applicable for my period of interest.)

These are very long passages. But I think they provide a sensible, useable approach to finding a mid century vintage palette.
Look for the bold entries to skip to various colorings. And, if you are grey-haired like me - the last passage of all is very positive and useful!

"Factors in Becomingness"
"In choosing colors one should not be influenced by prejudice or attraction to any specific color. By becomingness we mean that the color does pleasant things to the skin and hair and eyes; that its texture brings out the right characteristics of the person; and that it is suited to the occasion. The color should help to impart clearness and the look of health to the skin. It should not draw or drain from the skin its natural color. It should bring out the highlights or sheen of the hair and make the eyes more interesting. Blue and gray eyes are particularly sensitive to strong color and may be washed out by the wrong color, or brightened and deepened by the right one. For example, an entire ensemble of blue may drain blue eyes of their color, but small accents of blue will make them bluer. By the right color gray eyes can be changed to blue, green, or violet.
"Likewise skin tone can be reduced to muddiness by color to light in value, made sallow by bright complements, or may to have an unpleasant florid or red-purple cast when bright green is worn.
Textures which are right will not add to size, emphasize thinness, make features appear coarse, or emphasize lines in the face. Bright colors are more satisfactory in dull textures than shiny ones, but very flattering results can be achieved with brighter tones in soft woolens in and pile materials". [pg 262]








"Selecting Colors for Blondes"
"Whatever method is used we shall consider first all types of blondes, whether their coloring is vivid with fair skin and lovely golden hair, or more neutral with delicate, cameo-like skin and flaxen hair, or whether they a
re of the ash or nondescript type with skin and hair and eyes blended in a monotone grayness that requires strong personality or skill in make-up and costume to overcome.
"Few vivid colors are right for these types, since they clash with the brilliance of vivid blonde hair, destroy the delicate beauty of neutral blonde skin and hair, and eclipse the drabness of ash blonde hair and eyes, making the skin almost putty colored. We shall attempt, in each type, to highlight or emphasize their lightness of skin and hair, make the most of delicate tones of skin, and deepen the color of the eyes. Intermediate hues rather than [it]primaries[/it] or [it]principal hues[/it] will be more flattering since they [it]tone in[/it] and better with the many tones of the complexion. Intermediate hues that belong to blondes have blue either in admixture or combination and, if this is understood, blondes will find becoming hues almost anywhere on the color wheel.
"Blondes of whatever type will choose as their best colors the green-blues and blue-greens all the way from soft turquoise to bottle green to midnight blue. The more vivid the individual, the wider will be her range of values. The composite ash blonde type will need to keep to the darker values, at the middle value and below, since her problem is to gain value contrast and a clear skin, what she can do only with the darker values. These dark values than can be given more life when varied through texture or ornament. The complete range of green-blues and blue-greens are right for all blond types because they both relate to blue overtones and complement skin and hair tones, but their values and intensities depend on degree of vividness. One may make these basic hues still more enhancing by repeating the lightness of hair in casts of yellow-green, or repeating the overtones in touches of a bright, darker purple-blue, or raspberry, producing a color scheme of wide intervals.
"A second group of hues for this group is in the blue-violet to red-violet color path, which is so beautifully enhances cool eyes and violet-red overtones. Again the value range is varied from light to dark for the vivid blondes, and is limited to grayer intensities for the flaxen-haired blonde and to the darker values for ash blonde colorings. Here there is opportunity for many beautiful effects where large areas of violet-blue or blue-violet had accents of red-violet or violet-red or turquoise, used in close intervals; or when medium and dark values are given added interest by off-whites in pearls or silver or oyster. The dark red-violets, called wine, seem a bit heavy for the light coloring of most blondes, and are not for the appealingly feminine kind of personalities.
"The often-mentioned fatigue experiment shows that when one looks hard for a moment or so at one color, its complement is called up. But if the skin is suntanned or tends at all to be sallow, the stronger intensities and more luminous blues and violets tend to force out unpleasant yellows and oranges in the skin. This would mean that only the darker versions of these color paths would be becoming. By the use of green-blues and greens, according to the principle of the fatigue experiment, florid or red-violet tones in the skin would be forced out unpleasantly.
"Another color path is that of a cool browns, i.e., browns on the red side which have been grayed with blue and purple, rather than orange and yellow reduceed to dark values. Browns of this kind are very beautiful with light hair, fair skin and blue eyes when accented with rose or violet or blue violet in a lighter value (a discord). A vivid blonde looks well in cinnamon, cocoa, and maple sugar brown, particularly when they are combined with darker values, but she chooses beige only when her hair is near the auburn tones. Beige is exactly the thing one should not choose for the mousy or drab blonde, since it affords no contrast, and contrast is greatly needed.
"Jean Worth, the great French couturier, once declared red to be one of the most effective colors for blondes with a clear complexion. And we are inclined to agree with him if the complexion is good, if the hair is the light flaxen type, and if the red is the right red. Cardinal (a bright red with a bit of blue) and vermilion (a light red with a bit of orange) seem right in beautiful textures. Velasquez used this kind of red as the background curtain for the dress of a little Spanish Infanta, Margaretta, with flaxen hair and a pale skin. Red of this quality seems right today for a blonde when of vivid personality. But there are other becoming reds for blondes; rose called [it]bois de rose[/it] and coral, if medium strong; and such pastels as delicate peach and shell pink which blend with skin tones, but need accenting with darker values in order to avoid sugary look.
"Again the soft yellow-greens in chartreuse and almond and olive are lovely with definite red violet overtones and vivid gold hair, but they are hardly wearable for the one who lacks value contrast and definiteness of coloring.
"We must not forget the importance of texture since a less flattering color may be made more wearable in a texture that is becoming. Lustrous black, such as satin velvets and silver fox, are beautiful for the vivid blonde and the neutral or flaxen-haired blonde with strong enough contrast; whereas the more ashen and blonde needs medium values of warm-cool and cool-warm colors in muted tones and black (only when in dull textures): the soft brown of baum martin, the refinement of tourmalines, and [it]crush pastels[/it] like greyed blues and pinks or aqua when used with darker accents.
"To sum up, then, all blondes will look best in grayed intensities to enhance the brightness of their own coloring: values which are dark enough to high-light their lightness; cool, intermediate colors, both cool-warm and warm-cool ones to relate and complement their colors; chalk white, black relieved with pale accents, warm pastels; certain vivid light reds and lustrous black when the personality is vivid.
"Their makeup, when chosen to synchronize with all costume colors, should include lipstick and rouge in the violet-red tones, pinks and rose-beige powder and foundations; brown mascara and blue or green or gray eyeshadow. Many effects can be obtained by artificial light to intensify and complement, when one understands how to control color rather than let it dominate the person". [pg 262-265]


"Selecting Colors for Auburn-haired Types"
"One who is possessed of the gorgeous coloring that accompanies auburn hair should surely understand how to make the most of it.

"As we have already said, auburn hair coloring ranges all the way from red-gold to a dark titian and includes the brick-red (more red than orange) so often seen with a bluish-white or florid skin. The ideal skin of the auburn-haired is creamy with brown or green or hazel eyes, and the composite versions of this type may have blue -- often pale blue -- eyes.
"As we found that pure vivid colors are wrong for blondes, so for this type vivid colors tend to compete with brightness and to nullify its beautiful tones. Thus we shall wish to obtain the desired effect either by using darker values to enhance its lightness or, in the case of titian hair, we may like the effect of lighter hues to accentuate its darkness and richness. The warm skin tones and eyes also help to determine the hues chosen. We shall again select from the intermediate hues which, if chosen in the right values and intensities, may range far around the circle. Browns are particularly harmonious with auburn coloring when used in contrasting tones, i.e., always darker or lighter than the hair; for example, beige and buff, golden brown, japonica and safari brown, and Rembrandt brown, the dark, rich yellow-brown of the old master, especially fine in rich textures.
"A second color path is that of the yellows and yellow-greens, from soft chartreuse to olive to a bronze-green so lovely with rust and old gold jewelry. Greenish gold velvet with cream about the face or accents of darker green and pearls set in gold would be beautiful for a typical auburn, and almost as good for vivid blonde. And the same beautiful scheme carried out in gold in a soft woolen or jersey, or with the green notes change to brown, is right for all those coloring which ranges from gold to titian.
"Another color path is that of the green-blues, which complement the hair and skin tones without forcing the hair to seem truly red, as green makes it seem except when in dark values. This range of colors can be used in rare and beautiful schemes of close intervals of hue but wide range of values. Purple-blue, too complementary in large areas, is lovely in small accents with red-gold hair; it supplies all of the primaries, red, yellow, and blue, in a complete harmony.
"Some authorities would have auburns use reds and purples, but this truly depends on skin tones, personality, and the particular reds and purples used.
"For the auburn with clear, light skin there is nothing quite so beautiful as delicate, warm pastels -- cream with gold jewelry, pale green-yellow and yellow-green with darker accents, or delicate shell pink as seen in di Credi's "Portrait of a Young Girl" (Figure 1). Contrary to our earlier teaching, there is a tint of delicate pink, between peach and coral, that is right for most auburns. And darker-skinned auburns may take their cue from this to select darker values of the same hues, remembering always to choose them grayer in intensity than their hair.
"The brick-haired individual has a less simple problem, since there is much blue in her white skin and a very strong orange in her hair. This person should be careful not to force these colors but to tone them down with a close interval of cooler hues. Cream white blue-grays, beige-browns with strong contrast in darker brown, cool browns with accents of lighter violet-blues, light violet-blues with accents of darker purple-blue will be interesting as schemes. They must, of course, be related to hair or skin and tone down high color.
"The auburn types, by way of summary, will chose their colors from the grayed, warm and cool-warm colors, with accents of cool colors: the earthy tones, cream white, black, and any value form light to dark which contrasts with the hair, remembering the telling effect of combinations of several values. Cold blue and purple ranges, almost prohibitive in large areas, will be selected with care". [pg 265-267]


"Colors for the Vivid Brunette"
"No type of coloring is quite so easy to suit in the matter of becoming colors. Strong value contrast made by dark brown hair, eyes, and brows, against rich creamy skin makes possible the wearing of vivid, almost unrestrai
ned color, limited only by what these colors do in forcing sallowness or a hard, unpleasant, orange cast into the skin. The range of value is wide – dark values sometimes relieved by accents of light, and light values stopping only at the point where the complexion tones are made unpleasantly darker by still lighter pastels. Black is good for this type when the skin is clear; white also to emphasize the rich, healthy terms of a dark, swarthy skin, and warm gray may serve as a foil for the dark hair.
"The color ensemble of a vivid brunette suggest the dominant, barbaric hues of Old Mexico and South American Indian cultures, or the exciting colors we associate with the Russian ballet. Chinese and geranium reds, bright pinks and cerise, emerald green and topaz yellow, and strong green-yellows which drain color from the faces of more subtle or neutral types of coloring, should enter into the apparel of this vivid type. These vivid colors, so well-suited to sport and evening clothes, should include, from the cooler side of the circle, deep purples and vivid ultramarine blues that no other type wears quite so well.
"Then for practical, work-a-day clothing, there are these same lavish colorings in subdued version, reduced almost to earthy tones in soft woolens and jerseys, which set this type apart. This is the place too for vivid prints on strongly contrasting backgrounds. And not to be forgotten are the unusual and exotic furs in leopard and ocelot". [pg 267-268]


"Composite Brunettes"
"Composite brunette colorings are found very commonly in America. One type has dark hair, fair or creamy skin, and brown or hazel eyes. Many of them combine the advantage of dark, contrasting hair and brows with cool skin and eyes,
and this combination enables them to use almost any hue around the circle, providing the value is darker then their skin and the intensity not so bright as to wash the color from cool eyes. The warm colors, less strong then those given the vivid brunette, are becoming; and the bright, cool colors when in darker values including Wedgwood blue and peacock. The off-whites are also good, and the warm pastels ranging from orchid around the warm side of the circle are wearable if dark enough not to force the skin to look darker". [pg 268]


"Dark-skinned Blondes"
"Those who come under this classification have light yellow to yellow-gold hair, sometimes quite neutral. We have called them blondes for this reason, but they could quite as well come under brunette classification because their ey
es are brown (sometimes hazel) and their skin is either creamy or honey-colored or amber. The skin is there determining color characteristic.
"According to the laws of unity their best colors are warm, because related to hair, skin, and eyes; but the bright, warm colors which we give vivid brunettes will destroy the richness we appreciate in honey-colored skin; and bright, cool colors will force an unpleasant orange into the skin. Thus we shall select color paths of gold and bronze and red-browns from dark to light, which accent brown eyes and blend honey-colored skin and light hair. Beiges and tans, however, are so near their own coloring as to be drab and uninteresting. Other color paths are in the darker greens, blue-greens, and earthy tones; turquoise, bright green, and white are enhancing by night". [pg 268-269]


"Light haired brunettes"
"The light-skinned, light-haired brunette or blonde with brown eyes is another unusual type, and in this instance costume colors are influenced by brown or hazel eyes. for her also are brown, from yellow to red-browns, as suggest
by those of the French peasant costume in Figure 8 of Chapter VII. Beautiful effects of light and dark values are right for this kind of coloring in either warm or cool brown; e.g., dark yellow-browns with gold and cream, or red-browns with rose, or chocolate browns with violet-blues or soft turquoise. One example is of two young women who were twins, recently seen in a fashionable New York restaurant. Their coloring was of the fair-skinned, brown-eyed blonde type and each was meticulously dressed for afternoon in golden-brown surah silk, designed with exquisite detail. They also wore large leghorn hats with dark brown velvet subtly draped above and under the crown. Each wore sheer honey-colored hose and light suede gloves of a similar hue with darker bag and pumps. As a last perfect note in this scheme of varied textures were exquisite antique-looking gold and pearl earrings and bracelets. And not to be forgotten for this coloring is the beauty of cream white and cool pastels of turquoise and green and pale violet-blue which may be scented with gold jewelry and soft rich furs such as beaver, seal, nutria, mink, and kolinsky". [pg 269]


"The Olive-skinned Brunettes"
"The dark brown or black hair and very deep ivory skin which has a definite greenish cast we associate with women in Latin countries such as Spain and Italy and South American countries. Then there are the sun-tanned olive s
kin which has a rich bronze cast, and then many olive types with lighter hair and hazel eyes. The most distinguished of the olive types is perhaps the pale ivory skin against dark hair.
"We get our best conception of hues for dark olive skins from old Egyptian murals. Elizabeth Burris-Meyer has beautifully assembled some of these in dull tones of yellow-greens, mustard, yellow, ocher, copper, dull rust-reds, with here and there a note of lapis lazuli or turquoise included in a typical Egyptian palette. These are the colors which we call [it]earthy[/it] and which relate to today's dark olive and bronze coloring without making it sallow or giving it to ruddy a glow. Furthermore, black can be very interesting against young, fresh, glowing skins, but it makes older ones look dull. However, combined with the earthy tones of gold and copper and ocher it is rich and striking. Dark bright blues, wines, and bottle greens are also right; bright green and turquoise and white for evening compliment this dusky kind of beauty and set it apart with an individual distinction. Cheek rouge will widen the color repertoire of the olive type, but in doing this women in this group become more nearly vivid brunettes and lose some of their uniqueness.
"Olive-skinned brunettes thus are at their best in grayer hues in values depending on how dark they are and particularly centering on earthy tones of yellow-green. Passing toward the reds they may use the hues around as far as red-purple providing it is grayed. Turning to the cool colors, they have all the greens, blue-greens, and pure bright blues. In this way full importance is given to bronze or dark, rich, greener tones in skin and eyes.
"Light-haired, olive-skin brunettes have a wider range of values, adhering to the same color paths". [pg 270]


"Irish blondes"
"One of the most fortunate of all color types is that of cool coloring with dark and light contrast usually known as the Irish type. Fortunate they are because added to fair skin, red-violet overtones, and cool eyes is the advantage of bl
ue-black hair, which points up features and gives a definiteness so often needed by the blonde. This type has all the range of [it]acid[/it]colors from blue-greens around the cool side of the circle to red-violet in all values darker than the skin. They may wear chalk white and unrelieved black, sharp contrast of black and white and all the grays; silver lamé, the grey and black lustrous furs, and precious stones which repeat their cool qualities. Beiges do them little good because they are unrelated to their coloring. The reds which have a base of orange or yellow are less wearable; yellow-green is unflattering, unless accented with something very becoming as in a Schiaparelli gown of sage green crepe with rose a green lamé jacket and shrimp pink buttons down the front. But reds with a tinge of blue such as crimson and American Beauty are most effective. "Their very best colors, however, will come from the wide, cool range mentioned above, often chosen to enhance the particular eye coloring when of definitely blue-violet to green. Pastels of the mauve, orchid and periwinkle versions, not to grayed, are excellent for evening; an example from the past is an arresting 1880 gown in light purple-blue with tiny ruffles in American Beauty (a dissonant) edging the skirt". [pg 271]


"Gray - and White - Haired Types"
"Under these types come all those whose hair, and usually skin as well, have lost part of their original coloring. These women may draw on a great variety of colors if they understand their coloring, as it was originally, and the tones in their changed coloring. And indeed, those who have clear complexions and fine eyes can make themselves most distinctive, providing they have courage and taste. Some high authorities believe that for the older woman a much more subtle and beautiful color effect is gained by placing cheek rouge under the eyes than in the usual position.
"There are those whose hair is still mixed with dark. Sometimes these women care to have a shampoo rinse that tides them over until the hair is entirely gray or white. Again there are those whose skin has changed and is florid, or sallow, or a darkish orange against the mixed coolness of the hair. These women will not look their best in the colors they are originally wore, but there will be some colors in their original classification that will suit them when neutralized and darker. There is the stage when one must avoid these colors which emphasize the yellows and greenish or brownish tones in the hair. Thus browns, bieges, and yellow, and most prints because of their patterns, and strong compliments are barred. Dark values, grayed colors in the cool range from blue-green around the cool side of the circle to wines are usually good. No light yellows to yellow-greens, but cool, muted colors and pastel pinks and blues are right if kept darker than the skin. Discreet use of make-up in the color path which tones in best with the skin is very helpful and affords opportunity for highest skill in choosing and application. The faintest tinge of eyeshadow often does lovely things, but, again, it must be used with discretion.
"The problem of the woman with gray hair is simpler in that she has the opportunity to complement its gray tones in costume colors, always taking the skin tones into account. Brown eyes set the pace for certain dark greens and taupe-browns, whereas cool eyes afford opportunity for a wide range of cool colors, limited only by the brightness and freshness of the skin.
"But the white haired woman with good clear skin, especially when she is fair, affords a magnificent canvas for artistic achievement in color ensembling. She may choose from all the range of blues, black and chalk white, coral, blue-green, ultramarine and purple tones from light to dark; and she may choose the lovely pastel pinks and mauves, and violets – all those beautiful combinations which became so well the powdered headdresses of the eighteenth century French court. We would not give her yellow-greens, but we would accent her natural coloring with rouge and lipstick of the most delicate light, cool hues and give her a rose-leaf powder, and if necessary, a hyacinth rinse, and perhaps eyeshadow of lavender blue. And this way our white-haired lady is able to eclipse all the young things in her striking beauty". [pg 271-273]