Practical Wardrobe Wisdom

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Practical Wardrobe Wisdom

Typically when a client comes to me, it's fundamentally because they are dissatisfied with the way their wardrobe is working, and they want to do better. A simple trip to the mall becomes a battle zone. Getting dressed in the morning can induce panic attacks. An invitation to a formal wedding feels like a personal insult from the person who so presumptuously assumed you'd be able to find what to wear. It's just getting dressed, right? Why does it have to be so hard? I hear you. So, what to do?

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The Winter Natural, The Natural Winter

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The Winter Natural, The Natural Winter

Woman #1 walks in for her Total Package appointment (I always feel like I'm starting a guy walks into a bar joke when I tell these stories..). Long curly hair that's very flattering to her face, a cute casual outfit, like maybe a vest over a t-shirt and jeans and short boots in perfect True Autumn colors. Except, she's not True Autumn, or any kind of Autumn. From the minute I met her, experience has allowed me to see even in regular lighting with no comparison available yet that her face is being extremely sallowed by her clothing. I don't know what her season is yet, but I know it's probably going to come as a surprise to her.

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Hand-picked Cosmetic Colors for Your Season

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Hand-picked Cosmetic Colors for Your Season

It is with such great pride that I introduce the availability of Christine Scaman's 12 Blueprints Cosmetics in the new shop section of my website. Within this new line of products chosen for each of the 12 Seasons, you get the physical embodiment of Christine's years of experience applying cosmetics to women of every season and her commitment to excellence in Personal Color Analysis. Suffice it to say, I have tested the products, and I believe they are excellent.

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Stuff I Love: Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick

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Stuff I Love: Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting Lipstick

Funny story about these lipsticks. Whenever I get offered free samples when I'm buying makeup online, I always choose any color cosmetic samples (usually lipstick) that are on the list, so I can swatch them and see if there's anything good to be had. Sometimes though, I don't get around to opening them or even really looking at them until later. At the end of last year, Temptalia posted her top products from 2014, and when I noticed this line was one of her choices, I remembered that I had a small sample pack of 4 of the colors. Fishing it out of ye old makup pile, I instantly honed in on Tumultuous Pink as a good shade for me and tried it on. It was nice, but I have a lot of lipsticks in similar shades so I couldn't see that there was anything overly special about these lipsticks.

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Am I Ready for Personal Image Analysis?

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Am I Ready for Personal Image Analysis?

I receive a lot of questions from potential clients wondering whether PIA is right for them, and I think it's very smart to raise your doubts before any kind of consulting appointment to be sure that you and the person you are hiring are on the same page. Here are some common variations of this question that I receive:

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The Lady in Real Life - Yin Classic Casual

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The Lady in Real Life - Yin Classic Casual

So lately, there have been some comments on Pinterest about Yin Classic being limiting. They're right, in that building a wardrobe around any Image Archetype is limiting. That's the beauty of it, really. Go shopping and ignore most of the items you find, spending your time and money only on those items that would suit you best.

That said, each archetype has it's challenges. Below, some comments from my readers:

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The Brightness of Dark Winter (or, How Dark Winter Can Appear to be Bright Spring)

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The Brightness of Dark Winter (or, How Dark Winter Can Appear to be Bright Spring)

Let me tell you a little story. For some of you it may be very familiar.

A woman whose interest in finding her best colors has been peaked joins a forum or a facebook group, or multiples of both. She's hoping they can help her save a few pennies on a color analysis, or maybe she just lives pretty far away from an analyst and wants to see what she can accomplish on her own before one comes to town. Inevitably if she wants their help, the ladies in these groups tell her she's going to need to post some pictures of herself, usually in a variety of colors. Here's what they see:

My colleague Cate's Dark Winter client, A

My colleague Cate's Dark Winter client, A

My Dark Winter client, K

My Dark Winter client, K

My colleague Gabi's Dark Winter client, L

My colleague Gabi's Dark Winter client, L

My colleague Jorunn's Dark Winter client, S

My colleague Jorunn's Dark Winter client, S

Thank you so much to the clients willing to share their pictures! Gorgeous women, all.

  • A woman who has a lighter hazel or darker blue-green eye color. She may have fairly light hair, often of the sort that sits right on the line between blonde and brown, but may tip in favor of the former. Sometimes, she might have red hair instead. It might be cooler looking (in which case she has typically considered it mousey), or a warmer looking, golden color. Her skin might range from very fair indeed to a light tan. The skin might have some apparent heat to it, but it might not.
  • A woman who looks decently convincing in black, but not totally.
  • A woman who obviously seems to need some darkness. Light, chalky pastels are possibly the worst thing she could do.
  • A woman who can be upstaged by some very intense colors. Put her in BW's most vibrant, cherry reds for example, and definitely if that red happens to be a lipstick, and there's something obviously not right there. Someone might come along and insist it's too cool as well. It certainly might feel that way. Because of what she looks like, and also because black, pure white, and bright red seem too much for her, Winter is more or less ruled out.
  • Speaking of color temperature, this woman seems to need some heat. People are generally not agreed on how much, but most agree she is neutral. Silver and gold both seem to work. Sometimes, gold might even seem to be better. Because Winter seems too much, and Summer is draining and not good at all, it is presumed she must be warm neutral.
  • A woman next to whom rust and camel look like food or dirt. She may have come in liking and wearing these colors to begin with. She very quickly gets the "Honey, no." from girls on the group. She may or may not keep trying to convince them otherwise. Still, Autumn lipsticks look really muddy.
  • A woman on whom, compared to the aforementioned rust and camel, coral and turquoise seem pretty effective. Her eyes brighten, her skin clears, she seems somewhat healthier.  She may tell them this is a Bright Spring trial, or they might tell her that based on what seem in the picture to be those colors. Lipsticks may look better than Autumn as well. Some will continue to argue that they are too bright, but compared to the Autumn ones, they might still look better, because after all it is true she need some brightness. Because Autumn is the comparison presented, and because hue effects are some of the ones most poorly represented in photos, no one notices that her face has turned yellow the minute she put the lipstick on.

So the group decides after extensive trials that this woman is a Bright Spring. Except she isn't. They weren't totally wrong though. Here's what they missed:

  • Hue reactions. Unless it was very extreme, they really couldn't tell how much heat was too much. It's pretty hard, if not impossible in a photo to make much of that. They used other factors to rule out cool neutral, and her appearance was a major sticking point there. Basically, they thought she was so light looking that if she was cool or cool neutral she'd have to be a Summer, which did not end up working at all. If they could see that warm neutral was separating the pigments in her skin, they thought that was just her skin. Which it partially might have been, just not as much as they think. Or potentially not at all. (No, we are not putting you in extreme colors to "fix your problem skin". You might not really have problem skin, or not half so much as you think. We just remove the simultaneous contrast effect making it look that way.)
  • Value reactions. They couldn't tell that Bright Spring was too light to define her. They forgot to check and see if she had edges to her features and to her face, or more likely they didn't know they were supposed to. Or, they could see that but they just assumed she was kind of a darker leaning one.
  • Chroma reactions. The major points of argument for her being Bright Spring were basically her appearance, and the fact that everyone could see that the brightness of that season over Dark Autumn helped her considerably. Surely it would have been impossible to notice the greasiness of her skin in Bright Spring in a photo, if anyone had been checking. And again, because they have already decided that Bright Winter is too Bright (true), and True Winter is too cool (true), and she can't really be a Dark anyhow because she is too light looking (false), the group arrives at what seems to be the only logical conclusion.
  • This probably was not lost on those trying to help online, but it's pretty hard to tell what looks good when colors in the photograph change with every shift of light, and on each persons different screen, etc, even as a trained analyst who knows what to look for. You really need to be in the room with the person, and in controlled lighting. 
  • The possibility they were never looking at Bright Spring colors to begin with. That is still true if she eventually went out and bought the fan. She doesn't know how to use it really, and even if she did it's easy to make this mistake sometimes.

I hope what you are starting to see is how complex PCA truly is. Even if you followed all that perfectly, hopefully you begin to understand why we need to be together in the same room, in controlled lighting, looking at very calculated and specific drape comparisons in order to come to an accurate conclusion. And one of us should probably be a trained color analyst, who knows what to look for and how to know when a color is working or not, and if not, what might be wrong with it. (Oh, and, you can change a few minor things up here and have this same story with either Dark and with either Bright or True Spring)

Ok, so the story continues. This woman eventually senses something is not right, and she shows up at my door for a PCA. She's pretty sure she's wasting her money and she's just going to be what everyone says, but she just wants to know for sure. When we reach the Dark Winter conclusion, her mind is blown. She's seen it all happen of course, she knows exactly how we got there and can see with her own eyes that it does work. Sooner or later though, whether right away or after a week of looking through Dark Winter pinterest boards, she becomes upset. "How can my colors be so heavy, dark, and sad?" she asks me. The simplest answer, one that happens to be true, is that they aren't. Of course everyone idea of what colors are depressing is different, but the main thing here is, when she asks this question, she inevitably thinks she has nothing but mulberry, aubergine, and blackened navy (not that there's anything wrong with those colors!). She's come to love the color she discovered in Bright Spring, and for good reason. Let me show you what I mean.

Often, this woman has walked into her analysis telling me how well she suits coral and turquoise. Quite so, she does. Coral and turquoise can be some of the most surprising and flattering colors in the Dark Winter pallet. While, for this woman, the draping will reveal that these colors really have to be gotten right (meaning that they need to be precisely in her season and not any other sort of coral or turquoise) the effect can be excellent. Add to that list teal, a color which is extremely flattering on any of the 5 Autumn blends, and hot pink, a color that all 3 winters have some version of, and you start to see why it can be easy to mistake a light looking DW for BSp and why it is simply untrue that one is all happy and bright and the other dark depression. 

Please note that polyvores were created on my screen, using digital palette representations for harmony. Many of the actual items may be different seasons in reality, and the images of them may look very different on your screen. I hope that some of the general concepts will come through.

It is certainly true that the overall look and feel of the Dark Winter colors here as a group is deeper richer and yes *a bit* duller compared with the light, bright airy, feeling of the Bright Spring group. Usually, regardless of her feeling about Bright Spring's light tangerines or palest aquas and yellow greens, she knows that those colors are not particularly flattering on her. Bright Spring on the other hand wears these colors very naturally as lightness and warmth at the same time her very much and her wheelhouse. What about the purse in the middle? Is it Bright Spring? Is it Dark Winter? Is it neither, perhaps? Does it really matter if this could be a logical part of either of these wardrobes? Especially of she loves it, probably not.

Worth mentioning, it's totally okay to find another season more beautiful to look at than your own. What I see often is women who discount their own season without really knowing what it looks like, usually because of the name and/or what they see on Pinterest. Spend time with your pallete, see what you can make it do. 

How about purple and blue? Many, many Dark Winters, as well as Bright Springs both love and look good in their blues and purples.  Many of them are not all that dissimilar, because of the inherent darkness of blue and purple. I've tried to expand these examples to include both the "Dark Winter would never" (the merlot dress in the corner) and "Bright Spring would never" (the light purple coat with the flowers) sides of the seasons. If someone didn't particularly care for either of those extreme, I think they could easily work with the tones that are neither. But ideally the colors they did choose would harmonize to those other colors, whether or not they actually chose to wear them. That's how we tested you, and how we know the difference between seasons when eyeballing it is hard to do.

One more, though I could do several. Yellows and warmer greens. Though these colors are perhaps more readily associated with Bright Spring, Dark Winter is quite vibrant and exciting here, ranging to a very punchy icy acid green we use in analysis as a proof against Dark Autumn (who does not wear icy color well at all, or anything that close to white for that matter). Again notice how key it is that Dark Winter has a maximum darkness point which by far exceeds that of Bright Spring, and vice versa that Bright Spring can tolerate much more lightness, even near-pastels (which are kryptonite to the DW). Yet many, even most of the colors exist in a sort of overlapping midrange; the main apparent difference becomes heat level and a bit of saturation. Bright Spring would never wear the olive blouse. The amount of black in the two patterned dresses could get heavy on her. Dark Winter would never wear the light yellow purse, even as an accessory, or the dark yellow hat and scarf, especially next to the face. These are the extremes that  are often not pushed in testing the seasons at home (some of these colors are not that easy to find!).

I hope that this article has served to expand your notion of what Dark Winter can be, both colors and people, and also, perhaps most importantly, your understanding of PCA in general.

P.S. If you've had a PCA from me, or one of my 12 Blueprints/Your Natural Design trained colleagues, reach out to me if you'd like to be added to our new private Facebook group. It's a great place to ask questions and share information.

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Stuff I Love: Red Apple Lipstick

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Stuff I Love: Red Apple Lipstick

Yes, ladies, that swatching is back on. So sorry for the long holiday! I actually swatch things all the time, but consolidating the results is another story... At any rate, I heard a lot of hubbub about this company from the facebook groups and while I'm not all that jazzed personally over the whole gluten and paraben free thing (I get that some people need/want it, just not essential for me), I DO love a brand that sells me nicely sized samples for not much money. I hope you also have a zero tolerance policy for lipsticks you can't see and try before you buy one in full size. Overall, the lipstick lives up to hydration claims and wears well over time without feathering (I seem to find a lot of really moist lipsticks do this on me, I have dry skin). And compared to other lipsticks in this space, they actually do have some exciting colors.

So, on with the swatches. I tried to order shades I thought were interesting/useful. There are a number that looked like the kinds of colors I avoid, or that didn't offer anything new. There were also others that I'd like to try and more new ones since I ordered, so if you like these I may do more in the future.

  1. Coral Crush - I like this for TA, I had expected it to be a Spring one but it's sort of brownish orange which would be very wearable as a day shade for TA.
  2. Cranberry Magic - This is a pretty and interesting shade, not what I thought when I ordered it. (they've since added more images, very helpful) I felt it was nicest with TW's fan, but would be on the subtle end for many TWs. It could be a bold red for some TSu or a nice lighter shade for a cool leaning DW, especially if she has fair skin.
  3. Light My Fire - Amazing on DA. It looks like it's going to be super warm/brown, but it's not. 
  4. Mix & Mingle - I actually thought this shade was the prettiest with the LSu fan, but on most I think it would be too much, unless worn at 1/2 intensity as suggested on the site. Some TW or maybe BW could wear it, but it's not as intense as I wanted it to be.
  5. Petal Pusher - LSu or TSu. Quite cool, another one I hoped would be brighter - if they had the product images they have now I would not have bought this one. It goes a bit into the zone of too light for most TSu/ too cool for most LSu, a place I find many lipsticks live.
  6. Ravishing - DW, very pretty, nice for those in this season whose skin eats up a ton of darkness from lipstick. Cool DAs could do well with this also. Many women of both these seasons may still find it too dramatic.
  7. Red! 101 - BW, very easy to wear compared to some reds for this season. Try it if Mary Kay Firecracker looked a little much on you, or if it looked great but you're just not ready for that yet.
  8. Sunkissed - TSp or BSp. It's not as bright as many orange lipsticks that get put in TSp but would be too strong on many of them. That said, BSp women who lean cooler and generally go more for the pinker shades may find it looks funny.

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Best Dressed is Going on the Road!

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Best Dressed is Going on the Road!

I hope you are all enjoying the new site (and welcome, if you're visiting for the first time!). I am hitting the road and will be in the Chicago area from Dec 11-15. I will be taking appointments for both Personal Color Analysis and Personal Image Analysis (I may also consider doing some shopping if there is time). I can take up to 3 appointments (where each analysis is an appointment) per day, at 9 AM, 1 PM, and 5 PM. The price for each while traveling is $300. There is no deposit required for this trip, though payment can be made in advance via paypal, or in person in cash or by credit card via square reader. Please contact me for scheduling and further details. I would love to see you there, and help you discover your best colors and styles!

P.S. Are you looking for PCA somewhere else? My colleagues are traveling too!

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Real Client Questions: Why do you cover hair in PCA?

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Real Client Questions: Why do you cover hair in PCA?

This is a new series of posts in which I will share real questions and answers from client interactions (anonymously, of course). Many people have the same questions and my hope is to create something of a database of answers. 7475148536_08395ff13d_z

Regarding the Sci/Art system* of Personal Color Analysis as I've read of it: the covering of hair during draping. Is that part of the method you use?

I'm curious how that will affect results. I've been experimenting with my own drapes, but never with my hair hidden. Recently, I dyed my hair a darker (but still warm) color, and found tonight that many of a darker season's palette looked more balanced on me than before. While on one level I understand not wanting hair color to confuse the colors we see, I want the colors to look good on me as I typically look. Many of us don't hide our hair in everyday clothes, so I haven't reconciled that with hiding it during a draping.

I do cover hair in almost all my analyses, and 100% of the time if it isn't natural. There is a fundamental misunderstanding when someone says that certain colors look good with their hair one way but not another. The misunderstanding is that the goal in choosing a color should be to make a superficial harmony based on your overtones. (i.e. "This goes with my hair") This will be obviously wrong to the many cool or cool neutral people who have brown eyes and hair. Wearing most browns and colors with a warm, earthy undertone brings out blotchiness and flaws which are not present in the correct (cooler) colors. Other brown eyed brunettes, however, wear these colors with no detriment to their skintone. Why is that? They have apparently similar overtones and completely different undertones. Yet, because the concept of looking at your hair, skin, and eye colors to determine what colors work seems so simple, the idea persists. You can find more information on undertone vs overtone in my colleague Terry Wildfong's article here: http://yournaturaldesign.com/what-is-under-my-overtone/

Modern color analysis involves observing the simultaneous contrast effects on the face caused by colors with different qualities and neutralizing them to reveal the most flawless, youthful and healthy skin appearance. To do so, we must eliminate color noise during the analysis, such as that from hair color, makeup, etc. Once we know the area of color space that produces the best skin appearance, we can then evaluate hair and cosmetic colors. After all, these too, are colors worn on and around the face, and should adhere to the guidelines set forth during the analysis. It should go without saying, but natural color, being cut from the same genetic cloth as the skin, is always perfect. That said, women have many valid reasons for dying their hair. This can be either an enhancing and beautiful thing to do or disastrous depending on the viability of the color chosen.

The secret to your natural coloring and most becoming appearance lies in your undertone. The only way I know of to discover your undertone with certainty is to drape you with specific, calculated drape colors in a neutral grey environment with controlled lighting, and a complete reduction of color noise, including that of the hair color.

 

*In the interest of being completely transparent, I would like to note that I am a 12 Blueprints Analyst, and in no way claim to be a Sci/Art Analyst. However, they are frequently referred to by the same name in online chat.

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Introducing the Signature/STYLE Newsletter

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Introducing the Signature/STYLE Newsletter

SS for blogpost

Words below from Christine Scaman regarding our new joint venture which I wholeheartedly endorse. We hope you will join us!Fashion Forward

You sit down to go through your email today and find what appears to be a newsletter. You scroll down to find pictures of blouses in the colours and shapes that suit you better than any others could.

In this email, each image would include some commentary to help you understand why the particular colours and shapes are so flattering for you. Next time you shop, your eyes would be able to seek out those designs, or similar ones that follow the same formula.

In the open ocean of retail, you have a plan. You carry the thumbnail images in your head guiding what to choose, how to venture, and where to stop. While browsing, you recognize the items that you would have purchased a week ago, with a smile of relief for knowing your better choices today.

Three months later, another email will arrive to show you how to buy dress styles that are most becoming to your body in colours that look beautiful next to yours. Three months later, it will be winter coats. You would begin to see what the items have in common, noticing the consistencies that run through each of your newsletters. As you begin transforming your wardrobe, you might notice that your overall image becomes much clearer with even small adjustments when colours and lines work together.

Not only that, since the pictures are linked to the retail sites, you would gather a selection of stores and designers that could serve you best. More of your time, attention, and money would flow in directions that help you to truly look and feel better.

We women want to navigate a shopping mall successfully to look creative at the office and still appear professional. We desire to express health and happiness in our appearance and still be taken seriously at a party. We wish for an appearance that speaks of elegance and style whatever our personal definition of those might be, authentic to our unique selves rather than looking like everyone else.

Our clothes and jewelry can be extensions of that self, being true to our extrinsic colours, lines, and shapes, with the elements of intrinsic individuality that add excitement. Together, a woman and her apparel can bring out the absolute best in each other.

 Fashion Backward

All consumers need easy access to education and resources for shopping from a personal menu of Best Choices in the 21st Century shopping arena. Advice that is outdated, geared to flatter 20 year olds, either impossible to find or too common to suit more than a narrow percentage, is not helpful.

If the woman leaves the image consulting service looking costumed for a part in on Broadway, unpredictable and eccentric, old-fashioned in some odd way that was never a style in any era, or too mystified by the system to direct her own shopping decisions, she has not been served as well as possible.

The direction of fashion is presently in reverse.

The process of fashion begins with clothing manufacturers and media that apply colours or styles to every woman indiscriminately to sell as much as possible before the trend dies out. We see the rise and fall of certain colours and styles, which, in reality, are truly flattering to a very narrow group of people, those that sell magazines.

The wasted money is one problem. Our larger concern is the loss of self-esteem that accumulates over many years of feeling that we don't fit into a mold. Though every body is perfectly proportioned, we can feel doubt about ourselves. In time, a belief settles in that wherever we differ from models and a mannequin is a flaw.

Nothing of the sort is remotely true. We are, each one of us, the mold that fashion should be retrofitted to.

Signature/STYLE

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Signature/STYLE is a cooperative project between Rachel Nachmias and I. We will go shopping with your colours and image type in mind, assembling a collage of your most becoming selections from everyday retailers into a newsletter that will arrive every three months. Items from the fashion world will be featured, explained, and linked to direct you to colours and styles that you wear better than any other colouring or body type.

To give you a sense of what to expect, for the past few months, we have pinned examples of the 12 Seasons' colours in combination with the 10 image archetypes (IA) to the Shopping for Your Season and Style board at Pinterest. The pins were chosen mostly from runways and lookbooks. The Signature/STYLE newsletter will contain real items available for purchase from the stores many of us visit often.

There will be 20 different versions of Signature/STYLE, for the 20 possible Season and Archetype combinations. Each will focus on one of the 4 True Seasons, as Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, and one of the 5 IAs, as Dramatic (D), Natural (N), Classic (C), Romantic (R), and Gamine (G), including its Yin and Yang variations (see Rachel’s' recent article here explaining IA.

For every Season and Archetype pair, the Neutral Seasons and Ying/Yang variations of the IA will be presented in the same newsletter. This will allow you to compare your colours and lines with those of immediate neighbours to fine-tune your application of these concepts within your own palette and archetype.

A Light Summer woman whose IA is YangRomantic (YangR) will subscribe to the Summer/Romantic newsletters. In every issue, she will find her best self in clothing, along with comparisons to how her True and Soft Summer sisters would dress, and a YinRomantic's adaptation of similar garments.

A Dark Autumn YangNatural will subscribe to Autumn/Natural.

A True Winter Dramatic will find her customized, personalized fashion review in the Winter/Dramatic issues.

We agree that appearance improves substantially by simply knowing which of the 4 True Season groups and 5 Archetype options is yours. Even if you know Summer of some kind and Natural, you will learn so much, shop with renewed confidence, dramatically elevate your wardrobe, and skyrocket your appearance.

The Layout

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The issue will begin with an image like the one above, to feature a relevant article from our sites, a beautiful cosmetic product, or any other information that would have value to your Season and Style.

Following that will be the Product section, seen below, presenting nine garments with text describing the reasons for their inclusion. This example issue features sleeveless blouses for the True, Light, and Soft Summer woman of either YinGamine or YangGamine (YinG and YangG) archetypes, with explanations as to which woman wears the item best and why.

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Each issue will have a theme. The first issue looks at warm weather and lightweight dresses. Another one might be about pant legs. Who wears straight leg? Who wears bootcut? How wide is the bootcut for each body type that wears it? What's the best colour in jeans or your better-than-black for other occasions?

Next time, it might be bathing suits. Which style flatters your body best and inherently understands where and how to define your waist? A True Winter YinR might express herself slightly differently in colour and style than a Dark Winter YinR. We'll show you how each woman wears her own design best.

One day, you will find beautiful dress styles that seem to know intuitively how you want your clothing to fit. There really are items in every fashion category that have been adjusted to minimize or eliminate the problems you find over and over with mass-market or trending styles.

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The pictures from this example issue show the newsletter divided in sections. Of course, it will be merged into one piece when your email arrives. You can see the issue in its entirety here on the site itself.

Subscription

Issues will arrive quarterly.   They will be responsive to all common computers, browsers, and mobile devices.

Cost is US$35.99 for 12 months (4 issues).

A one year commitment is required. Whenever you subscribe in a given year, you will receive all the issues from that year. Subscriptions begin 12 months from the sign-up date. The first issue includes Summer 2014 (now), Fall 2014, Winter 2014, and Spring 2015.

Sign up is done in this way. When you visit Signature/STYLE, you will see a Subscribe link at the top left corner of the screen. Once the page opens,  by clicking on the image of the newsletter, a box will open to select your Season and IA groups from two separate drop-down menus. Then click ADD TO CART. A box will open asking for the email address of the recipient. You can subscribe for as many versions as you wish at US$35.99 each.

Once you have completed your selections, click on the cart icon at the upper right. A payment screen will open asking for your payment information and email address. It looks similar to the PayPal screens, but this payment is equally secure and powered by Stripe. You can complete the order and be returned to Signature/STYLE. You will receive an order confirmation email.

The first issue will arrive within 48 hours of sign up, beginning with Sunday, August 17.

If you subscribe between issues, you receive the previous three issues from that year within two days. The remaining issues of the subscription are sent as soon as they are released.

Which Season? Which Archetype?

If Christine were to categorize herself 10 years ago, she would have incorrectly chosen Autumn and Natural. In truth, she is Winter and Classic. We understand how difficult it is to know ourselves. Books and online education only take you so far. Sometimes, you need expert help.

Your best bet is to begin with a correct and thorough personal colour analysis (PCA). You can find a directory of highly trained analysts working with the carefully calibrated 12 Blueprints drapes, here in the Directory on this site and at Your Natural Design here. This service cannot be performed accurately from photographs.

Rachel can do personal Image Analysis (PIA) accurately online. You can find that information here.

Due to the highly complex nature of analyzing someone's image archetype, I have decided not to publicly release a quiz for the foreseeable future. This is for everyone's benefit, because an incorrect type is of no use to you. If you wish to find out more about how I type, I encourage you to join my facebook group, Best Dressed Academy.

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Contact

You can email us at e.signature.style@gmail.com

The website is http://signature-style.squarespace.com

Disclaimers

Determining colour accurately online is impossible for faces and quite challenging for clothing. As everyone knows who has shopped online, the colours in the images may be different than the real garment. Please do remember that if you purchase, items are returnable.

We have been surprised at how quickly stores are out of stock in various items. Should your item be no longer available when you receive your newsletter, take advantage of the learning opportunity. One day, that item will reappear and you won't miss it.

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12 Comments

The Beauty of the Unexpected

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The Beauty of the Unexpected

I get asked all the time about "unusual" combinations of Season and Image Archetype. The first thing I want to say to you on this topic is: there are no mistakes in nature. Every combination of Season and Image Archetype exists on this planet, in droves no less, and each is perfect. That said, from the origin of color analysis there has been a tendency to associate certain styles with certain Seasons, beginning at least as far back as Suzanne Caygill and her "lines of becomingness" for each season. Even in shops, designers who don't know anything about color analysis seem to make an especially abundant quantity of certain styles in certain colors. Perhaps at one point in history, when gene pools were less mixed, these stereotypes lined up, though I kind of doubt it. It doesn't take a week as a color analyst to see that not every Autumn is a YangN Pocahontas, nor every Summer a soft and gentle Romantic, nor every Spring a perky Gamine, or Winter a Dramatic Morticia Addams. That may be the most literal design interpretation of the colors, but if the body isn't that, seems to me one must modify the strategy there. Based on all the evidence I've gathered out in the real world, it seems that your natural coloring and body lines are determined separately, and the only inherent unifying factor is you.

Recently, I had the pleasure to analyze a Soft Summer Yang Gamine, certainly one of the least stereotypical combinations out there. You might think perhaps some of these don't exist, and then she just walks in the door and all questions about how that could be are resolved. You might also think "fine, but she won't find the clothes", so here are some. There are clothes, there are always clothes.

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Is that sweater really Yang Gamine? For a Soft Season person of this type, I think so. It's boxy and petite, but also a bit earthy, like her coloring. Are those skull loafers too dark? Hard to say from a picture, might be they are in Winter, but I don't agonize over a picture on a screen, it's pointless anyhow. When it arrives, your best efforts to analyze the picture may still have been wasted. Even in my wardrobe, I only harmonize things to my own palette, because if I can't do it with one and look ok, how will my clients? Might be I just wanted this woman to have skull loafers, she's got attitude -  in the best way possible, of course. Sequins and patent leather for SSu? Well, I told you she was a Gamine, right? Do Gamines wear monochrome schemes, like mauve and merlot? If she's a Summer, I'd think so, if she's a Bright Spring, probably not.

In an analysis scenario, we hold things tightly with both hands, look at every detail under a microscope and call everything A or B with no room for debate. In the real world, your only question is, as Christine always says, "Me, or not me?". If your season says do x and your image archetype says do y, feel free to do both, or neither, depending on what feels right, and what can be done without violating the most fundamental concepts. Hold your Season and Image Archetype loosely, and leave room for discovery and joy in your wardrobe. It's only as good as it makes you feel.

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Win a FREE "Mini" Personal Image Analysis!

Hello my darling readers! I cannot begin to tell you how honored I am that each and every one of you reads this blog and that many of you engage with me or become my clients. Sometimes, in order to make my business and blog the very best it can be, it's useful for me to know a little more about you guys. IMG_5754

I've cooked up a brief little survey to find out where you guys are hanging out online and who else you love to read and follow. And because I appreciate the time you spend helping me out SO much, I am offering one lucky winner the chance to win a totally FREE "mini" PIA! This prize includes:

  • Image Archetype-ing by me, complete with my analysis of your physical features
  • A 30 minute Skype call with me to answer your most pressing questions
  • A Surprise!

I am ONLY offering this mini version of the service via this contest, so if you're dying just to know what you are, now's your chance! ;) If you take the survey and want to be entered to win, please be sure to leave your email in the designated box (it won't be used for anything else - promise!). If you just want to help me out and don't need or want the prize, you can leave the email field blank. The winner will be drawn by random.org. Contest entries will be those participants who completed the survey by May 15, 2014. Good luck, and thank you so much for participating! Without further ado...

 

Closed, Thanks for playing! The winner will be contacted via email.

 

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Three Shopping Strategies You NEED Before You Spend Another Dime

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Three Shopping Strategies You NEED Before You Spend Another Dime

One of my gorgeous clients recently confessed something to me: she hates to shop! And how clever she was to bring it up. The truth is, many women feel this way - they want to look good, but just can't get out of the mall fast enough. Unfortunately, this often results in walking out the door with something you don't really feel great about. The ironic thing here is that the more you avoid thinking about shopping or managing your wardrobe, the harder it gets. If you can commit to spending focused time on your wardrobe, the overall hassle and WASTED time and money will be greatly reduced. So without further ado, let me take you through my top tips for successful shopping that will put YOU in control of your wardrobe. Whoa, there. Let's just take a deep breath before doing anything drastic - like buying a sequin moo moo.

Rule #1: DO NOT Shop Out of Desperation

You know this story. That formal wedding invite shows up and you mail your RSVP out right away with an inward groan about what you're going to wear. Somehow, those six to eight weeks go by in the blink of an eye and you're at the mall after work three days before the wedding with a two hour window to find a dress or go naked. Whatever zips and is made of satin is what you're going to wear AND spend your money on. Not good. Ideally, you want to have the dress hanging in the back of the closet BEFORE the invitation ever arrives. Unless you never get invited to a wedding or any other event, you should always have a couple of formal options in your closet ready to go (and yeah, NOT the one you bought out of desperation last time, unless you lucked out and it looks great). If you don't, you'd better start ordering options the minute you open that invite.

This doesn't just go for formal occasions - have a fabulous winter coat and boots ready to go in August, a bathing suit in April (hint hint), and the knock-em-dead interview outfit right NOW. When you shop at the last minute, you are at the mercy of whatever happens to be in the store at that particular moment. When opportunity knocks, have a thrilling outfit ready to open the door in. In order to do this, you're going to have to buy things when you don't need them right then. In fact, it would be a great idea to start a running list of the things you always need at the last minute but don't have. Then, when you do go to the mall, or better yet let your fingers take a stroll through your online shops of choice, you know what you're looking for.

Those cute coral jeans you bought need a top to go with them!

Rule #2: Successful Shopping Starts at Home

No, not on your computer, though it's prowess as a shopping tool cannot be denied. The heart of all successful shopping endeavors is in fact, located in your wardrobe. Moan if you like, but if you don't know what you have, you don't know what to buy. Get in there and get rid of everything there's no question about whether you are wearing or not. If it hasn't fit in years, was given to you by your horrible ex, or is so far off palette that two trains and a bus wouldn't get it there, just get rid of it. If it was expensive, consign it or sell it online to get something for it, if that makes you feel better. If this is your first pass at a clean out, don't try to make hard choices right now. A good trick is to flip the hangers of anything you're iffy on, and set a calendar reminder to see if you've worn it in six months or so. Do try stuff on that you haven't had on in a long time.

Once you have shaved a layer off the top of your wardrobe, get in there and make outfits. Start with the ones you already wear all the time, and include accessories and jewelry. Try them on in front of a full length mirror, and even better, snap a picture of yourself in each one. When you review them later on your computer screen, you will get the hard facts on what is most flattering. Push yourself to get a little creative to use as many of your pieces as possible.

Whatever you can't put into an outfit probably falls in one of two categories: 1. Something you love but that doesn't work well for you or 2. Something that can potentially be great but you don't have the proper coordinating pieces. If it's in category one - let it go for someone else to love. Otherwise, take a minute to brainstorm what you could get to complete your awesome item (a wide belt, a black waterfall cardigan, whatever it might be) and get it in rotation. Then get out that list you started earlier and jot down what you come up with - i.e. the things you actually need. If you found that some items are getting used and abused - for example, one skirt is the linchpin to 8 different outfits, think of adding a second similar piece to your list.

If the prospect of scouring the mall for hours looking for these specific items makes you want to puke, then here's the part where you put your computer to work. You can just do a google search for what you're looking for (leopard print booties) but I really love shopstyle.com for it's ability to scan loads of sites for just what you're looking for. Just one thing that I can't stress enough - when you shop online, shop places where you can return things. If you can find places that have free shipping both ways, even better, but resist the siren song of last chance discounts - that's the second best way after shopping out of desperation to get stuck with a bunch of stuff you never really wanted in your closet.

As an aside, once you've spent all this time perfecting your outfits, don't be afraid to repeat them often, especially if they are really practical for your lifestyle. Riff on the same idea, too - if leggings and boots with a tunic is perfect for your body and life, own several variations. Having fabulous personal style isn't about being seen in a million different outfits and looks. Far better to have fewer choices and have them all be winners. After all, a fabulous outfit is one that highlights YOU, so you have no need to be trying to pull out loads of gimmicks.

I don't know about you, but this is MY idea of shopping 80% of the time... mmn, fuzzy blanket.

Rule #3: Be Picky, Be Patient

If you spend a couple of hours at the mall, and buy one or two things sometimes, or most of the time nothing at all, you're being picky enough. Hold out for pieces that truly do something for you. If you know your season and image archetype, a lot of the work knowing what not to ever bother with will be done for you. If you're shopping in real life, try everything on before you buy it. Including necklaces, handbags, everything! Don't have the attitude that time spent shopping and not buying anything is wasted - it's just a necessary component to getting in the drivers seat of your appearance and your wardrobe. If you must buy something at the mall and are striking out, make it a bottle of perfume, or a latte.

Like anything worth doing, having incredible personal style takes a little elbow grease and self discipline. A PCA and PIA takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation and lets you get right to the business of curating a fabulous wardrobe to show up in the world as your very best self. Good luck in the trenches, ladies!

Your turn - Do you have any shopping strategies that save you time and money and keep you looking fabulous? Tell us about them in the comment section below!

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Stuff I Love: Monistat Chafing Relief Powder Gel (Yes, Really!)

summer-287081_640 Here in the northern hemisphere, shorts weather seems to finally be on it's way. As relieved as I am that this punishing winter is coming to a close, there's a certain issue that I seem to manage to forget all about until I take that first long stroll in the sunshine... in a dress. I bet some of you have already figured out where I'm going with this.

Yep, that's right, I'm talking about that thing we women aren't supposed to admit we have or talk about. The rash between our thighs that occurs when they rub together while walking, for some all the time, and for others (like me), just when it's warm enough to err... glisten a bit. This issue is so shrouded in shame that there's little talk about how to address it. I'm just going to say this once and not belabor the point - you do not need a thigh gap to be beautiful, and it is not a reliable indicator of whether you are at a healthy weight or not.

Volumes have been written about this on the internet, as the thigh gap is a well known fixation of the extremely unhealthy and damaging "pro-ana" groups online. Have a quick google and you will find models speaking out against the trend, companies apologizing for photoshopping it in, and of course, workouts and diets that promise you delivery of this feature. Just know that if you have one, that's perfect, and if you don't that's perfect too. But you might tend to get pretty uncomfortable without some fabric between there.

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Enter....Monistat? Two years ago or so, when I came across this product being heavily endorsed on a blog, I was blown away that there was such a thing. Even then, I was skeptical, but I ran out to grab a tube anyhow. And let me tell you.. this stuff WORKS. It very quickly dries into a sort of powdery protective surface that actually reduces irritation dramatically. Admittedly, on a long hot day of walking endlessly, you may still get a bit of discomfort even if you carry it in your bag and reapply in the bathroom after a couple of hours, but still it will be vastly better than having gone with nothing.

If you've been stuck in pants all summer in years past, while others enjoy the cool refreshment of sundresses and shorts, I'm telling you it's worth having the guy behind the counter assume you've got a yeast infection. Because honestly, who cares? You've got those cute shorts to wear.

Have you tried this stuff, or something else that helps you enjoy the summer bare-legged? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Online Personal Image Analysis Now Open

A Word About Online PIA

Online PIA

The purpose of any Personal Image Analysis is two-fold: first, to determine your Image Archetype, and second, to explain to you what that means both in general and for you specifically, and how to use it as a head-to-toe game plan when you get back to your wardrobe, or head to the mall. My goal is for all of my clients to understand and be able to apply the information I give them to look and feel fabulous. If that sounds good to you, here's how we get there:

  1. You contact me to let me know you want to get started, and I collect images and information from you. I will need some pretty specific types of pictures of you, some of which you will likely need to take specifically for this purpose. At this time, I prefer to keep exactly what I look at private, so you will need to ask me.
  2. Once we have a satisfactory collection of images for me to mull over, we set a Skype date. Typically, I give myself a few days to get to your pictures, and make some preliminary decisions about where we might be going. The final verdict is never set until I see you on Skype, moving around in three dimensions, emoting, and talking. I'm pretty flexible about accommodating other time zones, so just get in touch with me if you're outside of North America and worried about how we'll make it work.
  3.  At your Skype appointment, we will spend the first 30 - 45 minutes going over your physical features individually, and how I evaluated them based on your images, and what I'm seeing on my screen. Then, we spend the rest of our 2-3 hours together talking about what your type is, and is not, and how you can apply this to what you wear in your everyday life, and really for any occasions that might come up. I make an audio recording of our session together, which I can send to you if you wish.
  4. Within about a week after our session is completed, I make a 10+ page pdf summary of everything we went over - including your analysis results, and my recommendations. I also make a private Pinterest board visible only to you and me with around 100 images of outfit ideas, garments, accessories, and hairstyles I think would be great for you.
  5. Afterwards, you are free to email me questions, requests for more pins, pictures of try-ons, or whatever is helpful to you in putting my recommendations to use. You can also comment on your pin board or add pins with items you have questions about, and I will talk to you about them over there. Part of this service is access to specific feedback from me as you work to embrace your image archetype, which I do my best to provide for you in a timely fashion.

That's pretty much it! If you didn't catch the hint already, please do contact me if you are interested in having an Online PIA. You can also get in touch with me just to ask questions, or ask them below in the comments - I bet if you're wondering, 10 other people are, too!

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What is an Image Archetype and What Can it Do for You?

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What is an Image Archetype and What Can it Do for You?

What is an Image Archetype?

Imagine for a moment that you are a Hollywood casting agent. Your next script is a juicy one, in which the hero, a lovable retired detective, is putty in the hands of a glamorous but dangerous woman who has nothing but her own interests at heart. Five actresses of similar coloring have been preselected for the co-starring role, each very different from the next. From their pictures, you find them as follows:

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  1. A small, charmingly feminine woman, who is lushly curvy with a soft, sweet face
  2. A petite, pixie-like woman with very large eyes and a mischievous smile
  3. A classically lovely, elegant woman of average height
  4. A tall, athletic looking woman with great bone structure and a wide, winning smile
  5. An extremely tall, extremely curvaceous woman with exotic facial features

Admittedly, in modern cinema, actors often triumph in roles where they play against type. However, assuming that's not what we are going for, I think number five seems to be best suited for the role. Without ever opening her mouth, this woman already has us pretty convinced; her innate physicality is already telling us the story. It almost goes without saying that the costumes that would suit this character would be quite flattering to her, not all that different from how you might expect her to look on any given day. Even assuming the excellent acting prowess of the other four, it's never going to be as comfortable, as second nature, to see them in this role. It could probably be said that they'd have to work twice as hard at it. We almost want to write in some extra dialog to explain it ("Well she looks like a cuddly bunny, but she's as hard as nails...") but in our role of casting director, alas we cannot.

In life, we also do not get a chance to insert that extra dialog in our interactions with others. Which perhaps is fine with our friends and family, who know and love us regardless of how our clothing interacts with our physical self. But in a board meeting or on a first date, it becomes quite a liability to have to explain ourselves. When your physicality and your clothing, makeup, and hairstyle tell the same story, you are dressed to play the role of yourself. This kind of harmony creates a very comfortable and "normal" jumping off point for others to relate to you, in which there is not the lingering subconscious tension of wondering "why did she choose to wear THAT?".

 Who should NOT learn their Image Archetype?

If you are reading along and objecting to the idea that you tailor your appearance to make others comfortable, you certainly have a point. I suppose all I can say to you is that, for me, I always try to find a balance between sticking to my guns and looking out for number one and making life with others a little bit easier. I'm not against conflict when I feel the ends justify the means, so if dressing a specific way means the world to you and is a massive source of joy in your life, whether it seems to put others off or not, please continue to do so.

My clients and the other women I hear from seem to value being complimented and looking good  to themselves and others more than they value wearing or owning one specific garment or type of look. If your internal balance on the subject tips another way, finding your image archetype may be of limited utility to you. The specific purpose of an image archetype is not to discover what you like, or what resonates with you spiritually or emotionally (although those are welcome side effects).  The purpose is to flatter and enhance your innate physical being.

 How do I know what my Image Archetype is?

So, how do we know who looks like a queen and who looks like a pixie, and so on? Many of you have struggled with just such questions for months or even years, so it seems clear that even if the theory holds for you, the application can be difficult. In design, different shape elements tell us different stories - they have a language. In any design object, what type of shapes are used (rounded or angular, or somewhere in between), their scale (large or small or somewhere in between), and their proportions (any part relative to any other parts), all matter in determining how it feels. This applies to garments and it applies to human beings.

The process of determining your image archetype is essentially the process of determining what shapes, scale, and proportion you are in order to match you with clothing that repeats that. Clothing that has the same design elements as your body will fit and flatter your body. This results in a consistent look and feel between you and your clothing, and an overall design concept for your look which is derived from you (rather than placed upon you, as traditional fashion media often persuades you to do).

10 Types Chart

Since at least the middle of the last century, and probably before, five basic design concepts that apply to both people and clothing have been identified and used: Dramatic, Natural, Classic, Gamine, and Romantic. There are many other possible names for each of these, but these seem to be the most general and the most neutral. In addition, it is possible to arrange these on a scale from largest and most angular (commonly referred to as Yang) to smallest and most rounded (commonly referred to as Yin). Within each type, there is a more Yang iteration and a more Yin iteration. There are occasionally people who are very close to the middle of each category, however it is still crucial to know whether the person's specific design always requires a curve into the waist (Yin if yes, Yang if no), and whether they are better in angular shapes around the face in necklines, prints, and jewelry (Yang) or rounded shapes (Yin).

For those of you who follow me on Pinterest, you may already know that we (meaning Christine and I) use Yin or Yang + D, N, C, G, or R to refer to each of the 10 Image Archetypes, apart from D and R, which could technically be called Yang D and Yin R, but are not merely because they represent the extremes of Yin and Yang already so such prefixes would be redundant. I will get into more detail about the specifics of each of these types in later posts, but for now, I just want you to understand the overall concept, as many of you have been so lovely as to email me to let me know you are eager to have my help with what to wear, and I just want to explain to you what it is I do for people.

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If you can't love yourself...

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If you can't love yourself...

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One afternoon, when I was in the 7th grade, it became so warm by the time we all went out for recess that my group of friends made a huge pile of our unneeded down coats out on the field. When it was almost time to go in, one of the boys put on several of the coats, until he was a massive puffball, and then wriggled mine over top and announced, "Now I know how it feels to be Rachel!". I confess, I don't remember his name, but I remember the comment, and probably always will. This occasion certainly wasn't the beginning of my insecurities, and far from the last cutting and humiliating comment I would receive in my lifetime. Honestly, they continue to accumulate to this day. But this isn't a pity party, this is the story of how I learned to chuck them in the corner like so many coats and move on with my life.

Nearly everyone has at least one pain point when it comes to their appearance. For me it's always been mostly about my weight - for someone else it might be their nose or their skin or their age... anything really. I've even heard of women who are fixated on their thick ankles. Considering how socially acceptable it is to comment on every aspect of a woman's appearance, it's really not all that surprising though, is it? If you've had the experience of someone making that one comment that cuts so deep it makes you feel like you might throw up or pass out, you know why someone might spend a good deal of their waking hours trying to figure out how to avoid that ever happening again.

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My friends, I know how scary it is, but worrying about that one thing is a waste of your precious, precious life. I'm not saying that to make you feel guilty on top of feeling bad about this aspect of your appearance - that would be highly counterproductive. I'm saying it because I really hope that you will see how important it is to get okay with yourself - your physical self. If you only love the you that's a brain in a jar, you're missing a massive piece of the puzzle. Did you know that doing certain poses for just a couple of minutes has a major effect on your brain chemistry? I've certainly been guilty of seeing my body as a thing that transports my brain to the mall, but that's just not the truth of the relationship. Not accepting your body is, in fact, the same as not accepting yourself, period.

But how can you, really, if you don't already? It's not like you can just talk yourself into loving your body just because you think you're supposed to, otherwise, you'd have done it already. I spent a long time stuck in this mind loop. I wanted to be okay with myself but I couldn't let go of the mindset that somehow I was going to get another body, and then I'd like me. And then I felt bad for still wanting to look like something else. Which brings me to my first major breakthrough.

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STOP THINKING YOU'LL BE HAPPY WHEN...

You know this story, and it's certainly not limited to your appearance. I'll be happy when I lose 15 pounds. I'll be happy when I get the promotion. I'll be happy when I can afford a bigger house. And it's not just happiness that gets postponed. I'll start auditioning again when I get back in shape. I'll start dating when I can afford that boob job. Everything's on hold for that one thing to happen, and then after that, we're sure it's going to be all puppies and unicorns dancing on rainbows. We play out the vignettes of our perfect future lives in our minds like a perpetual rom-com ending on steroids; we walk down the street and turn heads, dive into pools of money, and tearfully accept our award. Meanwhile, the present moment, should we deign to come back to it for a moment, seems pretty hopeless compared to the seductive yet highly improbable vision of the future in our minds.

The most irrational part of the "I'll X When Y" mindset isn't even the brain crack. It's the underlying implication that the future can only be good by virtue of the present being inherently flawed. You may have deduced, however, that the present moment is always the one you are in, and therein lies the rub - when never arrives. The ONLY time at which you have the capacity to be happy, or indeed, to do anything, is right this very minute.

I only know one way off this ride, and it's gratitude. If you want to stop waiting for that kitchen renovation to be happy, try being grateful you have a kitchen. A little bit of perspective goes a long way here, so let me tell you how I got some.

lonelypathWRITE A LOVE LETTER TO YOUR BODY

I haaaaate stuff like this. No one could possibly have wanted to do this less than me, or thought they were above it more. I feel SUPER weird even telling you I did it. But I have to say, the transformative power has been amazing. You may be sitting there thinking that you have nothing positive to say about your body, or at very least that this is going to be a very short letter. I might have said the same thing, but once I got started, I ended up handwriting 15 pages until I felt like my hand was going to fall off.

If you have legs that walk you down the street, eyes that see the sunset, a nose that smells the air after it rains, or arms that hold your loved ones, you have more than enough to be grateful to your body for, today. If function is all you can be thankful for right now, fine. I bet you have more in you. Maybe you have the softest hair, elegant feet, or the cutest little beauty mark on your left hip. I promise you, if you write it down, you will be one baby step closer to getting over that one thing. With so much to be grateful for, right this very minute, there just isn't as much room for negative preoccupation anymore. It may be that you are in such a mode of judgement that this process will be nearly impossible for you.

I'm not pointing a finger, society tells women it's okay to refer to both ourselves and the girl behind the checkout counter as "fat asses" and so on. That kind of hyper critical behavior is the default - it requires a concerted effort to do and be otherwise. Sometimes, what we need to make such a shift is to take the whole thing one step away from ourselves and get a little distance. Meaning -

focusonrainIF YOU WANT TO STOP JUDGING YOURSELF, LEARN TO STOP JUDGING OTHERS FIRST

We do it as easily as breathing, abuse the fact of the privacy of our thoughts. We focus on all the wrong things about a person, her big nose or thick legs, and forget to see the person as a whole, or as a person at all. There's often an implication of inherent responsibility for the offending feature, which is varying shades of ridiculous, when you really think about it. If the environment is somehow competitive, such as at a night club or a gym, the atmosphere between women of sizing each other up to find every flaw can make the air almost ripple with tension and anxiety.

Winter that I am, my perfecting eye makes me excellent at finding fault in virtually anything. It's part of what makes me so good at what I do, but I have a responsibility to wield that gift with discretion and compassion. Any energy I expended criticizing the wrong thing was at best wasted and at worst highly destructive. So here's what I want you to do. Every time you catch yourself thinking something negative about someone else's appearance, forgive them, and then come up with a positive counterpoint, all within the safe confines of your mind. Force yourself to find something beautiful about each person you meet. Stretch your idea of beauty, learn to appreciate different faces and bodies as you would different landscapes in nature.

Adopting this practice will most certainly effect your relationships with others, but perhaps most importantly, it will effect your relationship with yourself. One day, you will wake up and look at yourself through these new compassionate eyes you have molded by all that practice on everyone else. And suddenly, the things you judged about yourself, and most especially that one thing, will fail to have the significance they once did. You just won't be able to raise the frenzy of anxiety you once did, because you've learned how to truly see beauty - not just the absence of flaws.

Loving yourself isn't about never feeling insecure, just like courage isn't about never being afraid. I have learned from my brilliant teacher Christine Scaman that at some point, one must either "do it scared or don't do it". The thing about doing it scared is, each time you do, it gets a little less scary, even if the fear will never go away entirely. In the same way, each time you face down insecurity with love and acceptance, you get a little less insecure.

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I was asked to write the story of my my personal journey as it pertains to style, as a sequel of sorts to the one I wrote about my color journey, and someday I may. I would honestly say that most of the work on my style journey was done here, with my quest to love and accept the one and only body I will ever have in this life, and what I learned along the way. If you come to your Personal Image Analysis having put in this kind of work ahead of time, it will just feel like confirmation of what you already know. Even if (maybe especially if), you never have an image consultation, you need to bring love and acceptance of yourself, and most especially your body, into the dressing room with you in order to make rational choices about what enhances you.

I would go so far as to say you need it to make fully rational choices about your life. I know beautiful women who can't see themselves that way who stay in disastrous relationships, petrified they'll never find another one. Who postpone starting their dream business, because they can't imagine putting up their own picture on their website, or how they'd be a role model for anyone. Enough. You owe it to yourself to make peace with the body you have. You owe it to yourself to do everything you can to step over whatever hurdles stand between you and being fully engaged in your life. This ain't no dress rehearsal, honey.

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Amazing Eye Photos Made Easy

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Amazing Eye Photos Made Easy

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Have you missed me? I'm just coming to the end of my vacation in gorgeous sunny Boca Raton, Florida. Promise I'll be back on a more regular writing schedule when I'm home from paradise. *sigh* My own Bright Winter eye.

Anyhow, many of you ladies have seen the eye photos I take for my clients on Facebook, and wondered what kind of fancy camera I have that takes them so clearly. Happily for you, I have no such thing. A few years ago, I discovered this amazing product, tiny little lenses that attach to your iPhone or Android phone via a stick-on magnetic ring around the built-in lens (before you add to cart, make sure you've got the wide/macro lens). At the time, I just kind of putzed around pointing it at things and then got bored, not really knowing what to do with it. However, once I became a Color Analyst, I remembered the little gizmo and it occurred to me it might be a cheaper alternative to a new fancy camera with a macro lens. With a bit of practice, it has produced results beyond my wildest expectations.

Bright Spring

Before you run off into the sunset with your new $20 magical eye picture taking gizmo, allow me to give you a few pointers. First, be sure you screw off the wide angle lens. It's a combo lens and the remaining, very tiny piece underneath is indeed the macro lens. Later, you can screw the wide angle back on to take pictures of your house that make it look huge, but for now we want to see those gorgeous peepers.

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Once you've got the magnetic ring on your phone and just the macro lens attached to the ring, you are going to want to go somewhere where you can face into a lot of light. Oh, and it will really help if you can commandeer the help of a friend, or in a pinch, a very confused husband or teenager. I have my clients wheel right up to one of my full spectrum lamps inside a soft box. Outside in bright sunshine, or facing into a bright lamp might be good ideas. Once you've got plenty of light, your assistant is going to need to get the camera really uncomfortably close to your eye, but don't worry they don't need to touch it. It's best, however, if you can get close enough that the person taking the photo is able to get the lens to focus on your iris rather than your eyelashes, as it is want to do. On the iPhone, you can use your finger to choose where the focal point is, which is helpful as well (just be really careful not to poke your eye, PLEASE).

Incredible True Winter eye. See how I caught the lashes a bit too much? If you can get just a few milimeters closer, you get a clearer picture of the iris.

One last thing, which I'm not sure will be helpful for those with Android phones or possibly even older iPhones, but I do it so, full disclosure. At time of writing, I use an iPhone 5S when I take these photos. There are a few built in filters in the default camera app, and I use one of them, called "chrome" when I take these pictures. You can access these by clicking the three overlapping circles in the lower right-hand corner of the camera screen. The reason why I use this filter, is because it lightens the shot quite a bit, though it does also saturate it slightly. I don't find the color in the eye pictures comes out much different than reality, however, and the lightness makes the structure of the eye, something I like to see and study, quite apparent. It should go with out saying that you can, of course, play around with it however you see fit.

Well, that's all my secrets. Good luck capturing the magical supernova inside of YOUR eye! (and back to the lounge chair with me... ;) )

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Stuff I Love: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains

By now, you know that I am always looking for lip products that I don't have to reapply a million times during the day, but that also don't leave my lips painfully dry. I tried this product mostly out of curiosity about the stability of the colors after another analyst swatched a couple of them, including one for Bright Winter.

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I was somewhat skeptical, because the ever-popular Lip Butters are decidedly not my favorite product, partially because I feel they slide all over the place, and partially because I noticed while swatching them out of paper that the colors tended to shift after a few minutes, pulling either soft or purple, or oddly, both. Happily, I don't find that the Just Bitten line tends to shift nearly so much, which is great, because they're just as cheap, stay put better, and are much longer lasting. I've heard some people still find these drying, but for me, they feel very comfortable on. I bet you've already guessed where this is going... after wearing one quite a bit myself, I decided to pick up several to keep in my makeup kit for my clients, and to swatch for all of you. I seem to have missed a few, but most of them from the main line (not the glosses or the matte ones) should be here.

  •  Honey - Soft Summer, may be too brown for some, though on my skin it was less brown than on paper, and on the whole distinctly more purpley than what I like on Soft Autumn
  • Lovesick - True Winter
  • Smitten - This one swatches as True Winter on paper, but on both my lips and skin, it seemed way more desaturated than Lovesick. True Winters who are tentative about their lip colors can probably still wear it, but I think a number of True Summers could do even better in it.
  • Cherish - Light Summer, I guess. I wish I hadn't bought this one, as it's one of those colors that's meant to be lighter than your lips, which I don't find to be a very flattering category of colors, in general.
  • Sweetheart - Bright Winter, really good for lighter-looking people in this season, but most should wear it well
  • Adore - Dark Autumn, quite warm, but a little overpowering next to the True Autumn fan. Either could try it.
  • Rendezvous - True Spring
  • Crush - Dark Winter
  • Charm - Light Spring, pretty warm and not much of a color even for this season, but it could work for some

So, there you have it! Let me know if you've tried any of these, and how it went. :)

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