In The World Of Color, I’m An Autumn…Really

1 Nov

Back in the 80’s when Color Me Beautiful was all the rage, I was thrilled to discover I was a “summer”.  Finally, I would know for certain what colors to wear.  No more wasted money, no more new clothes finding their way to the Goodwill.

You see, I have a color problem.  I’m not exactly color blind, but I just don’t see color the way others do.  I’ve figured this out over the years as friends would tell me I looked great in something horrid that I found in the back of the closet, and I would look, aghast, in the mirror, thinking they were crazy. How many people have told me that I am a “warm tone” person, when I know in my heart of hearts that I am cool?

So, I bought Color Me Beautiful and went through it intensely, pen and paper in hand.  One part of the book struck me the most, and to this day it’s the only part I remember:  If you have a gray ring around the iris of your eye, you are most definitely a “summer”.  That would mean that I look best in cool tones.  Yay…I knew it!  For years I dutifully carried around that little folded-up color chart in my wallet, waiting for a shopping opportunity.

I have struggled with color ever since.  Why doesn’t anything look good on me?  Oh, every once in awhile I get lucky and try something on in a store that looks “wow”.  It would usually be outside my color zone and I would just shrug my shoulders and carry on.  But, when you sew, the color problem is intensified.  You realize that you can’t try the clothes on in the store under that glorious store light that makes everyone look wonderful in their worst colors.  When you sew, you have to take a leap of faith that the final garment will not only look good in the fabric, but that the whole thing will look good on you.

One disaster after the other, and too many wadders later, I started losing faith in my color scheme.  I thought I looked good in red, but not anymore.  What about pink?  That used to be my best color, but it looks awful on me now.  And camel?  Is that in the “summer” color zone?  I became so confused that I started wearing only two colors:  brown and navy.  They were safe.

I recently went to a sewing camp, and after I got to know these ladies well (as you tend to do after five, eight hour days of sewing), they sweetly and subtly let me know that I was wearing the wrong colors.  Most of these ladies had little color palettes that were made just for them.  They could take these palettes to the store when fabric shopping, and be assured of selecting the right colors.

I HAD to have one of those little palettes, so a fellow camper and I made an appointment to have the color specialist, Ethel Harms, work her magic on us.  And she did.  Here is my color palette:

Yes, I’m a medium autumn, with warm undertones.  So to anyone in my life who has told me I’m an autumn, and to whom I have argued that I am NOT an autumn, but a summer…I apologize.  I’m just not very good with color.

After my appointment with Ethel, but before I actually got the palette, I went fabric shopping and picked out something I thought would fall into my color palette.  This is what I bought:

I don’t know if you can see from the picture how well it fits with my color palette, but it does.  And the print looks fabulous next to my skin.  This is a print I would never in a million years have chosen before.

If you are a sewist, and are color insecure, I highly recommend having a color analysis done.  It will not only save you wadders, but you’ll end up looking fabulous!

Oh…and that gray ring around my iris?  It’s actually green. 🙂


10 Responses to “In The World Of Color, I’m An Autumn…Really”

  1. Alison November 2, 2011 at 4:04 AM #

    I’m a bit like you – absolutely hopeless with colour. People always say to me “does this look good” & I have no clue. LOL. But I sort-of had a clue with you so it was pretty obvious. 🙂 Love that fabric. Would love to come back over for some shopping. So I’m saving my $$$!

    • Janis November 2, 2011 at 7:25 AM #

      And I would have pegged you as an autumn without hesitation, lol! Next time, come during our summer or fall, not in the middle of the muck. You’ll like it better:)

  2. Sharon November 1, 2011 at 11:54 PM #

    Lovely to see you Janis and that fabric will be stunning on you. I assumed you were working with the Autumn pallete when we met as a lot of the colours that we looked at were good for both of us (I am a Deep Autumn). Enjoy the process, it is fun.

    • Janis November 2, 2011 at 7:27 AM #

      Funny, I don’t remember what I was shopping for at that time. But I’m sure I thought I was shopping for summer colors. Your coloring is so obvious to me. I don’t know why I can tell what colors others should wear, but not me:\

  3. Dixie November 1, 2011 at 7:38 PM #

    Congratulations on finally knowing your best colors. It’s liberating, isn’t it?! I can envision the colors in your fan working very well on you.
    Back in the 80’s one consultant told me I was an autumn, and another told me I was a summer. I went with summer for 20 years, then a group of online color buddies (including RuthieK) helped me see my best colors are actually in the winter palette.
    The important thing is to enjoy this entire process, and not freak out about the great clothes you’ve sewn that might not be in your best colors. Have fun!

  4. lessalt November 1, 2011 at 4:17 PM #

    Janis, It’s hard to tell not being able to see you in person but I think those colors will look lovely on you and the new fabric is fantastic. I’ll look forward to seeing your completed garment.

  5. RuthieK November 1, 2011 at 12:25 PM #

    Yeah I thought I was various things from CMB over the years, but am actually Clear and Warm, Coral Pink and Lime Green are awesome!

  6. Karen Saieed November 1, 2011 at 11:13 AM #


    This is a wonderful palette for you!! I can easily see that it fits your coloration. Best of luck with your new colors.


    • Shams November 1, 2011 at 12:52 PM #

      What a gorgeous palette! You know, Jan, I’m the same way. I’m not sure *what* season I am, but I gravitate towards autumn colors. I may be coming to the Portland area and would like to have her do my colors too! 🙂

      • Janis November 1, 2011 at 1:35 PM #

        Let me know when you’re coming. We could have a fun day!

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