Question on Men and Race

Hello Irenee,

I really love your site on The Science of Dress. There is so much information its going to take some time to digest it all but I am super happy and grateful you have made it available. I believe this information should be taught in schools everywhere. I’m a fine arts student at Cal State East Bay and I have been interested in how color and design applies to the individual for some time. I’ve been around long enough to remember 80s when everyone was trying to find their season. It didn’t seem to really apply to me at the time but I could not dismiss it entirely. The picture was just incomplete. I’m glad there has been an expansion in the field to include men as well as different races.

QUESTION:  My skin is coppery brown (African American) and my hair is soft black (turning grey).  I look great in toned down versions of the spring pallet as well as some deeper autumn and winter colors (the more balanced ones). It’s a wide spectrum and sometimes I fight with going in too many directions at once.  I like your tip about balancing the look with the hair color.  My question

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is, would any dark neutral or basic stand in for my hair color or should it just be black? I sometimes struggle with too many dark colors or deep earthy colors dominating my look. I have a strong feel for autumn colors but they can get to be too muddy and heavy on me. Spring colors are fun to wear but they seem so frivolous that I worry about being taken serious. What’s your take on that?  Thank you for a great site. Darren Chappell

Dear Darren,

Because we spent a day together on your wardrobe, much was revealed on that occasion.  All the balanced icy and balanced soft colors saved the day and gave a contrasting lift to your skintone, and especially the red pinky copper accents as per examples above with the tie.  

Notice we always used white for clear contrast whenever possible, and actually repeated the colorful warm red-based tones in your skintone for accent colors.  The reason you were after the Spring colors was your intuitive knowing that you needed “more” color and we settled you perfectly into the balanced clear colors in-between Winter Homebase and Spring (No.6 balanced) giving you some clear sophisticated colors; the “more” color you sensed you needed.  That automatically invited the balanced soft colors and even some less muddy earthy Autumn teals, peach tones and especially periwinkle (the Autumn “blue”.) 

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To answer your question about darks:  yes,  navy, hunter, plum, and very deep reds actually are Winter “dark” repeats.  If you do slide over into Autumn colors just back off into stark white for contrast around your face.  Salmon with that tie really worked (and I photo-shopped a lighter background that even made it better. Remember the recipe: When wearing an “outside” color wear 2 of your Homebase colors.  

Since then, I want to mention that even though black is the most practical shoe and accessory repeat color, if you are wearing very light pants and shirt or sweater (like a  light  gray,) then you can use a medium-dark brown belt and casual shoe and it works like a beautiful skin match.

This is to help people understand that it is all an honoring of all the colors of the individual person. Just beautifully placed color so that it is like taking a brush and giving the painting touches of color to repeat the subject for enhancement without overdoing or understating.   We all thank you for sharing your photos.


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