So we’ve covered colour contrast and value contrast, the final piece of the puzzle is how your personality affects your contrast levels.
Your personality can be a ‘rule breaker’ or ‘rule stickler’ one – if you are dramatic, rebellious or high energy (life of the party), no matter what your outward appearance, you may enjoy breaking the rules and wear high contrast if you appear to be low, or the other way round.
If you are very quiet, shy or low energy (wall flower), you may prefer to wear more subtle combinations of colour and value (low contrast) as you don’t want to stand out from the crowd, even if you have high contrast colouring.
Is this all starting to make sense? Have a play with these concepts. It make total sense to me one day when I was wearing jeans and a purple top and a wine coloured cardigan – even though they were ‘my colours’ I looked dull (I’m a bit out there and have high contrast colouring as you can tell from my photo). As soon as I put on a a green scarf, suddenly the outfit worked and I felt so much more ‘me’. Can you see with this illustration how a pop of a brighter or lighter colour can add value and colour contrast to this outfit?
Discover your ideal contrast levels here.
I’ve learned so much from this series, Imogen. Now if I can just REMEMBER it all …
I am 60 and no longer will wear some of the vivid combinations that felt fine when I was 25 or 30… don’t want to be mousy or too-safe either, but if you go wild at my age, you can appear’crazy bag-lady’. (I would wear the purple and green any time but I just tried on a polka-dotted sweater- I like dots- and thought I looked like a clown.)
I’m impressed that you can show an outfit with and without the green scarf. Hmmmm. . . something to aspire to! You have a really great blog. It’s not often reading a colour blog that I have to think this hard to understand something. This is why I love the colour business because you can’t pin it down!! The minute you think you know something, I find a blog like yours 🙂
Sal – I’m sure you will – practise and observation will get you there!
Duchesse – and your colouring is not the same as it was when you were 25 either – your skin has softened so might not work as well will the bright combinations of your youth. Polka dots can be hard to pull off – very dependent on the colours and size and spacing aspects.
I am passionate about color I, like Duchesse, used to wear wild and crazy colors and combos, but as the years progress, I feel softer colors work better. More Yin than Yang is what I look for now. You are a wellspring of good info, Imogen. Thank you for your informative examples and posts.
Color me Happy – thanks – colour is a complex and endlessly fascinating beast!
I can totally see the difference the scarf makes. You are a “fader” without the scarf, and a little more of the “party girl” with the scarf. The before outfit would be fine for someone who wanted to be a “blender.” But I would have added the scarf too.
Karen – you will never be a fader or a blender (or any other kitchen implement – except maybe a cocktail shaker)!
Hi Imogen ,
I have been reading your blog (parts of it)over the weekend and find it very interesting.
I’m not sure I get this colour thing though.
I have dark brown hair and dark brown eyes and pale skin am I monochromatic with high contrast?
If I got that right can you tell me how I should interpret it in my clothing?
Charlotte -thanks so much for reading and commenting.
Yes you are high value contrast, low colour contrast.
What is your personality like? Are you energetic or passive?
What you don’t want to do is wear the outfit on the left in this post – too monochromatic, you would look better in the option with the scarf – you need to wear light and dark clothes together or pattern with contrast.
You will look better keeping your colours more analogous (blues with greens and purples rather than blues with oranges or reds.
But ,your personality is important in this equation.
Thank you, I guess I do it right most of the time.
I am quite a creative person but my dress sense goes from conservative with a twist to bohemian, I am finding it hard to know what is age appropriate at times (I’m 38).
Most of the time I go with what feels ok clothes wise but from what you are saying I don’t think I’m doing to bad. (with the occasional blip) 🙂
After reading yours and a few other blogs (Thanks Jane, Sal and Audi) I am now trying to look at my clothes from a new perspective and trying new combinations.
You know me.. I am always going to break the rules, and can not help myself. It is indeed my personality, interesting enough I am for the most part quiet and reserved, not the life of the party, but I hear I command a room, am noticed for how I carry myself and have such an energy about myself that I can pull off what I enjoy wearing. Lucky me. I am glad this got shared.
Wow!!! I know this post is old, but this whole thing with the contrast has definitely been the missing piece for me!! I’ve had two professional color drapings–both with the same result of cool winter. I get my swatches and I’m sent home. Both people said because I’m winter, I’m dramatic and high contrast, but I just did not feel that way. Plus, I really just did not like wearing a lot of the colors in my swatches. I emailed these people and said that because of my salt and pepper hair, I felt like I did not have the contrast that I had when my hair was dark. I have olive skin and dark eyes and just did not feel like that “Snow White” version of a cool winter. Your posts about color was really eye opening and made so much sense!! Charcoal grey has become one of my favorite colors right now, plus black is still a strong color and I so like some white–but only on the bottom. I seem to get the most compliments when I am wearing charcoal grey or black. So for me, I only like very small pops of color, like maybe my lips or just the hint of a tank top or something. The video you did with Jill was extremely helpful.
Professional color analysts will tell you to wear all the colors in your swatches, but it really is a challenge to figure out just how to wear them and I have been struggling for a couple of years now with this. I keep hearing people say wear color, wear color, but I just don’t feel right in so much color and now I know why! I’m neutral hair, neutral eyes and neutral skin and maybe medium high contrast. This is huge!!!
So glad that this has helped – I wish that everyone who does colour analysis is trained in contrast – but sadly they aren’t. It was something I discovered just by looking at my clients over time and thinking about harmony and replication which is where you get the most flattering look. The longer I’ve done this the more I realise that contrast is super important and you can’t box all “winter’s into the same high contrast box!
All the color and value contrast posts got me confused and sad for a bit until I read this one. Thanks for posting it. I’m soft, cool, and light (level 7 natural ash blonde, medium gray eyes medium-fair pink-beige skin), but I feel bland and boring in low to medium color and value contrast. I’m going to stick with my high contrast outfits. This website has really helped me refine my preferences and my wardrobe. Thanks so much.
It’s important to always include your personality in this to ensure that you feel like the best version of you.
As I was getting dressed today I wondered if i interpreted my color and contrasts incorrectly. I thought light color and low contrasts (color and value), but maybe some of that is actually medium.
I feel invisible in light low contrast (e.g. light blue top, light tan pants), but I was happy to wear a medium color low contrast outfit today (this sweater with blue jeans of similar value):
Dark colors are the ones I always want to make into high contrast outfits (e.g. navy shirt, white pants).
Where do you draw the line between light and medium colored with darker blonde caucasians?
Your value contrast is medium (not low) so a light low contrast is wrong for you) remember ideal value is different from contrast too – so overall light colours won’t work as well for you as medium value (your hair is medium value) https://insideoutstyleblog.com/2017/03/contrast-colour-value.html may help you. When it sits around a 6 on the value scale it’s medium, 7, 8, 9 is lighter 5-6 is medium 1, 2, 3, 4 is dark.
Extremely helpful. This exams why I don’t like certain garments and overall looks. Contrast and value were the las bits of information to fall into place, and I feel like I can now sucessfully edit and plan my wardrobe and be happy with it. Thanks so much for confirming!
Great that this has helped you put another piece of the style puzzle together!
This is so interesting, and one of the first color things I’ve done that has an actual answer. I’m dark blonde (neutral medium) with cool ivory skin (fair neutral) skin and blue eyes (medium deep contrast). I converted my eyes picture to grayscale to get the contrast – hopefully that was right! So I think that makes me low/medium color contrast and high contrast. This must be why I tend to prefer to wear a light shirt with dark pants and stick to white, black, and navy for colors? As for personality, I like to look fashiony but am not outgoing in large crowds unless I’m drinking, LOL.
If you only have dark blond hair and blue eyes and fair skin – you will be medium value contrast (if you had black hair – that would make you high-value contrast – most grey scale tools overdo the contrast to make the photo more interesting!). As far as liking neutrals goes – this is more commonly found as part of the classic personality dressing style – have a look here https://insideoutstyleblog.com/2018/03/colour-personality-guide.html