How to Create Dramatic Outfits When Your Most Flattering Colours are Soft and Smoky


Dear Imogen,

I would appreciate advice of some sort, if possible ๐Ÿ™‚ I have a dramatic personality, I love striking colours – but I have a soft, muted, low contrast, slightly warm colouring (โ€œIntriguingโ€).
Is there a way how to express my inner me in spite of this antagonism?

Thank you very much, you are the best!!

With warm regards ๐Ÿ™‚ Linda

This can be a tricky issue, not only because if you have had a lifetime of wearing brighter colours to find as you age that those colours no longer suit you them (read up here about how your colouring changes with age), and that those bright, bold and fun colours are now wearing you, rather than you wearing the colours.    There is a big mental shift to deal with, along with finding the colours that now make you shine and you the star (rather than your outfit taking all the glory and you disappearing into the background).  

One thing I always remind my clients, just because a colour may not suit you to wear, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it in your life.  You can decorate your house with it, purchase a car in that colour, get a phone cover in that colour, and use it in many ways in your life, just not wearing it on your body anymore.  

How do you make your more muted and smoky colours look more exciting and brighter?  

How to Make Your Colours Pop

How to make more muted colours look brighter and more exciting

The most simple way to make colours appear brighter is to go for a higher contrast – a higher value contrast or a higher colour contrast.  In this example above, you can see how choosing a complementary colour (that’s an opposite colour on the colour wheel), rather than a monochromatic pairing, the colours appear more dynamic.

How to make more muted colours look brighter and more exciting

Why not choose a pattern or print instead of solids?  Again, using colour relationships (which I’ve talked about here) the more colours are different from each other (triads, split-complementary and complementary colours) the more vibrant the pattern appears.

How to make more muted colours look brighter and more exciting

If your personality is more dramatic there are also other factors to consider that will make your outfit feel bolder and more like you.

Scale of the Print

The larger the scale of the print, the bolder and more dramatic it appears.  It also will highlight any colour relationships that exist in the print as well, making the colours feel brighter.

Fabric Sheen

What kind of fabric the colour is on, also impacts how it appears.  A shiny fabric will make a colour look brighter, as light bounces off it, whilst a matte fabric will absorb light and so not appear as bright or bold.

Background Colour

In a print, a darker background colour makes the value contrast appear higher than a light background.

How to make more muted colours look brighter and more exciting

Don’t forget, that there are lots of ways to add drama to an outfit, without it having to be in bright and vibrant colours.

There are also dramatic construction elements to include in your outfits:

  • Sharper cuts and structured garments.  
  • Bolder or larger scale elements of design
  • Shiny fabrics
  • Shiny accessories
  • Statement accessories
  • Angular features on accessories

These are all simple ways to add drama to your outfit without having to wear an outfit in bright or bold colours that are no longer flattering (or maybe have never been flattering) to you.

Remember too that the Dramatic personality will break some of their style guidelines – in a way that reflects their personality – so going slightly higher in contrast to match your more Yang personality will work for you.  But wearing the colours that flatter you most will always make you look healthier and more alive than wearing the wrong palette.

More Tips on Dramatic Dressing and Making Colours Pop

8 Tips Rose Byrne Can Teach You About Adding Dramatic Style Elements to Your Outfits

Colour Personality – 3. Bold – Dramatic

How to Interpret and Choose Prints and Patterns For Your Personality

Fabric – How your Personality affects your choice of prints and patterns

How to Use a Colour Wheel to Create Outfits

How to Create Dramatic Outfits When Your Most Flattering Colours are Soft and Smoky


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  • Thanks Imogen, I feel like this article could have been written just for me! I have light and warm colouring but have always had a creative/rebellious/dramatic style personality. So many Pinterest boards for this colour palette are full of gamine/ingenue/Yin outfits, but I need more edge. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Thanks for another inspirational post. I have a similar issue, but in the opposite direction. My colouring is cool and dark, Dramatic/Elegant, but I’m drawn to the Elegant Chic style with it’s overall lighter feel. Could you please give me a recommendation and some outfit inspiration? Thanks in advance! Best regards!

    • YOu can wear the styles of Elegant chic in your elegant colours – you don’t have to do the whole lot – just choose the colours you love the most!

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