There are so many components to our concern about style: Am I normal? Am I in line with what’s expected of a grown woman doing business? Do I look like a fool because I want to wear ballet slippers with an evening gown? I don’t look glamorous enough. Why can’t I be myself? I’m afraid to be myself… And all that sort of thing.
The photo above is a ‘selfie’ from about five years ago. I love this picture of me pretending to be in a romantic (albeit make-believe) time. Sometimes I wish I had the nerve to wear head coverings like this downtown. It would be a lot of fun if I weren’t worried that no one would take me seriously.
One time I read the personal journeys of a number of personal color analysts. Almost all of them had been placed in wrong ‘seasonal color’ categories at different points of their lives. Many of them had been wrongly analyzed multiple times. I was astounded at the incredible amounts of money and time all of them had lost in an endeavor that is supposed to save you money. Some of them had discarded several wardrobes, one after the other.
Color and image analysis has come a long way in the last 40 years, admittedly. But even so, I’m still staggered at the number of people dissatisfied after getting their colors done. For all the bother, my friends and I can wrongly analyze ourselves for the same loss of money (and have!!!). Unlike most of them, I never finished getting my personal colors done by a ‘professional’ (whatever that means–some are really great and some are so-so). But the personal struggle to get it right, coupled with sharing their collective experiences, has had the happy result of pushing me perhaps into a more creative direction with the topic.
Somehow I gained confidence, in spite of my limitations. Once that happened, something else happened, too. I discovered the actual nature of beauty: It is not random at all, neither is is merely ‘in the eye of the beholder’. Beauty is a pleasing order of arrangement. The key word is order. Order is not a popular word nowadays because it indicates the presence of restraint. That raises some people’s hackles: Who is anyone to say what is beautiful?
Certainly, individual persons admire some types of beauty more than others. But the fact of beauty is not random. Beauty itself may be lively, vague, somber, shadowy, misty, scary, or whatever else, but it is never, ever chaotic. The pattern we discern in an arrangement is precisely the reason we are able to pronounce it . . . ‘beautiful’.
One day I was struggling with the seeming conflicts of time, space, opportunity, and limitation in my efforts to find ‘the beautiful’ and apply that to my own life. One opportunity seemed to cancel out another. Then suddenly I saw how a person could navigate the whole of these things at once. I don’t know how I saw it, but I just know I saw it. I don’t even know if I can make anyone else see it now, but I’d like to try.
One day I started seeing every ‘wrong-ness’ with new eyes. I’d started reclaiming clothing pieces I’d previously rejected because I didn’t know how to work around them. When it came time to paint my house, I was stumped because the color of our bricks was ‘wrong’, and I really loved a color that didn’t go with them. After becoming familiarized with the properties of colors, I was able to assist my artist husband in creating an exterior house color that I loved and that also went with the ‘wrong’ color bricks. It has been so successful that people pause on the street just to look at it, some have tried to copy it, and a few have come to my husband for advice on how to create their own exterior house colors.
At the same time, I had an idea of how I wanted to repaint our home interior. We have a lot of interesting but problematic spaces. We created two interior colors the same way, and will soon create a third to harmonize. In the middle of this process, I started decluttering and reorganizing our house. Our living space began to change. I didn’t know where this was going, but I didn’t need a detailed master plan. I just needed something very general. The little issues (which were numerous!) began to work themselves out. Every resolution seemed to hold the key for the next adjoining problem.
The world felt like a constantly changing stage set. Within the limitations of choice, time and circumstance, our environment was expanding aesthetically. Our enthusiasm began to spread to our neighbors, who started changing their houses, which began to change the neighborhood.
I couldn’t articulate what happened at the time, but I think I can now. Real aesthetic freedom comes from within a context. What seem to be restrictions in the environment are actually guides as to what role a color, a treatment, a fabric need to play in order to be effective. You cannot change your environment; you can change how you interact with it. I found this concept to be true in conditions involving house and weather, clothing and body shape, colors and temperament, and many other situations.
I hope the blog posts and resources I offer will help you to understand your own lifestyle and aesthetic needs within the context of your environment. If you want to be perfect like a statue, this is not the place. But if you want to become more interesting, creative, and free, then I hope you’ll stick around.