Thursday, May 26, 2011


Beige and oatmeal, chocolate, cocoa, sepia and camel.  Brown is the color of earth.  Brown connotes warmth, it is the essence of warmth.  Even “cold” browns (heavily mixed with grey) or rosey browns (mahogany) still read warmer than the colors that they are mixed with. 

Brown is the color of the hearth.   There are four families that are wholeheartedly neutral, in whatever shade – black, white, grey and brown.  Brown is the one that fades into the background most easily, and yet its darkest and “brightest” shades have the most punch.

Add brown to a color and you warm it and tone it down. 

Some women can wear brown beautifully, and some have trouble.  Using the CMB seasons, you’ll find that Autumns can live in brown – but Winters and Springs have to be very careful.  Summers wear rosy browns or grey-browns.  (This warrants a brief byplay – Winters are cool and clear, Summer is cool and soft, Spring is clear and warm, and Autumn is warm and soft ).

Winter has little brown - there is a black-brown, greige (a grey/beige blend) and taupe (similar).  Spring has camel (taken under advisement) and accessorizes well with brown, but doesn't wear it well as fabric (some say there is a golden-chocolate-brown that works well, I say if you find that fabric, buy the bolt, for you'll never see it again).  Summer can wear rose-brown, like mahogany, and some cold grey-browns.  Autumn can wear virtually any brown.  You'll see this when you hold the colors up to your skin.  As a Spring, I look positively ill in most browns.  My friend D... well, she's the one who introduced me to the possibility of brown being flattering and not merely neutral.  I remember a chocolate brown that made her skin look like it had just been dusted with gold ... amazing. 

How does that play out in real life?  I find, as a Spring who is allegedly able to wear “clear browns” that such a color is virtually impossible to find in dyed fabric.   When I want to harness the earthy neutral that is brown, I wear undyed linen – something nice and heathered with flecks of brown – and then I accessorize with leather or wood.  You’ll often find me in ivory doing the same thing.   "Natural" is often the way to wear colors that don't quite look well on you.  Leather, fur, undyed cloth - somehow they have a bit more life and depth than dyed goods, and that can save you.  (Honestly, "natural" is where it's at for most women).

If my mom, who is a Winter, wanted to wear brown, she’d probably wear one of her best neutrals and likewise accessorize, except that where I would use warm middle of the road colored wood, she’d be best off with ebony and bone. 

I think that really brings us to a good rule of thumb – if you’re trying to wear a color that’s not really “you” – blend it with colors that are.  My neutrals are ivory and charcoal, so that’s where I’d start.  Mom is black and white.  My daughter is off-white and grey, and she looks terrific in anything with a pink cast.  You can get the feel of the color that your heart wants without sacrificing the way you look in your clothes.  And that is something that we’ll discuss extensively tomorrow, when we talk about black.  If there is one thing that I have to fight with people about when it comes to showing them what works for them color-wise, it’s giving up the black!  We’ll go over that tomorrow J

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