Pattern & Contrast: Silver Transition Part 4

Thank you all for being so tolerant of my forum bombing today. I'm getting this done now so we can all focus on NAS!! 

So -- to begin: Imogen Lamport has a really interesting series on her blog about value and colour contrast. This "real life examples" post lays it all out in very explicit terms.   

There's much to learn here and I encourage you to read if you are interested. There are several more posts in the series and whether you agree with her analysis or not, it's incredibly educational to read it. 

Anyway, I linked specifically to a woman whose colouring is rather similar to my new reality-- grey hair, blue eyes, neutral skin. 

Pre-transition, with dark blonde hair and fair skin and dark blue eyes, I was medium to light value contrast -- and medium colour contrast -- because my hair was less a neutral than a colour (yellowish). 

Now I take myself to be medium value contrast, and low colour contrast. Theoretically I should look best in medium contrast outfits that combine my best (medium to light) neutrals with one colour - probably a medium value colour. 

In reality, I think I now look good in higher contrast outfits. By which I mean outfits that are high contrast in themselves, and outfits that are high contrast to my mostly lighter colouring (e.g. "ink out" or navy). I think I also look pretty good in all light outfits esp. if they incorporate shine, and I look good in a light neutral or dark neutral paired with a medium toned neutral or colour. .

Outfits that were all medium toned and higher colour contrast used to look really great on me. Now, not so much. Medium to light toned blues used to be among my best colours -- now they are "okay" but not spectacular. A richer, brighter or deeper colour seems to look better most of the time. 

Also, the kinds of patterns that work has changed. 

I think the scale and shapes of my best patterns probably remains similar. 

But remember I said I prefer patterns with white or grey in them now? That's because they pick up the tones in my hair. If the pattern is navy and white or grey and white with one colour (esp. blue), it's picking up on all my own dominant tones, so it is going to feel harmonious on me. 

Meanwhile, patterns that are all colour (some that I used to love) suddenly feel like "too much" going on as well as too attention grabbing with my variegated hair colour that is pretty much neutral. 

I'm not sure this is making any sense, but here are two tops that I put in the holding zone after I went grey. 

I've brought them out again, and feel more accepting of them now that I have had some time to get used to the new colour. But I think I will probably pass them on after this year. Sad, because they were fabulous silk summer tops! 

Thank you so much for indulging me in this long series. I hope at least something here will prove useful to some of the rest of you. And anyone who has specific questions, feel free to ask. 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Column replied 4 years ago

    And I mean this in the MOST supportive way: I think you are just over-analyzing. These colors and patterns look GREAT on you--maybe even better than with the blonde. You can add more neutral (to your hair) tones in the future--but what if you want that bold pop of color to brighten your own (and others') day? Keep, keep, keep (and the proportions are perfect, too)!

  • Angie replied 4 years ago

    Personally, I think the patterns look even better with the grey hair. But if you're not feeling them, give bold patterns a rest until the mood strikes you again (because it will). 

  • Angie replied 4 years ago

    Chiming in again to say that I have a high affinity for colour and pattern mixing, which is why I might see it that way. 

  • MTBGirl replied 4 years ago

    I could be wrong, but IMHO I like these on you! I think I like #1 better and I like #2 just as much! 

  • Brooklyn replied 4 years ago

    No way Jose. That second green top looks even better on you that it did before and the other one looks just as good. Do not pass on!!!

  • Peri replied 4 years ago

    Yeah, I'm with the others. You look gorgeous and I don't get any issues with these patterns with your new hair. No reason to pass them up unless you really want to. 

  • Elizabeth P replied 4 years ago

    Agreed. You're wrong, Suz. :)
    These look fabulous on you. Give them some time, don't pass on just yet.

  • Karie replied 4 years ago

    Count me as another one who thinks these look lovely with your new hair color! The green one adds a wonderful burst of color that brightens you and makes you glow. Gorgeous!

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Aww. Thank you!

    Well, it just goes to show that leaving things in a holding zone is a good idea sometimes. They felt all wrong at first, but when I tried them 6 weeks into the new grey, I felt they were good enough to keep. And I will. 

    I think the green one is a good intensity (and two good colours) for me, and I think the J. Crew floral looks good now as long as I pair it with white instead of another colour (blue). But that's easy enough to do since I have a lot of white bottoms in my closet. 

    You are all the best. Onwards! 

  • replied 4 years ago

    I'm totally confused - but admit I got lost half-way through the analysis :) (I'm not that deep - or can't get into the high-low value-contrast theory)     These two tops look better to me now than they did on your former self. And they both looked great then.  I'm not quite seeing your colour theories as you are, but I'm not the one wearing them.  Don't toss those tops - you'll be sorrrrrry. I'm imagining g them both with dark jeans and a your white denim jacket.  

  • tulle replied 4 years ago

    Chiming in with one more vote to keep these.  They both look like high-contrast to me, especially with the white pants--and I'm not a much of a pattern wearer, so this not is not a personal preference.  Just looking at your face, especially in the green top, I think you look marvelous.

  • jenanded replied 4 years ago

    Yes love the green top too...

  • Sal replied 4 years ago

    Yes I was going to write what everyone else did....I love these both on you.

  • AviaMariah replied 4 years ago

    I really like those tops with your hair.

  • AviaMariah replied 4 years ago

    Sorry if this is a double post. I really love those tops on you right now. I think they look dramatic and fresh. Maybe you're just feeling a style shift all together?

  • deb replied 4 years ago

    Ok, I see what you mean about the first top but I really think you should keep the green one until next year. I appreciate all of these posts broken up because it gives me time to ponder. From all of this I have decided you need to stick to cool colors. That is why the first top seems off. It is not really the pattern but, the warm pink color that makes it 'off'.

  • Beth Ann replied 4 years ago

    I love the angles in the green print -- I feel they echo your hair.  This top has all the boldness of your new look.

    The first top -- well, I'm a sucker for these kind of florals.  It isn't as bold in color or style of print.  Still -- there is a time for such a pretty look, and I think pairing with white is a great solution for adjusting to your new colouring!

  • Lyn D. replied 4 years ago

    Another like for both tops Suz!
    However I know that subtle colour differences can make things feel 'off'.
    I am finding that off-white is just 'OK' now with cooler grey in my hair, whereas white is looking better to my eye, so you might be noticing this in the floral top.

  • shevia replied 4 years ago

    I think you are seeing through the lense of your style shift rather than flattery if that makes sense. These tops may align less well than other things with the look you want. Both look terrific, but lots of things could look great on you, now you must choose which to wear :) !

  • Summer replied 4 years ago

    I found Imogen's value and contrast posts really informative, although I find I have to keep referring back to them as I can't keep all that information in my head!  Your preference for high contrast might stem more from your personality than from  the prescribed guidelines for your particular colouring.

    I think I understand your feelings about pattern, but please don't pass on the green top: it looks lovely on you.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    These are really good points -- thank you. I think Deb put her finger on it about the first floral top. It is slightly too "warm" for me. Only slightly -- but just enough. 

    J. Crew's colours often skew a little bit towards the "spring" palette, which used to be a little easier for me to pull off with blonde hair. They are brighter, a bit warmer, sometimes sour, usually very clear. Much, much harder for me to wear the warmth now, although "clear" is probably better than before. 

    The green has a great pattern, yes, and it's also gorgeous quality silk, so I'll keep it for sure. It's long lived in my closet. 

  • Thirkellgirl replied 4 years ago

    I think they both look better with your silver hair than they did when you were a blonde. The first top complements your lovely skin so much! The second one, as Beth Ann said, looks modern to me, and I agree I'd like to see it with dark jeans and a white topper.

  • Joy replied 4 years ago

    Please keep these tops, especially the first one. I need to look at all your photos on my desk top for a better view,
    I went through Imogene's free series that gets emailed to you, but found that it was more analysis than I wanted to deal with. One needs to have lots of self knowledge before they start. I think you are right that patterns that include hair and eye colors are best.
    What I have eliminated are large high-contrast patterns in dresses. They overwhelm me but that is probably more due to my body size than color contrast. However, the same garment and pattern in low/medium contrast colors would probably still work well. If the pattern is just on a skirt or top, it seems ok. What I parted with were dresses in big florals...white on navy and orange on olive.

  • Alassë replied 4 years ago

    I think the green top looks great on you with the new hair, so I'm glad you're keeping it for a bit.

  • texstyle replied 4 years ago

    Whew - glad you decided to keep those great tops, they look fab on you and it would be a shame to let them go.

  • texstyle replied 4 years ago

    Also, you seem to have more color and more contrast than the example woman in Imogen's article. Your hair has more depth, your eyes seem deeper in color and your skin tone and lip color is also more colorful than hers.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Tex, that's an interesting observation. I think I do probably have more inherent contrast. I am not sure about colour but that could also be true. 

  • Chris987 replied 4 years ago

    Keep, keep, keep!

    And I want to thank you enormously for the postings on this topic. My coloring is very much like your "old" self and I am really just starting to explore the whole color/contrast topic. I know what colors I do and don't like to wear but can see that I could dig MUCH deeper.

    Also, can you remind me which of your  postings had a description of the results you got when you had your colors done? I know I've seen it but I don't remember which one it was.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Chris, I'm not sure which posting it was, but I was called a "true summer" -- to the analyst's surprise. (She thought I was an autumn when I walked in, and then a spring, and then tried light summer....ha.) 

    The thing is, "true summer" wasn't quite right, either. She had to rip almost all of true summer's lighter colours out of the wallet because they didn't suit me, and replace them with colours from what they call the "cool" palette, which is somewhere between summer and winter. 

    I never looked great in pastels with the exception of specific pale pinks, and pale blues. Now I look even worse in the pastels, I think. 

    I would probably be correctly classified as a "cool" -- that interim between summer and winter. 

  • Chris987 replied 4 years ago

    Ok, thanks Suz!

  • Vicki replied 4 years ago

    I must look at this link. I didn't see it posted here, but I'm on my phone and I also kept seeing nofollow inserted throughout.

    I actually like both tops on you very much with your new hair color, Suz. Striking is the word that comes to mind.

    I'm a bit like Lisap and I have to take some time reading through this color contrast theory.

    Bottom line is that I love the new you.

  • RobinF replied 4 years ago

    Very interesting article about contrast, it does explain a lot. I feel like I look better in contrast and according to this I do, because of my pale face and dark hair. That could make a major difference when I go gray. Anyway, I like both of these on the new you but maybe just slightly better on the old you. Definitely can still wear them though! I agree, keep!

  • tulle replied 4 years ago

    I think you're absolutely right about J. Crew colors, Suz.  They do have that appealing Spring brightness--bold, fresh and slightly offbeat.  They look great in a catalog, but I must be careful not to respond only to the photography, because most of these colors overwhelm my muted Summer coloring. I find their blues safer (except for the highly saturated peacock and ultramarine shades) than their acidic greens and yellows, and those eye-popping reds that Angie wears so well.  That said, I have the impression that your new silvery look is moving you from Summer toward Winter's more defined palette.  Are you finding Winter colors more flattering these days?

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Tulle, I think you are right and it's quite surprising! Who would have thought it? 

    The ultra saturated colours of a clear winter and the super darks of a dark winter are too much. I could be a "cool winter" or what some systems seem to call a "summer winter" or a "snowfrost winter." Who knows?  ;) 


    In any case, I'm definitely finding more saturated tones more flattering, apart from silver, grey, and white, which still work. 

  • Ledonna N. replied 4 years ago

    Hey Suz, I have read every single post and as always love your in depth analysis on Hair and its transition from one to another and how your style or fashion may dictate what and how you were your clothing. I love you in pattern but then again I'm pretty envious of your beautiful wadrobe. Lol thanks again now I'm off to read Imogene and her blog post.

  • replied 4 years ago

    I think YOU look better somehow with your real hair color, even fresher, the contrast between your hair color and your shining skin makes you look like you went prematurely grey and had the self confidence to just roll with it.

    So that overshadows my opinion of the tops, they both look even better now, but, between the two I much prefer the first because it's more connected to your coloring, the second is more of a surface treatment, more "applied" looking.

  • Momo replied 4 years ago

    I am most sure about the contrast and so forth ( sorry my brain has trouble with all that ) but you look amazing! Truly. Love the tops on you .

  • replied 4 years ago

    I don't think anyone over analyzes colors more than I do. I think you look GREAT in those colors. I, too, am trying to brighten up my wardrobe. I think I went too muted with my colors. It's good to get others' opinions, though. That's what I try to do. Anyway, I think Angie's opinion carries a lot of weight, and she says you look fab. :)

  • MsGreer replied 4 years ago

    do love the Green and looks great on you. Very eye catching contrast with the white. Both are cute but love this shade of Green on white!

  • Cococat replied 4 years ago

    The in-depth colour analysis is too complex for my tiny brain, lol...but Suz, I've been meaning to post...when I was away on my cruise with my sis, we were talking about pixie cuts and how she would like one. I bought out my iPad and showed her some of your recent photos (I thought that you wouldn't mind) and she was BLOWN AWAY at how fabulous you looked.

    You really made an impact with your style and you have inspired her to try something similar.

  • Suz replied 4 years ago

    Wow, you are joking! Thank you for telling me, Coco -- that's amazing!! And of course I don't mind. I'm just kind of shocked, is all! 

  • Cococat replied 4 years ago

    No I'm not joking. She thought you looking fab before your new pixie but fell in love with your new look!

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