Rich, Warm & Inviting Brown

The women’s fashion magazines tend to present a fashion trend as a fait accompli, usually without much explanation of the source of the trend.

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Consider the resurgence of the color brown in fashion. “Layer with abandon in made-to-mix shades of brown” urges the October 2017 issue of Marie Claire.

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And: “Perk up basic black with chocolate-brown pieces in luxe-feeling textures,” from the same issue of Marie Claire.

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Current women’s styles reflecting a menswear influence and the fine woolens and other fabrics typical of menswear are, no doubt, part of the reason for the renewed interest in hues of brown. The color features prominently in this fashion spread from the October 2017 issue of InStyle.

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The October 2017 issue of Esquire takes an analytical approach to its discussion of the new popularity of shade of brown. In an article titled “That ’70s Color,” Max Prince writes about the trend and theorizes an explanation for its current popularity. Prince considers not only autumnal looks in menswear for men, but also the embrace of the “warm, inviting shade” in vehicles, hotels and even the re-introduction of the classic brown uniform of the San Diego Padres. About vehicles, he writes: “Just this year, fresh metal from Mercedes-Benz, MBW, Infiniti, and Volvo all turned up dripping in umber. Porsche and Lincoln also added new browns this year, while Bentley’s current portfolio features a half-dozen riffs on the color.”

“Why now?” Prince responds:  “It’s anti-tech. Designers are fomenting insurrection against the monochromatic status quo. Consumers want something that’s the opposite of the gadgets that have infiltrated their lives.”

While “sonic blues, candy reds and radioactive yellows” accomplish a break out of the doldrums, “these are blunt, basic tools,” writes Prince. “Brown is richer. It’s smart without being obvious, bold without being ostentatious.”

Prince concludes that “pulling off brown, whether it’s a tux or a velvet sofa or a chronometer, requires a certain confidence. It’s still a relative niche (acquired tastes always are), but the subtext is deliciously subversive.”

And you thought browns were cool because they complemented and brought attention to your eyes or hair color. Perhaps you’ve had your colors done and have concluded that you are an “Autumn” who looks great in umber hues. In a world of stainless steel appliances and the perennial popularity of head-to-toe black fashions, brown can indeed be viewed as not only rich, warm and inviting, but also delightfully and “deliciously subversive.”

The Elegance of Tone-on-Tone Dressing

Last month in my blog I celebrated the exuberance of mixing prints and colors, a most creative means of self-expression. This month I celebrate the return of perhaps the most elegant means of self-expression through fashion: tone-on-tone dressing.

Many if not most women find wearing head-to-toe black, accented with nothing more than the warm or cool metal of jewelry, a sophisticated look. Mixing black pieces is easy to do, as the subtle variations in shades of black rarely read as a mismatch. Black-on-black is sometimes considered the epitome of city dressing.

Wearing another head-to-toe color is more challenging and decidedly more expensive, but the efforts and expense can be worthwhile. Two hues represent the pinnacle of tone-on-tone dressing this season:  camel, and wine or burgundy.

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The gentle hues of camel soften the look of menswear-inspired suiting in this look from Max Mara pictured in the September 2017 issue of InStyle.

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Extending the tone-on-tone dressing to outerwear heightens the sophisticated look of a camel-hued Hermes ensemble. The ensemble is given a modern twist with darker sandals worn with camel socks, pictured in the September 2017 issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

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The influence of street style is also seen in this styling of a wine-hued Max Mara look by actress Zoey Deutch in the October 2017 issue of Los Angeles Magazine.

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Elegant, cozy comfort in beautiful burgundy hues is captured in this seasonal ad from Max Mara.

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Lest you think it can be a challenge to go head-to-toe matchy-matchy, rest assured — it can be. However, as this spread from the September 2017 issue of Harper’s  Bazaar illustrates, the time to find matching accessories is now, while these colors are on-trend. From shoes, handbags and purses, to delightful burgundy-accented jewelry, a favorite color can be repeated and emphasized with even the smallest details of an ensemble. The end result will look expensive, sophisticated, and decidedly elegant.

Getting the Max from Maximalist Fashion

As stated in the September 2017 issue of InStyle magazine:  “The latest way to express yourself? However you damn well please.”

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Or put another way, also quoted in the magazine, picturing two over-the-top looks by Gucci, “Getting dressed has never been such a party.”

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The looks are conversation starters, to be sure, but keep in mind that the conversation will be largely about the clothes. Authentic personal expression should be the foundation for every such display of exuberant dress. If the look makes you feel joyful, go for it. That excitement will come through in those conversations the clothes start.

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A variation on the theme utilizes animal prints as the main component of an ensemble. Eye-catching, to be sure, but the wearer can get lost in all those feline motifs. Be mindful that animal prints are a sexy motif and can easily overwhelm one’s personal style.

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In a fashion spread celebrating the art of embroidered fashions in the August issue of InStyle, actress Camilla Belle remarks: “It might seem too busy or colorful at first, but somehow it just works.”

Trust your instincts. If you get lost in your ensemble so that it is wearing you, give that maximalist look a pass. On the other hand, if the exuberance of the ensemble makes you smile from ear to ear, go for it!  Don’t be afraid to break a few rules. Celebrate! Have fun with fashion.

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How Not to Flatter High-Contrast Beauty

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The E! Entertainment “Fashion Police”weren’t kind to actress Rooney Mara relative to her choice of gown for the 2016 Golden Globes. Although stylist Brad Goreski defended the choice, noting that the dress was an iconic selection based upon a design from Alexander McQueen’s archives, the stylistic importance of the dress was visually outweighed by how unflattering it was on the actress.

Mara is a stunning beauty, reminding one perhaps of Audrey Hepburn. The contrast between her fair skin and dark hair gives her dramatic beauty that calls for equally dramatic fashion to spotlight it. The Alexander McQueen gown made her appear washed out and frankly a bit sad.

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Interestingly, Mara appears in the January 2016 issue of InStyle wearing another Alexander McQueen design in another pale neutral color, equally unflattering. Note the gown on actress Elle Fanning, whose photo appears next to Mara’s above. Fanning, a lovely blonde with much less contrast in hair and skin color, likely would have looked stunning in the McQueen dress, while Mara would have beautifully carried off the high-contrast black and white ruffled Emilio Pucci gown worn by Fanning.

In choosing a red carpet gown (or any look, for that matter), the flattering fit of the garment is paramount. Similarly important is the choice of color. Consider the level of contrast of your own personal colors in choosing a look. The more contrast between your hair and skin color, the more contrast in the colors of the garments you choose will be appealing on you.  If you are pale with light hair or have dark skin and dark hair, your level of contrast is low.  If you are either pale or dark in skin tone and have dark blonde or medium brown hair, your level of contrast is medium, calling for colors are neither end of the light/dark spectrum.

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The 2016 Golden Globes present other examples of color choices on high-contrast beauties. The first pictures the beautiful actress Amanda Peet in an unflattering neutral gown.

Contrast that look with the effect of the vibrant dress on the lovely actress Michaela Watkins. That is a gown that spotlights her dramatic high-contrast beauty.

 

 

The Best Hues for Summertime Pale Skin

The June 2014 issue of InStyle magazine fields a reader’s question:  “I’m pale, and I don’t like to self-tan. How can I still show a bit of skin in the summer?”

At first blush (pardon the pun), the question would seem to call for a discussion of sunscreen, hats and protective clothing. Rather than focus on protecting and celebrating the beauty of very fair skin, the magazine takes a different tack in its published response:

“If you’re feeling self-conscious, skip the mini and go for a midi-length skirt or dress. Take a cue from Michelle Dockery’s bold plaid sheath, and look for a style in warm shades of red, yellow, or orange. Those colors radiate a glow that will nicely complement your fair complexion.”

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Putting aside the point that midi-length skirts are about covering up, not about showing skin, as the reader wants to do, the response is incomplete and seems particularly misguided in advising the reader on what colors to wear.

There are two issues here. If the reader has cool-toned skin (with pink or blue undertones), warm shades of red, yellow or orange can make her look off-color and pale in a rather sickly way. But even if the reader has warm-toned fair skin (with yellow or peach undertones), the colors recommended by InStyle may be too vibrant.

If yellow gold jewelry, particularly high-karat 22kt or 18kt yellow gold, looks harsh against your skin and you find you prefer silver, white gold or platinum, you almost certainly have cool-toned skin. If your skin is pale, your best version of red is likely to be a medium or soft cool pink or coral color. Coral has both pink and orange in the mix and may also be an attractive option.

Beyond hue, consider the intensity of the color. If your hair is light brown, blonde or grey, there is probably not a high level of contrast in your personal coloring between your skin color and your hair color. Choosing tone-on-tone shades of white, ivory, beige, taupe or khaki may be a stunningly attractive choice for you.

Michelle Dockery’s coloring is high-contrast. She can wear the bright plaid because the viewer will not lose sight of the woman wearing the vibrant hues. Her dark hair and eyes contrasting with her light skin provide the framework for the intense color. Note too that she wears bright lipstick and noticeable blush on her cheeks to allow her to carry off wearing the intensely warm hues.

When it comes to choosing colors, find your best hues and learn why they work best for you. In choosing your best summer color, orange may not be your next black.

Rethinking the Pop of Color

Sometime over the last year or so, a new catch phrase became a fashion favorite for professional and would-be stylists: add a “pop of color” to an ensemble to make it interesting. The catch phrase became the stylistic rationale for adding shocks of color to otherwise coordinated looks, and typically justified the inclusion of a vibrantly hued accessory such as a pair of shoes, a belt or a bag.

Suppose you find a bag that you absolutely love in a vivid shade of lemon yellow, a fabulous red belt, or shoes irresistible in Kelly green. How can you make the pop of color work?

The addition of a hue to an ensemble works best when it is repeated elsewhere in the ensemble, because repetition provides a pleasing sense of visual harmony. Reds, pinks and corals often coordinate with lipstick. Nail polish this season is all about bold color, and can easily repeat or approximate an accessory’s hue. Gemstones set in jewelry also can be selected to coordinate with the favored color.  This season is all about prints, and finding a print that repeats the color is easily accomplished.

If you are determined to utilize a single pop of color, consider its visual effect. Where does the pop of color draw the eye?

Illustration:  From the July 2012 issue of Lucky magazine, here’s a photo of Leighton Meester in a dress from BCBG Max Azria in neutral hues with a pop of color that draws attention to her waist.

Shoes draw all eyes downward, so  if you’re thinking about a pop of color via your shoes, consider whether your feet is where you want people to be looking. If you have great legs and want the eye to sweep down over them, great. Otherwise, the effect suggests fashion victim rather than creative chic. A vivid belt accents a waistline. A bag, since it is held, is the most flexible pop of color, since it is entirely independent of your body. However, the bag should have the same level of refinement and coordinate with the overall style aesthetic of your ensemble, or it will just look as though you forgot to switch out your purses.

Quite aside from the styling advice, it’s time to let the phrase “pop of color” go. When a laundry detergent picks up on a fashion catch phrase, you know it’s well past its “use by” date.

Styling Perfection: Nuances of Color

Every so often I come across a photograph of a fashion styling that stops me in my tracks. Savannah Guthrie, NBC-TV’s Today‘s new anchor, looks phenomenal in this photograph published in People magazine, wearing a dress by David Meister and earrings by Kimberly McDonald, styled by Stacey Kalchman.

The color of the dress is perfection with Guthrie’s eyes, bringing out their arresting color. The vee of the neckline of her dress is an ideal depth, coming to Guthrie’s first balance point. The subtle weave of the dress repeats the nuances of color seen in Guthrie’s hair, the warm yellow being a near-complementary color to the blue hues.

And the earrings — if you ever wonder why I encourage my clients to seek the perfect pair of earrings, here is a demonstration of why. The colors of the earrings pick up the hues from Guthrie’s eyes as well as those in her hair. The shape of the earrings subtly reflects the vee neckline of the dress. The center stone is an eye-catching natural beauty, full of mystery and nuance. The earrings sit on her ear lobes in an appropriately professional style, bringing attention up to Guthrie’s face. And the diamonds surrounding the center stone add a touch of dazzle, the perfect accessory for a rising star.

Watch for opportunities to attend jewelry trunk shows, where you can see the full line of designs and colors from a designer. Try on different designs and observe what styles are most flattering to you. If you’re not sure where to start, engage the services of a professional image consultant to help you determine your best colors and to point out the nuances of design in your own person. It is those nuances that make you individually and beautifully you.

Terrific Turquoise – Colors That Work – Guest Post by Babe Hope

It’s not accidental that the background color of my blog is turquoise blue . I chose the color because turquoise is a serene color, reminiscent of tropical lagoons, a color that invites one to relax and stay a while, and at the same time a color that has a vibrancy that energizes and encourages engagement.

Today I’m pleased to offer my readers a guest blog post from Babe Hope, who blogs for the web site www.ullapopken.com. Ulla Popken’s mission is “to offer plus size women exclusively-designed, stylish merchandise of finer quality with the most consistent fit” and, at the same time, to “exceed customer expectations making women look and feel their most beautiful at a fair price.” In her guest post here on www.trulybecoming.com, Babe provides her take on a key reason that turquoise is a perennial favorite.

Please enjoy Babe’s post and read on for a special giveaway that may enable you to enjoy a bit of the color turquoise, or whatever is your favorite hue.

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Colors That Work – a Guest Post by Babe Hope of UllaPopken.com  

Do you select colors that you love to look at or colors that flatter your face? Well, how about a color that does both?

Check out Ulla Popken’s Embroidered Beaded Tunic,#22435, terrifically turquoise. The color is absolutely gorgeous and it is a universally flattering color. How can this be so?

Colors on opposite sides of the color wheel enhance each other, which is why strawberries pop and look so delicious packaged in green containers. This shade of turquoise is just about the ‘color-wheel opposite’ of pink–playing up a healthy blush in the skin, regardless of your complexion tone. Both light and dark, warm or cool skin tones have underlying or obvious shades of pink. That is why this color flatters everyone. Furthermore, this color is also versatile, it works for three of the four seasons and can be paired with all neutrals, black, brown, khaki, white and of course jeans.

Oh, and did I mention the fabric? The fabric is richly textured, 100% cotton, so soft to the touch but has enough weight to drape well. The notched neckline and sleeve hem are intricately embroidered with bronze-toned beading. The fit is relaxed and the length is 32 inches. Ahhhh!

Wrap yourself in turquoise, day or night, and bring out the blush in your cheeks.

About Babe Hope:

Babe Hope is the author of Pretty Plus: How to Look Sexy, Sensational and Successful No Matter What You Weigh. She has written numerous articles, appeared on dozens of radio shows and videos and consulted to several specialty apparel retailers, sharing her tips on how to feel good in what you wear. A plus size woman all her life, Babe turned the ‘pity party’ into a ‘pretty party’ fifteen years ago and has been a stylist and personal shopper for women of all shapes and sizes. She is currently a blogger, stylist and model for Ulla Popken and fully embraces Ulla’s spirit: ‘Feeling beautiful is empowering.’

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Ulla Popken’s Tunic Giveaway to One Lucky TrulyBecoming.com Reader:

Ulla Popken has beautiful tunics in sizes from 12 to 38 and will give away a tunic to one lucky reader of the TrulyBecoming.com blog who posts a comment to this blog post during the month of June, 2012. To enter the contest, please visit ullapopken.com. Choose the tunic you’d most like to have and make note of its name and item number. Then come back to trulybecoming.com and tell us in a comment to this blog post how the tunic would expand your wardrobe options and why you’d like to have it. Be sure to include the name and item number of your choice in your comment.

Please post your comment below and be sure to provide your name and email address as requested. Your last name and email address will not be published with your comment, as all comments are moderated. All comments are subject to being edited for length.

The contest runs through 11:59 p.m. on June 30, 2012. Comments will be judged based upon the thoughtfulness and clarity of the comments posted.. The lucky winner will be contacted via the email address provided, and the winner will have ONE week to claim the prize, after which time it will be awarded to another entrant. If the winner’s choice of tunic is no longer available in her size on ullapopken.com, the site may substitute a garment of similar value.

This giveaway is open to persons 18 years of age or older living in the United States, and is void where prohibited by law.