I recently worked with a client who I helped begin the process of rebuilding her wardrobe after a long period of it not being a priority. Mrs. Vivacious, alias given to capture her lively, animated, and sparkling personality, has two young boys, one that was born during the COVID lockdown and, like many of you, let her wardrobe slip when the world closed which was only exacerbated by the fact that some of the clothes in her closet had been there at least a decade. As her energy went to everything else, I seem to recall words like husk or shell of her former self used when Mrs. Vivacious described herself during our initial call. There was a sense of urgency in Mrs. Vivacious’ need to reclaim not only who she was but who she has become.
Like me, Mrs. Vivacious lives in Brooklyn, only a little over a mile from me, and has a busy Brooklyn life that involves a lot of walking, riding her bike to work, and no real need for professional clothing. In fact, her work environment is one where clothes could easily get ruined. She also recognized it was time to start looking at some brands that worked with the age she is now and not brands she once heavily relied on. Every time a woman graduates into new brands be it due to lifestyle, body, or age change, it can be tricky to navigate. The mission would be to clear out the old with a closet edit, followed by me taking some time to do some online shopping to set Mrs. Vivacious in the right direction.
BUILDING A WARDROBE CAPSULE WHEN YOU CAN WEAR WARM AND COOL COLORS
When I work with clients in person, that first meeting is always interesting. I knock at their door, ready to get close and personal with someone I have only had one phone call and I don’t know what will greet me. More often than not, I am greeted by a smiling, welcoming face and that was very much the case with Mrs. Vivacious. Within minutes we were like old friends and it made digging into her closet a much more fun and pleasant experience that included a lot of laughs. Mrs. Vivacious was willing to be open, to laugh at her mental hangups, and put trust in my direction. As we worked through her wardrobe, I noticed a quality about Mrs. Vivacious’ coloring— she can wear both warm and cool colors equally well. Both mustard and bright sunny yellows looked just as good on her as cobalt and hot pink did and considering Mrs. Vivacious told me she is a huge fan of wearing color, this was quite helpful.
Yet the truth is, it’s quite rare that a person can straddle colors that fall into warm and cool families and wear them equally well. Sure, people can borrow a few colors from different seasons because all seasons share something in common with another season but to be able to bounce around so freely is much less common. When I was being trained to analyze colors, I was told that the most common coloring types that can wear both warm or cool colors are people of African American descent and people who are Black, similar to how all natural redheads will fall into an autumn palette. While I’m not a fan of generalizing any race or cultural group, from years of analyzing colors on clients, I have found this statement to be pretty accurate. Certainly, there is a whole spectrum of black skin tones that require closer analysis to confirm things like softness, clarity, depth, etc., but in these cases where warm and cool colors can be flattering, to help give direction to the client, the advice is to allow a client to decide which direction feels the most comfortable for them. This is most often decided by style and personal color preferences. I have had two clients with the exact same coloring where one chose all cool colors and the other went entirely warm.
This phenomenon can also sometimes occur with other people of color as well where their skin looks vibrant and bright when wearing bold, cool shades while warm colors also look rich and luxe. However, Mrs. Vivacious is not a person of color although, at first glance, I thought she was and assumed she was of South or East Asian descent. She has an olive skin tone, rich dark, nearly black hair, and deep brown eyes. Despite her ethnic-looking background, it was the characteristics of her coloring that made it possible to be among the lucky ones who can wear any color temperature she wants.
While this sounds incredibly liberating and envy-worthy, sometimes too many options can create chaos, indecision, and a disjointed wardrobe. If you can’t eliminate anything, how do you edit? Also, being such a fan of color that Mrs. Vivacious is, I didn’t want to limit her color options while at the same time I knew I needed to help her create a tight, workable wardrobe that a busy working mom of two young children could quickly navigate.
Mrs. Vivacious’ Selections
- Georgette Button-Front Mini Dress in Adorable Ditsy 2. Easy Overall Dress 3. Long-Sleeve Button-Front Mini Dress 4. Woven Mix Tiered Dress 5. Faux-suede high top sneakers 6. Natasha Sneakers 7. Embroidered Loafers 8. Becki Waterproof Bootie 9. Victory Waterproof Bootie 10. Kork-Ease Ryder 11. City Coat 12. Cavendish Skirt 13. Girlfriend Overalls 14. Pull-On Crop Pants in Corduroy 15. 9″ high-rise skinny jeggings 16. Abigail Puff Sleeve Jersey Top 17. Statement Breton 18. Floral Embroidered Puff-Sleeve Peplum Top 19. Boho Bordered Oblong Scarf 20. Clean Denim Jacket 21. Vintage Jean in Lunar Wash 22. Pintuck Sweatpant 23. Central Drapey Shirt 24. Tie-Front Bib Top in Indigo Floral 25. Square-Neck Top 26. Button-Down Denim Shirt Blouse 27. Vintage Cotton V-neck Tee 28. Women’s 50D Opaque Tights 29. Jasmine Sweatshirt 30. Long Sleeve Breton 31. Blouson Sleeve Blouse 32. Casual Loose Tunic Sweatshirt 33. Juliette Collarless Sweater-Blazer 34. Berkshire Coatigan 35. Striped Crewneck Sweater 36. Camel Crew Neck Sweater 37. Hot Pink Crew Neck Sweater 38. Cashmere Mockneck Sweater 39. Amethyst Cashmere Cuff Detail Cardigan 40. Carnelian Cashmere Cuff Detail Sweater 40. Cobalt Crew Neck Sweater 41. Merino Wool-Blend Turtleneck
It’s important to give some context around these selections I made for Mrs. Vivacious. While I was on board with everything I chose, I was not suggesting she buy all of it. Our work together was to include a closet edit and a few hours of shopping. We had no plans for a follow-up appointment for fall so I wanted to give her multiple options to choose from. And as good as I am at what I do, I can’t guarantee that all my selections will fit perfectly which makes it important I offer alternatives. So while everything mixes and matches, it wasn’t necessary for her to buy all of it for her wardrobe to be workable. This is why the next step I offered was a complete mix and match layout of my selections that could help assist her in choosing her buys. By doing this, she could see that if she liked one thing what the other key pieces would be to make her wardrobe feel well rounded.
You will see there are some cool brights along with some warm, rugged colors. But what connects these shades are neutrals. This is key because neutral colors, like black, grey, navy, and denim are like bridges that connect the colors from each side of the spectrum. The neutrals enable Mrs. Vicacious to jump from warm to cool outfits with ease.
What should also be noted about what was chosen is that they were pulled with Mrs. Vivacous’ lifestyle in mind. She lives a casual life in a walking city and bikes. In addition to that, silhouettes were chosen based on her body characteristics and style preferences.
Outfit Options Created From Mrs. Vivacious’ Selections
These are the outfits I created to help Mrs. Vivacious figure out which of my selections she wanted to purchase. To streamline the looks, I have shown multiple shoe and pant options where applicable. Be sure to scroll up to the capsule above if you are interested in shopping for any of these pieces for yourself.
My sincerest thanks to Mrs. Vivacious for allowing me to share our work and for our wonderful time together.
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Oh my — holy smokes! Thank you for so many outfits. Fabulous!!
Haha, thanks, Theresa!
Can we please stop perpetuating the myth that all natural redheads fall into the autumn palette… There are so many different shades of red hair and they come with different skin tones. I am a redhead and while there are some autumn colours that look good on me, cool tones (mostly from the winter palette) look best, and I look shockingly good in black (when I’m in mourning, suddenly people tell me I’ve never looked better) . I too am a bit of a mix of warm and cold colours, though dominantly cold. According to some of the “experts” out there, that should not even be possible, so thank you for mentioning this possibility. As to how it is possible, easily: my skin tone is rather neutral but so pale that the blue veins show through, but then there are some freckles on top. And voilà, there you have both cold and warm colours in one. Generally I’m not much of a fan of colour types, they are way too unprecise. We are all unique.
It’s actually not as much of a myth as you seem to think it is. Like you, even though I’m trained to analyze colors, I have never been a fan of pigeon-holing anyone firmly into one season because everyone can borrow because there are qualities of each season that other seasons share. That said, the qualities of what makes redheads most often autumnal have less to do with the variety of skin tones or hair colors that redheads have, it has more to do with the clarity and depth of coloring that tends to skew them this way. That said, autumn shades are warm, muted, and warm-based. Well, spring colors are warm-based, summer colors are muted and winter colors are deep, so it makes sense that many redheads feel comfortable bouncing around. But to your point, what when an “expert” just blindly puts a redhead into an autumn palette it’s just lazy without a full understanding of how the seasons work. I hope that helps. Nobody should live in extremes with the seasons and the better they understand how they work the more command of how to use them they can be. Thanks for your comment!