Choosing Your Own Color System

“Choosing Your Own Color System,” Ensign, Mar. 1984, 66

Choosing Your Own Color System

Color is the most complex and stimulating of the elements of design. Today, a number of “color systems” are presented in the market places, each focusing on a specific approach for coloring in clothing, cosmetics, and furnishings. Some of these color systems are based on generalizations and sooner or later will prove inadequate for specific problems. The truth is, the effect color has varies with mood, occasion, season, personality, age, and cultural and geographical environment.

We all have color preferences, but only in extreme cases will a person’s skin tone or hair color limit the freedom to wear a broad range of colors. Furthermore, the selection of a “best” color is not more important than the selection of attractive and appropriate styles, lines, prints, and textures in clothing and accessories. An attractive appearance is dependent on the harmonious selection and coordination of all these elements.

There is no need, therefore, to lose confidence in your own color sense or to become dependent on a system to determine what you will wear. With the aid of a mirror and a knowledge of correct color principles, you can learn to rely on your own eye to evaluate the effects of color on your appearance.

Following are some suggestions that could help you develop your own personal color sense.

1. Learn to recognize the three dimensions of color. Hue refers to a specific color family and its degree of warmness (red, orange undertones) or coolness (blue, green undertones). Value refers to the degree of lightness or darkness of a hue. Intensity refers to the degree of brightness or dullness of a hue. Strive for variety of hue, value, and intensity in your clothing.

2. Learn basic color principles, including the physical and psychological effects of color. A color is seldom seen in isolation and must be considered in relation to the other colors around it—the person’s hair, eyes, skin, and other clothes. You can alter the apparent effects of any color by placing it next to or mixing it with other colors. The object should be to enhance, but not overpower, your own natural coloring.

3. Learn to emphasize your own individuality by wearing colors which repeat or contrast with the color of your hair, eyes, and skin, making them appear more healthy and vibrant. For example, a blue shirt on a brunette with blue eyes repeats the color of the eyes and calls attention to them. At the same time, the blue is a complementary hue to the brown hair and will therefore emphasize the hair’s warm highlights.

4. Consider the quantity of the color and its placement on your body. Accent colors may be used to focus attention where you want it. Your choice of colors will also be influenced by the occasion and the other people you will be with.

5. Learn how unity and harmony can be achieved with fewer colors rather than many. An economical and versatile wardrobe may be planned around two or three subdued fashion neutrals white, grey, brown, beige, camel, ivory, taupe, rust, forest green, burgundy, navy-blue, etc.) with accent colors selected for variety and purpose.

As you develop and use your own sense of color and design, you will make a positive statement about yourself and your individuality. Dr. Charlene Lind and Judith Rasband, Orem, Utah

Illustrated by Shauna Mooney